Common Mistakes in Writing the Results section?

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Common Mistakes in Writing the Results section?

Common Mistakes in Writing the Results section?

Manuscript writing is a crucial step for presentation of research. In fact, a readable and well-composed manuscript may be the difference between getting your work published or not. It takes time and dedication to master the art of writing. However, with discipline and some straight-forward tools for writing, it may not be that complicated.

In this part of our series on drafting a strong journal manuscript, we’ll give you tips on how to write an effective Results section. As a preface, please note that some journals require you to have separate Results and Discussion sections, while other journals require you to combine the two into one. Please double-check your target journal’s Guide for Authors to confirm its requirements.

Authors often underestimate the Introduction, the first section of a manuscript, in both its relevance and its complexity. The relative rigidity and concision required in scientific texts should not eclipse the elegance of a beautifully written text. However, these attributes pose very specific challenges to authors. I see these difficulties materialized into the same errors repeatedly in submitted manuscripts.

The most common mistake is to write a too long Introduction.This may be justified by several reasons, but is often the result of the fact that many manuscripts originate from dissertations or theses in which reviews of the literature might be relatively long. After great efforts to write beautiful reviews of the literature, some authors tend to cling to the quality of their production and want to share it with other readers. The major problem here is that most of us are not interested in long, non-objective texts. There is no specific size limit of the Introduction, but a rule of thumb is to limit the word count to about 10% of the total number of words in the manuscript.

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Common Mistakes in Writing the Results section?

What is the purpose of the Results section?

The Results portion of a manuscript presents the important data you acquired during your research. Yes, that sounds obvious, but there are a few common pitfalls to avoid while drafting this part of your scientific paper.

This article will cover some general rules for writing the Results section of your research paper. We’ll also explain how to navigate some of the drafting issues frequently encountered by research writers like you. As you write or edit your manuscript, keep these points in mind!

Use the past tense. Your Results section describes observations of events that have happened already, so the use of the past tense makes sense.
Make sure that your data and numbers are consistent throughout the manuscript. The last thing you want is someone going, “Wait a minute. Earlier, didn’t you say…?”
Number figures and tables consecutively in the order in which you mention them. You want to avoid making readers hop back and forth. Wandering eyes lead to confusion!

Common mistakes & how to avoid them

In the table below, we identify common mistakes people make drafting their Results section (the “Don’ts”) and suggest ways to correct these problems (the “Dos”).

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Don’ts

Don’t include all your data. (Obviously, you won’t have enough room!)

Dos

Select only the information that is most relevant to the question you want to answer in your manuscript. Include information that may or may not support your hypothesis since you should let your readers know that you have carefully considered all the data relevant to your research question.

Don’ts

Don’t use text to describe everything.

Dos

Some data might be better understood in a more visual format, like a table or figure. In theory, if you’re able to capture the essence of most of your data by using clear graphs and illustrations, the text portion of the Results might be one of the shortest sections of your paper.

Don’ts

Don’t repeat the data you include in figures, tables and legends.

Dos

Your text should complement the graphical information and vice versa. If you aren’t able to describe information like controls, statistical analyses, actual p values, and key observations in your figure legends, then include it in the Results section.

Don’ts

Don’t jump around by discussing different data in an unorganized fashion.

Dos

Organize your information in the order presented in the Methods section (usually chronological) or from most to least important. Regardless of how you arrange the overall structure of the Results section, within each paragraph, you should start with the most important information first.

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Don’ts

Don’t write long explanations.

Dos

Keep your descriptions concise. Eliminate phrases that establish passive-voice structures. When you use the active voice and choose strong verbs, your sentences will shrink, and your message will be clearer.

Don’ts

Don’t use exact numbers that are meaningless out of context.

Dos

Keep your descriptions concise. Eliminate phrases that establish passive-voice structures. When you use the active voice and choose strong verbs, your sentences will shrink, and your message will be clearer.

We hope that the above list of dos and don’ts for writing the Results section of your research paper will help you as you edit & prepare your journal manuscript for submission. If you apply these 10 tips, we are confident that your Results section will be clearer & more concise, thus making it easier to properly share your new discoveries with the world!

Professional editors edit for style errors such as vocabulary and wordiness and ensure that your manuscript is 100% free of errors in grammar, punctuation, formatting, and mechanics.

Common Mistakes in Writing the Results section?

Wordvice Writing Resources

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