Results Of A Research Paper

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.

Sources:

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

I. Organization and Approach

For most research paper formats in the social and behavioral sciences, there are two possible ways of presenting and organizing the results. Both approaches are appropriate in how you report your findings, but use only one format or the other.

  1. Present a synopsis of the results followed by an explanation of key findings. For example, you may have noticed an unusual correlation between two variables during the analysis of your findings. It is correct to point this out in the results section. However, speculating as to why this correlation exists, and offering a hypothesis about what may be happening, belongs in the discussion section of your paper.
  2. Present a result and then explain it, before presenting the next result then explaining it, and so on, then end with an overall synopsis. This is more common in longer papers because it helps the reader to better understand each finding. This is also the preferred approach if you have multiple results of equal significance. In this model, it is helpful to provide a brief conclusion that ties each of the findings together and provides a narrative bridge to the discussion section of the your paper.

NOTE:  Just as the literature review should be arranged under conceptual categories rather than systematically describing each source, organize your findings under key themes related to addressing the research problem. This can be done under either format noted above [i.e., a thorough explanation of the results] or a sequential description and explanation of each key finding.


II.  Content

In general, the content of your results section should include the following:

  • An Introductory context for understanding the results by restating the research problem underpinning your study. This is useful in orientating the reader's focus back to the research after reading about the methods of data gathering and analysis.
  • Inclusion of non-textual elements, such as, figures, charts, photos, maps, tables, etc. to further illustrate key findings, if appropriate. Rather than relying entirely on descriptive text, consider the ways your findings can be presented visually. This is a helpful way of condensing a lot of data into one place that can then be referred to in the text. Consider using appendices if there is a lot of non-textual elements.
  • A systematic description of your results, highlighting for the reader observations that are most relevant to the topic under investigation [remember that not all results that emerge from the methodology used to gather information may be related to answering the "So What?" question]. Do not confuse observations with interpretations; observations in this context refers to highlighting important findings you discovered through a process of reviewing prior literature and gathering data.
  • The page length of your results section is guided by the amount and types of data to be reported. However, focus only on findings that are important and related to addressing the research problem. It is not uncommon to have unanticipated results that are not relevant to answering the research question, and this is not to say that you don't acknowledge tangential findings, but spending time describing them only clutters your overall results section.
  • A short paragraph that concludes the results section by synthesizing the key findings of the study. Highlight the most important findings you want readers to remember as they transition into the discussion section. This is particularly important if, for example, there are many results to report, the findings are complicated or unanticipated, or they are impactful or actionable in some way [i.e., able to be acted upon in a feasible way applied to practice].

NOTE:  Use the past tense when referring to your results. Reference to findings should always be described as having already happened because the method of gathering data has been completed.


III. Problems to Avoid

When writing the results section, avoid doing the following:

  1. Discussing or interpreting your results. Save all this for the next section of your paper, although where appropriate, you should compare or contrast specific results to those found in other studies [e.g., "Similar to Smith [1990], one of the findings of this study is the strong correlation between motivation and academic achievement...."].
  2. Reporting background information or attempting to explain your findings. This should have been done in your Introduction section, but don't panic! Often the results of a study point to the need for additional background information or to explain the topic further, so don't think you did something wrong. Revise your introduction as needed.
  3. Ignoring negative results. If some of your results fail to support your hypothesis, do not ignore them. Document them, then state in your discussion section why you believe a negative result emerged from your study. Note that negative results, and how you handle them, offer you the opportunity to write a more engaging discussion section, therefore, don't be afraid to highlight them.
  4. Including raw data or intermediate calculations. Ask your professor if you need to include any raw data generated by your study, such as transcripts from interviews or data files. If raw data is to be included, place it in an appendix or set of appendices that are referred to in the text.
  5. Be as factual and concise as possible in reporting your findings. Do not use phrases that are vague or non-specific, such as, "appeared to be greater or lesser than..." or "demonstrates promising trends that...."
  6. Presenting the same data or repeating the same information more than once. If it is important to highlight a particular finding, you will have an opportunity to emphasize its significance in the discussion section.
  7. Confusing figures with tables. Be sure to properly label any non-textual elements in your paper. Don't call a chart an illustration or a figure a table. If you are not sure, go here.

Annesley, Thomas M. "Show Your Cards: The Results Section and the Poker Game." Clinical Chemistry 56 (July 2010): 1066-1070; Bavdekar, Sandeep B. and Sneha Chandak. "Results: Unraveling the Findings." Journal of the Association of Physicians of India 63 (September 2015): 44-46; Burton, Neil et al. Doing Your Education Research Project. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2008;  Caprette, David R. Writing Research Papers. Experimental Biosciences Resources. Rice University; Hancock, Dawson R. and Bob Algozzine. Doing Case Study Research: A Practical Guide for Beginning Researchers. 2nd ed. New York: Teachers College Press, 2011; Introduction to Nursing Research: Reporting Research Findings. Nursing Research: Open Access Nursing Research and Review Articles. (January 4, 2012); Kretchmer, Paul.Twelve Steps to Writing an Effective Results Section. San Francisco Edit; Ng, K. H. and W. C. Peh. "Writing the Results." Singapore Medical Journal 49 (2008): 967-968; Reporting Research Findings. Wilder Research, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services. (February 2009); Results. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Schafer, Mickey S. Writing the Results. Thesis Writing in the Sciences. Course Syllabus. University of Florida.

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