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Writing a Scientific Paper: RESULTS

Discussion of how to understand and write different sections of a scientific paper. Discussions of how to write Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Data, and Discussion.

Writing a "good" results section

This is the core of the paper. Don't start the results sections with methods you left out of the Materials and Methods section. You need to give an overall description of the experiments and present he data you found.

• Factual statements supported by evidence. Short and sweet without excess words
• Present representative data rather than endlessly repetitive data
• Discuss variables only if they had an effect (positive or negative)
• Use meaningful statistics
• Avoid redundancy. If it is in the tables or captions you may not need to repeat it

Figures and Captions in Lab Reports

Figures and Captions in Lab Reports

A short article by Dr. Brett Couch and Dr. Deena Wassenberg, Biology Program, University of Minnesota

Additional Tips for Results Sections


  • Number tables and figures separately beginning with 1 (i.e. Table 1, Table 2, Figure 1, etc.).
  • Do not attempt to evaluate the results in this section. Report only what you found; hold all discussion of the significance of the results for the Discussion section.
  • It is not necessary to describe every step of your statistical analyses. Scientists understand all about null hypotheses, rejection rules, and so forth and do not need to be reminded of them. Just say something like, "Honeybees did not use the flowers in proportion to their availability (X2 = 7.9, p<0.05, d.f.= 4, chi-square test)." Likewise, cite tables and figures without describing in detail how the data were manipulated. Explanations of this sort should appear in a legend or caption written on the same page as the figure or table.
  • You must refer in the text to each figure or table you include in your paper.
  • Tables generally should report summary-level data, such as means ± standard deviations, rather than all your raw data.  A long list of all your individual observations will mean much less than a few concise, easy-to-read tables or figures that bring out the main findings of your study.  
  • Only use a figure (graph) when the data lend themselves to a good visual representation.  Avoid using figures that show too many variables or trends at once, because they can be hard to understand.