Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016
Reporting Results in a Quantitative Study
From a Research Project to a Journal Article
Conference Proposals and Article Types
The results section needs to be brief but thorough. Begin with a sentence or two about the study and discuss only those findings that relate to the hypotheses/research questions based on the data (Maloy, 2001) and the purpose of the study. First the subject’s characteristics (such as sex and age distribution, initial and final numbers in each group, and dropouts) and outcomes for each group (treatment vs control groups) are discussed. When multiple groups of subjects are provided with several interventions, outcomes are presented from general to specific. Then related findings are combined into topics and discussed to offer a clear-cut description of the outcomes.
Activity 7.5: Analyzing the Results Section of a Quantitative Manuscript
Use your own manuscript, identify a published journal article that has earned an award or, use Google Scholar to locate a research article of interest that has been cited extensively. Review the methodology section of the manuscript using the outline in Table 7.3.
Researchers use tables and figures with scattergrams and graphs to communicate their results. These provide a visual description that assists readers to grasp, comprehend, and remember information. Tables, graphs, and figures should be simple, clear, and relatively self-explanatory (Cunningham, 2004). Effective visuals enable readers to see trends, relationships, outcomes, categories, or general experimental parameters (Annesley, 2010e) but they also need to be referred to in the body of the manuscript. They also should be used judiciously and formatted as required by the specific outlet (e.g., APA Style). Tables and figures are included only if they (1) will save a large amount of text and (2) distinctly assist readers to understand the outcomes. In studies with a few significant results, it may suffice to discuss them in the text of the manuscript without any visuals. On the other hand, major outcomes that use multiple data points are better understood when they are presented in tables, graphs, and/or figures. Many times authors make the mistake of using a table when a single sentence would suffice, submit more than seven tables for a short article, or include everything that was generated by the statistical software package rather than the pertinent information. Be thorough, but be concise.
Activity 7.6: Writing an Effective Results Section
To draft a results section, try the following: (1) Briefly describe an experiment without detail of Methods section (a sentence or two). (2) Report main result(s), supported by selected data (e.g., representative/most common, best case/example of ideal or exception. (3) Order multiple results logically (e.g., from most to least important or from simple to complex). (4) Use the past tense to describe what happened.
Vanderbilt University offers a very helpful resource on how to design visual arrays of data, “Reporting Quantitative Results” at: http://virg.vanderbilt.edu/AssessmentPlans/Results/Reporting_Results_Quantitative.aspx.