The purpose of a Results section is to present the key results of your research without interpreting their meaning. Results should not be combined with the Discussion section, unless it is a requisite of the target journal.

A common mistake is to start writing the results section BEFORE having all the data presented in figures and tables in their final version. Don’t do this!

Once you have all your publishable data in the form of figures and tables, writing the results section is only a matter of describing them. This does not mean that you have to describe each individual data. You must focus on the data that are directly related to the answer of your research question; describe those data, and establish their relation with the research question and answer.

Before writing the results section, it is important to carefully look at the tables and figures, and to order them in a logical way that tells a complete story.

The best way to present the results is to organize them in a way that shows first the data that have the closest relation with the research question. The problem with this writing style is that it requires very good writing skills.

The second best way of presenting the data is in chronological order.  If you choose this writing style, do not forget to establish the relation of the data with the research question and answer, as you go through this section.  

Remember, the results section does not need to include a description of every result you obtained or observed. Doing so will only steal your reader’s attention from the findings that actually answer your research question.

Regardless of the way you decide to present your results, pay attention to the following points:

1. Always use the past tense when you refer to your results, and write with accuracy, brevity and clarity.

2. You need to SUMMARIZE your findings, and point the reader to the relevant data in the figures and/or tables. The text should complement the figures or tables, not repeat the same information.

If you have a series of data points shown in a graph, there is no need to give the values for each of them in the text; describe instead the trend(s) of the data. If there is no trend, state it so!

3. Describe your data in terms of the VARIABLES that you are studying, rather than in terms of experimental groups. Describing results in terms of the variables is a much clearer and more direct writing style.

“Drug B increased the heart rate in patients” is much clearer and more concise than “There was an increment in the heart rate in patients of group B”.

4. Provide a clear description of the magnitude of a response or difference. If appropriate, use percentage of change rather than exact data.

5. Make sure that the data are accurate and described consistently throughout the manuscript.

6. Number figures and tables consecutively in the same sequence they are first mentioned in the text.

7. Provide a heading for each figure and table.

Make sure to include enough information in the figure legends, for the image to be interpreted without having to read the whole text.

A collection of scientific papers with an excellent results section.

You can use these manuscripts as models to write: (1) hypothesis-testing papers, (2) descriptive papers, (3) methodological papers, or (4) case reports.

How to write the results for an outstanding academic paper? Additional Resources “How to write a scientific Paper” - Workshop. On-line

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