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FAQs about writing a Results section

Should I report negative or non-significant results?

If some of your results are non-significant, do not ignore them. Although they may seem like bad news, the reality is that they give worthwhile information: namely, that a given variable doesn’t affect a particular outcome.

In your Discussion section later on, you can argue why a non-significant result emerged from your study. Not only will this enrich your discussion, but also enhance your credibility as a trustworthy researcher who does not seek to hide results. Furthermore, replication studies might be carried out by other researchers in the future to test the non-significance of your result.

Should I evaluate my results in the Results section, or just report them?

Your Results section should objectively report your findings, and that is all. You may highlight the most important trends, differences, or relationships in your data, but not speculate on what these mean. Your interpretations should be saved for the Discussion section later on. For this reason, it is important to avoid the use of subjective and interpretive phrases like ‘it appears that’, ‘this suggests that’, ‘these results imply that’, etc. These are more suitable for your Discussion, in which you examine your results and their implications in detail.

At Writefull, we analyzed what phrases authors use most to report results. Find them here.

How can I present my results in a way that is compelling and easy to understand?

Beyond using clear and precise language, consider presenting your results in a visual way. Tables, figures and graphs let you condense a lot of complex data in one place, which you can then easily refer to in the body of your paper. Plus, as many of us are visual creatures, visuals make processing your data easier. Just make sure that each table and figure has a consecutive number, a descriptive title, and a caption. Don’t forget to refer to them within your text (e.g. ‘As shown in Table 3, ...’). Ideally, they should be self-explanatory so that readers can understand them without referring to the text. But you should still provide an overall description of at least some of the data included in them, so that readers clearly understand how they should be interpreted.

At Writefull, we analyzed what phrases authors use most to report results. Find them here.

In how much detail should my statistical analyses be reported?

Your Results section should give a detailed account of your findings. This does not mean exhaustive; include everything that’s relevant. In other words, everything that contributes to answering your research question(s) should be reported. If you are reporting statistical results, give readers enough details so that they know which analyses you conducted. Statistical information should include sample sizes, the statistical tests used, standard deviations, p-values, effect sizes, and any other relevant data. You should also report statistically non-significant results. However, you should always assume that your audience has a solid grasp of statistics. There is no need to teach readers how to interpret statistics and explain what a t-test or linear regression is.

Should I include raw data in my Results section (e.g. interviews transcripts or data files)?

Raw data such as interview transcripts or data files should not feature in your Results section. There is simply no space for them! Instead, you can append the data as an Appendix or Supplementary information file. It is also a good practice to make the data available in an online repository so that other researchers can find and reuse them. You can browse data repositories by discipline here, or ask your Data Librarian for advice.

In general, condensed and summarized data are given within your text, while extensive rows of data and transcripts are given in appendices, supplementary files, or separate data sets. You can always double-check by asking your supervisor or consulting a journal’s submission guidelines, if you are not sure.

Similarly to tables and figures, appendices and supplementary files should always be titled, numbered, and referred to in the body of your text. Data sets should always be cited.

Should I capitalize the words ‘table’ and ‘figure’?

Table and figure are not proper nouns and should not be capitalized, unless you are referring to specific tables of figures within a document. For example:

  • Supplementary file 1 provides the tables with survey responses.
  • Most figures show an increasing trend.
  • The data reveal a strong relationship between input and learning speed (Figure 6).
  • The values in Table 5 indicate healthy growth.

Structuring your Results section

Useful phrases for your Results section

Results section example with explanation