Research Paper Results Section Writing Guide
The results section of your research paper is, arguably, the one which your reader has most anticipated. If you’ve properly expressed your thesis, laid a strong foundation, and shared your methods in a coherent way, your audience will be primed and ready to read about your results. A poorly crafted results section can undo all of your previous hard work, so be certain to put adequate effort into it. This guide is full of helpful pointers to maximize your research paper results section’s impact.
Top Three Things to Remember
There are three vital points to keep in mind while writing your results section:
- Results are not proof. Don’t frame your results as proving or disproving your thesis, but rather consider them to support or undermine your thesis. While this may seem to be mainly a matter of semantics, it’s an important one, and your instructor is very likely to dock points for overstating the value of the results.
- The length of the section is determined entirely by the results themselves. There should be no “padding” or excessive verbosity in the results section. Nor should there be additional speculation about the meaning of the results, or any expansion upon them. If these things are relevant to the research paper, they should be confined to other, more appropriate sections.
- Be thorough when including data but do not include data which is not relevant to your research question. Again, while it may be necessary to provide background or expand upon the information in the results section, it isn’t appropriate to do so within the section itself. If there is other data which can provide your reader with a better understanding but isn’t directly related to the research question, outline this in the introduction.
Structuring the Results Section
The first thing presented in your results section should be the data itself. Following the results, provide a brief explanation of their meaning. Keep this explanation focused on a direct translation of the results, rather than speculation. You should present one small section of results, explain, and then repeat the process for the remainder of the results section. Do not confuse this with the discussion section, which will examine the results in a more in-depth manner and allows you the freedom to make some speculative comments on them.
The overall content of the results section should include a very brief introductory statement, a summary of the highlights of your results, and graphic elements which aid the reader’s understanding of the results.