In past tense summarize the results of your experiments without any judgments or conclusions about what the data may mean. Interpretation of the data occurs in the Discussion section. The separation of the results and discussion allows the reader to formulate her/his own interpretation of the data before reading the discussion. Results are composed of text as well as graphs, figures, and tables that present the important data. Here are some specific guidelines.
Results are composed of text as well as graphs, figures, and tables that present the important data. The text should guide the reader through the data and highlight the interesting portions of the data without interpretation. Here are some specific guidelines.
1. The Text: results sections always begin with text. The text should guide
the reader through the data and highlight the interesting aspects of the data without interpretation. Use a concise
and direct style that summarizes the results in an objective and clear manner. Guidelines follow.
• The first sentence of each results paragraph should put the data being presented in context or introduce ideas and trends that are detailed in the body of the paragraph.
• In the body of the paragraph major trends or patterns in the data are pointed out and illustrated by making comparisons between the experimental groups and the control. This can be done by presenting the value for the control as a frame of reference and then either calculating the difference in control and experimental treatment or presenting the percent difference. Use care when calculating the % increase/decrease. Find the difference in the values being compared. Then divide by the value that is the basis for comparison (e.g., control or starting point).
• Refer parenthetically to each Table and Figure that you have included in the paper.
• Avoid repeating all the data shown in a table or figure or making all possible comparisons. If deemed important, unusual data can be noted.
• Report means (+/- error, n). The sample size may
be integrated into the text.
• Focus should be on the biology. Results of the statistical tests should be included parenthetically. Assume that the reader can interpret the results of the statistical tests so it is unnecessary to explain them. A typical sentence in a results sentence would begin with the condition under which the data were collected followed by a comparison of the experimental treatment with the control and a parenthetical presentation of the statistical results.
Incorrect: Table 1 shows that the mean heartbeat rate of tadpoles was 5 beats per second at 18oC while it was 11 beats per second at 25oC. The Two sample t-test showed that the difference in rate was significant because P < 0.05.
Better: The mean heartbeat rate of the 10 tadpoles at 25oC was 40 beats/minute (± s = 0.05), 6 beats/minute faster than at 18oC (Table 1, Two sample t-test, P<0.05).
Note that in the "better" example the reader knows the sample size as well as the standard deviation. The focus is on the biology not on the table.
• Avoid using the term "significant" when "p" values are given. It is redundant to do so. Readers can determine for themselves the significance of the data from the "p" value.
Incorrect: There were significant differences in the amount of Alliaria and Solanum consumed by tobacco hornworms (t-test, p<.05).
Better: Tobacco hornworms ate 20% less Alliaria than Solanum (t-test, p<.05).
2. Data Presentation. The data should be assembled in either graphs and/or tables to supplement the text. Graphs and other types of illustrative material are referred to as figures. Graphs should be used to illustrate trends in the data and tables should be used to summarize complex data sets. Include only refined data (e.g. means ± some measure of variance). If necessary, raw data (the individual measurements) may be included in an Appendix. A table or figure should be readily understandable without reference to the text. Design tables and graphs to illustrate the importance of the data. Number tables and figures consecutively in separate series (e.g. Figure 1, 2, 3... or Table 1, 2, 3...). Include a brief but informative caption stating the source of the data. Do not present the same data twice in different formats. The components of tables and figures are compared below.
Graphs have captions at the BOTTOM with:
___ a number identifying the figure
___ x and y axis labels
Tables have captions at the TOP
___ a number identifying the table
___ statistical test name, value of statistic, df and p value (in footnote or column) - if appropriate