The Results and Discussion sections of an academic research paper are crucial in presenting and explaining the findings of your study. In most journals and academic style guides, these are separated into two distinct sections. In other journals (such as IEEE and many other engineering publications), the Results section and Discussion section are combined into one section.
In either case, the data presented in the results must be fully explained in the Discussion and Conclusion. You must also follow specific rules for proper content, organization, language, voice, and formatting. Because they can account for as much as 50% of the total text of a manuscript’s main body content, authors tend to make many errors in these sections of a research paper.
The following is a checklist for what to look for when revising and editing these crucial research paper sections. Although a professional editing service can fix errors in language, style, and grammar, the author of the paper should address issues with content and organization (or by substantive editing) before receiving English language editing for your manuscript.
Editing the Results Section
The Results section presents your key research results, but it is NOT where you interpret the meaning of these findings. Results should be presented in sequential order, either chronologically or by order of importance. It can be helpful to use a Results section outline as a guide for writing to ensure that you follow the same sequence as the Methods section.
For each experimental and statistical method mentioned in the Methods section, include a corresponding result. Before writing the Results section, prepare the tables and figures that show study data and ensure that their ordering is logical and tells a coherent story.
Ask yourself the following questions when revising your Results section:
- Are all your results relevant to the research question presented in the Introduction section (whether they support your hypothesis or not)?
- Consider the scope of the study. Do not include irrelevant results or those that are minor or only somewhat relevant.
- de primary and secondary findings.
Are the Results organized in chronological order according to the Methods or in order of most to least importance?
- Within each paragraph, organize the results in order from most to least important.
- Are all the data in your results presented in text or in study figures and tables?
- In most scientific studies, the results discussed as data should also be presented in these quantitative forms as well (tables, charts, graphs, and/or tables).
- The findings should be summarized and point the reader to the relevant data in the figures.
- The text should not repeat this information but should clarify or complement it.
- If needed, include any pertinent observations not given in a formal figure or table.
Are the data accurate and consistent throughout the manuscript?
- Check the methods against the results and ensure that you have not left out relevant data or included inconsistent information.
- Additionally, ensure that spellings of terms and abbreviations are consistent throughout the paper.
- Do you use past tense to refer to the results?
- Use past tense when referring to the findings in your study. See this article about verb tenses for more details about verb usage.
- Ex: “65% of patients over 55 responded positively to the question ‘Are you satisfied with your hospital’s postoperative care?’ (Fig. 2)”
Are your tables and figures numbered in the same sequence mentioned in the text?
- Check the journal guidelines to see whether these should be listed in order after the References or whether they should be placed within the text of the Results section.
Do all tables, figures, graphs, and charts have headings?
- As with the numbering, the formal figures are presented according to the guidelines of your target journal. Figure legends and table titles may be listed separately or above each table or below each figure.
- Make sure that each table and figure is complete and clear on its own without needing further clarification from the text.
Are your results written accurately, briefly, and clearly?
- Poor writing quality in the Results section can also impact the impression your work makes on journal editors. An academic editing service can be helpful in enhancing writing quality, as most employ professional editors with experience reviewing scientific manuscripts. These editors are attuned to finding errors in grammar and punctuation, as well as enhancing style (correcting wordiness, vocabulary, and readability).
Results Section Example
Editing the Discussion Section
The Discussion section of a research paper fulfills the promise made to readers in the Introduction. At the beginning of your paper, you explain why your research is important. In the Results section, you guide readers through a series of data, images, and graphs that capture all the relevant data you collected during your research.
But although the Introduction section previews the important elements in your study, the Discussion section is where you interpret your study’s results and explain to readers the implications and impact your study will have. While <a href="https://wordvice.com/research-writing-tips-editing-manuscript-discussion/"writing the Discussion section—and while revising it—ask yourself the following questions when editing the Discussion section.
- Have you described the nature of the knowledge gap you were trying to fill?
- Explain how the gaps in knowledge mentioned in the Introduction section have been adequately filled (or have not been filled) by the results of your study.
- Have you summarized the importance of your study and why researchers should be interested in your work?
- At the beginning of the Discussion section, remind readers why this study is useful. This can include a bit more about the study’s background and using additional literature to compare your study’s findings.
- Have you discussed the findings in the order presented in the Results section?
- Be sure to make your interpretation of the Results uniform and readable by presenting them in the same order as the Results and the Methods section before that.
- Does your Discussion section use the present tense to interpret the results?
- When interpreting your results and discussing their importance, use the present tense.
- Ex: “These findings suggest the importance of Omega-10 acids in maintaining a healthy diet.”
- Do you discuss how your study answers (or fails to answer) the research question and hypothesis?
- The more applicable your research is to your subject area or to related studies, the more interesting and valuable it will be to journal editors and researchers.
- Do not boast or make subjective or speculative claims about the value of your work. Keep your claims objective and relevant to the study topic.
- Have you discussed any limitations and weaknesses of your study?
- Mention any weaknesses or questions that might have arisen from the methodology and approach of your study. Don’t apologize for any problems in your study. Rather, explain how your study could be approved upon by making specific changes.
- Have you included a conclusion statement or paragraph that inspires other researchers to conduct follow-up studies?
- End with a concise summary explaining the big-picture impact of your study on our understanding of the subject matter. At the beginning of your Discussion section, you stated why this study was needed to fill a knowledge gap and why that gap needed filling. Here, end with “how your research filled that gap.”
- A popular statement included at the end of a Discussion section is “Further studies are needed to answer the research question sufficiently.” You can refine this statement and include viable methods or approaches that would more completely answer your research questions and fill in additional gaps in knowledge.
Discussion Section Example
Using a Professional Editing Service
While this checklist should help research authors revise and improve their academic writing in these research paper sections, final editing and proofreading from an academic editor are recommended for most journal manuscripts. Before submitting your paper to journal editors, choose a reputable research paper editing service to ensure that your work is free of punctuation and grammar errors and that your writing is expressed clearly and naturally. And get cover letter editing before submitting your manuscript to journal editors.
Every researcher’s goal is to publish their work in target journals. The professional proofreading and editing services offered by Wordvice greatly improve your chances of journal acceptance, regardless of your area of study.