Results Section: Tips on Academic Writing
The Results section of an academic paper should present the main results of your research without any interpretation, in a logical manner. Check out these writing tips at College Writers blog.
The Results section may contain figures and tables that illustrate your findings. The Methods section explains how you collected data while the Results section should present this data, providing a summary of the statistical analysis. You may provide this analysis in the textual format, or as figures and tables. You have to list your findings in a logical order, giving the answer to your question or hypothesis. It’s also important to report any negative results. Quite often, authors choose to write the Results section based on the content of figures and tables.
Most often writers confuse the Discussion and Results section. You can organize your results in two ways:
- Presenting discussion and results in parts;
- Presenting results in one section, and the discussion in the separate section.
We recommend that you choose the method of organization depending on the type of your results and your research. The main thing is to make your presentation as clear as possible so that your readers can easily get a grasp on the key findings of your research.
There are journals that expect you to present the discussion and results in two separate sections. In this case, you should understand the difference in their functions. The Discussion section should interpret your data, while the Results section should just present it.
The Results section should be short and objective. No matter what the field of your study is, we recommend that you follow these simple rules:
- Use passive voice, however, active voice can be also acceptable.
- Don’t create repetitive structures
- Use the past tense
- Don’t interpret your data
Switching to the interpretive language may be tricky. Therefore, we suggest that you illustrate your ideas with data and provide your observations in the context of the main idea.
Write your Results section based on featured tables and figures. We suggest that you prepare your figures and tables as soon as you get the results of your research, organizing your findings in a logical order. After this, determine a couple of the most important results that you will consider in the interpretation.
Guideline 1: Assign different numbers to figures and tables. Don’t forget to include short descriptions as a legend. Legends should be placed above tables and below figures, according to the way we read them: top to bottom and bottom to top, respectively. References to figures are usually abbreviated (e.g. “Fig.”), while tables are never abbreviated (e.g. “Table 1”).
The body of your Results section should present the information from figures and tables in a textual form, highlighting findings that answer the most important questions. Depending on the subject of your research and its key questions, you may focus on important differences, trends, correlations, similarities, etc.
- Don’t reiterate all the findings from a table or figure but consider the most important results.
- Don’t present the same data as a figure and a table. This way, you’ll just waste your space.
- If you can summarize data as percents instead of presenting raw values, do it.
Guideline 2: Results of statistical tests are usually summarized in parentheses along with the supported results. Always include parenthetical references when writing a conclusion that supports your findings. They should include the statistical test and its importance.
If you provide the summary statistics using figures, they should follow a sentence that refers to them but not reports them specifically.
- In scientific studies, the words “significant” and “significantly” mean that there was a statistical test that demonstrated a larger difference compared to mean heights obtained by chance. Use the word “significant” only for this purpose. In addition, if there is a significant p-value in your parenthetical statistical data, there’s no need to use the word “significant” in the text.
Guideline 3: Negative results are also important! If your actual results are different from what you’ve expected, it means that your hypothesis was wrong and you need to reformulate it. Unexpected results may also mean that there’s a need for further research, and you should acknowledge it. These are the results you shouldn’t think of as “bad data” because you may miss some important discoveries.