Tips for writing the Results section in a scientific paper
When you’ve finished your experiment(s), the next step is to write up the results that you’ve found. Whatever your subject area, the Results section of your paper or thesis is vital as it clearly explains to the reader what tests you did and the results you obtained from these tests. This article highlights five top tips for writing up and presenting quantitative results and data.
Assume that your reader doesn’t know the subject area
Make sure that even a reader who doesn’t have any background knowledge about your paper’s topic would be able to understand your results. Don’t write for people like yourself or your colleagues who can understand. Write so that anybody you passed the paper to would understand it.
Keep it simple!
It is important that your results are clear and easy for the reader to follow. Avoid making the presentation of your results too complicated. Remember, you just need to explain what tests you did and what the results of them were.
Be aware of reporting conventions for your field
Depending on which field your research sits in, there may be different formatting conventions that you should use when presenting your results. For Psychology, this might be APA formatting; for other fields of study, you may use the Harvard system. Remember to check out the relevant style guides.
Consider the best way to present your data
It can be helpful for your reader to see your data presented in a graph or a table, but you should think carefully about which format would be the most appropriate and easiest for a reader to understand.
A table would be most effective if you just want to present the results of multiple statistical tests.
A graph is best if you would like your reader to be able to see the pattern of results visually.
Whatever you choose, remember to label your figures clearly and refer to them in the text.
Save interpretations and implications for the Discussion section
Your Results section should simply explain the pattern of the results to the reader. Tell the reader what tests you ran and whether your data met the assumptions for those tests. Then, describe the test results. Do not include any interpretation or discuss what the results might mean at this stage; that’s for the Discussion section of your paper. Keeping each section separate makes it easier for the reader to follow the points you are trying to convey.
Read next (third/final) in series: Writing an effective Discussion section in a scientific paper
Read previous (first) in series: Strategies for writing the Results section in a scientific paper
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