Tips for Writing the Results Section of a Research Paper

Tips for Writing the Results in a Research Paper

When writing a research paper, it's essential to include your results in line with academic requirements. The Results section of your paper plays a key role in how you present your research. It shows the core ideas of your study in a simple logical sequence, which helps to ensure clarity and motivate in-depth analysis without bias. This section helps to express the significance of your paper by presenting the final outcome of gathered or collected data based on study methods.


The Results section is where you report the findings of your study based on the methodology that you applied. This part of the paper is used to justify any claims you have made with clarity and confidence. It aims to tell a simple story and leave an impression in the mind of every reader. As a microcosm of your paper, the Results section is the central meaning and nucleus of your entire study.


What Should be Included in Your Research Paper Results?

Before you create a results section, you need to know how it's constructed. When it comes to publishing your results, simplicity is always best. The Results section should include the findings of your study and nothing else. Depending on the type of paper and its results, these findings may include central data, contextual analysis, secondary findings, and visual explanations. While the actual information presented can vary widely, broad or complex studies should condense diverse variables based on relevance.


In many cases, you can restate the aims and objectives of your paper, followed by study details and findings. Whether people are perusing the Results section first or reading the entire paper in full, this gives them a frame of reference and helps them to refocus on the central attributes of your study. As the third element of your research paper, followed only by Discussion, the Results section provides purpose and resolution.


The following elements can be included in your results:

  • Short introduction on your findings
  • Report on study elements (data collection, participant recruitment, etc.)
  • Main findings in logical order
  • Secondary findings in logical order
  • Visual elements (charts, maps, tables, etc.)


What Should Not be Included in Your Results?

Any information that does not present the direct findings or final outcome of the study should not be included. Explanations and interpretations are not needed and should be omitted to ensure clarity. You should avoid speculating on specific correlations and instead simply present your findings in the most direct way possible. Insights and relationships between variables are best left to the Discussion section. There is one notable exception to this rule. However — some journals ask authors to combine Discussion and Results in a single section.


How Do You Present Research Results?

Research results need to be included in a specific way based on academic and journal standards. These standards can vary between disciplines and publications, so check the requirements of the journal you are working with. To avoid reinventing the wheel, you can review previous studies from your field published in the target journal. Key things to look for include the structure of the Results section and the type and amount of information used.


Regardless of your discipline or publication, logical grouping is always critical. Research results need to be clear, relevant, and aligned with specific research questions to avoid misinterpretation and confusion. You need to describe what you did, how you did it, and what you found in exact sequence. Causality is key, not just in your study but also in how you present your findings to the audience.


Presenting visual tables and figures is a great way to align results with questions, as you can say a lot without describing every detail of your study. While summary text is still needed, visual assets are an efficient way to report crucial data in sequence. For example, you can assess data in one figure and explain it before moving on to your next research question. Data can be shown in separate or combined figures to highlight specific aspects or focus on connections and relationships.


However, while this approach works well for quantitative research, visual data and statistical correlations do not always work for papers that involve qualitative information or contextual analysis. Let's take a look at three special but common use cases: qualitative studies, literature reviews, and systematic reviews. 


How Do You Present Results in Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research involves the collection and analysis of non-numerical data. From text and audio to static and moving images, this data is often studied in an effort to understand opinions and experiences. When it comes to analyzing qualitative data, there are two separate approaches: the deductive approach and the inductive approach. While each approach can be handled in a variety of ways, these two options are fundamentally unique.

  • The deductive approach involves using a predetermined framework to analyze data. As the researcher, you are imposing your own structure or theories during analysis. Results from this approach are best presented in logical categories similar to quantitative studies, often with the addition of theoretical or conceptual frameworks.
  • The inductive approach involves analyzing data without predetermination. As a researcher, you are using actual data to derive the structure of analysis. Results from this emergent approach are often presented in comparative or generative associations, with Discussion and Results sometimes related in a holistic and interdependent framework.


Qualitative studies often differ considerably from quantitative studies when it comes to presenting results. There is often crossover between the Discussion and Results sections, which are typically presented as a single section followed by a conclusion. In most examples, the conclusion summarizes the paper while emphasizing its contextual value in the wider field of study.


How Do You Write the Results Section of a Literature Review?

A literature review is an overview of previously published works on a specific topic. This term can refer to everything from a full paper to a small section of a single work. The Results section of a literature review is where you report the findings of your study based on the methodology used. These findings only confirm or reject the hypothesis of your study. There are two separate approaches used to present results in literature reviews: single synopsis and sequential results.

  • The first approach is to present a synopsis of the results followed by an explanation of your key findings. You may wish to highlight correlations between variables and other important findings. As mentioned above, however, it's important to avoid speculation regarding your hypothesis.
  • The second approach involves presenting a sequence of results immediately followed by their explanation. While you may end with a final synopsis, each of these results has equal or similar significance. This approach is more common in longer papers, when the Results section is often followed by a brief conclusion.


How Do You Write the Results Section of a Systematic Review?

A systematic review is a comprehensive study into existing literature on a particular topic. This type of paper is designed to address a specific question using rigorous and known methods. Systematic reviews are an important part of evidence-based medicine, but they're also common in other disciplines. Systematic reviews have a larger scope than literature reviews, as they include both published and unpublished literature.

There are three types of systematic reviews, with the Results section often differing between types:

  • Qualitative reviews involve the results of multiple relevant studies. Being qualitative in nature, these results can be summarized but not statistically combined or correlated.
  • Quantitative reviews apply known statistical methods to combine the results of multiple studies. Being quantitative in nature, these results can be combined and correlated.
  • Meta-analysis reviews use statistical methods to integrate the estimated effects of multiple relevant studies. This is a valid way to present useful results from independent but similar studies.


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