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You should be clear about whether your results section is presented separately from the discussion (the commonest format) or in combination with the discussion. This advice refers to an independent results section. It should provide the results in a way that allows the reader to answer the research question without having to refer to the methods section.

The result section should:

  • present the most important and relevant results in a logical sequence
  • provide good figures/tables each with a helpful description summarising the relevant method (this is often called the legend)
  • avoid wordy repetition of information presented visually.

The result section should not:

  • provide all results – for a manuscript, authors need to be selective about which results to describe, but they must provide the relevant results
  • repeat in the body of the text repetitive data that are better presented in figures and tables
  • attempt to draw conclusions (save for the discussion)
  • attempt to relate findings to other work (save for the discussion)
  • usually include methods except in the legends
  • usually require references

Here is some language to be careful with:

Reserve the term ‘significant’ for a statistical finding. If authors consider that something is important or may have considerable impact, then use ‘important’ or ‘considerable’ (and only in the discussion!).

Be careful with adverbs that give a subjective opinion of size of a numerical value. Thus, avoid statements such as ‘markedly increased’ or ‘greatly reduced’. Yes, ‘increased’ or ‘reduced’, but you could say ‘three-fold increase’ or ‘95% reduction’.