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What Is The Results Section Of A Research Paper

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Examples of results sections

An excerpt from the results section of a chemistry report

When samples of hydrolysed and unhydrolysed BSA were analysed by ascending paper chromatography, the appearance and separation of the two samples were quite different. The unhydrolysed BSA had very little colour and appeared to remain on the origin (Fig. 1, lane 7). In its hydrolysed form, however, the BSA sample separated into a number of spots which were bright pink or purple (Fig. 1, lane 8).

description but no explanation

Notice that there is no direct reference to figures but to the results themselves.

Read and compare these excerpts from the results sections of two biology reports written about the same experiment.

On observation of each strain of E. Coli, it was apparent that all treatments used a deterring effect on the growth of E. Coli colonies but some treatments were more effective on particular strains than others (see Figure 1.)

E. Coli strain 1 (EC 1) tended to be the most sensitive as it produced no colonies on any of the treated plates (see Figure 1) E. Coli strains 2 and 3 (EC 2 and EC 3) tended to have an intermediate sensitivity to antibiotic treatments. EC 2 was more resilient towards the Chloramphenicol treatment, and EC 3 was more resilient towards the streptomycin treatment. Although colonies were detected on each treatment type, the average number of colonies per plate was significantly lower than that of the control plates. No colonies were detected on the combination treatment (see Figure 1). E. Coli strain 4 (EC 4) tended to be the least sensitive overall, as it produced colonies on all treatment plates, even though it was more sensitive to the individual treatments, compared to EC 2 and EC 3 (see Figure 1)�.

The following observations were made as a result of experiments conducted by Casey Hospital with respect to four types of E.Coli bacterial strains.

The graph illustrates that 5mg./ml. of Chloramphenicol stopped the growth of two strains of E. Coli; EC 1 and EC 3. It also illustrates that the 5 mg/ml of Chloramphenicol had little to no effect on the EC 2 strain of E. Coli and had a minimal effect on EC 4 strain of E. Coli as the colony sizes were near maximum of the standard result. This shows that 5 mg/ml Chloramphenicol is an effective antibiotic against EC 1 and EC 2 strains of E. Coli.

�..The main point of Figure 4 is that a combination of 5 mg/ml of Chloramphenicol and 5 mg/ml Streptomycin can effectively reduce the numbers of EC 4 colonies, compared to only one of the antibiotics being present at any one time shown in Figure 2 and 3 respectively.

In these results it has shown that the Casey Hospital should use both 5 mg/ml of Chloramphenicol plus 5 mg/ml of Streptomycin in targeting the four strains of E. Coli. Due to EC 4 having resistance to both antibiotics there is need for experimentation in finding an antibiotic which EC 4 is not resistant to.

Robinson, S. Russell, W. Skillen, J. & Trivett, N. Biology 104, University of Wollongong

Which do you think is the better example of a properly written results section?

Example A is an example from a well written results section; it uses relevant material and focuses on the results and not the Figures.

Example B is an example from a poorly written results section. It includes material which does not belong to the results section such as interpretation and discussion; it focuses on the Figures representing the results, rather than the results themselves and it does not introduce and refer to the Figures correctly. Click here to see an annotated version of example B.

An excerpt from the results section of a psychology report

General and specific knowledge scores were analysed separately by 2 (Instruction Condition) x 2 (Test Phases) ANOVAs with repeated measures on the second factor. The results for general knowledge question scores indicated there was no difference between the instructional groups, F(1,20) = 2.65, MSe = 288.82. (The .05 level of significance is used throughout this report.) The test phases main effect indicated a significant difference, F(1,20) = 11.77, MSe = 180.10, demonstrating an improvement over the two instructional phases. There was no significant interaction, F(1,20) = 0.87, MSe = 180.10. The results for specific question scores indicated there was a significant difference between the instructional conditions in the expected direction, F(1,20) = 7.06, MSe = 203.87, with the isolated-interacting elements instruction group performing at a superior level. The test phases main effect was also significant, F(1,20) = 9.50, MSe = 147.53, demonstrating an improvement over time. There was no significant interaction, F(1,20) = 2.67, MSe = 147.53.

In this excerpt, details about the statistical tests undertaken and the results of these tests.

Note the use of the past tense when reporting results.

The hypotheses have been outlined in the introduction and may have been reiterated at the beginning of the results section. Here the result is reported only, not explained. Reference is, however, made to the hypothesis.

An excerpt from the Results & Discussion section of an Education report that used qualitative research methodology.

NOTE: the results and discussion sections have been merged in this report. You should seek information from your lecturers and tutors about whether this is appropriate in your discipline.

The first research question was "How do students benefit from analysing model texts?" This involved analysing classroom discourse to determine whether there was a shift from the archetypal classroom discourse of Teacher Initiation, Pupil Response, Teacher Feedback identified by Sinclair and Coulthard (Stubb 1983: 29) to students taking on the role of primary knowers.

The first teaching stage of the project focussed on identifying the schematic staging of an exposition genre and how cohesion is achieved in expositions. The initial analysis of the model text was very teacher directed. The transcript of this segment of the lesson (see Appendix C) shows that most of the input came from the teacher with the pattern of classroom talk being:

teacher question
student response
teacher confirmation

For example when analysing the analytical exposition for schematic structure, one exchange was as follows:

T Now, we�ve been talking about causes. What happens now in the very short paragraph?
S1 Effects?
T Mmm. Now the writer starts to talk about effects. So we�ve got a second Thesis.
SS Yeah.
T Which is?
S1 These three.
S2 The whole thing
S3 These three events
T So the second Thesis is the whole sentence. "These three events planted the seeds of a great change in society, and the effects of this change are being felt at all levels. " (Appendix C: Analysis of Analytical Exposition)

The above exchanges correspond to the pattern identified by Sinclair and Coulthard as characteristic of teacher-pupil talk with the underlying exchange structure of Teacher Initiation, Pupil Response, and Teacher Feedback. This exchange structure allows the teacher to retain the conversational initiative (Stubbs 1983: 29). In the above exchange the teacher was the primary "knower" of information and her questions prompted and guided the students onto the next stage.

Restates the research question

Outlining how this research question is to be assessed (reference to previous research).

The reader is referred to an appendix to view the whole data
Discussion/ analysis of results

Other articles

Reaping the Rewards: Best Practices for Writing a Results Section

Reaping the Rewards: Best Practices for Writing a Results Section

The Results section of a research paper is where you present the novel outcomes of your work. At this point, the reader understands the rationale for your investigation and the methods you used to address your research questions, and you now need to distill your findings into a systematically presented and accessible form.

Our free white paper outlines specific actions that authors can take to put together a strong Results section for research they would like published in top journals. It covers the following topics:

  • Purpose and Structure
  • Key Information
  • Notation and Format
  • Statistics
  • Concluding Remarks

Below is a preview of “Reaping the Rewards.” Click here to download the full white paper.

The Results section is also where you should present clearly supported conclusions that are directly derived from the data, although detailed discussion of implications and interpretations should be reserved for the Discussion section.

It is important to be selective about what to present in the Results section and careful about how to present it. This part of the paper should provide sufficient context to make the information understandable, but you should not repeat information you previously presented in the Methods or digress into analysis that you will subsequently repeat in the Discussion. You should present your data in a format that is clear, organized, and accessible to the reader to ensure that they are able to absorb the information and are well prepared for the discussions and interpretations to follow.

The organization of your Results section needs to strike a balance between providing sufficient context to lead the reader to the important conclusions without distracting the reader with unnecessary interpretation. Your ability to concisely and efficiently convey your data in a format that is familiar to the reader and consistent with the accepted conventions of your field is critical to keeping a reader with you on their journey through your paper.

Purpose and Structure

Although the fundamental purpose of your Results section is to present your data, it should never simply be a collection of numbers and tables. This part of the paper should be a story within a story. It presents an opportunity to lead the reader from one important result to the next, guiding them from initial and supporting findings to the novel discoveries that are your reason for publishing. To achieve this, the Results section should generally follow the same pattern as the Methods, following the order of data acquisition as closely as possible in most cases. However, it is more important to use a logical presentation sequence than it is to be strictly chronological. Ideally, each new set of results should build on the previous ones, presenting a logical narrative that makes sense to the reader and leads them to the conclusions you will ultimately ask them to subscribe to.

This language of the Results section should be simple and direct, with the key findings presented as the main focus and without elaboration. For example, “The yellow sticks were longer than the red sticks (p < 0.05)” is much better than “The use of a t-test showed that the length of the yellow sticks was greater than that of the red sticks (p < 0.05)”. Note that the former makes the key result the subject of the sentence rather than the statistical test, which should not be the focus.

Key Information

The results section should present all data that are necessary to support or understand the conclusions and implications of your research. In many cases, results that serve to exclude alternative explanations of the findings or simply validate the methods being used are as important as the primary findings themselves. All information that supports the central results or reinforces the conclusions should be included.

If results or figures from previous research are used, these must be properly cited, and permission should be obtained before using previously published figures. Referring to data that you choose not to show should be avoided if possible, especially now that many publications allow supplemental online materials.

Continue reading "Reaping the Rewards: Best Practices for Writing a Results Section" by downloading the free full white paper here .

Check out our other “Best Practices for Writing” white papers to get tips for other sections of your research manuscript:

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Results section of a research paper

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Following the Structure of a Research Paper Precisely

Following the Structure of a Research Paper Precisely

Monday, July 13, 2015

In order to write a good research paper, you have to know how to structure it. The most commonly used structure consists of five main sections and three or four support ones. Find out more about each of them and get practical advice on how to create it.

The Main Sections
The first section in each research paper structure is the introduction. It is considered to be hard to write

. but the reality is that it covers a set of three points which are quite clear and straightforward. In introductions, students have to present the topic and explain briefly why it is important for the respective audience, outline the purpose of the paper and write the thesis statement. Give the statement a lot of thought and make sure that it summarizes fully your point of view or analysis.

The second section is the method one. Here you have to present the research methods that you have used. The level of detail depends on the specifics of the assignment. If you have been asked to carry out an experiment, you have to explain each step of the method thoroughly.

The result section is the third one. In the body paragraphs, you have to present the findings of your research. This is the raw data produced by your experiment or taken from other sources. It must be well organized and presented in a logical way. You must not interpret it in this section. This is done in the following one.

The discussion section is where the results are analyzed. You have to interpret them using techniques suitable for the respective academic discipline. The other key point here is to explain how your research findings support the thesis statement that you have made in the introduction. You should be careful not to deviate from the topic.

The fifth and final section is extremely important and at the same time quite challenging to write. Research paper conclusions should tie the argument made in the discussion section with the thesis statement and present the logical outcome of the research. In some cases, students are also asked to make recommendations based on their research.

Support Sections
These sections complete the paper and are typically created after the main ones have been completed. The title page is the first one. It has to include the title of your paper, your name and your position in the respective educational institution. The abstract follows the title page. It is a brief summary of your paper. It has to summarize the research methods, results, analysis and conclusion in one paragraph.

The reference list typically goes straight after the conclusion. It has to be created in line with the formatting style required in the assignment. It is essential for references to be made correctly so that plagiarism issues do not arise.
Any appendices and data tables and figures which have not been included in the main structure of the research paper go last after the references. They are usually arranged in chronological order, but you should check the formatting style to be on the safe side.

Write Research Paper

Writing Research Papers

Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
--- Gene Fowler

A major goal of this course is the development of effective technical writing skills. To help you become an accomplished writer, you will prepare several research papers based upon the studies completed in lab. Our research papers are not typical "lab reports." In a teaching lab a lab report might be nothing more than answers to a set of questions. Such an assignment hardly represents the kind of writing you might be doing in your eventual career.

Written and oral communications skills are probably the most universal qualities sought by graduate and professional schools as well as by employers. You alone are responsible for developing such skills to a high level.

Resources for learning technical writing

Before you begin your first writing assignment, please consult all of the following resources, in order to gain the most benefit from the experience.

  • General form of a typical research article
  • Specific guidelines (if any) for the assignment – see the writeups on individual lab studies
  • McMillan, VE. "Writing Papers in the Biological Sciences, Third Ed." New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2001. ISBN 0-312-25857-7 (REQUIRED for Bioc 211, 311, recommended for other science courses that include writing)
  • Writing portfolio examples (pdf)

As you polish up your writing skills please make use of the following resources

  • Instructor feedback on previous assignments
  • Common errors in student research papers
  • Selected writing rules (somewhat less serious than the other resources)

For Biosciences majors the general guidelines apply to future course work, as can be seen by examining the guidelines for the advanced experimental sciences research paper (Bioc 311).

General form of a research paper

An objective of organizing a research paper is to allow people to read your work selectively. When I research a topic, I may be interested in just the methods, a specific result, the interpretation, or perhaps I just want to see a summary of the paper to determine if it is relevant to my study. To this end, many journals require the following sections, submitted in the order listed, each section to start on a new page. There are variations of course. Some journals call for a combined results and discussion, for example, or include materials and methods after the body of the paper. The well known journal Science does away with separate sections altogether, except for the abstract.

Your papers are to adhere to the form and style required for the Journal of Biological Chemistry, requirements that are shared by many journals in the life sciences.

Specific editorial requirements for submission of a manuscript will always supercede instructions in these general guidelines. To make a paper readable

  • Print or type using a 12 point standard font, such as Times, Geneva, Bookman, Helvetica, etc.
  • Text should be double spaced on 8 1/2" x 11" paper with 1 inch margins, single sided
  • Number pages consecutively
  • Start each new section on a new page
  • Adhere to recommended page limits

Mistakes to avoid

  • Placing a heading at the bottom of a page with the following text on the next page (insert a page break!)
  • Dividing a table or figure - confine each figure/table to a single page
  • Submitting a paper with pages out of order

In all sections of your paper

  • Use normal prose including articles ("a", "the," etc.)
  • Stay focused on the research topic of the paper
  • Use paragraphs to separate each important point (except for the abstract)
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph
  • Present your points in logical order
  • Use present tense to report well accepted facts - for example, 'the grass is green'
  • Use past tense to describe specific results - for example, 'When weed killer was applied, the grass was brown'
  • Avoid informal wording, don't address the reader directly, and don't use jargon, slang terms, or superlatives
  • Avoid use of superfluous pictures - include only those figures necessary to presenting results

Select an informative title as illustrated in the examples in your writing portfolio example package. Include the name(s) and address(es) of all authors, and date submitted. "Biology lab #1" would not be an informative title, for example.

The summary should be two hundred words or less. See the examples in the writing portfolio package.

An abstract is a concise single paragraph summary of completed work or work in progress. In a minute or less a reader can learn the rationale behind the study, general approach to the problem, pertinent results, and important conclusions or new questions.

Writing an abstract

Write your summary after the rest of the paper is completed. After all, how can you summarize something that is not yet written? Economy of words is important throughout any paper, but especially in an abstract. However, use complete sentences and do not sacrifice readability for brevity. You can keep it concise by wording sentences so that they serve more than one purpose. For example, "In order to learn the role of protein synthesis in early development of the sea urchin, newly fertilized embryos were pulse-labeled with tritiated leucine, to provide a time course of changes in synthetic rate, as measured by total counts per minute (cpm)." This sentence provides the overall question, methods, and type of analysis, all in one sentence. The writer can now go directly to summarizing the results.

Summarize the study, including the following elements in any abstract. Try to keep the first two items to no more than one sentence each.

  • Purpose of the study - hypothesis, overall question, objective
  • Model organism or system and brief description of the experiment
  • Results, including specific data - if the results are quantitative in nature, report quantitative data; results of any statistical analysis shoud be reported
  • Important conclusions or questions that follow from the experiment(s)
  • Single paragraph, and concise
  • As a summary of work done, it is always written in past tense
  • An abstract should stand on its own, and not refer to any other part of the paper such as a figure or table
  • Focus on summarizing results - limit background information to a sentence or two, if absolutely necessary
  • What you report in an abstract must be consistent with what you reported in the paper
  • Corrrect spelling, clarity of sentences and phrases, and proper reporting of quantities (proper units, significant figures) are just as important in an abstract as they are anywhere else

Your introductions should not exceed two pages (double spaced, typed). See the examples in the writing portfolio package.

The purpose of an introduction is to aquaint the reader with the rationale behind the work, with the intention of defending it. It places your work in a theoretical context, and enables the reader to understand and appreciate your objectives.

Writing an introduction

The abstract is the only text in a research paper to be written without using paragraphs in order to separate major points. Approaches vary widely, however for our studies the following approach can produce an effective introduction.

  • Describe the importance (significance) of the study - why was this worth doing in the first place? Provide a broad context.
  • Defend the model - why did you use this particular organism or system? What are its advantages? You might comment on its suitability from a theoretical point of view as well as indicate practical reasons for using it.
  • Provide a rationale. State your specific hypothesis(es) or objective(s), and describe the reasoning that led you to select them.
  • Very briefy describe the experimental design and how it accomplished the stated objectives.
  • Use past tense except when referring to established facts. After all, the paper will be submitted after all of the work is completed.
  • Organize your ideas, making one major point with each paragraph. If you make the four points listed above, you will need a minimum of four paragraphs.
  • Present background information only as needed in order support a position. The reader does not want to read everything you know about a subject.
  • State the hypothesis/objective precisely - do not oversimplify.
  • As always, pay attention to spelling, clarity and appropriateness of sentences and phrases.

Materials and Methods

There is no specific page limit, but a key concept is to keep this section as concise as you possibly can. People will want to read this material selectively. The reader may only be interested in one formula or part of a procedure. Materials and methods may be reported under separate subheadings within this section or can be incorporated together.

This should be the easiest section to write, but many students misunderstand the purpose. The objective is to document all specialized materials and general procedures, so that another individual may use some or all of the methods in another study or judge the scientific merit of your work. It is not to be a step by step description of everything you did, nor is a methods section a set of instructions. In particular, it is not supposed to tell a story. By the way, your notebook should contain all of the information that you need for this section.

Writing a materials and methods section

  • Describe materials separately only if the study is so complicated that it saves space this way.
  • Include specialized chemicals, biological materials, and any equipment or supplies that are not commonly found in laboratories.
  • Do not include commonly found supplies such as test tubes, pipet tips, beakers, etc. or standard lab equipment such as centrifuges, spectrophotometers, pipettors, etc.
  • If use of a specific type of equipment, a specific enzyme, or a culture from a particular supplier is critical to the success of the experiment, then it and the source should be singled out, otherwise no.
  • Materials may be reported in a separate paragraph or else they may be identified along with your procedures.
  • In biosciences we frequently work with solutions - refer to them by name and describe completely, including concentrations of all reagents, and pH of aqueous solutions, solvent if non-aqueous.
  • See the examples in the writing portfolio package
  • Report the methodology (not details of each procedure that employed the same methodology)
  • Describe the mehodology completely, including such specifics as temperatures, incubation times, etc.
  • To be concise, present methods under headings devoted to specific procedures or groups of procedures
  • Generalize - report how procedures were done, not how they were specifically performed on a particular day. For example, report "samples were diluted to a final concentration of 2 mg/ml protein;" don't report that "135 microliters of sample one was diluted with 330 microliters of buffer to make the protein concentration 2 mg/ml." Always think about what would be relevant to an investigator at another institution, working on his/her own project.
  • If well documented procedures were used, report the procedure by name, perhaps with reference, and that's all. For example, the Bradford assay is well known. You need not report the procedure in full - just that you used a Bradford assay to estimate protein concentration, and identify what you used as a standard. The same is true for the SDS-PAGE method, and many other well known procedures in biology and biochemistry.
  • It is awkward or impossible to use active voice when documenting methods without using first person, which would focus the reader's attention on the investigator rather than the work. Therefore when writing up the methods most authors use third person passive voice.
  • Use normal prose in this and in every other section of the paper – avoid informal lists, and use complete sentences.
  • Materials and methods are not a set of instructions.
  • Omit all explanatory information and background - save it for the discussion.
  • Omit information that is irrelevant to a third party, such as what color ice bucket you used, or which individual logged in the data.

The page length of this section is set by the amount and types of data to be reported. Continue to be concise, using figures and tables, if appropriate, to present results most effectively. See recommendations for content, below.

The purpose of a results section is to present and illustrate your findings. Make this section a completely objective report of the results, and save all interpretation for the discussion.

Writing a results section

IMPORTANT: You must clearly distinguish material that would normally be included in a research article from any raw data or other appendix material that would not be published. In fact, such material should not be submitted at all unless requested by the instructor.

  • Summarize your findings in text and illustrate them, if appropriate, with figures and tables.
  • In text, describe each of your results, pointing the reader to observations that are most relevant.
  • Provide a context, such as by describing the question that was addressed by making a particular observation.
  • Describe results of control experiments and include observations that are not presented in a formal figure or table, if appropriate.
  • Analyze your data, then prepare the analyzed (converted) data in the form of a figure (graph), table, or in text form.
  • Do not discuss or interpret your results, report background information, or attempt to explain anything.
  • Never include raw data or intermediate calculations in a research paper.
  • Do not present the same data more than once.
  • Text should complement any figures or tables, not repeat the same information.
  • Please do not confuse figures with tables - there is a difference.
  • As always, use past tense when you refer to your results, and put everything in a logical order.
  • In text, refer to each figure as "figure 1," "figure 2," etc. ; number your tables as well (see the reference text for details)
  • Place figures and tables, properly numbered, in order at the end of the report (clearly distinguish them from any other material such as raw data, standard curves, etc.)
  • If you prefer, you may place your figures and tables appropriately within the text of your results section.

Figures and tables

  • Either place figures and tables within the text of the result, or include them in the back of the report (following Literature Cited) - do one or the other
  • If you place figures and tables at the end of the report, make sure they are clearly distinguished from any attached appendix materials, such as raw data
  • Regardless of placement, each figure must be numbered consecutively and complete with caption (caption goes under the figure)
  • Regardless of placement, each table must be titled, numbered consecutively and complete with heading (title with description goes above the table)
  • Each figure and table must be sufficiently complete that it could stand on its own, separate from text

Journal guidelines vary. Space is so valuable in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, that authors are asked to restrict discussions to four pages or less, double spaced, typed. That works out to one printed page. While you are learning to write effectively, the limit will be extended to five typed pages. If you practice economy of words, that should be plenty of space within which to say all that you need to say.

The objective here is to provide an interpretation of your results and support for all of your conclusions, using evidence from your experiment and generally accepted knowledge, if appropriate. The significance of findings should be clearly described.

Writing a discussion

Interpret your data in the discussion in appropriate depth. This means that when you explain a phenomenon you must describe mechanisms that may account for the observation. If your results differ from your expectations, explain why that may have happened. If your results agree, then describe the theory that the evidence supported. It is never appropriate to simply state that the data agreed with expectations, and let it drop at that.

  • Decide if each hypothesis is supported, rejected, or if you cannot make a decision with confidence. Do not simply dismiss a study or part of a study as "inconclusive."
  • Research papers are not accepted if the work is incomplete. Draw what conclusions you can based upon the results that you have, and treat the study as a finished work
  • You may suggest future directions, such as how the experiment might be modified to accomplish another objective.
  • Explain all of your observations as much as possible, focusing on mechanisms.
  • Decide if the experimental design adequately addressed the hypothesis, and whether or not it was properly controlled.
  • Try to offer alternative explanations if reasonable alternatives exist.
  • One experiment will not answer an overall question, so keeping the big picture in mind, where do you go next? The best studies open up new avenues of research. What questions remain?
  • Recommendations for specific papers will provide additional suggestions.
  • When you refer to information, distinguish data generated by your own studies from published information or from information obtained from other students (verb tense is an important tool for accomplishing that purpose).
  • Refer to work done by specific individuals (including yourself) in past tense.
  • Refer to generally accepted facts and principles in present tense. For example, "Doofus, in a 1989 survey, found that anemia in basset hounds was correlated with advanced age. Anemia is a condition in which there is insufficient hemoglobin in the blood."

The biggest mistake that students make in discussions is to present a superficial interpretation that more or less re-states the results. It is necessary to suggest why results came out as they did, focusing on the mechanisms behind the observations.

Referencing lets you acknowledge where you got your information. When you write an essay you can use evidence such as quotes or ideas from other people who agree with your point of view. Follow APA Style (6th Edition) for correct reference.

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