In the section of results of the research work, the conclusions of the study are presented based on the information obtained thanks to the methodology [o metodologías] applied. The results section should be limited to presenting 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 the results [también conocidos como “hallazgos”] is especially necessary if the work includes data generated from your own research.
How are the results organized?
The best way to organize the results section is “logically”. A logical and clear method of organizing the results is to provide them together with 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:
“What do hospitalized patients over the age of 55 think about postoperative care?”
In reality, this can be represented as an epigraph within your document, although it could be presented as a statement rather than a question:
“Figure 1: Attitudes towards postoperative care in patients over 55 years of age”.
Present first the results that address this specific research question. In this case, perhaps a table that illustrates the data from a survey. This example includes Likert items. Other tables might include standard deviations, probability, matrices, and so on.
Next, present a content analysis of one end of the spectrum of the survey or data table. In our example case, start with the positive responses of the survey regarding postoperative care, using descriptive phrases. For example:
“65% of patients over the age of 55 responded positively to the question “Are you satisfied with your hospital’s postoperative care?” (Fig. 2)
Include other data such as frequency count, subcategories, and rich citations for each category. The amount of textual description used will depend on how much interpretation of the figures is needed and how many examples the reader must read to understand the importance of these results.
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 example:
“As Figure 1 shows, 15 of the 60 patients in group A answered no to question 2.”
When you’ve evaluated a figure’s data and explained it sufficiently, move on to the next research question. For example:
“How does patient satisfaction correspond to improvements in postoperative care in the hospital?”
Data presented using a paired T-test table
This type of data can be presented through a figure or set of figures (for example, a paired T-test table).
Explain this data in this table with a concise content analysis:
“The p-value between the before- and after patient groups was 0.03% (Fig. 2). The greater the dissatisfaction of patients, the more frequent the improvements in postoperative care.”
Let’s examine another example of an experiment results section. In the Introduction section, the objectives of the study are presented as “to determine the physiological and morphological responses of Allium cepta L. towards increased cadmium toxicity” and “to assess its potential to accumulate the metal and its associated environmental consequences”. The results section presents data showing how these goals are achieved in both tables and content analysis, starting with an overview of the findings:
“Cadmium caused inhibition of root and leaf elongation, particularly with increased effects at higher exposure doses (Fig. 1a-c).”
The figure containing this data is cited in parentheses. Note that this author has included three graphs in a single figure. Separating the data into separate graphs makes it easier for the reader to evaluate the results, and consolidating this information into a single figure saves space and makes it easier to locate all the most relevant results.
Data from multiple charts can be placed in a single figure to consolidate the results.
After this overview, the relevant data in the tables are broken down in greater detail.
“The results on cadmium bioaccumulation were the highest (17.5 mg kgG1) in the bulb, when the cadmium concentration in the solution was 1×10G2 M and the lowest (0.11 mg kgG1) in the leaves when the concentration was 1×10G3 M.”
Title and reference of tables and figures
The tables and figures are central components of the results section, since they are the concrete data that the study yields. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to title the figures and refer to them within the text of the Results section.
The most important piece of advice that can be given here, as well as throughout the article, is to check the requirements and standards of the journal to which the work is submitted. Each magazine has its own design and layout standards; examining a journal’s articles will give you an idea of the appropriate number, size, and complexity of your figures.
Regardless of the format you use, the figures should be placed in the order in which they are mentioned in the results section and be as clear and easy to understand as possible. If multiple variables are considered (within one or more research questions), it may be a good idea to divide them into separate figures. These can then be referenced and analyzed under separate headings and paragraphs in the text.
To create a caption, consider the research question being asked and translate it into a sentence. For example, if a question is “What color did the participants choose?”, the caption might be “Color choice by group of participants.” Or in our example of research paper, where the question is “What is the cadmium concentration in different parts of the onion after 14 days?”, the caption reads:
“Fig. 1(a-c): Average concentration of Cd determined in (a) Bulbs, (b) Sheets and (c) Onion roots after a period of 14 days.”
Steps to compose the results section
Because each study is unique, there is no single approach to designing a strategy for structuring and writing the section of a research paper in which the results are presented. The content and design 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 build the Results section. Hancock and Algozzine recommend the following steps:
Refer to the guidelines or instructions that the target journal or publisher provides to authors and read the research papers you have published, especially those with topics, methods, or results similar to those in your study.
In general, the guidelines set out the specific requirements for the results or conclusions section, and published articles will provide good examples of successful approaches.
Be aware of the length limitations of content restrictions. For example, while many journals require that the Results and Discussion sections be separated, others do not: qualitative research articles often include the results and interpretations in the same section (“Results and Discussion”).
Reading the objectives and scope in the “guide for authors” section of the journal and understanding the interests of its readers will be of great value in preparing the writing of the Results section.
Consider the results of your research in relation to the journal’s requirements and catalogue your results.
Focus on experimental results and other findings that are especially relevant to the questions and objectives of your research and include them even if they are unexpected or do not support your ideas and hypotheses.
Catalogue your results: Use subtitles to streamline and clarify your report. This will help you avoid excessive and peripheral details when writing and also make your reader understand and remember your findings. Create appendices that may interest specialists but are too long or distract other readers.
Decide how you’re going to structure your results. You could match the order of the questions and research hypotheses with your results, or you could organize them according to the order presented in the Methods section. A chronological order or even a hierarchy of importance or a meaningful grouping of major topics or categories could be effective. When choosing the structure for presenting the results, the audience, the evidence and, above all, the objectives of the investigation must be taken into account.
Design figures and tables to present and illustrate the data.
Tables and figures should be numbered in the order in which they are mentioned in the main text of the work.
The information in the figures should be relatively self-explanatory (with the help of legends), and their design should include all the definitions and other information necessary for readers to understand the results without having to read the entire text.
Use tables and figures as a central point to tell a clear and informative story about your research and avoid repeating information. But remember that although the figures clarify and improve the text, they cannot replace it.
Write the results section using the conclusions and figures you have organized.
The aim is to communicate this complex information as clearly and accurately as possible; accurate and compact sentences and sentences are the most effective.
In the opening paragraph of this section, reiterate the questions or goals of your research to focus the reader’s attention on what the results are intended to show. It’s also a good idea to summarize the key results at the end of this section to create a logical transition to the interpretation and discussion that follows.
Try to write in the past and in active voice to convey the findings, as the investigation 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 abbreviations you have used here have been defined and clarified in the Introduction section.
Review your draft; edit and review it until you report the results exactly as you would like your readers to do.
Double-check the accuracy and consistency of all data, as well as all included visuals.
Read the draft aloud for language errors (grammar, spelling, and mechanics), uncomfortable phrases, and missing transitions.
Make sure your results are presented in the best order to focus on the goals and prepare readers for the interpretations, ratings, and recommendations of the discussion section. Review the Introduction and background of the work as you anticipate the Discussion and Conclusion sections to ensure that the presentation of your results is consistent and effective.
Consider seeking additional guidance for your work. Look for other readers to review your Results section and see if it can be improved in any way. Peers, teachers or qualified experts can provide valuable feedback.
An excellent option is to use a professional academic editing service such as Wordvice. With hundreds of qualified editors from dozens of scientific fields, Wordvice has helped thousands of authors review their manuscripts and be accepted into journals of interest to them. Read more about the correction and editing process before proceeding with the linguistic editing of your manuscript.
As a representation of your study data, the results section presents the main information of your research work. By writing clearly and concisely and by highlighting and explaining the crucial results of their study, authors increase the impact and effectiveness of their research manuscripts.
The importance of a good results section
When formulating the results section, it is important to remember that the results of a study prove nothing. The results of the research can only confirm or reject the research problem on which the study is based. However, the act of articulating the results helps you understand the problem from within, break it down, and view the research problem from various perspectives.
The length of this section depends on the amount and type of data being presented. Be concise and use non-textual elements, such as figures and tables, if applicable, to present results more effectively. When deciding which data to describe in the results section, you should clearly distinguish the 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 the paper unless the teacher requests it.
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 of order is to always reread the background section of the work after you have written the results to make sure that the reader has enough context to understand the results [and, later, how you have interpreted the results in the discussion section of the work].
Structure and writing style
Structure and approach
In most formats of research papers, there are two ways to present and organize results. Caprette (2011), highlights the following:
Present the results followed by a brief explanation of the conclusions. For example, during the analysis of the results you may have observed an unusual correlation between two variables. It is correct to point this out in the results section. However, speculating on the reason for this correlation and offering a hypothesis about what may be happening should be done in the discussion section of the paper.
File a section and then discuss it, before you present the next section and discuss 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 may be helpful to provide a brief conclusion in the results section that links each of the findings and links them to the discussion.
NOTE: The discussion section should generally follow the same format chosen to present and organize the results.
In general, the content of the results section according to Caprette (2011), should include the following elements:
An introductory context for the understanding of the results by reaffirming the research problem that supports the purpose of its study.
A summary of the main conclusions ordered in a logical sequence that usually follows the methodology section.
Inclusion of non-textual elements, such as figures, graphs, photos, maps, tables, etc. to better illustrate the conclusions, if applicable.
In the text, a systematic description of its results, highlighting for the reader the most relevant observations for the topic [recuerde que no todos los results que surgen de la metodología que utilizó para reunir los datos pueden ser relevantes] investigated.
Use the past tene when referring to your results.
The length of the results section depends on the amount and type of data presented. However, focus only on the results that are important and related to the research problem.
Using non-textual elements
Place figures, tables, graphs, etc. inside the result text, or include them on the back of the report; do one thing or the other, but never both.
In the text, refer to each non-textual element in numbered order [for example, Table 1, Table 2; Figure 1, Figure 2; Map 1, Map 2].
If you place non-textual elements at the end of the report, make sure that they are clearly distinguished from any attached material in appendix form, such as raw data.
Regardless of its location, each non-textual element must be numbered consecutively and completed with a legend [the legend goes below the figure, table, chart, etc.].
Each non-textual element must be numbered consecutively and complete with a title [the title with the description goes above the figure, table, chart, etc.].
When reviewing the results section, make sure that each non-textual element is complete enough that it can stand on its own, separate from the text.
Problems to avoid
When writing the results section, according to Burton et al (2008), you should avoid doing the following:
Discuss or interpret its results
Leave all this for the next section of your work, although where appropriate, you should compare or contrast specific results with those found in other studies [e.g., “Similar to Smith , one of the findings of this study is the strong correlation between motivation and academic performance….”].
Report background or attempt to explain findings
This should have been done in the Introduction section, but don’t panic! Often, the results of a study indicate the need to provide additional background information or to explain the topic in more detail, so don’t think you’ve done something wrong. Review your introduction as needed.
Ignore negative results
If some of your results don’t support your hypothesis, don’t ignore them. Double them down, and then indicate in your discussion section why you think the negative result has come out of your study. Keep in mind that negative results, and the way you handle them, often give you the opportunity to write a more engaging discussion section, so don’t be afraid to highlight them.
Include raw data or intermediate calculations
Ask your teacher if they should include the raw data generated by your study, such as interview transcripts or data files. If raw data is to be included, place it in an appendix or set of appendices referenced in the text.
Be as factual and concise as possible when reporting your findings
Do not use vague or non-specific phrases, such as “appeared to be greater or lesser than…” or “shows promising trends that….”.
Present the same data or repeat the same information more than once
If you feel the need to highlight something, you will have the opportunity to do so in the discussion section.
Confuse figures with tables
Make sure you tag the non-textual elements of your work correctly. If you’re not sure, look up the term in a dictionary.
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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. 2011
Hancock, Dawson R. and Bob Algozzine. Doing Case Study Research: A Practical Guide for Beginning Researchers. 2nd ed. New York: Teachers College Press, 2011.