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Research Results Section – Writing Guide and Examples

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Research Results

Research Results

Research results refer to the findings and conclusions derived from a systematic investigation or study conducted to answer a specific question or hypothesis. These results are typically presented in a written report or paper and can include various forms of data such as numerical data, qualitative data, statistics, charts, graphs, and visual aids.

Results Section in Research

The results section of the research paper presents the findings of the study. It is the part of the paper where the researcher reports the data collected during the study and analyzes it to draw conclusions.

In the results section, the researcher should describe the data that was collected, the statistical analysis performed, and the findings of the study. It is important to be objective and not interpret the data in this section. Instead, the researcher should report the data as accurately and objectively as possible.

Structure of Research Results Section

The structure of the research results section can vary depending on the type of research conducted, but in general, it should contain the following components:

  • Introduction: The introduction should provide an overview of the study, its aims, and its research questions. It should also briefly explain the methodology used to conduct the study.
  • Data presentation : This section presents the data collected during the study. It may include tables, graphs, or other visual aids to help readers better understand the data. The data presented should be organized in a logical and coherent way, with headings and subheadings used to help guide the reader.
  • Data analysis: In this section, the data presented in the previous section are analyzed and interpreted. The statistical tests used to analyze the data should be clearly explained, and the results of the tests should be presented in a way that is easy to understand.
  • Discussion of results : This section should provide an interpretation of the results of the study, including a discussion of any unexpected findings. The discussion should also address the study’s research questions and explain how the results contribute to the field of study.
  • Limitations: This section should acknowledge any limitations of the study, such as sample size, data collection methods, or other factors that may have influenced the results.
  • Conclusions: The conclusions should summarize the main findings of the study and provide a final interpretation of the results. The conclusions should also address the study’s research questions and explain how the results contribute to the field of study.
  • Recommendations : This section may provide recommendations for future research based on the study’s findings. It may also suggest practical applications for the study’s results in real-world settings.

Outline of Research Results Section

The following is an outline of the key components typically included in the Results section:

I. Introduction

  • A brief overview of the research objectives and hypotheses
  • A statement of the research question

II. Descriptive statistics

  • Summary statistics (e.g., mean, standard deviation) for each variable analyzed
  • Frequencies and percentages for categorical variables

III. Inferential statistics

  • Results of statistical analyses, including tests of hypotheses
  • Tables or figures to display statistical results

IV. Effect sizes and confidence intervals

  • Effect sizes (e.g., Cohen’s d, odds ratio) to quantify the strength of the relationship between variables
  • Confidence intervals to estimate the range of plausible values for the effect size

V. Subgroup analyses

  • Results of analyses that examined differences between subgroups (e.g., by gender, age, treatment group)

VI. Limitations and assumptions

  • Discussion of any limitations of the study and potential sources of bias
  • Assumptions made in the statistical analyses

VII. Conclusions

  • A summary of the key findings and their implications
  • A statement of whether the hypotheses were supported or not
  • Suggestions for future research

Example of Research Results Section

An Example of a Research Results Section could be:

  • This study sought to examine the relationship between sleep quality and academic performance in college students.
  • Hypothesis : College students who report better sleep quality will have higher GPAs than those who report poor sleep quality.
  • Methodology : Participants completed a survey about their sleep habits and academic performance.

II. Participants

  • Participants were college students (N=200) from a mid-sized public university in the United States.
  • The sample was evenly split by gender (50% female, 50% male) and predominantly white (85%).
  • Participants were recruited through flyers and online advertisements.

III. Results

  • Participants who reported better sleep quality had significantly higher GPAs (M=3.5, SD=0.5) than those who reported poor sleep quality (M=2.9, SD=0.6).
  • See Table 1 for a summary of the results.
  • Participants who reported consistent sleep schedules had higher GPAs than those with irregular sleep schedules.

IV. Discussion

  • The results support the hypothesis that better sleep quality is associated with higher academic performance in college students.
  • These findings have implications for college students, as prioritizing sleep could lead to better academic outcomes.
  • Limitations of the study include self-reported data and the lack of control for other variables that could impact academic performance.

V. Conclusion

  • College students who prioritize sleep may see a positive impact on their academic performance.
  • These findings highlight the importance of sleep in academic success.
  • Future research could explore interventions to improve sleep quality in college students.

Example of Research Results in Research Paper :

Our study aimed to compare the performance of three different machine learning algorithms (Random Forest, Support Vector Machine, and Neural Network) in predicting customer churn in a telecommunications company. We collected a dataset of 10,000 customer records, with 20 predictor variables and a binary churn outcome variable.

Our analysis revealed that all three algorithms performed well in predicting customer churn, with an overall accuracy of 85%. However, the Random Forest algorithm showed the highest accuracy (88%), followed by the Support Vector Machine (86%) and the Neural Network (84%).

Furthermore, we found that the most important predictor variables for customer churn were monthly charges, contract type, and tenure. Random Forest identified monthly charges as the most important variable, while Support Vector Machine and Neural Network identified contract type as the most important.

Overall, our results suggest that machine learning algorithms can be effective in predicting customer churn in a telecommunications company, and that Random Forest is the most accurate algorithm for this task.

Example 3 :

Title : The Impact of Social Media on Body Image and Self-Esteem

Abstract : This study aimed to investigate the relationship between social media use, body image, and self-esteem among young adults. A total of 200 participants were recruited from a university and completed self-report measures of social media use, body image satisfaction, and self-esteem.

Results: The results showed that social media use was significantly associated with body image dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem. Specifically, participants who reported spending more time on social media platforms had lower levels of body image satisfaction and self-esteem compared to those who reported less social media use. Moreover, the study found that comparing oneself to others on social media was a significant predictor of body image dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem.

Conclusion : These results suggest that social media use can have negative effects on body image satisfaction and self-esteem among young adults. It is important for individuals to be mindful of their social media use and to recognize the potential negative impact it can have on their mental health. Furthermore, interventions aimed at promoting positive body image and self-esteem should take into account the role of social media in shaping these attitudes and behaviors.

Importance of Research Results

Research results are important for several reasons, including:

  • Advancing knowledge: Research results can contribute to the advancement of knowledge in a particular field, whether it be in science, technology, medicine, social sciences, or humanities.
  • Developing theories: Research results can help to develop or modify existing theories and create new ones.
  • Improving practices: Research results can inform and improve practices in various fields, such as education, healthcare, business, and public policy.
  • Identifying problems and solutions: Research results can identify problems and provide solutions to complex issues in society, including issues related to health, environment, social justice, and economics.
  • Validating claims : Research results can validate or refute claims made by individuals or groups in society, such as politicians, corporations, or activists.
  • Providing evidence: Research results can provide evidence to support decision-making, policy-making, and resource allocation in various fields.

How to Write Results in A Research Paper

Here are some general guidelines on how to write results in a research paper:

  • Organize the results section: Start by organizing the results section in a logical and coherent manner. Divide the section into subsections if necessary, based on the research questions or hypotheses.
  • Present the findings: Present the findings in a clear and concise manner. Use tables, graphs, and figures to illustrate the data and make the presentation more engaging.
  • Describe the data: Describe the data in detail, including the sample size, response rate, and any missing data. Provide relevant descriptive statistics such as means, standard deviations, and ranges.
  • Interpret the findings: Interpret the findings in light of the research questions or hypotheses. Discuss the implications of the findings and the extent to which they support or contradict existing theories or previous research.
  • Discuss the limitations : Discuss the limitations of the study, including any potential sources of bias or confounding factors that may have affected the results.
  • Compare the results : Compare the results with those of previous studies or theoretical predictions. Discuss any similarities, differences, or inconsistencies.
  • Avoid redundancy: Avoid repeating information that has already been presented in the introduction or methods sections. Instead, focus on presenting new and relevant information.
  • Be objective: Be objective in presenting the results, avoiding any personal biases or interpretations.

When to Write Research Results

Here are situations When to Write Research Results”

  • After conducting research on the chosen topic and obtaining relevant data, organize the findings in a structured format that accurately represents the information gathered.
  • Once the data has been analyzed and interpreted, and conclusions have been drawn, begin the writing process.
  • Before starting to write, ensure that the research results adhere to the guidelines and requirements of the intended audience, such as a scientific journal or academic conference.
  • Begin by writing an abstract that briefly summarizes the research question, methodology, findings, and conclusions.
  • Follow the abstract with an introduction that provides context for the research, explains its significance, and outlines the research question and objectives.
  • The next section should be a literature review that provides an overview of existing research on the topic and highlights the gaps in knowledge that the current research seeks to address.
  • The methodology section should provide a detailed explanation of the research design, including the sample size, data collection methods, and analytical techniques used.
  • Present the research results in a clear and concise manner, using graphs, tables, and figures to illustrate the findings.
  • Discuss the implications of the research results, including how they contribute to the existing body of knowledge on the topic and what further research is needed.
  • Conclude the paper by summarizing the main findings, reiterating the significance of the research, and offering suggestions for future research.

Purpose of Research Results

The purposes of Research Results are as follows:

  • Informing policy and practice: Research results can provide evidence-based information to inform policy decisions, such as in the fields of healthcare, education, and environmental regulation. They can also inform best practices in fields such as business, engineering, and social work.
  • Addressing societal problems : Research results can be used to help address societal problems, such as reducing poverty, improving public health, and promoting social justice.
  • Generating economic benefits : Research results can lead to the development of new products, services, and technologies that can create economic value and improve quality of life.
  • Supporting academic and professional development : Research results can be used to support academic and professional development by providing opportunities for students, researchers, and practitioners to learn about new findings and methodologies in their field.
  • Enhancing public understanding: Research results can help to educate the public about important issues and promote scientific literacy, leading to more informed decision-making and better public policy.
  • Evaluating interventions: Research results can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, such as treatments, educational programs, and social policies. This can help to identify areas where improvements are needed and guide future interventions.
  • Contributing to scientific progress: Research results can contribute to the advancement of science by providing new insights and discoveries that can lead to new theories, methods, and techniques.
  • Informing decision-making : Research results can provide decision-makers with the information they need to make informed decisions. This can include decision-making at the individual, organizational, or governmental levels.
  • Fostering collaboration : Research results can facilitate collaboration between researchers and practitioners, leading to new partnerships, interdisciplinary approaches, and innovative solutions to complex problems.

Advantages of Research Results

Some Advantages of Research Results are as follows:

  • Improved decision-making: Research results can help inform decision-making in various fields, including medicine, business, and government. For example, research on the effectiveness of different treatments for a particular disease can help doctors make informed decisions about the best course of treatment for their patients.
  • Innovation : Research results can lead to the development of new technologies, products, and services. For example, research on renewable energy sources can lead to the development of new and more efficient ways to harness renewable energy.
  • Economic benefits: Research results can stimulate economic growth by providing new opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs. For example, research on new materials or manufacturing techniques can lead to the development of new products and processes that can create new jobs and boost economic activity.
  • Improved quality of life: Research results can contribute to improving the quality of life for individuals and society as a whole. For example, research on the causes of a particular disease can lead to the development of new treatments and cures, improving the health and well-being of millions of people.

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How to write the results section of a research paper

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Table of Contents

At its core, a research paper aims to fill a gap in the research on a given topic. As a result, the results section of the paper, which describes the key findings of the study, is often considered the core of the paper. This is the section that gets the most attention from reviewers, peers, students, and any news organization reporting on your findings. Writing a clear, concise, and logical results section is, therefore, one of the most important parts of preparing your manuscript.

Difference between results and discussion

Before delving into how to write the results section, it is important to first understand the difference between the results and discussion sections. The results section needs to detail the findings of the study. The aim of this section is not to draw connections between the different findings or to compare it to previous findings in literature—that is the purview of the discussion section. Unlike the discussion section, which can touch upon the hypothetical, the results section needs to focus on the purely factual. In some cases, it may even be preferable to club these two sections together into a single section. For example, while writing  a review article, it can be worthwhile to club these two sections together, as the main results in this case are the conclusions that can be drawn from the literature.

Structure of the results section

Although the main purpose of the results section in a research paper is to report the findings, it is necessary to present an introduction and repeat the research question. This establishes a connection to the previous section of the paper and creates a smooth flow of information.

Next, the results section needs to communicate the findings of your research in a systematic manner. The section needs to be organized such that the primary research question is addressed first, then the secondary research questions. If the research addresses multiple questions, the results section must individually connect with each of the questions. This ensures clarity and minimizes confusion while reading.

Consider representing your results visually. For example, graphs, tables, and other figures can help illustrate the findings of your paper, especially if there is a large amount of data in the results.

Remember, an appealing results section can help peer reviewers better understand the merits of your research, thereby increasing your chances of publication.

Practical guidance for writing an effective results section for a research paper

  • Always use simple and clear language. Avoid the use of uncertain or out-of-focus expressions.
  • The findings of the study must be expressed in an objective and unbiased manner. While it is acceptable to correlate certain findings in the discussion section, it is best to avoid overinterpreting the results.
  • If the research addresses more than one hypothesis, use sub-sections to describe the results. This prevents confusion and promotes understanding.
  • Ensure that negative results are included in this section, even if they do not support the research hypothesis.
  • Wherever possible, use illustrations like tables, figures, charts, or other visual representations to showcase the results of your research paper. Mention these illustrations in the text, but do not repeat the information that they convey.
  • For statistical data, it is adequate to highlight the tests and explain their results. The initial or raw data should not be mentioned in the results section of a research paper.

The results section of a research paper is usually the most impactful section because it draws the greatest attention. Regardless of the subject of your research paper, a well-written results section is capable of generating interest in your research.

For detailed information and assistance on writing the results of a research paper, refer to Elsevier Author Services.

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Importance of the Results Section in Academic Papers

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The function of the Results section is to objectively present your key results, without interpretation, and in an orderly and logical sequence using both illustrative materials (Tables and Figures) and text.

While the Methods section explains how the data were collected, the Results section presents what data were accumulated. Summaries of statistical analyses may appear either in the text or in the relevant Tables or Figures.

The Results section should be organized around a series of Tables and/or Figures sequenced to present your key findings in a logical order. The text of the Results section follows this sequence and provides answers to the questions/hypotheses you investigated. Important negative results should be reported as well. Authors usually write the text of the results section based upon this sequence of Tables and Figures.

A common error is for authors to confuse the information in the Results and Discussion sections. Overall, there are two basic ways of organizing the results:

  • Presenting all the results in one section, followed by the  discussion (perhaps in a different section)
  • Presenting the results and discussion in parts

When the journal expects results and discussion to be two separate sections, note the difference in their functions:

  • Results = Data Presentation (Experiments showed that…)
  • Discussion = Data Interpretation (Experiments suggest that…)

Language Style

The Results section is written in a concise and objective fashion. Irrespective of the field of study, some commonalities are as follows:

  • Use passive voice, though active voice can be used when required
  • Use the past tense
  • Avoid repetitive paragraph structures
  • Do not interpret data here
Related: Do you have questions on manuscript drafting? Get personalized answers on the FREE Q&A Forum!

The transition into interpretive language can be a slippery slope. Consider the following two examples:

Example without interpretation : The duration of exposure to running water had a pronounced effect on cumulative seed germination percentages (Fig. 2). Seeds exposed to the 2-day treatment had the highest cumulative germination (84%), 1.25 times that of the 12-h or 5-day groups and four times that of controls.

The above example highlights the trend/difference that the author wants the reader to focus on. Now consider the following example:

Example with interpretation : The results of the germination experiment (Fig. 2) suggest that the optimal time for running-water treatment is 2 days. This group showed the highest cumulative germination (84%), with longer (5 d) or shorter (12 h) exposures producing smaller gains in germination when compared to the control group.

In contrast, this example strays subtly into interpretation by referring to optimality (a

conceptual model) and tying the observed result to that idea.

Writing Strategy

Organize the Results section based on the sequence of Table and Figures you include. Prepare the Tables and Figures as soon as all the data are analyzed and arrange them in the sequence that best presents your findings in a logical way. A good strategy is to note, on a draft of each Table or Figure, the one or two key results you want to address in the text portion of the Results.

Simple rules to follow related to Tables and Figures:

Guideline #1: Tables and Figures are assigned numbers separately and in the sequence that you will refer to them from the text. Each Table or Figure must include a brief description of the results being presented and other necessary information in a legend.

  • Table legends go above the Table; tables are read from top to bottom.
  • Figure legends go below the figure; figures are usually viewed from bottom to top.

When referring to a figure from the text, “Figure” is usually abbreviated as Fig., e.g., Fig. 1. Table is never abbreviated, e.g., Table 1.

Also, note that Figure is not abbreviated when used at the beginning of a sentence.

The body of the Results section is a text-based presentation of the key findings which includes references to each of the Tables and Figures. The text should guide the reader through your results stressing the key results which provide the answers to the question(s) investigated. Key results depend on your questions; they might include obvious trends, important differences, similarities, correlations, maximums, minimums, etc.

  • Do not reiterate each value from a Figure or Table—only the key result or trends that each conveys.
  • Do not present the same data in both a Table and Figure—this is considered redundant and a waste of space and energy. Decide which format best shows the result and go with it.
  • Do not report raw data values when they can be summarized as means, percents, etc.

Guideline #2: Statistical test summaries (test name, p-value) are usually reported parenthetically in conjunction with the biological results they support. Always report your results with parenthetical reference to the statistical conclusion that supports your finding. This parenthetical reference should include the statistical test used and the level of significance (test statistic and DF are optional). For example, if you found that the mean height of male Biology majors was significantly larger than that of female Biology majors, you might report this result and your statistical conclusion as follows:

Example: Males (180.5 ± 5.1 cm; n = 34) averaged 12.5 cm taller than females (168 ± 7.6 cm; n = 34) in the AY 1995 pool of Biology majors (two-sample t-test, t = 5.78, 33 d.f., p < 0.001).

If the summary statistics are shown in a figure, the sentence above need not report them specifically but must include a reference to the figure where they may be seen:

Example: Males averaged 12.5 cm taller than females in the AY 1995 pool of Biology majors (two-sample t-test, t = 5.78, 33 d.f., p < 0.001; Fig. 1).

Notes about the use of the word significant(ly)

In scientific studies, the use of this word implies that a statistical test was employed to make a decision about the data; in this case, the test indicated a larger difference in mean heights than you would expect to get by chance alone. Limit the use of the word “significant” to this purpose only.

If your parenthetical statistical information includes a p-value that is significant, it is unnecessary (and redundant) to use the word “significant” in the body of the sentence.

Guideline #3: Report negative results—they are important! If you did not get the anticipated results, it may mean your hypothesis was incorrect and needs to be reformulated, or perhaps you have stumbled onto something unexpected that warrants further study. In either case, your results may be of importance to others even though they did not support your hypothesis. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that results contrary to what you expected are necessarily “bad data.” If you carried out the work well, they are simply your results and need interpretation. Many important discoveries can be traced to “bad data.”

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How to Write the Results/Findings Section in Research

purpose of results section in research paper

What is the research paper Results section and what does it do?

The Results section of a scientific research paper represents the core findings of a study derived from the methods applied to gather and analyze information. It presents these findings in a logical sequence without bias or interpretation from the author, setting up the reader for later interpretation and evaluation in the Discussion section. A major purpose of the Results section is to break down the data into sentences that show its significance to the research question(s).

The Results section appears third in the section sequence in most scientific papers. It follows the presentation of the Methods and Materials and is presented before the Discussion section —although the Results and Discussion are presented together in many journals. This section answers the basic question “What did you find in your research?”

What is included in the Results section?

The Results section should include the findings of your study and ONLY the findings of your study. The findings include:

  • Data presented in tables, charts, graphs, and other figures (may be placed into the text or on separate pages at the end of the manuscript)
  • A contextual analysis of this data explaining its meaning in sentence form
  • All data that corresponds to the central research question(s)
  • All secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.)

If the scope of the study is broad, or if you studied a variety of variables, or if the methodology used yields a wide range of different results, the author should present only those results that are most relevant to the research question stated in the Introduction section .

As a general rule, any information that does not present the direct findings or outcome of the study should be left out of this section. Unless the journal requests that authors combine the Results and Discussion sections, explanations and interpretations should be omitted from the Results.

How are the results organized?

The best way to organize your Results section is “logically.” One logical and clear method of organizing research results is to provide them alongside the research questions—within each research question, present the type of data that addresses that research question.

Let’s look at an example. Your research question is based on a survey among patients who were treated at a hospital and received postoperative care. Let’s say your first research question is:

results section of a research paper, figures

“What do hospital patients over age 55 think about postoperative care?”

This can actually be represented as a heading within your Results section, though it might be presented as a statement rather than a question:

Attitudes towards postoperative care in patients over the age of 55

Now present the results that address this specific research question first. In this case, perhaps a table illustrating data from a survey. Likert items can be included in this example. Tables can also present standard deviations, probabilities, correlation matrices, etc.

Following this, present a content analysis, in words, of one end of the spectrum of the survey or data table. In our example case, start with the POSITIVE survey responses regarding postoperative care, using descriptive phrases. For example:

“Sixty-five percent of patients over 55 responded positively to the question “ Are you satisfied with your hospital’s postoperative care ?” (Fig. 2)

Include other results such as subcategory analyses. The amount of textual description used will depend on how much interpretation of tables and figures is necessary and how many examples the reader needs in order to understand the significance of your research findings.

Next, present a content analysis of another part of the spectrum of the same research question, perhaps the NEGATIVE or NEUTRAL responses to the survey. For instance:

  “As Figure 1 shows, 15 out of 60 patients in Group A responded negatively to Question 2.”

After you have assessed the data in one figure and explained it sufficiently, move on to your next research question. For example:

  “How does patient satisfaction correspond to in-hospital improvements made to postoperative care?”

results section of a research paper, figures

This kind of data may be presented through a figure or set of figures (for instance, a paired T-test table).

Explain the data you present, here in a table, with a concise content analysis:

“The p-value for the comparison between the before and after groups of patients was .03% (Fig. 2), indicating that the greater the dissatisfaction among patients, the more frequent the improvements that were made to postoperative care.”

Let’s examine another example of a Results section from a study on plant tolerance to heavy metal stress . In the Introduction section, the aims of the study are presented as “determining the physiological and morphological responses of Allium cepa L. towards increased cadmium toxicity” and “evaluating its potential to accumulate the metal and its associated environmental consequences.” The Results section presents data showing how these aims are achieved in tables alongside a content analysis, beginning with an overview of the findings:

“Cadmium caused inhibition of root and leave elongation, with increasing effects at higher exposure doses (Fig. 1a-c).”

The figure containing this data is cited in parentheses. Note that this author has combined three graphs into one single figure. Separating the data into separate graphs focusing on specific aspects makes it easier for the reader to assess the findings, and consolidating this information into one figure saves space and makes it easy to locate the most relevant results.

results section of a research paper, figures

Following this overall summary, the relevant data in the tables is broken down into greater detail in text form in the Results section.

  • “Results on the bio-accumulation of cadmium were found to be the highest (17.5 mg kgG1) in the bulb, when the concentration of cadmium in the solution was 1×10G2 M and lowest (0.11 mg kgG1) in the leaves when the concentration was 1×10G3 M.”

Captioning and Referencing Tables and Figures

Tables and figures are central components of your Results section and you need to carefully think about the most effective way to use graphs and tables to present your findings . Therefore, it is crucial to know how to write strong figure captions and to refer to them within the text of the Results section.

The most important advice one can give here as well as throughout the paper is to check the requirements and standards of the journal to which you are submitting your work. Every journal has its own design and layout standards, which you can find in the author instructions on the target journal’s website. Perusing a journal’s published articles will also give you an idea of the proper number, size, and complexity of your figures.

Regardless of which format you use, the figures should be placed in the order they are referenced in the Results section and be as clear and easy to understand as possible. If there are multiple variables being considered (within one or more research questions), it can be a good idea to split these up into separate figures. Subsequently, these can be referenced and analyzed under separate headings and paragraphs in the text.

To create a caption, consider the research question being asked and change it into a phrase. For instance, if one question is “Which color did participants choose?”, the caption might be “Color choice by participant group.” Or in our last research paper example, where the question was “What is the concentration of cadmium in different parts of the onion after 14 days?” the caption reads:

 “Fig. 1(a-c): Mean concentration of Cd determined in (a) bulbs, (b) leaves, and (c) roots of onions after a 14-day period.”

Steps for Composing the Results Section

Because each study is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to designing a strategy for structuring and writing the section of a research paper where findings are presented. The content and layout of this section will be determined by the specific area of research, the design of the study and its particular methodologies, and the guidelines of the target journal and its editors. However, the following steps can be used to compose the results of most scientific research studies and are essential for researchers who are new to preparing a manuscript for publication or who need a reminder of how to construct the Results section.

Step 1 : Consult the guidelines or instructions that the target journal or publisher provides authors and read research papers it has published, especially those with similar topics, methods, or results to your study.

  • The guidelines will generally outline specific requirements for the results or findings section, and the published articles will provide sound examples of successful approaches.
  • Note length limitations on restrictions on content. For instance, while many journals require the Results and Discussion sections to be separate, others do not—qualitative research papers often include results and interpretations in the same section (“Results and Discussion”).
  • Reading the aims and scope in the journal’s “ guide for authors ” section and understanding the interests of its readers will be invaluable in preparing to write the Results section.

Step 2 : Consider your research results in relation to the journal’s requirements and catalogue your results.

  • Focus on experimental results and other findings that are especially relevant to your research questions and objectives and include them even if they are unexpected or do not support your ideas and hypotheses.
  • Catalogue your findings—use subheadings to streamline and clarify your report. This will help you avoid excessive and peripheral details as you write and also help your reader understand and remember your findings. Create appendices that might interest specialists but prove too long or distracting for other readers.
  • Decide how you will structure of your results. You might match the order of the research questions and hypotheses to your results, or you could arrange them according to the order presented in the Methods section. A chronological order or even a hierarchy of importance or meaningful grouping of main themes or categories might prove effective. Consider your audience, evidence, and most importantly, the objectives of your research when choosing a structure for presenting your findings.

Step 3 : Design figures and tables to present and illustrate your data.

  • Tables and figures should be numbered according to the order in which they are mentioned in the main text of the paper.
  • Information in figures should be relatively self-explanatory (with the aid of captions), and their design should include all definitions and other information necessary for readers to understand the findings without reading all of the text.
  • Use tables and figures as a focal point to tell a clear and informative story about your research and avoid repeating information. But remember that while figures clarify and enhance the text, they cannot replace it.

Step 4 : Draft your Results section using the findings and figures you have organized.

  • The goal is to communicate this complex information as clearly and precisely as possible; precise and compact phrases and sentences are most effective.
  • In the opening paragraph of this section, restate your research questions or aims to focus the reader’s attention to what the results are trying to show. It is also a good idea to summarize key findings at the end of this section to create a logical transition to the interpretation and discussion that follows.
  • Try to write in the past tense and the active voice to relay the findings since the research has already been done and the agent is usually clear. This will ensure that your explanations are also clear and logical.
  • Make sure that any specialized terminology or abbreviation you have used here has been defined and clarified in the  Introduction section .

Step 5 : Review your draft; edit and revise until it reports results exactly as you would like to have them reported to your readers.

  • Double-check the accuracy and consistency of all the data, as well as all of the visual elements included.
  • Read your draft aloud to catch language errors (grammar, spelling, and mechanics), awkward phrases, and missing transitions.
  • Ensure that your results are presented in the best order to focus on objectives and prepare readers for interpretations, valuations, and recommendations in the Discussion section . Look back over the paper’s Introduction and background while anticipating the Discussion and Conclusion sections to ensure that the presentation of your results is consistent and effective.
  • Consider seeking additional guidance on your paper. Find additional readers to look over your Results section and see if it can be improved in any way. Peers, professors, or qualified experts can provide valuable insights.

One excellent option is to use a professional English proofreading and editing service  such as Wordvice, including our paper editing service . With hundreds of qualified editors from dozens of scientific fields, Wordvice has helped thousands of authors revise their manuscripts and get accepted into their target journals. Read more about the  proofreading and editing process  before proceeding with getting academic editing services and manuscript editing services for your manuscript.

As the representation of your study’s data output, the Results section presents the core information in your research paper. By writing with clarity and conciseness and by highlighting and explaining the crucial findings of their study, authors increase the impact and effectiveness of their research manuscripts.

For more articles and videos on writing your research manuscript, visit Wordvice’s Resources page.

Wordvice Resources

  • How to Write a Research Paper Introduction 
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  • How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Research Paper Title
  • Useful Phrases for Academic Writing
  • Common Transition Terms in Academic Papers
  • Active and Passive Voice in Research Papers
  • 100+ Verbs That Will Make Your Research Writing Amazing
  • Tips for Paraphrasing in Research Papers
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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • 7. The Results
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
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  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
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  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
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  • Insiderness
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  • Writing Concisely
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  • Further Readings
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  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

The results section is where you report the findings of your study based upon the methodology [or methodologies] you applied to gather information. The results section should state the findings of the research arranged in a logical sequence without bias or interpretation. A section describing results should be particularly detailed if your paper includes data generated from your own research.

Annesley, Thomas M. "Show Your Cards: The Results Section and the Poker Game." Clinical Chemistry 56 (July 2010): 1066-1070.

Importance of a Good Results Section

When formulating the results section, it's important to remember that the results of a study do not prove anything . Findings can only confirm or reject the hypothesis underpinning your study. However, the act of articulating the results helps you to understand the problem from within, to break it into pieces, and to view the research problem from various perspectives.

The page length of this section is set by the amount and types of data to be reported . Be concise. Use non-textual elements appropriately, such as figures and tables, to present findings more effectively. In deciding what data to describe in your results section, you must clearly distinguish information that would normally be included in a research paper from any raw data or other content that could be included as an appendix. In general, raw data that has not been summarized should not be included in the main text of your paper unless requested to do so by your professor.

Avoid providing data that is not critical to answering the research question . The background information you described in the introduction section should provide the reader with any additional context or explanation needed to understand the results. A good strategy is to always re-read the background section of your paper after you have written up your results to ensure that the reader has enough context to understand the results [and, later, how you interpreted the results in the discussion section of your paper that follows].

Bavdekar, Sandeep B. and Sneha Chandak. "Results: Unraveling the Findings." Journal of the Association of Physicians of India 63 (September 2015): 44-46; Brett, Paul. "A Genre Analysis of the Results Section of Sociology Articles." English for Specific Speakers 13 (1994): 47-59; Go to English for Specific Purposes on ScienceDirect;Burton, Neil et al. Doing Your Education Research Project . Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2008; Results. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Kretchmer, Paul. Twelve Steps to Writing an Effective Results Section. San Francisco Edit; "Reporting Findings." In Making Sense of Social Research Malcolm Williams, editor. (London;: SAGE Publications, 2003) pp. 188-207.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Organization and Approach

For most research papers in the social and behavioral sciences, there are two possible ways of organizing the results . Both approaches are appropriate in how you report your findings, but use only one approach.

  • Present a synopsis of the results followed by an explanation of key findings . This approach can be used to highlight important findings. For example, you may have noticed an unusual correlation between two variables during the analysis of your findings. It is appropriate to highlight this finding in the results section. However, speculating as to why this correlation exists and offering a hypothesis about what may be happening belongs in the discussion section of your paper.
  • Present a result and then explain it, before presenting the next result then explaining it, and so on, then end with an overall synopsis . This is the preferred approach if you have multiple results of equal significance. It is more common in longer papers because it helps the reader to better understand each finding. In this model, it is helpful to provide a brief conclusion that ties each of the findings together and provides a narrative bridge to the discussion section of the your paper.

NOTE :   Just as the literature review should be arranged under conceptual categories rather than systematically describing each source, you should also organize your findings under key themes related to addressing the research problem. This can be done under either format noted above [i.e., a thorough explanation of the key results or a sequential, thematic description and explanation of each finding].

II.  Content

In general, the content of your results section should include the following:

  • Introductory context for understanding the results by restating the research problem underpinning your study . This is useful in re-orientating the reader's focus back to the research problem after having read a review of the literature and your explanation of the methods used for gathering and analyzing information.
  • Inclusion of non-textual elements, such as, figures, charts, photos, maps, tables, etc. to further illustrate key findings, if appropriate . Rather than relying entirely on descriptive text, consider how your findings can be presented visually. This is a helpful way of condensing a lot of data into one place that can then be referred to in the text. Consider referring to appendices if there is a lot of non-textual elements.
  • A systematic description of your results, highlighting for the reader observations that are most relevant to the topic under investigation . Not all results that emerge from the methodology used to gather information may be related to answering the " So What? " question. Do not confuse observations with interpretations; observations in this context refers to highlighting important findings you discovered through a process of reviewing prior literature and gathering data.
  • The page length of your results section is guided by the amount and types of data to be reported . However, focus on findings that are important and related to addressing the research problem. It is not uncommon to have unanticipated results that are not relevant to answering the research question. This is not to say that you don't acknowledge tangential findings and, in fact, can be referred to as areas for further research in the conclusion of your paper. However, spending time in the results section describing tangential findings clutters your overall results section and distracts the reader.
  • A short paragraph that concludes the results section by synthesizing the key findings of the study . Highlight the most important findings you want readers to remember as they transition into the discussion section. This is particularly important if, for example, there are many results to report, the findings are complicated or unanticipated, or they are impactful or actionable in some way [i.e., able to be pursued in a feasible way applied to practice].

NOTE:   Always use the past tense when referring to your study's findings. Reference to findings should always be described as having already happened because the method used to gather the information has been completed.

III.  Problems to Avoid

When writing the results section, avoid doing the following :

  • Discussing or interpreting your results . Save this for the discussion section of your paper, although where appropriate, you should compare or contrast specific results to those found in other studies [e.g., "Similar to the work of Smith [1990], one of the findings of this study is the strong correlation between motivation and academic achievement...."].
  • Reporting background information or attempting to explain your findings. This should have been done in your introduction section, but don't panic! Often the results of a study point to the need for additional background information or to explain the topic further, so don't think you did something wrong. Writing up research is rarely a linear process. Always revise your introduction as needed.
  • Ignoring negative results . A negative result generally refers to a finding that does not support the underlying assumptions of your study. Do not ignore them. Document these findings and then state in your discussion section why you believe a negative result emerged from your study. Note that negative results, and how you handle them, can give you an opportunity to write a more engaging discussion section, therefore, don't be hesitant to highlight them.
  • Including raw data or intermediate calculations . Ask your professor if you need to include any raw data generated by your study, such as transcripts from interviews or data files. If raw data is to be included, place it in an appendix or set of appendices that are referred to in the text.
  • Be as factual and concise as possible in reporting your findings . Do not use phrases that are vague or non-specific, such as, "appeared to be greater than other variables..." or "demonstrates promising trends that...." Subjective modifiers should be explained in the discussion section of the paper [i.e., why did one variable appear greater? Or, how does the finding demonstrate a promising trend?].
  • Presenting the same data or repeating the same information more than once . If you want to highlight a particular finding, it is appropriate to do so in the results section. However, you should emphasize its significance in relation to addressing the research problem in the discussion section. Do not repeat it in your results section because you can do that in the conclusion of your paper.
  • Confusing figures with tables . Be sure to properly label any non-textual elements in your paper. Don't call a chart an illustration or a figure a table. If you are not sure, go here .

Annesley, Thomas M. "Show Your Cards: The Results Section and the Poker Game." Clinical Chemistry 56 (July 2010): 1066-1070; Bavdekar, Sandeep B. and Sneha Chandak. "Results: Unraveling the Findings." Journal of the Association of Physicians of India 63 (September 2015): 44-46; Burton, Neil et al. Doing Your Education Research Project . Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2008;  Caprette, David R. Writing Research Papers. Experimental Biosciences Resources. Rice University; Hancock, Dawson R. and Bob Algozzine. Doing Case Study Research: A Practical Guide for Beginning Researchers . 2nd ed. New York: Teachers College Press, 2011; Introduction to Nursing Research: Reporting Research Findings. Nursing Research: Open Access Nursing Research and Review Articles. (January 4, 2012); Kretchmer, Paul. Twelve Steps to Writing an Effective Results Section. San Francisco Edit ; Ng, K. H. and W. C. Peh. "Writing the Results." Singapore Medical Journal 49 (2008): 967-968; Reporting Research Findings. Wilder Research, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services. (February 2009); Results. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Schafer, Mickey S. Writing the Results. Thesis Writing in the Sciences. Course Syllabus. University of Florida.

Writing Tip

Why Don't I Just Combine the Results Section with the Discussion Section?

It's not unusual to find articles in scholarly social science journals where the author(s) have combined a description of the findings with a discussion about their significance and implications. You could do this. However, if you are inexperienced writing research papers, consider creating two distinct sections for each section in your paper as a way to better organize your thoughts and, by extension, your paper. Think of the results section as the place where you report what your study found; think of the discussion section as the place where you interpret the information and answer the "So What?" question. As you become more skilled writing research papers, you can consider melding the results of your study with a discussion of its implications.

Driscoll, Dana Lynn and Aleksandra Kasztalska. Writing the Experimental Report: Methods, Results, and Discussion. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University.

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Frequently asked questions

What goes in the results chapter of a dissertation.

The results chapter of a thesis or dissertation presents your research results concisely and objectively.

In quantitative research , for each question or hypothesis , state:

  • The type of analysis used
  • Relevant results in the form of descriptive and inferential statistics
  • Whether or not the alternative hypothesis was supported

In qualitative research , for each question or theme, describe:

  • Recurring patterns
  • Significant or representative individual responses
  • Relevant quotations from the data

Don’t interpret or speculate in the results chapter.

Frequently asked questions: Dissertation

Dissertation word counts vary widely across different fields, institutions, and levels of education:

  • An undergraduate dissertation is typically 8,000–15,000 words
  • A master’s dissertation is typically 12,000–50,000 words
  • A PhD thesis is typically book-length: 70,000–100,000 words

However, none of these are strict guidelines – your word count may be lower or higher than the numbers stated here. Always check the guidelines provided by your university to determine how long your own dissertation should be.

A dissertation prospectus or proposal describes what or who you plan to research for your dissertation. It delves into why, when, where, and how you will do your research, as well as helps you choose a type of research to pursue. You should also determine whether you plan to pursue qualitative or quantitative methods and what your research design will look like.

It should outline all of the decisions you have taken about your project, from your dissertation topic to your hypotheses and research objectives , ready to be approved by your supervisor or committee.

Note that some departments require a defense component, where you present your prospectus to your committee orally.

A thesis is typically written by students finishing up a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Some educational institutions, particularly in the liberal arts, have mandatory theses, but they are often not mandatory to graduate from bachelor’s degrees. It is more common for a thesis to be a graduation requirement from a Master’s degree.

Even if not mandatory, you may want to consider writing a thesis if you:

  • Plan to attend graduate school soon
  • Have a particular topic you’d like to study more in-depth
  • Are considering a career in research
  • Would like a capstone experience to tie up your academic experience

The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation should include the following:

  • A restatement of your research question
  • A summary of your key arguments and/or results
  • A short discussion of the implications of your research

The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.

For a stronger dissertation conclusion , avoid including:

  • Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the discussion section and results section
  • Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion …”)
  • Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g., “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.

While it may be tempting to present new arguments or evidence in your thesis or disseration conclusion , especially if you have a particularly striking argument you’d like to finish your analysis with, you shouldn’t. Theses and dissertations follow a more formal structure than this.

All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the discussion section and results section .) The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.

A theoretical framework can sometimes be integrated into a  literature review chapter , but it can also be included as its own chapter or section in your dissertation . As a rule of thumb, if your research involves dealing with a lot of complex theories, it’s a good idea to include a separate theoretical framework chapter.

A literature review and a theoretical framework are not the same thing and cannot be used interchangeably. While a theoretical framework describes the theoretical underpinnings of your work, a literature review critically evaluates existing research relating to your topic. You’ll likely need both in your dissertation .

While a theoretical framework describes the theoretical underpinnings of your work based on existing research, a conceptual framework allows you to draw your own conclusions, mapping out the variables you may use in your study and the interplay between them.

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)

When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .

In most styles, the title page is used purely to provide information and doesn’t include any images. Ask your supervisor if you are allowed to include an image on the title page before doing so. If you do decide to include one, make sure to check whether you need permission from the creator of the image.

Include a note directly beneath the image acknowledging where it comes from, beginning with the word “ Note .” (italicized and followed by a period). Include a citation and copyright attribution . Don’t title, number, or label the image as a figure , since it doesn’t appear in your main text.

Definitional terms often fall into the category of common knowledge , meaning that they don’t necessarily have to be cited. This guidance can apply to your thesis or dissertation glossary as well.

However, if you’d prefer to cite your sources , you can follow guidance for citing dictionary entries in MLA or APA style for your glossary.

A glossary is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. In contrast, an index is a list of the contents of your work organized by page number.

The title page of your thesis or dissertation goes first, before all other content or lists that you may choose to include.

The title page of your thesis or dissertation should include your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date.

Glossaries are not mandatory, but if you use a lot of technical or field-specific terms, it may improve readability to add one to your thesis or dissertation. Your educational institution may also require them, so be sure to check their specific guidelines.

A glossary or “glossary of terms” is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. Your glossary only needs to include terms that your reader may not be familiar with, and is intended to enhance their understanding of your work.

A glossary is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. In contrast, dictionaries are more general collections of words.

An abbreviation is a shortened version of an existing word, such as Dr. for Doctor. In contrast, an acronym uses the first letter of each word to create a wholly new word, such as UNESCO (an acronym for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

As a rule of thumb, write the explanation in full the first time you use an acronym or abbreviation. You can then proceed with the shortened version. However, if the abbreviation is very common (like PC, USA, or DNA), then you can use the abbreviated version from the get-go.

Be sure to add each abbreviation in your list of abbreviations !

If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation , you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .

If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimizing confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.

A list of abbreviations is a list of all the abbreviations that you used in your thesis or dissertation. It should appear at the beginning of your document, with items in alphabetical order, just after your table of contents .

Your list of tables and figures should go directly after your table of contents in your thesis or dissertation.

Lists of figures and tables are often not required, and aren’t particularly common. They specifically aren’t required for APA-Style, though you should be careful to follow their other guidelines for figures and tables .

If you have many figures and tables in your thesis or dissertation, include one may help you stay organized. Your educational institution may require them, so be sure to check their guidelines.

A list of figures and tables compiles all of the figures and tables that you used in your thesis or dissertation and displays them with the page number where they can be found.

The table of contents in a thesis or dissertation always goes between your abstract and your introduction .

You may acknowledge God in your dissertation acknowledgements , but be sure to follow academic convention by also thanking the members of academia, as well as family, colleagues, and friends who helped you.

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.

The conclusion is more shorter and more general: it concisely answers your main research question and makes recommendations based on your overall findings.

In the discussion , you explore the meaning and relevance of your research results , explaining how they fit with existing research and theory. Discuss:

  • Your  interpretations : what do the results tell us?
  • The  implications : why do the results matter?
  • The  limitation s : what can’t the results tell us?

The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.

In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.

Results are usually written in the past tense , because they are describing the outcome of completed actions.

To automatically insert a table of contents in Microsoft Word, follow these steps:

  • Apply heading styles throughout the document.
  • In the references section in the ribbon, locate the Table of Contents group.
  • Click the arrow next to the Table of Contents icon and select Custom Table of Contents.
  • Select which levels of headings you would like to include in the table of contents.

Make sure to update your table of contents if you move text or change headings. To update, simply right click and select Update Field.

All level 1 and 2 headings should be included in your table of contents . That means the titles of your chapters and the main sections within them.

The contents should also include all appendices and the lists of tables and figures, if applicable, as well as your reference list .

Do not include the acknowledgements or abstract in the table of contents.

The abstract appears on its own page in the thesis or dissertation , after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

An abstract for a thesis or dissertation is usually around 200–300 words. There’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check your university’s requirements.

In a thesis or dissertation, the acknowledgements should usually be no longer than one page. There is no minimum length.

The acknowledgements are generally included at the very beginning of your thesis , directly after the title page and before the abstract .

Yes, it’s important to thank your supervisor(s) in the acknowledgements section of your thesis or dissertation .

Even if you feel your supervisor did not contribute greatly to the final product, you must acknowledge them, if only for a very brief thank you. If you do not include your supervisor, it may be seen as a snub.

In the acknowledgements of your thesis or dissertation, you should first thank those who helped you academically or professionally, such as your supervisor, funders, and other academics.

Then you can include personal thanks to friends, family members, or anyone else who supported you during the process.

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How to Write an Effective Results Section

Affiliation.

  • 1 Rothman Orthopaedics Institute, Philadelphia, PA.
  • PMID: 31145152
  • DOI: 10.1097/BSD.0000000000000845

Developing a well-written research paper is an important step in completing a scientific study. This paper is where the principle investigator and co-authors report the purpose, methods, findings, and conclusions of the study. A key element of writing a research paper is to clearly and objectively report the study's findings in the Results section. The Results section is where the authors inform the readers about the findings from the statistical analysis of the data collected to operationalize the study hypothesis, optimally adding novel information to the collective knowledge on the subject matter. By utilizing clear, concise, and well-organized writing techniques and visual aids in the reporting of the data, the author is able to construct a case for the research question at hand even without interpreting the data.

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Organizing Academic Research Papers: 7. The Results

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Executive Summary
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
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  • What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
  • Qualitative Methods
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  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • How to Manage Group Projects
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
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  • Acknowledgements

The results section of the research paper is where you report the findings of your study based upon the information gathered as a result of the methodology [or methodologies] you applied. The results section should simply state the findings, without bias or interpretation, and arranged in a logical sequence. The results section should always be written in the past tense. A section describing results [a.k.a., "findings"] is particularly necessary if your paper includes data generated from your own research.

Importance of a Good Results Section

When formulating the results section, it's important to remember that the results of a study do not prove anything . Research results can only confirm or reject the research problem underpinning your study. However, the act of articulating the results helps you to understand the problem from within, to break it into pieces, and to view the research problem from various perspectives.

The page length of this section is set by the amount and types of data to be reported . Be concise, using non-textual elements, such as figures and tables, if appropriate, to present results more effectively. In deciding what data to describe in your results section, you must clearly distinguish material that would normally be included in a research paper from any raw data or other material that could be included as an appendix. In general, raw data should not be included in the main text of your paper unless requested to do so by your professor.

Avoid providing data that is not critical to answering the research question . The background information you described in the introduction section should provide the reader with any additional context or explanation needed to understand the results. A good rule is to always re-read the background section of your paper after you have written up your results to ensure that the reader has enough context to understand the results [and, later, how you interpreted the results in the discussion section of your paper].

Bates College; Burton, Neil et al. Doing Your Education Research Project . Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2008; Results . The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College.

Structure and Writing Style

I. Structure and Approach

For most research paper formats, there are two ways of presenting and organizing the results .

  • Present the results followed by a short explanation of the findings . For example, you may have noticed an unusual correlation between two variables during the analysis of your findings. It is correct to point this out in the results section. However, speculating as to why this correlation exists, and offering a hypothesis about what may be happening, belongs in the discussion section of your paper.
  • Present a section and then discuss it, before presenting the next section then discussing it, and so on . This is more common in longer papers because it helps the reader to better understand each finding. In this model, it can be helpful to provide a brief conclusion in the results section that ties each of the findings together and links to the discussion.

NOTE: The discussion section should generally follow the same format chosen in presenting and organizing the results.

II.  Content

In general, the content of your results section should include the following elements:

  • An introductory context for understanding the results by restating the research problem that underpins the purpose of your study.
  • A summary of your key findings arranged in a logical sequence that generally follows your methodology section.
  • Inclusion of non-textual elements, such as, figures, charts, photos, maps, tables, etc. to further illustrate the findings, if appropriate.
  • In the text, a systematic description of your results, highlighting for the reader observations that are most relevant to the topic under investigation [remember that not all results that emerge from the methodology that you used to gather the data may be relevant].
  • Use of the past tense when refering to your results.
  • The page length of your results section is guided by the amount and types of data to be reported. However, focus only on findings that are important and related to addressing the research problem.

Using Non-textual Elements

  • Either place figures, tables, charts, etc. within the text of the result, or include them in the back of the report--do one or the other but never do both.
  • In the text, refer to each non-textual element in numbered order [e.g.,  Table 1, Table 2; Chart 1, Chart 2; Map 1, Map 2].
  • If you place non-textual elements at the end of the report, make sure they are clearly distinguished from any attached appendix materials, such as raw data.
  • Regardless of placement, each non-textual element must be numbered consecutively and complete with caption [caption goes under the figure, table, chart, etc.]
  • Each non-textual element must be titled, numbered consecutively, and complete with a heading [title with description goes above the figure, table, chart, etc.].
  • In proofreading your results section, be sure that each non-textual element is sufficiently complete so that it could stand on its own, separate from the text.

III. Problems to Avoid

When writing the results section, avoid doing the following :

  • Discussing or interpreting your results . Save all this for the next section of your paper, although where appropriate, you should compare or contrast specific results to those found in other studies [e.g., "Similar to Smith [1990], one of the findings of this study is the strong correlation between motivation and academic achievement...."].
  • Reporting background information or attempting to explain your findings ; this should have been done in your Introduction section, but don't panic! Often the results of a study point to the need to provide additional background information or to explain the topic further, so don't think you did something wrong. Revise your introduction as needed.
  • Ignoring negative results . If some of your results fail to support your hypothesis, do not ignore them. Document them, then state in your discussion section why you believe a negative result emerged from your study. Note that negative results, and how you handle them, often provides you with the opportunity to write a more engaging discussion section, therefore, don't be afraid to highlight them.
  • Including raw data or intermediate calculations . Ask your professor if you need to include any raw data generated by your study, such as transcripts from interviews or data files. If raw data is to be included, place it in an appendix or set of appendices that are referred to in the text.
  • Be as factual and concise as possible in reporting your findings . Do not use phrases that are vague or non-specific, such as, "appeared to be greater or lesser than..." or "demonstrates promising trends that...."
  • Presenting the same data or repeating the same information more than once . If you feel the need to highlight something, you will have a chance to do that in the discussion section.
  • Confusing figures with tables . Be sure to properly label any non-textual elements in your paper. If you are not sure, look up the term in a dictionary.

Burton, Neil et al. Doing Your Education Research Project . Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2008;  Caprette, David R. Writing Research Papers . Experimental Biosciences Resources. Rice University; Hancock, Dawson R. and Bob Algozzine. Doing Case Study Research: A Practical Guide for Beginning Researchers . 2nd ed. New York: Teachers College Press, 2011; Introduction to Nursing Research: Reporting Research Findings. Nursing Research: Open Access Nursing Research and Review Articles. (January 4, 2012); Reporting Research Findings. Wilder Research, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services. (February 2009); Results . The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Schafer, Mickey S. Writing the Results . Thesis Writing in the Sciences. Course Syllabus. University of Florida.

Writing Tip

Why Don't I Just Combine the Results Section with the Discussion Section?

It's not unusual to find articles in social science journals where the author(s) have combined a description of the findings from the study with a discussion about their implications. You could do this. However, if you are inexperienced writing research papers, consider creating two sections for each element in your paper as a way to better organize your thoughts and, by extension, your  paper. Think of the results section as the place where you report what your study found; think of the discussion section as the place where you interpret your data and answer the "so what?" question. As you become more skilled writing research papers, you may want to meld the results of your study with a discussion of its implications.

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Research Paper Guide

Research Paper Results Section

Nova A.

How To Write The Results Section of A Research Paper | Steps & Examples

12 min read

Published on: Jan 18, 2024

Last updated on: Jan 18, 2024

how to write the results section of a research paper

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Have you ever felt stuck and confused when trying to share the results of your research in a paper? You're not alone! 

Many students and researchers struggle with making their findings easy to understand while still sounding smart. It can get pretty frustrating when you're not sure how to talk about all the data and numbers in your research. 

Without clear guidelines, it's easy to feel lost and unsure about how to make your results section both detailed and easy to read.

Don't worry! This guide is here to help you figure it all out. 

We'll break down the process of writing a results section into simple steps. From explaining tricky stats to showing your data clearly, we've got your back.

Let's get started!

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What Exactly is the Result Section of a Research Paper?

The results section of a research paper is where you get to showcase the findings of your study. 

Think of it as the big reveal, where you share all the important information and data you've gathered. This section is crucial because it's where your reader learns about the outcomes of your research and whether your hypotheses were supported or not.

Importance of the Result Section of a Research Paper

The results section in a research paper is really important. It's like a hub where you put all the main findings and results from your study. 

This part is crucial because it shows exactly what data you gathered and how you analyzed it.

In the academic world, the research results act as a kind of checkpoint. It lets other researchers and scholars review and confirm the reliability of your study methods. This helps ensure that your research is trustworthy and adds valuable information to the wider pool of knowledge in a specific field.

Also, the results section helps either prove or disprove the hypothesis you set up in your study. It's the part where the numbers and trends either support what you expected or reveal surprising insights.

What's Included in the Result Section of a Research Paper

When you're talking about the results of a research paper, it's important to know the key parts that make it clear and complete. 

Let’s see what the results section of a research paper includes:

Key Points To Consider In The Result Section:

  • Clarity: Present the results in a straightforward manner, making it easy for readers to comprehend.
  • Objectivity: Avoid interpretation or discussion at this stage; stick to presenting the observed data.
  • Consistency: Organize the results logically, following the same order as your research questions or hypotheses.

How to Write the Results Section of a Research Paper?

The results section of a research paper is crucial for conveying the outcomes of your study in a clear and organized manner. 

Follow these steps to learn how to write the findings section of a research paper:

Step 1: Start With a Clear Organization 

Begin the results section with a brief introductory paragraph that outlines the purpose of the results. Mention the research questions or hypotheses that the study aimed to address.

  • Order of Presentation

Present your results in a systematic and coherent order. Make sure the logical sequence with the research questions or hypotheses established in the earlier sections of your paper. 

This helps readers follow a logical flow and easily locate information related to specific aspects of your study.

  • Use of Subheadings

Divide the Results section into meaningful subsections using clear and descriptive subheadings.

Subheadings provide a roadmap for readers, guiding them through different parts of your results.

For example, if your research involves multiple variables or distinct analyses, create subheadings for each, making it easy for readers to navigate.

Step 2: Use Concise Text and Visuals

When writing the result section, use clear and concise language to communicate your results.

Avoid unnecessary details and focus on conveying the key research findings succinctly. Present each piece of data or result once, eliminating redundancy for a streamlined presentation.

  • Utilize Tables and Figures : Tables and figures should be self-explanatory, with titles and captions providing essential context.
  • Choose Appropriate Detail : Strike a balance between providing essential information and avoiding information overload.

Step 3: Be Objective and Specific

Present your findings without adding personal interpretation or analysis. Focus on conveying the observed outcomes in a straightforward and unbiased manner.

  • Stick to the Facts : State what was found during the study without speculating on the reasons or implications.
  • Include Numerical Data : Include means, medians, standard deviations, percentages, or any other statistical measures that accurately represent your results.
  • Quantify Results : Use precise numbers to quantify your findings wherever possible. This adds clarity and concreteness to your presentation.

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Step 4: Refer to Appendices

Evaluate the volume and complexity of your data to determine if it warrants inclusion in appendices. If your dataset is extensive and might overwhelm the main text, consider creating appendices.

Transfer detailed data, additional analyses, or supplementary information to appendices. Use separate appendices for different types of information, maintaining clarity.

  • Highlight Relevance : Explain how the appendices supplement and enrich the content presented in the main text.
  • Use Clear Labeling : Number or letter of each appendix for easy reference in the main text.

Step 5: Use Subheadings for Different Analyses

Recognize the various analyses conducted in your study, each addressing specific research questions or hypotheses. Introduce subheadings to distinguish and separate different analyses in the Results section.

Each subheading should correspond to a unique analysis, providing clarity to readers.

  • Clearly Label Subsections : The subheading should succinctly convey the focus of the analysis without ambiguity.
  • Guide Readers Effectively : The use of subheadings allows readers to locate specific information related to each analysis with ease.

Step 6: Highlight Patterns and Trends

Thoroughly examine your results to identify any recurring patterns or trends. Look for consistencies or variations in data points that are noteworthy for your study.

  • Consider Multiple Analyses : Explore patterns across different analyses if applicable, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of your findings.
  • Use Emphatic Language : Clearly convey the significance of identified trends in the context of your research questions.
  • Connect to Research Questions: Explain how the observed trends contribute to answering the main queries of your study.

Step 7: Address Negative or Unexpected Results

Approach unexpected or negative results with transparency and honesty. Clearly state that the outcomes were not as anticipated.

Make sure to resist the temptation to downplay unexpected or negative results and acknowledge them as integral parts of the scientific process.

For Example:

Step 8: Relate to Research Questions/Hypotheses

At the last, revisit the research questions or hypotheses established at the beginning of your paper. This serves as a reminder of the primary objectives of your study.

Explicitly connect each set of findings to the corresponding research question or hypothesis. Make sure you clearly state how the results address the specific inquiries posed at the outset.

Differences Between Qualitative and Quantitative Data 

Understanding the difference between qualitative and quantitative data is fundamental in research methodology. 

These two distinct types of data collection offer unique insights, each contributing to a comprehensive understanding of phenomena.

In this section, we explore the key characteristics that set qualitative and quantitative data apart.

Tips for Presenting Quantitative Data in the Results Section

  • Use clear and concise tables or graphs to present numerical results.
  • Include descriptive statistics (mean, median, etc.) to summarize central tendencies.

Tips for Presenting Qualitative Data in the Results Section

  • Summarize key themes or patterns derived from qualitative analysis.
  • Use quotes or excerpts to illustrate significant findings.

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How To Write The Results Section of A Research Paper - Examples 

Here are a few examples that show how to write the results part of a research paper. 

Results Section of a Research Paper - Apa

Results Section of a Qualitative Research Paper

Results Section of a Research Report

Result vs Discussion Section vs Conclusion - What’s the Difference?

The Results section presents a factual showcase of observed or measured outcomes.

In contrast, the discussion section goes beyond the facts, interpreting results, providing context to findings, and exploring their broader implications. 

Finally, the conclusion section summarizes key points, discusses implications, and often suggests avenues for future research.

Mistakes to Avoid While Writing the Results Section

The results section of a research paper demands precision and clarity to communicate the study's outcomes effectively. However, several common mistakes can compromise the quality of this section. 

To ensure an insightful results section, be mindful of the following pitfalls:

In summary, by following these tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can create a results section that meets academic standards and clearly shows why your research is important. 

Remember, the results section sets the stage for the subsequent discussion. If you present your findings well, it makes your whole research paper better and easier to understand.

If you ever feel stuck while writing a research paper, especially in the results section, consider reaching out to MyPerfectWords.com!  

Our experts can craft an outstanding result section that resonates with your whole research paper. We can also craft different parts of a research paper upon customized requests! 

So, do not delay! Get your custom paper from a professional essay writing service now! 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should the results section of a research paper be.

The length varies, but keep it concise. Include enough information to support your discussion and conclusion without unnecessary details. A balanced Results section enhances the overall flow of your research paper.

What is the Difference between Results And Discussion Sections?

The results section presents the raw findings of a study, focusing on data and observations.

In contrast, the Discussion section interprets and analyzes these results, offering insights, context, and help readers understand the significance of the findings.

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Introduction, Methods and Results

Introduction.

The Introduction should provide readers with the background information needed to understand your study, and the reasons why you conducted your experiments. The Introduction should answer the question: what question/problem was studied?

While writing the background, make sure your citations are:

  • Well balanced:  If experiments have found conflicting results on a question, have you cited studies with both kinds of results?
  • Current:  Every field is different, but you should aim to cite references that are not more than 10 years old if possible. Although be sure to cite the first discovery or mention in the literature even if it older than 10 years.
  • Relevant:  This is the most important requirement. The studies you cite should be strongly related to your research question.

TIP: Do not write a literature review in your Introduction, but do cite reviews where readers can find more information if they want it.

Once you have provided background material and stated the problem or question for your study, tell the reader the purpose of your study. Usually the reason is to fill a gap in the knowledge or to answer a previously unanswered question. For example, if a drug is known to work well in one population, but has never been tested in a different population, the purpose of a study could be to test the efficacy and safety of the drug in the second population.

The final thing to include at the end of your Introduction is a clear and exact statement of your study aims. You might also explain in a sentence or two how you conducted the study.

Materials and Methods

This section provides the reader with all the details of how you conducted your study. You should:

  • Use  subheadings  to separate different methodologies
  • Describe what you did in the  past tense
  • Describe new methods in enough detail that another researcher can reproduce your experiment
  • Describe established methods briefly, and simply cite a reference where readers can find more detail
  • State  all  statistical tests and parameters

TIP: Check the ‘Instructions for Authors’ for your target journal to see how manuscripts should present the Materials and Methods. Also, as another guide, look at previously published papers in the journal or sample reports on the journal website.

In the Results section, simply state what you found, but  do not interpret the results or discuss their implications.

  • As in the Materials and Methods section, use subheadings  to separate the results of different experiments.
  • Results should be presented in a  logical order . In general this will be in order of importance, not necessarily the order in which the experiments were performed. Use the  past tense  to describe your results; however, refer to figures and tables in the present tense.
  • Do not duplicate data  among figures, tables, and text. A common mistake is to re-state much of the data from a table in the text of the manuscript. Instead, use the text to summarize what the reader will find in the table, or mention one or two of the most important data points. It is usually much easier to read data in a table than in the text.
  • Include  the results of statistical analyses  in the text, usually by providing p values wherever statistically significant differences are described.

TIP: There is a famous saying in English: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This means that, sometimes, an image can explain your findings far better than text could. So make good use of figures and tables in your manuscript! However, avoid including redundant figures and tables (e.g. two showing the same thing in a different format), or using figures and tables where it would be better to just include the information in the text (e.g. where there is not enough data for a table or figure).

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Results Section Of A Research Paper: How To Write It Properly

results section of a research paper

The results section of a research paper refers to the part that represents the study’s core findings from the methods that the researcher used to collect and analyze data. This section presents the results logically without interpretation or bias from the author.

Thus, this part of a research paper sets up the read for evaluation and analysis of the findings in the discussion section. Essentially, this section breaks down the information into several sentences, showing its importance to the research question. Writing results section in a research paper entails summarizing the gathered data and the performed statistical analysis. That way, the author presents or reports the results without subjective interpretation.

What Is The Results Section Of A Research Paper?

In its simplest definition, a research paper results section is where the researcher reports the findings of a study based on the applied methodology for gathering information. It’s the part where the author states the research findings in a logical sequence without interpreting them. If the research paper has data from actual research, this section should feature a detailed description of the results.

When writing a dissertation, a thesis, or any other academic paper, the result section should come third in sections’ sequence. It should follow the Methods and Materials presentation and the Discussion section comes after it. But most scientific papers present the Results and Discussion sections together. However, the results section answers the question, “What did your research uncover?”

Ideally, this section allows you to report findings in research paper, creating the basis for sufficiently justified conclusions. After writing the study findings in the results section, you interpret them in the subsequent discussion part. Therefore, your results section should report information that will justify your claims. That way, you can look back on the results section when writing the discussion part to ensure that your report supports your conclusions.

What Goes in the Results Section of a Research Paper?

This section should present results in research paper. The findings part of a research paper can differ in structure depending on the study, discipline, and journal. Nevertheless, the results section presents a description of the experiment while presenting the research results. When writing this part of your research paper, you can use graphs and tables if necessary.

However, state the findings without interpreting them. For instance, you can find a correlation between variables when analyzing data. In that case, your results section can explain this correlation without speculating about the causes of this correlation.

Here’s what to include in the results section of research paper:

A brief introductory of the context, repeating the research questions to help the readers understand the results A report about information collection, participants, and recruitment: for instance, you can include a demographic summary with the participants’ characteristics A systematic findings’ description, with a logical presentation highlighting relevant and crucial results A contextual data analysis explaining the meaning in sentences Information corresponding to the primary research questions Secondary findings like subgroup analysis and secondary outcomes Visual elements like charts, figures, tables, and maps, illustrating and summarizing the findings

Ensure that your results section cites and numbers visual elements in an orderly manner. Every table or figure should stand alone without text. That means visual elements should have adequate non-textual content to enable the audiences to understand their meanings.

If your study has a broad scope, several variables, or used methodologies that yielded different results, state the most relevant results only based on the research question you presented in your Introduction section.

The general rule is to leave out any data that doesn’t present your study’s direct outcome or findings. Unless the professor, advisor, university faulty, or your target journal requests you to combine the Results and Discussion sections, omit the interpretations and explanations of the results in this section.

How Long Should A Results Section Be?

The findings section of a research paper ranges between two and three pages, with tables, text, and figures. In most cases, universities and journals insist that this section shouldn’t exceed 1,000 words over four to nine paragraphs, usually with no references.

But a good findings section occupies 5% of the entire paper. For instance, this section should have 500 words if a dissertation has 10,000 words. If the educator didn’t specify the number of words to include in this chapter, use the data you collect to determine its length. Nevertheless, be as concise as possible by featuring only relevant results that answer your research question.

How To Write Results Section Of Research Paper

Perhaps, you have completed researching and writing the preceding sections, and you’re now wondering how to write results. By the time you’re composing this section, you already have findings or answers to your research questions. However, you don’t even know how to start a results section. And your search for guidelines landed you on this page.

Well, every research project is different and unique. That’s why researchers use different strategies when writing this section of their research papers. The scientific or academic discipline, specialization field, target journal, and the author are factors influencing how you write this section. Nevertheless, there’s a general way of writing this section, although it might differ slightly between disciplines. Here’s how to write results section in a research paper.

Check the instructions or guidelines. Check their instructions or guidelines first, whether you’re writing the research paper as part of your coursework or for an academic journal. These guidelines outline the requirements for presenting results in research papers. Also, check the published articles to know how to approach this section. When reviewing the procedures, check content restrictions and length. Essentially, learn everything you can about this section from the instructions or guidelines before you start writing. Reflect on your research findings. With instructions and guidelines in mind, reflect on your research findings to determine how to present them in your research paper. Decide on the best way to show the results so that they can answer the research question. Also, strive to clarify and streamline your report, especially with a complex and lengthy results section. You can use subheadings to avoid peripheral and excessive details. Additionally, consider breaking down the content to make it easy for the readers to understand or remember. Your hypothesis, research question, or methodologies might influence the structure of the findings sections. Nevertheless, a hierarchy of importance, chronological order, or meaningful grouping of categories or themes can be an effective way of presenting your findings. Design your visual presentations. Visual presentations improve the textual report of the research findings. Therefore, decide on the figures and styles to use in your tables, graphs, photos, and maps. However, check the instructions and guidelines of your faculty or journal to determine the visual aids you can use. Also, check what the guidelines say about their formats and design elements. Ideally, number the figures and tables according to their mention in the text. Additionally, your figures and tables should be self-explanatory. Write your findings section. Writing the results section of a research paper entails communicating the information you gathered from your study. Ideally, be as objective and factual as possible. If you gathered complex information, try to simplify and present it accurately, precisely, and clearly. Therefore, use well-structured sentences instead of complex expressions and phrases. Also, use an active voice and past tense since you’ve already done the research. Additionally, use correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Take your time to present the findings in the best way possible to focus your readers on your study objectives while preparing them for the coming speculations, interpretations, and recommendations. Edit Your Findings Section. Once you’ve written the results part of your paper, please go through it to ensure that you’ve presented your study findings in the best way possible. Make sure that the content of this section is factual, accurate, and without errors. You’ve taken a considerable amount of time to compose the results scientific paper audiences will find interesting to read. Therefore, take a moment to go through the draft and eliminate all errors.

Practical Tips on How to Write a Results Section of a Research Paper

The results part of a research paper aims to present the key findings objectively in a logical and orderly sequence using text and illustrative materials. A common mistake that many authors make is confusing the information in the discussion and the results sections. To avoid this, focus on presenting your research findings without interpreting them or speculating about them.

The following tips on how to write a results section should make this task easier for you:

Summarize your study results: Instead of reporting the findings in full detail, summarize them. That way, you can develop an overview of the results. Present relevant findings only: Don’t report everything you found during your research. Instead, present pertinent information only. That means taking time to analyze your results to know what your audiences want to know. Report statistical findings: When writing this section, assume that the audiences understand statistical concepts. Therefore, don’t try to explain the nitty-gritty in this section. Remember that your work is to report your study’s findings in this section. Be objective and concise: You can interpret the findings in the discussion sections. Therefore, focus on presenting the results objectively and concisely in this section. Use the suitable format: Use the correct style to present the findings depending on your study field.

Get Professional Help with the Research Section

Maybe you’re pursuing your graduate or undergraduate studies but cannot write the results part of your paper. Perhaps, you’re done researching and analyzing information, but this section proves too tricky for you to write. Well, you’re not alone because many students across the world struggle to present their research findings.

Luckily, our highly educated, talented, and experienced writers are always ready to assist such learners. If you are stuck with the results part of your paper, our professionals can help you . We offer high-quality, custom writing help online. We’re a reliable team of experts with a sterling reputation for providing comprehensive assistance to college, high school, and university learners. We deliver highly informative academic papers after conducting extensive and in-depth research. Contact us saying something like, “please do my thesis” to get quality help with your paper!

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purpose of results section in research paper

How to Write the Results Section of a Research Paper

Table of Contents

Laura Moro-Martin, freelance scientific writer on Kolabtree, provides expert tips on how to write the results section of a research paper . 

You have prepared a detailed −but concise− Methods section . Now it is time to write the Results of your research article. This part of the paper reports the findings of the experiments that you conducted to answer the research question(s). The Results can be considered the nucleus of a scientific article because they justify your claims, so you need to ensure that they are clear and understandable. You are telling a story −of course, a scientific story− and you want the readers to picture that same story in their minds. Let’s see how to avoid that your message ends up as in the ‘telephone game’.

The Results Section: Goals and Structure

Depending on the discipline, journal, and the nature of the study, the structure of the article can differ. We will focus on articles were the Results and Discussion appear in two separate sections, but it is possible in some cases to combine them.

In the Results section, you provide an overall description of the experiments and present the data that you obtained in a logical order, using tables and graphs as necessary. The Results section should simply state your findings without bias or interpretation. For example, in your analysis, you may have noticed a significant correlation between two variables never described before. It is correct to explain this in the Results section. However, speculation about the reasons for this correlation should go in the Discussion section of your paper.

In general, the Results section includes the following elements:

  • A very short introductory context that repeats the research question and helps to understand your results.
  • Report on data collection, recruitment, and/or participants. For example, in the case of clinical research, it is common to include a first table summarizing the demographic, clinical, and other relevant characteristics of the study participants.
  • A systematic description of the main findings in a logical order (generally following the order of the Methods section), highlighting the most relevant results.
  • Other important secondary findings, such as secondary outcomes or subgroup analyses (remember that you do not need to mention any single result).
  • Visual elements, such as, figures, charts, maps, tables, etc. that summarize and illustrate the findings. These elements should be cited in the text and numbered in order. Figures and tables should be able to stand on its own without the text, which means that the legend should include enough information to understand the non-textual element.

How to Write the Results Section of a Research Paper: Tips

The first tip −applicable to other sections of the paper too− is to check and apply the requirements of the journal to which you are submitting your work.

In the Results section, you need to write concisely and objectively, leaving interpretation for the Discussion section. As always, ‘learning from others’ can help you. Select a few papers from your field, including some published in your target journal, which you consider ‘good quality’ and well written. Read them carefully and observe how the Results section is structured, the type and amount of information provided, and how the findings are exposed in a logical order. Keep an eye on visual elements, such as figures, tables, and supplementary materials. Understand what works well in those papers to effectively convey their findings, and apply it to your writing.

Your Results section needs to describe the sequence of what you did and found, the frequency of occurrence of a particular event or result, the quantities of your observations, and the causality (i.e. the relationships or connections) between the events that you observed.

To organize the results, you can try to provide them alongside the research questions. In practice, this means that you will organize this section based on the sequence of tables and figures summarizing the results of your statistical analysis. In this way, it will be easier for readers to look at and understand your findings. You need to report your statistical findings, without describing every step of your statistical analysis. Tables and figures generally report summary-level data (for example, means and standard deviations), rather than all the raw data.

Following, you can prepare the summary text to support those visual elements. You need not only to present but also to explain your findings, showing how they help to address the research question(s) and how they align with the objectives that you presented in the Introduction . Keep in mind that results do not speak for themselves, so if you do not describe them in words, the reader may perceive the findings differently from you. Build coherence along this section using goal statements and explicit reasoning (guide the reader through your reasoning, including sentences of this type: ‘In order to…, we performed….’; ‘In view of this result, we ….’, etc.).

In summary, the general steps for writing the Results section of a research article are:

  • Check the guidelines of your target journal and read articles that it has published in similar topics to your study.
  • Catalogue your findings in relation to the journal requirements, and design figures and tables to organize your data.
  • Write the Results section following the order of figures and tables.
  • Edit and revise your draft and seek additional input from colleagues or experts.

The Style of the Results Section

‘If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor’, Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann said. Although the scope of the Results section −and of scientific papers in general− is eminently functional, this does not mean that you cannot write well. Try to improve the rhythm to move the reader along, use transitions and connectors between different sections and paragraphs, and dedicate time to revise your writing.

The Results section should be written in the past tense. Although writing in the passive voice may be tempting, the use of the active voice makes the action much more visualizable. The passive voice weakens the power of language and increases the number of words needed to say the same thing, so we recommend using the active voice as much as possible. Another tip to make your language visualizable and reduce sentence length is the use of verbal phrases instead of long nouns. For example, instead of writing ‘As shown in Table 1, there was a significant increase in gene expression’, you can say ‘As shown in Table 1, gene expression increased significantly’.

Get a Second (And Even Third) Opinion

Writing a scientific article is not an individual work. Take advantage of your co-authors by making them check the Results section and adding their comments and suggestions. Not only that, but an external opinion will help you to identify misinterpretations or errors. Ask a colleague that is not directly involved in the work to review your Results and then try to evaluate what your colleague did or did not understand. If needed, seek additional help from a qualified expert.

Common Errors to Avoid While Writing the Results Section

Several mistakes frequently occur when you write the Results section of a research paper. Here we have collected a few examples:

  • Including raw results and/or endlessly repetitive data. You do not need to present every single number and calculation, but a summary of the results. If relevant, raw data can be included in supplementary materials.
  • Including redundant information. If data are contained in the tables or figures, you do not need to repeat all of them in the Results section. You will have the opportunity to highlight the most relevant results in the Discussion .
  • Repeating background information or methods , or introducing several sentences of introductory information (if you feel that more background information is necessary to present a result, consider inserting that information in the Introduction ).
  • Results and Methods do not match . You need to explain the methodology used to obtain all the experimental observations.
  • Ignoring negative results or results that do not support the conclusions. In addition to posing potential ethical concerns on your work, reviewers will not like it. You need to mention all relevant findings, even if they failed to support your predictions or hypotheses. Negative results are useful and will guide future studies on the topic. Provide your interpretation for negative results in the Discussion .
  • Discussing or interpreting the results . Leave that for the Discussion , unless your target journal allows preparing one section combining Results and Discussion .
  • Errors in figures/tables are varied and common . Examples of errors include using an excessive number of figures/tables (it is a good idea to select the most relevant ones and move the rest to supplementary materials), very complex figures/tables (hard-to-read figures with many subfigures or enormous tables may confuse your readers; think how these elements will be visualized in the final format of the article), difficult to interpret figures/tables (cryptic abbreviations; inadequate use of colors, axis, scales, symbols, etc.), and figures/tables that are not self-standing (figures/tables require a caption, all abbreviations used need to be explained in the legend or a footnote, and statistical tests applied are frequently reported). Do not include tables and figures that are not mentioned in the body text of your Results .

In summary, the Results section is the nucleus of your paper that justifies your claims. Take time to adequately organize it and prepare understandable figures and tables to convey your message to the reader. Good writing!

  • The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. https://abacus.bates.edu/~ganderso/biology/resources/writing/HTWsections.html – methods (accessed on 30th September 2020)
  • Organizing Academic Research Papers: 7. The Results. https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803&p=185931 (accessed on 30th September 2020)
  • Kendra Cherry. How to Write an APA Results Section. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-write-a-results-section-2795727 (accessed on 30th September 2020)
  • Chapin Rodríguez. Empowering your scientific language by making it “visualizable”. http://creaducate.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/tipsheet36_visualizable-lang-tip-sheet.pdf (accessed on 1st October 2020)
  • IMRaD Results Discussion. https://writingcenter.gmu.edu/guides/imrad-results-discussion (accessed on 1st October 2020)
  • Writing the Results Section for a Research Paper. https://wordvice.com/writing-the-results-section-for-a-research-paper/ (accessed on 1st October 2020)
  • Scott L. Montgomery. The Chicago Guide to Communicating Science , Chapter 9. Second edition, The University of Chicago Press, 2017.
  • Hilary Glasman-Deal . Science Research Writing for Non-Native Speakers of English, Unit 2 . Imperial College Press, 2010.

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Focus: Education — Career Advice

How to write your first research paper.

Writing a research manuscript is an intimidating process for many novice writers in the sciences. One of the stumbling blocks is the beginning of the process and creating the first draft. This paper presents guidelines on how to initiate the writing process and draft each section of a research manuscript. The paper discusses seven rules that allow the writer to prepare a well-structured and comprehensive manuscript for a publication submission. In addition, the author lists different strategies for successful revision. Each of those strategies represents a step in the revision process and should help the writer improve the quality of the manuscript. The paper could be considered a brief manual for publication.

It is late at night. You have been struggling with your project for a year. You generated an enormous amount of interesting data. Your pipette feels like an extension of your hand, and running western blots has become part of your daily routine, similar to brushing your teeth. Your colleagues think you are ready to write a paper, and your lab mates tease you about your “slow” writing progress. Yet days pass, and you cannot force yourself to sit down to write. You have not written anything for a while (lab reports do not count), and you feel you have lost your stamina. How does the writing process work? How can you fit your writing into a daily schedule packed with experiments? What section should you start with? What distinguishes a good research paper from a bad one? How should you revise your paper? These and many other questions buzz in your head and keep you stressed. As a result, you procrastinate. In this paper, I will discuss the issues related to the writing process of a scientific paper. Specifically, I will focus on the best approaches to start a scientific paper, tips for writing each section, and the best revision strategies.

1. Schedule your writing time in Outlook

Whether you have written 100 papers or you are struggling with your first, starting the process is the most difficult part unless you have a rigid writing schedule. Writing is hard. It is a very difficult process of intense concentration and brain work. As stated in Hayes’ framework for the study of writing: “It is a generative activity requiring motivation, and it is an intellectual activity requiring cognitive processes and memory” [ 1 ]. In his book How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing , Paul Silvia says that for some, “it’s easier to embalm the dead than to write an article about it” [ 2 ]. Just as with any type of hard work, you will not succeed unless you practice regularly. If you have not done physical exercises for a year, only regular workouts can get you into good shape again. The same kind of regular exercises, or I call them “writing sessions,” are required to be a productive author. Choose from 1- to 2-hour blocks in your daily work schedule and consider them as non-cancellable appointments. When figuring out which blocks of time will be set for writing, you should select the time that works best for this type of work. For many people, mornings are more productive. One Yale University graduate student spent a semester writing from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. when her lab was empty. At the end of the semester, she was amazed at how much she accomplished without even interrupting her regular lab hours. In addition, doing the hardest task first thing in the morning contributes to the sense of accomplishment during the rest of the day. This positive feeling spills over into our work and life and has a very positive effect on our overall attitude.

Rule 1: Create regular time blocks for writing as appointments in your calendar and keep these appointments.

2. start with an outline.

Now that you have scheduled time, you need to decide how to start writing. The best strategy is to start with an outline. This will not be an outline that you are used to, with Roman numerals for each section and neat parallel listing of topic sentences and supporting points. This outline will be similar to a template for your paper. Initially, the outline will form a structure for your paper; it will help generate ideas and formulate hypotheses. Following the advice of George M. Whitesides, “. . . start with a blank piece of paper, and write down, in any order, all important ideas that occur to you concerning the paper” [ 3 ]. Use Table 1 as a starting point for your outline. Include your visuals (figures, tables, formulas, equations, and algorithms), and list your findings. These will constitute the first level of your outline, which will eventually expand as you elaborate.

The next stage is to add context and structure. Here you will group all your ideas into sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion/Conclusion ( Table 2 ). This step will help add coherence to your work and sift your ideas.

Now that you have expanded your outline, you are ready for the next step: discussing the ideas for your paper with your colleagues and mentor. Many universities have a writing center where graduate students can schedule individual consultations and receive assistance with their paper drafts. Getting feedback during early stages of your draft can save a lot of time. Talking through ideas allows people to conceptualize and organize thoughts to find their direction without wasting time on unnecessary writing. Outlining is the most effective way of communicating your ideas and exchanging thoughts. Moreover, it is also the best stage to decide to which publication you will submit the paper. Many people come up with three choices and discuss them with their mentors and colleagues. Having a list of journal priorities can help you quickly resubmit your paper if your paper is rejected.

Rule 2: Create a detailed outline and discuss it with your mentor and peers.

3. continue with drafts.

After you get enough feedback and decide on the journal you will submit to, the process of real writing begins. Copy your outline into a separate file and expand on each of the points, adding data and elaborating on the details. When you create the first draft, do not succumb to the temptation of editing. Do not slow down to choose a better word or better phrase; do not halt to improve your sentence structure. Pour your ideas into the paper and leave revision and editing for later. As Paul Silvia explains, “Revising while you generate text is like drinking decaffeinated coffee in the early morning: noble idea, wrong time” [ 2 ].

Many students complain that they are not productive writers because they experience writer’s block. Staring at an empty screen is frustrating, but your screen is not really empty: You have a template of your article, and all you need to do is fill in the blanks. Indeed, writer’s block is a logical fallacy for a scientist ― it is just an excuse to procrastinate. When scientists start writing a research paper, they already have their files with data, lab notes with materials and experimental designs, some visuals, and tables with results. All they need to do is scrutinize these pieces and put them together into a comprehensive paper.

3.1. Starting with Materials and Methods

If you still struggle with starting a paper, then write the Materials and Methods section first. Since you have all your notes, it should not be problematic for you to describe the experimental design and procedures. Your most important goal in this section is to be as explicit as possible by providing enough detail and references. In the end, the purpose of this section is to allow other researchers to evaluate and repeat your work. So do not run into the same problems as the writers of the sentences in (1):

1a. Bacteria were pelleted by centrifugation. 1b. To isolate T cells, lymph nodes were collected.

As you can see, crucial pieces of information are missing: the speed of centrifuging your bacteria, the time, and the temperature in (1a); the source of lymph nodes for collection in (b). The sentences can be improved when information is added, as in (2a) and (2b), respectfully:

2a. Bacteria were pelleted by centrifugation at 3000g for 15 min at 25°C. 2b. To isolate T cells, mediastinal and mesenteric lymph nodes from Balb/c mice were collected at day 7 after immunization with ovabumin.

If your method has previously been published and is well-known, then you should provide only the literature reference, as in (3a). If your method is unpublished, then you need to make sure you provide all essential details, as in (3b).

3a. Stem cells were isolated, according to Johnson [23]. 3b. Stem cells were isolated using biotinylated carbon nanotubes coated with anti-CD34 antibodies.

Furthermore, cohesion and fluency are crucial in this section. One of the malpractices resulting in disrupted fluency is switching from passive voice to active and vice versa within the same paragraph, as shown in (4). This switching misleads and distracts the reader.

4. Behavioral computer-based experiments of Study 1 were programmed by using E-Prime. We took ratings of enjoyment, mood, and arousal as the patients listened to preferred pleasant music and unpreferred music by using Visual Analogue Scales (SI Methods). The preferred and unpreferred status of the music was operationalized along a continuum of pleasantness [ 4 ].

The problem with (4) is that the reader has to switch from the point of view of the experiment (passive voice) to the point of view of the experimenter (active voice). This switch causes confusion about the performer of the actions in the first and the third sentences. To improve the coherence and fluency of the paragraph above, you should be consistent in choosing the point of view: first person “we” or passive voice [ 5 ]. Let’s consider two revised examples in (5).

5a. We programmed behavioral computer-based experiments of Study 1 by using E-Prime. We took ratings of enjoyment, mood, and arousal by using Visual Analogue Scales (SI Methods) as the patients listened to preferred pleasant music and unpreferred music. We operationalized the preferred and unpreferred status of the music along a continuum of pleasantness. 5b. Behavioral computer-based experiments of Study 1 were programmed by using E-Prime. Ratings of enjoyment, mood, and arousal were taken as the patients listened to preferred pleasant music and unpreferred music by using Visual Analogue Scales (SI Methods). The preferred and unpreferred status of the music was operationalized along a continuum of pleasantness.

If you choose the point of view of the experimenter, then you may end up with repetitive “we did this” sentences. For many readers, paragraphs with sentences all beginning with “we” may also sound disruptive. So if you choose active sentences, you need to keep the number of “we” subjects to a minimum and vary the beginnings of the sentences [ 6 ].

Interestingly, recent studies have reported that the Materials and Methods section is the only section in research papers in which passive voice predominantly overrides the use of the active voice [ 5 , 7 , 8 , 9 ]. For example, Martínez shows a significant drop in active voice use in the Methods sections based on the corpus of 1 million words of experimental full text research articles in the biological sciences [ 7 ]. According to the author, the active voice patterned with “we” is used only as a tool to reveal personal responsibility for the procedural decisions in designing and performing experimental work. This means that while all other sections of the research paper use active voice, passive voice is still the most predominant in Materials and Methods sections.

Writing Materials and Methods sections is a meticulous and time consuming task requiring extreme accuracy and clarity. This is why when you complete your draft, you should ask for as much feedback from your colleagues as possible. Numerous readers of this section will help you identify the missing links and improve the technical style of this section.

Rule 3: Be meticulous and accurate in describing the Materials and Methods. Do not change the point of view within one paragraph.

3.2. writing results section.

For many authors, writing the Results section is more intimidating than writing the Materials and Methods section . If people are interested in your paper, they are interested in your results. That is why it is vital to use all your writing skills to objectively present your key findings in an orderly and logical sequence using illustrative materials and text.

Your Results should be organized into different segments or subsections where each one presents the purpose of the experiment, your experimental approach, data including text and visuals (tables, figures, schematics, algorithms, and formulas), and data commentary. For most journals, your data commentary will include a meaningful summary of the data presented in the visuals and an explanation of the most significant findings. This data presentation should not repeat the data in the visuals, but rather highlight the most important points. In the “standard” research paper approach, your Results section should exclude data interpretation, leaving it for the Discussion section. However, interpretations gradually and secretly creep into research papers: “Reducing the data, generalizing from the data, and highlighting scientific cases are all highly interpretive processes. It should be clear by now that we do not let the data speak for themselves in research reports; in summarizing our results, we interpret them for the reader” [ 10 ]. As a result, many journals including the Journal of Experimental Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Investigation use joint Results/Discussion sections, where results are immediately followed by interpretations.

Another important aspect of this section is to create a comprehensive and supported argument or a well-researched case. This means that you should be selective in presenting data and choose only those experimental details that are essential for your reader to understand your findings. You might have conducted an experiment 20 times and collected numerous records, but this does not mean that you should present all those records in your paper. You need to distinguish your results from your data and be able to discard excessive experimental details that could distract and confuse the reader. However, creating a picture or an argument should not be confused with data manipulation or falsification, which is a willful distortion of data and results. If some of your findings contradict your ideas, you have to mention this and find a plausible explanation for the contradiction.

In addition, your text should not include irrelevant and peripheral information, including overview sentences, as in (6).

6. To show our results, we first introduce all components of experimental system and then describe the outcome of infections.

Indeed, wordiness convolutes your sentences and conceals your ideas from readers. One common source of wordiness is unnecessary intensifiers. Adverbial intensifiers such as “clearly,” “essential,” “quite,” “basically,” “rather,” “fairly,” “really,” and “virtually” not only add verbosity to your sentences, but also lower your results’ credibility. They appeal to the reader’s emotions but lower objectivity, as in the common examples in (7):

7a. Table 3 clearly shows that … 7b. It is obvious from figure 4 that …

Another source of wordiness is nominalizations, i.e., nouns derived from verbs and adjectives paired with weak verbs including “be,” “have,” “do,” “make,” “cause,” “provide,” and “get” and constructions such as “there is/are.”

8a. We tested the hypothesis that there is a disruption of membrane asymmetry. 8b. In this paper we provide an argument that stem cells repopulate injured organs.

In the sentences above, the abstract nominalizations “disruption” and “argument” do not contribute to the clarity of the sentences, but rather clutter them with useless vocabulary that distracts from the meaning. To improve your sentences, avoid unnecessary nominalizations and change passive verbs and constructions into active and direct sentences.

9a. We tested the hypothesis that the membrane asymmetry is disrupted. 9b. In this paper we argue that stem cells repopulate injured organs.

Your Results section is the heart of your paper, representing a year or more of your daily research. So lead your reader through your story by writing direct, concise, and clear sentences.

Rule 4: Be clear, concise, and objective in describing your Results.

3.3. now it is time for your introduction.

Now that you are almost half through drafting your research paper, it is time to update your outline. While describing your Methods and Results, many of you diverged from the original outline and re-focused your ideas. So before you move on to create your Introduction, re-read your Methods and Results sections and change your outline to match your research focus. The updated outline will help you review the general picture of your paper, the topic, the main idea, and the purpose, which are all important for writing your introduction.

The best way to structure your introduction is to follow the three-move approach shown in Table 3 .

Adapted from Swales and Feak [ 11 ].

The moves and information from your outline can help to create your Introduction efficiently and without missing steps. These moves are traffic signs that lead the reader through the road of your ideas. Each move plays an important role in your paper and should be presented with deep thought and care. When you establish the territory, you place your research in context and highlight the importance of your research topic. By finding the niche, you outline the scope of your research problem and enter the scientific dialogue. The final move, “occupying the niche,” is where you explain your research in a nutshell and highlight your paper’s significance. The three moves allow your readers to evaluate their interest in your paper and play a significant role in the paper review process, determining your paper reviewers.

Some academic writers assume that the reader “should follow the paper” to find the answers about your methodology and your findings. As a result, many novice writers do not present their experimental approach and the major findings, wrongly believing that the reader will locate the necessary information later while reading the subsequent sections [ 5 ]. However, this “suspense” approach is not appropriate for scientific writing. To interest the reader, scientific authors should be direct and straightforward and present informative one-sentence summaries of the results and the approach.

Another problem is that writers understate the significance of the Introduction. Many new researchers mistakenly think that all their readers understand the importance of the research question and omit this part. However, this assumption is faulty because the purpose of the section is not to evaluate the importance of the research question in general. The goal is to present the importance of your research contribution and your findings. Therefore, you should be explicit and clear in describing the benefit of the paper.

The Introduction should not be long. Indeed, for most journals, this is a very brief section of about 250 to 600 words, but it might be the most difficult section due to its importance.

Rule 5: Interest your reader in the Introduction section by signalling all its elements and stating the novelty of the work.

3.4. discussion of the results.

For many scientists, writing a Discussion section is as scary as starting a paper. Most of the fear comes from the variation in the section. Since every paper has its unique results and findings, the Discussion section differs in its length, shape, and structure. However, some general principles of writing this section still exist. Knowing these rules, or “moves,” can change your attitude about this section and help you create a comprehensive interpretation of your results.

The purpose of the Discussion section is to place your findings in the research context and “to explain the meaning of the findings and why they are important, without appearing arrogant, condescending, or patronizing” [ 11 ]. The structure of the first two moves is almost a mirror reflection of the one in the Introduction. In the Introduction, you zoom in from general to specific and from the background to your research question; in the Discussion section, you zoom out from the summary of your findings to the research context, as shown in Table 4 .

Adapted from Swales and Feak and Hess [ 11 , 12 ].

The biggest challenge for many writers is the opening paragraph of the Discussion section. Following the moves in Table 1 , the best choice is to start with the study’s major findings that provide the answer to the research question in your Introduction. The most common starting phrases are “Our findings demonstrate . . .,” or “In this study, we have shown that . . .,” or “Our results suggest . . .” In some cases, however, reminding the reader about the research question or even providing a brief context and then stating the answer would make more sense. This is important in those cases where the researcher presents a number of findings or where more than one research question was presented. Your summary of the study’s major findings should be followed by your presentation of the importance of these findings. One of the most frequent mistakes of the novice writer is to assume the importance of his findings. Even if the importance is clear to you, it may not be obvious to your reader. Digesting the findings and their importance to your reader is as crucial as stating your research question.

Another useful strategy is to be proactive in the first move by predicting and commenting on the alternative explanations of the results. Addressing potential doubts will save you from painful comments about the wrong interpretation of your results and will present you as a thoughtful and considerate researcher. Moreover, the evaluation of the alternative explanations might help you create a logical step to the next move of the discussion section: the research context.

The goal of the research context move is to show how your findings fit into the general picture of the current research and how you contribute to the existing knowledge on the topic. This is also the place to discuss any discrepancies and unexpected findings that may otherwise distort the general picture of your paper. Moreover, outlining the scope of your research by showing the limitations, weaknesses, and assumptions is essential and adds modesty to your image as a scientist. However, make sure that you do not end your paper with the problems that override your findings. Try to suggest feasible explanations and solutions.

If your submission does not require a separate Conclusion section, then adding another paragraph about the “take-home message” is a must. This should be a general statement reiterating your answer to the research question and adding its scientific implications, practical application, or advice.

Just as in all other sections of your paper, the clear and precise language and concise comprehensive sentences are vital. However, in addition to that, your writing should convey confidence and authority. The easiest way to illustrate your tone is to use the active voice and the first person pronouns. Accompanied by clarity and succinctness, these tools are the best to convince your readers of your point and your ideas.

Rule 6: Present the principles, relationships, and generalizations in a concise and convincing tone.

4. choosing the best working revision strategies.

Now that you have created the first draft, your attitude toward your writing should have improved. Moreover, you should feel more confident that you are able to accomplish your project and submit your paper within a reasonable timeframe. You also have worked out your writing schedule and followed it precisely. Do not stop ― you are only at the midpoint from your destination. Just as the best and most precious diamond is no more than an unattractive stone recognized only by trained professionals, your ideas and your results may go unnoticed if they are not polished and brushed. Despite your attempts to present your ideas in a logical and comprehensive way, first drafts are frequently a mess. Use the advice of Paul Silvia: “Your first drafts should sound like they were hastily translated from Icelandic by a non-native speaker” [ 2 ]. The degree of your success will depend on how you are able to revise and edit your paper.

The revision can be done at the macrostructure and the microstructure levels [ 13 ]. The macrostructure revision includes the revision of the organization, content, and flow. The microstructure level includes individual words, sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

The best way to approach the macrostructure revision is through the outline of the ideas in your paper. The last time you updated your outline was before writing the Introduction and the Discussion. Now that you have the beginning and the conclusion, you can take a bird’s-eye view of the whole paper. The outline will allow you to see if the ideas of your paper are coherently structured, if your results are logically built, and if the discussion is linked to the research question in the Introduction. You will be able to see if something is missing in any of the sections or if you need to rearrange your information to make your point.

The next step is to revise each of the sections starting from the beginning. Ideally, you should limit yourself to working on small sections of about five pages at a time [ 14 ]. After these short sections, your eyes get used to your writing and your efficiency in spotting problems decreases. When reading for content and organization, you should control your urge to edit your paper for sentence structure and grammar and focus only on the flow of your ideas and logic of your presentation. Experienced researchers tend to make almost three times the number of changes to meaning than novice writers [ 15 , 16 ]. Revising is a difficult but useful skill, which academic writers obtain with years of practice.

In contrast to the macrostructure revision, which is a linear process and is done usually through a detailed outline and by sections, microstructure revision is a non-linear process. While the goal of the macrostructure revision is to analyze your ideas and their logic, the goal of the microstructure editing is to scrutinize the form of your ideas: your paragraphs, sentences, and words. You do not need and are not recommended to follow the order of the paper to perform this type of revision. You can start from the end or from different sections. You can even revise by reading sentences backward, sentence by sentence and word by word.

One of the microstructure revision strategies frequently used during writing center consultations is to read the paper aloud [ 17 ]. You may read aloud to yourself, to a tape recorder, or to a colleague or friend. When reading and listening to your paper, you are more likely to notice the places where the fluency is disrupted and where you stumble because of a very long and unclear sentence or a wrong connector.

Another revision strategy is to learn your common errors and to do a targeted search for them [ 13 ]. All writers have a set of problems that are specific to them, i.e., their writing idiosyncrasies. Remembering these problems is as important for an academic writer as remembering your friends’ birthdays. Create a list of these idiosyncrasies and run a search for these problems using your word processor. If your problem is demonstrative pronouns without summary words, then search for “this/these/those” in your text and check if you used the word appropriately. If you have a problem with intensifiers, then search for “really” or “very” and delete them from the text. The same targeted search can be done to eliminate wordiness. Searching for “there is/are” or “and” can help you avoid the bulky sentences.

The final strategy is working with a hard copy and a pencil. Print a double space copy with font size 14 and re-read your paper in several steps. Try reading your paper line by line with the rest of the text covered with a piece of paper. When you are forced to see only a small portion of your writing, you are less likely to get distracted and are more likely to notice problems. You will end up spotting more unnecessary words, wrongly worded phrases, or unparallel constructions.

After you apply all these strategies, you are ready to share your writing with your friends, colleagues, and a writing advisor in the writing center. Get as much feedback as you can, especially from non-specialists in your field. Patiently listen to what others say to you ― you are not expected to defend your writing or explain what you wanted to say. You may decide what you want to change and how after you receive the feedback and sort it in your head. Even though some researchers make the revision an endless process and can hardly stop after a 14th draft; having from five to seven drafts of your paper is a norm in the sciences. If you can’t stop revising, then set a deadline for yourself and stick to it. Deadlines always help.

Rule 7: Revise your paper at the macrostructure and the microstructure level using different strategies and techniques. Receive feedback and revise again.

5. it is time to submit.

It is late at night again. You are still in your lab finishing revisions and getting ready to submit your paper. You feel happy ― you have finally finished a year’s worth of work. You will submit your paper tomorrow, and regardless of the outcome, you know that you can do it. If one journal does not take your paper, you will take advantage of the feedback and resubmit again. You will have a publication, and this is the most important achievement.

What is even more important is that you have your scheduled writing time that you are going to keep for your future publications, for reading and taking notes, for writing grants, and for reviewing papers. You are not going to lose stamina this time, and you will become a productive scientist. But for now, let’s celebrate the end of the paper.

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Writing an Effective Results Section for Your Research Paper

David Costello

In the world of scientific research, communication is key. It's not just about making discoveries or developing insights; it's also about sharing these findings with the scientific community and the world at large. Among the various sections of a research paper, one stands out as the linchpin: the results section.

The results section serves a vital role, presenting the hard evidence on which your entire study hinges. It's here where your hours of rigorous research, painstaking data collection, and meticulous analysis bear fruit. This section serves as the bridge between your methods and your discussion. In other words, it's where you share the data you've collected, paving the way for your interpretations in the discussion and conclusion sections.

Yet, while its importance is undisputed, crafting a compelling results section can often feel like a formidable task. How do you present your findings clearly? How do you make sense of a mountain of data? How can you keep your readers engaged, and how can you ensure your findings are understood and appreciated? These are some of the questions we'll answer in this article as we delve into the craft of writing an effective results section for your research paper.

Understanding the role of the results section

Science, at its core, is a quest for understanding, a journey of curiosity-driven exploration. Each research study is a step on this journey, a piece in the grand puzzle of scientific knowledge. And within each study, the results section plays a pivotal role. It's the spotlight that illuminates your findings, the narrative thread that weaves together your methods and your conclusions. Here, the abstract becomes the concrete, the theoretical becomes the practical, and the unknown becomes the known.

The primary role of the results section is simple, yet crucial: to objectively present your findings. It's a factual narrative, recounting what your study has uncovered. Your task is to lay out these facts clearly and concisely, avoiding speculation, interpretation, or bias. It's about presenting the data as it is, in its raw, unfiltered form. This focus on objectivity differentiates the results section from the discussion and conclusion sections, where you're allowed to interpret your findings and draw inferences.

Presenting your results is a balancing act. On one side is the sea of data that your study has generated. On the other is the need for clarity, coherence, and brevity. Striking the right balance between these two can be challenging, but it's a challenge that you must embrace. Remember, it's not just about presenting all of your data. It's about selecting the most relevant results, structuring them logically, and communicating them effectively.

Understanding your audience is also key to presenting your results effectively. While your research might be specialized, your readers might not share your level of expertise. As such, it's essential to present your results in a way that is accessible to a broader audience. After all, the power of your findings lies in their ability to resonate with your audience, to spark curiosity and further the quest for knowledge.

Structuring and organizing your results

If you think of your results section as a garden, then structuring and organizing your results is akin to landscaping. Just as a well-designed landscape creates a pathway through a garden, a well-structured results section guides your reader through your findings. It's about cultivating a clear, coherent, and logical narrative from the raw data, helping your reader navigate the terrain of your results.

Start by identifying the key results of your study – the big finds that answer your research question or support your hypothesis . These form the backbone of your results section and should be given prominence. However, don't neglect the smaller, secondary results. While they might not directly address your research question , they provide important context and can help your reader understand the broader implications of your study.

In terms of organization, your results should follow a logical sequence. This could be the chronological order in which you obtained your results, or it could mirror the structure of your methods section. By maintaining a logical flow, you'll enhance the clarity and coherence of your results, making it easier for your reader to follow along.

However, structuring your results isn't just about order. It's also about clarity. Each result should be presented clearly, with enough detail for your reader to understand what you found and how it contributes to your overall study. Use clear language , avoid jargon, and include enough context for your reader to understand the significance of each result.

Presenting your data effectively

Presenting your data effectively is like painting a picture. Your data is your palette, and your results section is your canvas. Your task is to create a clear, accurate, and engaging portrayal of your findings, using both text and visuals to bring your data to life.

Text is the backbone of your data presentation. It's the detailed narrative that guides your reader through your findings, explaining the significance of each result, and highlighting the key insights. However, while text provides the detail, visuals provide the overview. They offer a quick, intuitive understanding of your data, complementing your textual narrative by illustrating trends, patterns, and relationships in a way that's immediately understandable.

Visuals can take many forms, from graphs and charts to tables and diagrams . Each has its strengths and is best suited to present certain types of data. Graphs and charts are great for showing trends and relationships, while tables are ideal for presenting detailed numerical data. Diagrams, on the other hand, can help illustrate complex processes or structures.

However, while visuals can greatly enhance your data presentation, they must be used wisely. Ensure each visual is clear, accurate, and serves a specific purpose in your narrative. Avoid overloading your visuals with too much information, and always provide a clear caption and reference in the text. Remember, your visuals are not standalone elements, but integral parts of your data presentation.

Writing about your results

Writing about your results is the art of storytelling. It's about crafting a compelling narrative from your data, engaging your reader with a clear, concise, and coherent account of your findings.

Each paragraph in your results section should begin with a clear topic sentence that outlines the result you'll discuss. This sentence acts as a signpost, guiding your reader through the narrative of your results. Following the topic sentence, you should present the relevant data, providing enough detail for your reader to understand the result and its significance.

As you present your data, use language that is precise and objective. Avoid speculation or interpretation — remember, this is the results section, not the discussion. Also, be mindful of your audience. As mentioned previously, be sure to use clear, accessible language, avoid jargon, and provide enough context for your reader to understand your findings.

Equally important is the structure of your writing. Maintain a logical flow within and between paragraphs, ensuring each result follows naturally from the last. This will help your reader follow your narrative and understand the progression of your study.

Interpreting your statistics

Statistical analysis is the linchpin of scientific research . It's the tool that transforms raw data into meaningful insights, enabling us to discern patterns, identify relationships, and draw conclusions. As such, interpreting your statistics is an integral part of writing your results section.

Start by clearly explaining the statistical tests you used and why you chose them. This offers important context, helping your reader understand your analytical approach. Be explicit about your statistical assumptions, your choice of significance level, and any corrections for multiple testing you might have applied.

Next, present the results of your statistical tests. Here, precision and clarity are key. Provide exact p-values and confidence intervals and avoid ambiguous language. Be careful not to overstate the significance of your findings – remember, statistical significance doesn't necessarily imply practical importance.

In the end, interpreting your statistics isn't just about crunching numbers. It's about making sense of your data and understanding what it means in the context of your research question. It's about making your data speak and listening to what it has to say.

Fine-tuning your results section

Writing a results section is not a linear process, but rather an iterative one. It's like sculpting – you start with a rough outline and gradually refine it, smoothing out the edges and adding detail until you have a polished, finished product.

This fine-tuning process involves several stages. The first is drafting – getting your results down on paper. At this stage, focus on clarity and completeness. Ensure all your key results are presented, and that each is clear and understandable.

Next comes revising. This is where you hone your narrative, refining your language and improving your flow. Look for ways to make your text more engaging and accessible. Simplify complex sentences, clarify ambiguous points, and ensure your results are presented in a logical order.

Finally, proofread your work. Look for grammatical errors, typos, and inconsistencies in style or formatting. Pay close attention to your visuals – are they clear and accurate? Do they have clear captions, and are they properly referenced in the text?

In conclusion, writing a results section is a journey, not a destination. It's an iterative process of drafting, revising, and proofreading. With patience, persistence, and attention to detail, you can craft a results section that effectively communicates your findings, contributing to the collective pool of scientific knowledge.

Header image by Sutichak .

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COMMENTS

  1. Research Results Section

    The results section of the research paper presents the findings of the study. It is the part of the paper where the researcher reports the data collected during the study and analyzes it to draw conclusions.

  2. How to Write a Results Section

    A results section is where you report the main findings of the data collection and analysis you conducted for your thesis or dissertation. You should report all relevant results concisely and objectively, in a logical order.

  3. PDF Results Section for Research Papers

    The results section summarizes and presents the findings of the study to put them in context with your research question(s). The study's data should be presented in a logical sequence without bias or interpretation. Findings may be reported in written text, tables, graphs, and other illustrations.

  4. How to write the results section of a research paper

    Although the main purpose of the results section in a research paper is to report the findings, it is necessary to present an introduction and repeat the research question. This establishes a connection to the previous section of the paper and creates a smooth flow of information.

  5. Importance of the Results Section in Academic Papers

    The Results section is to present your key results objectively and in an orderly sequence using both illustrative materials (Tables and Figures) and text. It should be organized around a series of Tables and/or Figures sequenced to present your key findings in a logical order. The text of the Results section follows this sequence and provides answers to the questions/hypotheses you investigated.

  6. How to Write the Results/Findings Section in Research

    A major purpose of the Results section is to break down the data into sentences that show its significance to the research question (s). The Results section appears third in the section sequence in most scientific papers.

  7. 7. The Results

    The results section is where you report the findings of your study based upon the methodology [or methodologies] you applied to gather information. The results section should state the findings of the research arranged in a logical sequence without bias or interpretation.

  8. PDF Results/Findings Sections for Empirical Research Papers

    The Results (also sometimes called Findings) section in an empirical research paper describes what the researcher(s) found when they analyzed their data. Its primary purpose is to use the data collected to answer the research question(s) posed in the introduction, even if the findings challenge the hypothesis.

  9. What goes in the results section of a dissertation?

    The results chapter of a thesis or dissertation presents your research results concisely and objectively. In quantitative research, for each question or hypothesis, state: The type of analysis used. Relevant results in the form of descriptive and inferential statistics. Whether or not the alternative hypothesis was supported.

  10. How to Write an Effective Results Section

    The Results section is where the authors inform the readers about the findings from the statistical analysis of the data collected to operationalize the study hypothesis, optimally adding novel information to the collective knowledge on the subject matter.

  11. Organizing Academic Research Papers: 7. The Results

    The results section of the research paper is where you report the findings of your study based upon the information gathered as a result of the methodology [or methodologies] you applied. The results section should simply state the findings, without bias or interpretation, and arranged in a logical sequence.

  12. The Principles of Biomedical Scientific Writing: Results

    The "results section" of a scientific paper provides the results related to all measurements and outcomes that have been posted earlier in the materials and methods section. This section consists of text, figures, and tables presenting detailed data and facts without interpretation and discussion.

  13. How to Write the Results Section of a Research Paper

    Figures can enhance and clarify the text. They should not be used as a substitute for written content. Remember to use tables and figures as focal points to enhance your research findings and ensure they add value to your paper. Step 4. Outlining the results section based on the research findings.

  14. How To Write The Results Section of A Research Paper

    1. What Exactly is the Result Section of a Research Paper? 2. Importance of the Result Section of a Research Paper 3. How to Write the Results Section of a Research Paper? 4. Differences Between Qualitative and Quantitative Data 5. How To Write The Results Section of A Research Paper - Examples 6.

  15. Introduction, Methods and Results

    In the Results section, simply state what you found, but do not interpret the results or discuss their implications. As in the Materials and Methods section, use subheadings to separate the results of different experiments. Results should be presented in a logical order.

  16. Results Section Of Research Paper: All You Need To Know

    The results section of a research paper reports the core findings of a study based on the methods and data collection. It should present the results logically without interpretation or bias from the author. Learn what to include, how long it should be, and how to write it with tips and examples.

  17. How to Write the Results Section of a Research Paper

    Build coherence along this section using goal statements and explicit reasoning (guide the reader through your reasoning, including sentences of this type: 'In order to…, we performed….'; 'In view of this result, we ….', etc.). In summary, the general steps for writing the Results section of a research article are:

  18. How to Write Your First Research Paper

    In the "standard" research paper approach, your Results section should exclude data interpretation, leaving it for the Discussion section. However, interpretations gradually and secretly creep into research papers: "Reducing the data, generalizing from the data, and highlighting scientific cases are all highly interpretive processes.

  19. Writing an Effective Results Section for Your Research Paper

    In the world of scientific research, communication is key. It's not just about making discoveries or developing insights; it's also about sharing these findings with the scientific community and the world at large. Among the various sections of a research paper, one stands out as the linchpin: the results section. The results section serves a vital role, presenting the hard evidence on which ...

  20. The Results Section of a Dissertation

    Conventionally, the results section is the fourth chapter of your dissertation, written after you present your method of study. How exactly you present your findings differs from study to study, depending on the topic and discipline your research is situated in, the methods you used, and what kind of data you are presenting. Here's what you ...

  21. PDF How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper

    The methods section should describe what was done to answer the research question, describe how it was done, justify the experimental design, and explain how the results were analyzed. Scientific writing is direct and orderly. Therefore, the methods section structure should: describe the materials used in the study, explain how the materials ...

  22. Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment: Insurrection

    First, an insurrection at the time Section Three was framed consisted of an assemblage resisting the implementation of any law by force, violence and intimidation for a public purpose and was not limited to rebellious attempts to overthrow the government. Second, the events of January 6, 2021 are consistent with the legal understanding of ...