1 Taukazahn

How To Write Results Section Dissertation

Writing the Results

Think of the story you want to tell. Choose and present only those results that are relevant to your hypothesis. A morass of experimental results unilluminated by a hypothesis and unembellished by a discussion is insulting and confusing to your reader.from "How to Write a Thesis"

Results are the ultimate objective of scientific research: here you summarize the data collected and the statistical treatment of them. Therefore, this section consists of the observations and measurements recorded while conducting the procedures described in the methods section. These components must address the questions raised in the introduction and any hypotheses formulated there.

Results are often presented in numerical form and indeed are more reader-friendly if presented graphically in tables and graphs than in written text. The writer must aim for ACCURACY, INCLUSIVENESS, and SYSTEMATICITY, as these results are the primary and permanent source of scientific knowledge.

Organization should "match" that of the Methods section, if required.  If the Methods section was a single, straightforward test, then the Results can follow the classic order: answer the RQ first, and arrange from most to least significant.  If your Methods section was structured, consider structuring the Results section similarly.  Feel free to use subheadings in the Results section.  Often, this can make it somewhat easier for the reader to follow.

What to include:

- results that answer the research question (most important)

- data you can use to outline important trends

- results that you intend to address in the discussion section

- results of statistical analyses, often in conjunction with measurements analyzed

- results related to those obtained by other researchers, especially if they disconfirm other results, or are controversial

- negative results also

Example (from Rothschild, G., Nelken, I., & Mizrahi, A. (2010). Functional organization and population dynamics in the mouse primary auditory cortex. Nature Neuroscience, 13, 353-360, DOI:10.1038/nn.2484):

To characterize the functional architecture and dynamics of local networks in A1, we performed in vivo two-photon calcium imaging in anesthetized, freely breathing mice (Fig. 1). We loaded cells in the auditory cortex with a mixture of Fluo-4 a.m. and SR101 using the multicell bolus loading technique14. Fluo-4 stained neurons, astrocytes and neuropil in a spherical volume with a diameter of ~250 μm. SR101 selectively stained astrocytes and diffused more readily throughout A1. Loading was optimal ~40 min post injection, at which time hundreds of neurons could be detected at depths of up to 450 μm, corresponding to cortical layers 2/3 (Fig. 1a, Supplementary Movie 1 and Supplementary Fig. 1).

Results sections can be the most frustrating for novices to read and most interesting to experts. Consider both of these audiences when constructing the results. Clear, even redundant labeling of figures can be useful. Figure legends should stand on their own, but restricted only to the figure. The text should reference specific figures as they come up, but should not merely refer readers to a table or figure for the information; some contentful statement must be included with the reference to the figure. Balancing the needs of both expert and non-expert readers will increase the impact of your research. (from Enhanced heme oxygenase-mediated coronary vasodilation in Dahl salt-sensitive hypertension / http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14700508)

Stylistically, results can be organized in a variety of ways, and you should employ subheadings as needed. If there is only a single protocol on a non-human subjects with no control group, there may be no need for subdivisions in the results section. If there are multiple trials or multiple groups, then subheadings should be used to label what is being discussed. The organization of results most commonly "matches" the research question -- groups or trials should be indicated in the last paragraph of the introduction and evident in the results section.

On the basis of these findings we hypothesized that cardiac HO-1 expression is increased in DS rats with salt-induced  hypertension and provides cardioprotection by promoting coronary vasodilation. To test this hypothesis we conducted experiments using hearts isolated from DS and DR rats after 4 weeks of high or low salt diets. We examined coronary expression of HO isoforms using immunohistochemistry and studied the effects of an inhibitor of HO on coronary perfusion pressure in isolated Langendorff-hearts perfused at a constant flow rate.

What to avoid:

- failing to integrate the graphic results into the text

- interpreting the results rather than just reporting them. Just present and report the observations and measurements, factually and informatively, without discussion.


Course Links

Student Resources

Attribution Info

The results section of an APA format paper summarizes the data that was collected and the statistical analyses that were performed. The goal of this section is to report the results without any type of subjective interpretation.

Here's how to write a results section for an APA format psychology paper.

The Results Should Justify Your Claims

Report data in order to sufficiently justify your conclusions.

Since you'll be talking about your own interpretation of the results in the discussion section, you need to be sure that the information reported in the results section justifies your claims. As you write your discussion section, look back on your results section to ensure that all the data you need is there to fully support the conclusions you reach. 

Don't Omit Relevant Findings

Be sure to mention all relevant information. If your hypothesis expected more statistically significant results, don't omit the findings if they failed to support your predictions. 

Don't ignore negative results. Just because a result failed to support your hypothesis, it does not mean it is not important. Results that do not support your original hypothesis can be just as informative as results that do.

Even if your study did not support your hypothesis, it does not mean that the conclusions you reach are not useful.

Provide data about what you found in your results sections, then save your interpretation for what such results might mean in the discussion section. While your study might not have supported your original predictions, your finding can provide important inspiration for future explorations into a topic.

Summarize Your Results

Do not include the raw data in the results section. Remember, you are summarizing the results, not reporting them in full detail. If you choose, you can create a supplemental online archive where other researchers can access the raw data if they choose to do so.

Include Tables and Figures

Your results section should include both text and illustrations. Structure your results section around tables or figures that summarize the results of your statistical analysis. In many cases, the easiest way to accomplish this is to first create your tables and figures and then organize them in a logical way. Next, write the summary text to support your illustrative materials.

Do not include tables and figures if you are not going to talk about them in the body text of your results section.

Do not present the same data twice in your illustrative materials. If you have already presented some data in a table, do not present it again in a figure. If you have presented data in a figure, do not present it again in a table.

Report Your Statistical Findings

Always assume that your readers have a solid understanding of statistical concepts. There's no need to explain what a t-test is or how a one-way ANOVA works; just report the results.

Your responsibility is to report the results of your study, not to teach your readers how to analyze or interpret statistics.

Include Effect Sizes

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association recommends including effect sizes in your results section so that readers can appreciate the importance of your study's findings.

More Tips for Writing a Results Section

  1. The results section should be written in the past tense.
  2. Focus on being concise and objective. You will have the opportunity to give your own interpretations of the results in the discussion section.
  3. Read the for more information on how to write a results section in APA format.
  1. Visit your library and read some journal articles that are on your topic. Pay attention to how the authors present the results of their research.
  2. If possible, take your paper to your school's writing lab for additional assistance.

Final Thoughts

Remember, the results section of your paper is all about simply providing the data from your study. This section is often the shortest part of your paper, and in most cases, the most clinical. Be sure not to include any subjective interpretation of the results. Simply relay the data in the most objective and straightforward way possible. You can then provide your own analysis of what these results mean in the discussion section of your paper.


American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2010.

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *