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Results

Results

The Results section may be one of the most straightforward sections of the researcher paper as its main purpose is to report the results obtained. When reporting results it is not necessary to report all results. Sometimes a single study produces results for a number of publications and it is impossible (or not advisable) to try to publish all of them in a single study. Instead, you can pick your ‘stars’, i.e. most relevant results to answer your question. However, when picking the results to report on, you need to make sure you are not ‘cherry picking’, i.e. reporting on results that are in line with your hypothesis and excluding results that go against it.

Results can be presented as a separate section or as an integrated Results & Discussion section. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages and there is no straightforward answer to which model should be preferred. The decision whether or not to separate Results and Discussion depends on disciplinary conventions, the guidelines provided by the journal, and finally yet importantly – what makes sense the most for your study.

For example, some authors[1] suggest presenting Results and Discussion as separate sections because the readers might not be equally interested in all sections of your paper. Some might just want to see the numbers and some might be more interested in what they mean. In addition, research papers are seldom read from top to bottom and separate sections make it easier for the reader to find what they are looking for.

However, sometimes presenting pure results is not appropriate and some commentary is needed. Especially when reporting on a result that is contradictory, ambiguous, or unexpected in some other way[2]. In this case, the author might already anticipate the question(s) the readers might have and might not want to wait until later sections to comment on the results.[3] Thus, the decision of whether or not to separate Results and Discussion also depends on how much immediate commentary is needed when reporting your results.

However, commenting on results does not automatically mean that you have opted for an integrated Results & Discussion section. It is possible to include various degrees of commentary on your results. The extent of commentary in the Results section can range from straightforward descriptions of results with no commentary at all to heavy use of commentary. Whatever the choice, it is important that as an author, you differentiate between what you found (i.e. your actual results) and what you think (i.e. what can be inferred from the results).

The moves and steps typical of the Results (& Discussion) section are captured in a model by Yang and Allison[4] (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.Moves and Steps in the Results (& Discussion) section


[1] Heard, S. B. (2016). The scientist’s guide to writing: How to write more easily and effectively throughout your scientific career. Princeton University Press.

[2] Björk, L. A., & Räisänen, C. (1997). Academic writing: A university writing course. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

[3] Swales, J., & Feak, C. (1994). Academic Writing for Graduate Students.

[4]Yang, R, & Allison, D. (2003). Research articles in applied linguistics: Moving from results to conclusions. English for specific purposes, 22(4), 365-385.

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