The function of the Results section is to state the results of the experiments described in the Materials and Methods section. In addition, the Results section directs the reader to figures or tables that present supporting data.
The Results section continues the story line in different ways in the two types of hypothesis-testing study. For hypothesis-testing studies in which all the experiments are designed in advance, the Results section describes the third step in the story line: the results. For hypothesis-testing studies in which the results of one experiment determine what the next experiment will be, the Results section describes both the second and the third steps in the story line: the experiments done and the results found. For these studies, there is no Study Design subsection in Methods. Thus, the second step in the story line appears in different sections of the paper for these two types of hypothesis-testing study:
| ||Section of the Paper |
|Step in the Story Line ||All Experiments Designed in Advance ||One Experiment Determines the Next |
|Question ||Introduction ||Introduction |
|Experiments done ||Methods (Study Design subsection) ||Results |
|Results found ||Results ||Results |
|Answer ||Discussion ||Discussion |
The Results sections of descriptive studies and of methods papers are similar to the Results section of hypothesis-testing studies in which all the experiments are designed in advance. For descriptive studies, the Results section states the results of the experiments done to obtain the description of a particular structure. Similarly, for methods papers, the Results section states the results of the tests done to determine how well the new method works. The new method itself is described in the Methods section.
In this chapter, we will consider the Results sections for the two types of hypothesis-testing studies.
What to Include in the Results Section
The primary information in the Results section is results. However, not every result that you obtained from your experiments or observations needs to be reported in the Results section. The Results section should report only results pertinent to the question posed in the Introduction. Results should be included whether or not they support your hypothesis. Both experimental and control results should be included.
In addition to presenting results, the Results section can include a few data. However, most data, and in particular the most important data, should be presented in figures or tables, where the data are highly visible and easy to read.
Normally, the Results section does not include statements that need to be referenced, such as comparisons with others' results. However, if a brief comparison (one or two sentences) would not fit smoothly into the Discussion, it can be included in the Results section.