The results should relate clearly to your aim and objectives, and all objectives should be addressed by the results.

The section is a factual account of what you found out from having done the study. Do not discuss the findings – save that for the next section.
Seek advice from your study design/analysis advisor about the details of this section.

Response from study subjects, and any information available on non-response to identify bias, should be reported here or in the previous Methods chapter.

If you are using tables, figures etc then:

  • be selective and succinct about what you present in the main text
  • each needs to be numbered, with a title and properly labelled
  • all numerical data should generally show both the number and percentage in each category, but seek advice about this
  • Tables and charts of data should:
  • account for 100% of the respondents or indicate where data are missing in either the table or figure, or in the preceding text
  • be followed by a justified comment on the importance of what you show: avoid repeating the whole of the content in words
  • avoid using complex presentation styles that hinder understanding and impair the clarity of your data. You can waste a lot of time unnecessarily.

You may have carried out many additional exploratory analyses in the course of the study. Resist the temptation to include them, or put them in an appendix! Keep the aims and objectives in mind and use these to decide what is relevant to the results section. If information is not statistically significant you can say so in the text and put the data in an appendix.

When the project is an in-depth critical appraisal of the literature, the results section as described above clearly does not apply. In this case there should probably be a larger background section setting out the need for the review, leading to the aim and objectives. This would then be followed by the ‘Methods’, in this case the search strategy and methods used in the critical appraisal procedure. Following the critical appraisal of the literature, there should be a discussion section.

It is helpful to summarise key points.