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  • Writing a Scientific Paper

Writing a Scientific Paper: RESULTS

Writing a "good" results section

This is the core of the paper. Don't start the results sections with methods you left out of the Materials and Methods section. You need to give an overall description of the experiments and present the data you found.

Goals: • Factual statements supported by evidence. Short and sweet without excess words • Present representative data rather than endlessly repetitive data • Discuss variables only if they had an effect (positive or negative) • Use meaningful statistics • Avoid redundancy. If it is in the tables or captions you may not need to repeat it

Figures and Captions in Lab Reports

A short article by Dr. Brett Couch and Dr. Deena Wassenberg, Biology Program, University of Minnesota

"Results Checklist" from: How to Write a Good Scientific Paper. Chris A. Mack. SPIE. 2018.

Present the results of the paper, in logical order, using tables and graphs as necessary.

Explain the results and show how they help to answer the research questions posed in the Introduction. Evidence does not explain itself; the results must be presented and then explained. 

Avoid: presenting results that are never discussed;  presenting results in chronological order rather than logical order; ignoring results that do not support the conclusions; 

Additional Tips for Results Sections

From: https://writingcenter.gmu.edu/guides/imrad-results-discussion

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Reporting Research Results in APA Style | Tips & Examples

Published on December 21, 2020 by Pritha Bhandari . Revised on July 9, 2022.

The results section of a quantitative research paper is where you summarize your data and report the findings of any relevant statistical analyses.

The APA manual provides rigorous guidelines for what to report in quantitative research papers in the fields of psychology, education, and other social sciences.

Use these standards to answer your research questions and report your data analyses in a complete and transparent way.

Table of contents

What goes in your results section, introduce your data, summarize your data, report statistical results, presenting numbers effectively, what doesn’t belong in your results section, frequently asked questions about results in apa.

In APA style, the results section includes preliminary information about the participants and data, descriptive and inferential statistics, and the results of any exploratory analyses.

Include these in your results section:

Write up the results in the past tense because you’re describing the outcomes of a completed research study.

Before diving into your research findings, first describe the flow of participants at every stage of your study and whether any data were excluded from the final analysis.

Participant flow and recruitment period

It’s necessary to report any attrition, which is the decline in participants at every sequential stage of a study. That’s because an uneven number of participants across groups sometimes threatens internal validity and makes it difficult to compare groups. Be sure to also state all reasons for attrition.

If your study has multiple stages (e.g., pre-test, intervention, and post-test) and groups (e.g., experimental and control groups), a flow chart is the best way to report the number of participants in each group per stage and reasons for attrition.

Also report the dates for when you recruited participants or performed follow-up sessions.

Missing data

Another key issue is the completeness of your dataset. It’s necessary to report both the amount and reasons for data that was missing or excluded.

Data can become unusable due to equipment malfunctions, improper storage, unexpected events, participant ineligibility, and so on. For each case, state the reason why the data were unusable.

Some data points may be removed from the final analysis because they are outliers—but you must be able to justify how you decided what to exclude.

If you applied any techniques for overcoming or compensating for lost data, report those as well.

Adverse events

For clinical studies, report all events with serious consequences or any side effects that occured.

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results in scientific paper

Descriptive statistics summarize your data for the reader. Present descriptive statistics for each primary, secondary, and subgroup analysis.

Don’t provide formulas or citations for commonly used statistics (e.g., standard deviation) – but do provide them for new or rare equations.

Descriptive statistics

The exact descriptive statistics that you report depends on the types of data in your study. Categorical variables can be reported using proportions, while quantitative data can be reported using means and standard deviations . For a large set of numbers, a table is the most effective presentation format.

Include sample sizes (overall and for each group) as well as appropriate measures of central tendency and variability for the outcomes in your results section. For every point estimate , add a clearly labelled measure of variability as well.

Be sure to note how you combined data to come up with variables of interest. For every variable of interest, explain how you operationalized it.

According to APA journal standards, it’s necessary to report all relevant hypothesis tests performed, estimates of effect sizes, and confidence intervals.

When reporting statistical results, you should first address primary research questions before moving onto secondary research questions and any exploratory or subgroup analyses.

Present the results of tests in the order that you performed them—report the outcomes of main tests before post-hoc tests, for example. Don’t leave out any relevant results, even if they don’t support your hypothesis.

Inferential statistics

For each statistical test performed, first restate the hypothesis , then state whether your hypothesis was supported and provide the outcomes that led you to that conclusion.

Report the following for each hypothesis test:

When reporting complex data analyses, such as factor analysis or multivariate analysis, present the models estimated in detail, and state the statistical software used. Make sure to report any violations of statistical assumptions or problems with estimation.

Effect sizes and confidence intervals

For each hypothesis test performed, you should present confidence intervals and estimates of effect sizes .

Confidence intervals are useful for showing the variability around point estimates. They should be included whenever you report population parameter estimates.

Effect sizes indicate how impactful the outcomes of a study are. But since they are estimates, it’s recommended that you also provide confidence intervals of effect sizes.

Subgroup or exploratory analyses

Briefly report the results of any other planned or exploratory analyses you performed. These may include subgroup analyses as well.

Subgroup analyses come with a high chance of false positive results, because performing a large number of comparison or correlation tests increases the chances of finding significant results.

If you find significant results in these analyses, make sure to appropriately report them as exploratory (rather than confirmatory) results to avoid overstating their importance.

While these analyses can be reported in less detail in the main text, you can provide the full analyses in supplementary materials.

To effectively present numbers, use a mix of text, tables , and figures where appropriate:

Since these are general guidelines, use your own judgment and feedback from others for effective presentation of numbers.

Tables and figures should be numbered and have titles, along with relevant notes. Make sure to present data only once throughout the paper and refer to any tables and figures in the text.

Formatting statistics and numbers

It’s important to follow capitalization , italicization, and abbreviation rules when referring to statistics in your paper. There are specific format guidelines for reporting statistics in APA , as well as general rules about writing numbers .

If you are unsure of how to present specific symbols, look up the detailed APA guidelines or other papers in your field.

It’s important to provide a complete picture of your data analyses and outcomes in a concise way. For that reason, raw data and any interpretations of your results are not included in the results section.

It’s rarely appropriate to include raw data in your results section. Instead, you should always save the raw data securely and make them available and accessible to any other researchers who request them.

Making scientific research available to others is a key part of academic integrity and open science.

Interpretation or discussion of results

This belongs in your discussion section. Your results section is where you objectively report all relevant findings and leave them open for interpretation by readers.

While you should state whether the findings of statistical tests lend support to your hypotheses, refrain from forming conclusions to your research questions in the results section.

Explanation of how statistics tests work

For the sake of concise writing, you can safely assume that readers of your paper have professional knowledge of how statistical inferences work.

In an APA results section , you should generally report the following:

According to the APA guidelines, you should report enough detail on inferential statistics so that your readers understand your analyses.

You should also present confidence intervals and estimates of effect sizes where relevant.

In APA style, statistics can be presented in the main text or as tables or figures . To decide how to present numbers, you can follow APA guidelines:

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

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.

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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:

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:

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:

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!

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About Author

Ramya Sriram manages digital content and communications at Kolabtree (kolabtree.com), the world's largest freelancing platform for scientists. She has over a decade of experience in publishing, advertising and digital content creation.

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How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists

May 09, 2016, london school of economics and political science, jennifer raff.

From vaccinations to climate change, getting science wrong has very real consequences. But journal articles, a primary way science is communicated in academia, are a different format to newspaper articles or blogs and require a level of skill and undoubtedly a greater amount of patience. Here  Jennifer Raff   has prepared a helpful guide for non-scientists on how to read a scientific paper. These steps and tips will be useful to anyone interested in the presentation of scientific findings and raise important points for scientists to consider with their own writing practice.

My post,  The truth about vaccinations: Your physician knows more than the University of Google  sparked a very lively discussion, with comments from several people trying to persuade me (and the other readers) that their paper disproved everything that I’d been saying. While I encourage you to go read the comments and contribute your own, here I want to focus on the much larger issue that this debate raised: what constitutes scientific authority?

It’s not just a fun academic problem. Getting the science wrong has very real consequences. For example, when a community doesn’t vaccinate children because they’re afraid of “toxins” and think that prayer (or diet, exercise, and “clean living”) is enough to prevent infection, outbreaks happen .

“Be skeptical. But when you get proof, accept proof.” –Michael Specter

What constitutes enough proof? Obviously everyone has a different answer to that question. But to form a truly educated opinion on a scientific subject, you need to become familiar with current research in that field. And to do that, you have to read the “primary research literature” (often just called “the literature”). You might have tried to read scientific papers before and been frustrated by the dense, stilted writing and the unfamiliar jargon. I remember feeling this way!  Reading and understanding research papers is a skill which every single doctor and scientist has had to learn during graduate school.  You can learn it too, but like any skill it takes patience and practice.

I want to help people become more scientifically literate, so I wrote this guide for how a layperson can approach reading and understanding a scientific research paper. It’s appropriate for someone who has no background whatsoever in science or medicine, and based on the assumption that he or she is doing this for the purpose of getting a  basic understanding of a paper and deciding whether or not it’s a reputable study.

The type of scientific paper I’m discussing here is referred to as a primary research article . It’s a peer-reviewed report of new research on a specific question (or questions). Another useful type of publication is a review article . Review articles are also peer-reviewed, and don’t present new information, but summarize multiple primary research articles, to give a sense of the consensus, debates, and unanswered questions within a field.  (I’m not going to say much more about them here, but be cautious about which review articles you read. Remember that they are only a snapshot of the research at the time they are published.  A review article on, say, genome-wide association studies from 2001 is not going to be very informative in 2013. So much research has been done in the intervening years that the field has changed considerably).

Before you begin: some general advice

Reading a scientific paper is a completely different process than reading an article about science in a blog or newspaper. Not only do you read the sections in a different order than they’re presented, but you also have to take notes, read it multiple times, and probably go look up other papers for some of the details. Reading a single paper may take you a very long time at first. Be patient with yourself. The process will go much faster as you gain experience.

Most primary research papers will be divided into the following sections: Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, and Conclusions/Interpretations/Discussion. The order will depend on which journal it’s published in. Some journals have additional files (called Supplementary Online Information) which contain important details of the research, but are published online instead of in the article itself (make sure you don’t skip these files).

Before you begin reading, take note of the authors and their institutional affiliations. Some institutions (e.g. University of Texas) are well-respected; others (e.g. the Discovery Institute ) may appear to be legitimate research institutions but are actually agenda-driven. Tip: g oogle “Discovery Institute” to see why you don’t want to use it as a scientific authority on evolutionary theory.

Also take note of the journal in which it’s published. Reputable (biomedical) journals will be indexed by Pubmed . [EDIT: Several people have reminded me that non-biomedical journals won’t be on Pubmed, and they’re absolutely correct! (thanks for catching that, I apologize for being sloppy here). Check out Web of Science for a more complete index of science journals. And please feel free to share other resources in the comments!]  Beware of questionable journals .

As you read, write down every single word that you don’t understand. You’re going to have to look them all up (yes, every one. I know it’s a total pain. But you won’t understand the paper if you don’t understand the vocabulary. Scientific words have extremely precise meanings).

Step-by-step instructions for reading a primary research article

1. Begin by reading the introduction, not the abstract.

The abstract is that dense first paragraph at the very beginning of a paper. In fact, that’s often the only part of a paper that many non-scientists read when they’re trying to build a scientific argument. (This is a terrible practice—don’t do it.).  When I’m choosing papers to read, I decide what’s relevant to my interests based on a combination of the title and abstract. But when I’ve got a collection of papers assembled for deep reading, I always read the abstract last. I do this because abstracts contain a succinct summary of the entire paper, and I’m concerned about inadvertently becoming biased by the authors’ interpretation of the results.

2. Identify the BIG QUESTION.

Not “What is this paper about”, but “What problem is this entire field trying to solve?”

This helps you focus on why this research is being done.  Look closely for evidence of agenda-motivated research.

3. Summarize the background in five sentences or less.

Here are some questions to guide you:

What work has been done before in this field to answer the BIG QUESTION? What are the limitations of that work? What, according to the authors, needs to be done next?

The five sentences part is a little arbitrary, but it forces you to be concise and really think about the context of this research. You need to be able to explain why this research has been done in order to understand it.

4. Identify the SPECIFIC QUESTION(S)

What exactly are the authors trying to answer with their research? There may be multiple questions, or just one. Write them down.  If it’s the kind of research that tests one or more null hypotheses, identify it/them.

Not sure what a null hypothesis is? Go read this , then go back to my last post and read one of the papers that I linked to (like this one ) and try to identify the null hypotheses in it. Keep in mind that not every paper will test a null hypothesis.

5. Identify the approach

What are the authors going to do to answer the SPECIFIC QUESTION(S)?

6. Now read the methods section. Draw a diagram for each experiment, showing exactly what the authors did.

I mean literally draw it. Include as much detail as you need to fully understand the work.  As an example, here is what I drew to sort out the methods for a paper I read today ( Battaglia et al. 2013: “The first peopling of South America: New evidence from Y-chromosome haplogroup Q” ). This is much less detail than you’d probably need, because it’s a paper in my specialty and I use these methods all the time.  But if you were reading this, and didn’t happen to know what “process data with reduced-median method using Network” means, you’d need to look that up.

Image credit: author

You don’t need to understand the methods in enough detail to replicate the experiment—that’s something reviewers have to do—but you’re not ready to move on to the results until you can explain the basics of the methods to someone else.

7. Read the results section. Write one or more paragraphs to summarize the results for each experiment, each figure, and each table. Don’t yet try to decide what the results mean , just write down what they are.

You’ll find that, particularly in good papers, the majority of the results are summarized in the figures and tables. Pay careful attention to them!  You may also need to go to the Supplementary Online Information file to find some of the results.

 It is at this point where difficulties can arise if statistical tests are employed in the paper and you don’t have enough of a background to understand them. I can’t teach you stats in this post, but here , here , and here are some basic resources to help you.  I STRONGLY advise you to become familiar with them.

Things to pay attention to in the results section:

8. Do the results answer the SPECIFIC QUESTION(S)? What do you think they mean?

Don’t move on until you have thought about this. It’s okay to change your mind in light of the authors’ interpretation—in fact you probably will if you’re still a beginner at this kind of analysis—but it’s a really good habit to start forming your own interpretations before you read those of others.

9. Read the conclusion/discussion/Interpretation section.

What do the authors think the results mean? Do you agree with them? Can you come up with any alternative way of interpreting them? Do the authors identify any weaknesses in their own study? Do you see any that the authors missed? (Don’t assume they’re infallible!) What do they propose to do as a next step? Do you agree with that?

10. Now, go back to the beginning and read the abstract.

Does it match what the authors said in the paper? Does it fit with your interpretation of the paper?

11. FINAL STEP: (Don’t neglect doing this) What do other researchers say about this paper?

Who are the (acknowledged or self-proclaimed) experts in this particular field? Do they have criticisms of the study that you haven’t thought of, or do they generally support it?

Here’s a place where I do recommend you use google! But do it last, so you are better prepared to think critically about what other people say.

(12. This step may be optional for you, depending on why you’re reading a particular paper. But for me, it’s critical! I go through the “Literature cited” section to see what other papers the authors cited. This allows me to better identify the important papers in a particular field, see if the authors cited my own papers (KIDDING!….mostly), and find sources of useful ideas or techniques.)

UPDATE: If you would like to see an example of how to read a science paper using this framework, you can find one here .

I gratefully acknowledge Professors José Bonner and Bill Saxton for teaching me how to critically read and analyze scientific papers using this method. I’m honored to have the chance to pass along what they taught me.

I’ve written a shorter version of this guide for teachers to hand out to their classes. If you’d like a PDF, shoot me an email: jenniferraff (at) utexas (dot) edu. For further comments and additional questions on this guide, please see the Comments Section on the original post .

This piece originally appeared on the author’s personal blog and is reposted with permission.

Featured image credit:  Scientists in a laboratory of the University of La Rioja  by Urcomunicacion  (Wikimedia CC BY3.0)

Note: This article gives the views of the authors, and not the position of the LSE Impact blog, nor of the London School of Economics. Please review our  Comments Policy  if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.

Jennifer Raff (Indiana University—dual Ph.D. in genetics and bioanthropology) is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Kansas, director and Principal Investigator of the KU Laboratory of Human Population Genomics, and assistant director of KU’s Laboratory of Biological Anthropology. She is also a research affiliate with the University of Texas anthropological genetics laboratory. She is keenly interested in public outreach and scientific literacy, writing about topics in science and pseudoscience for her blog ( violentmetaphors.com ), the Huffington Post , and for the Social Evolution Forum .


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How to Write the Results/Findings Section in Research

results in scientific 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:

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 in scientific paper

“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 in scientific paper

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 in scientific paper

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Scientific and Scholarly Writing

Parts of a Scientific & Scholarly Paper


Different sections are needed in different types of scientific papers (lab reports, literature reviews, systematic reviews, methods papers, research papers, etc.). Projects that overlap with the social sciences or humanities may have different requirements. Generally, however, you'll need to include:


METHODS SECTION (Materials and Methods)

What is a title

Titles have two functions: to identify the main topic or the message of the paper and to attract readers.

The title will be read by many people. Only a few will read the entire paper, therefore all words in the title should be chosen with care. Too short a title is not helpful to the potential reader. Too long a title can sometimes be even less meaningful. Remember a title is not an abstract. Neither is a title a sentence.

What makes a good title?

A good title is accurate, complete, and specific. Imagine searching for your paper in PubMed. What words would you use?

The abstract is a miniature version of your paper. It should present the main story and a few essential details of the paper for readers who only look at the abstract and should serve as a clear preview for readers who read your whole paper. They are usually short (250 words or less).

The goal is to communicate:

A good abstract is specific and selective. Try summarizing each of the sections of your paper in a sentence two. Do the abstract last, so you know exactly what you want to write.

Sacred Heart University Library

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. 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 .

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:

Using Non-textual Elements

III. Problems to Avoid

When writing the results section, avoid doing the following :

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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How To Write A Results Section For A Scientific Paper

Home » Writing the Manuscript » How To Write A Results Section For A Scientific Paper


As its name implies, the results section of a scientific paper contains the findings of the study. That might sound like a simple task, but the real trick is to decide which results to present and how to present them. The process also involves a couple of other pitfalls for authors to anticipate and avoid.

Where to place a results section

The results section usually follows the methods section of a paper. Exceptions are some journals that place the methods last or even separately online, with the results following the introduction. And in other cases, journals allow authors to combine their results and discussion, providing context for their findings in the same section where they present them. To determine what your target journal requires, you should consult the author guidelines, sometimes also called “submission guidelines,” “manuscript guidelines,” or “author information.”

What to include in a results section

The first thing to decide is which results you want to include in your paper. That decision depends on the nature of your work, but a guiding principle is to highlight findings that are new to your field or advance understanding in some way. Another principle is to emphasize findings that are significant, either significantly or because of their importance otherwise.

You do not have to include every single result from your study. If some findings are unimportant to the field or your work, you can summarize them in a sentence or two, without giving details.

How to write a results section

The format of your results section will depend on the type of study you have conducted. Some types of studies will follow an expected format, whereas others are less constrained.

A study using animals, on the other hand, might skip details about the animals in the results and give the basics in the methods section. For the results section, the writer could begin with the main findings of the work and then provide further or more detailed findings in subsections. Other kinds of studies can be even less conventionally presented, leaving authors unsure about how to present their findings.

In these cases, authors must determine the order for presenting their findings. One useful approach is to follow the same sequence you used in the methods. For example, if you described a series of experiments in a certain order in your methods section, you might find it easy—and your readers follow your writing easily—if you use the same order in presenting your results.

How to present your results

One of the biggest mistakes authors make in writing their results section is being repetitive. You have a choice, usually, of presenting your findings in the text, in a table, or in a figure. Which one you use depends on the nature of the data. For example, if you have a list of odds ratios to report, your best option might be a table or a forest plot. You definitely do not want to create a long text list of findings for 20 separate odds ratios results.

But you also don’t want to present your findings in two ways when one will do. So for a list of odds ratios, if you choose to present them in a table, you should not also show them in a forest plot. And for results that you choose to present in either a table or a figure, you should not give the same detail in the text of your results section. Choose one or two main results and/or conclusions from findings results and use the text to tell the reader about them. Then for the details, refer your reader to either the table or the figure where you present more information.

Many journals specifically prohibit authors from repeating findings in two different elements (e.g., text and a figure or a table and a figure).

One last pitfall to watch for is using a table or a figure when text is the better option. If you are reporting only a couple of P values or just a single value for an analysis, you almost never need to turn to a table or figure to do so. Simply summarize that finding in a sentence or two in the text, with the values included.

A good rule of thumb is that a table should have at least 2 columns and several rows, and a figure should involve at least three comparisons or analyses that would be difficult to articulate in text.

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    A good results section is not the same as the discussion. Present the facts in the results, saving the interpretation for the discussion section. The results section should be written in past tense. • Make figures and tables clearly labelled and easy to read. If you include a figure or table, explain it in the results section.

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    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.

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