How to Write an APA Results Section

How to write APA results

Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee 

Psychology papers generally follow a specific structure. One important section of a paper is known as the results section. The results section of an APA-style psychology paper summarizes the data that was collected and the statistical analyses that were performed. The goal of this section is to report the results of your study or experiment without any type of subjective interpretation.

This article discusses how to write a results section for an APA format psychology paper. It covers what you should include in your results section as well as what you should avoid.

Know What to Include

The results section is the third section of a psychology paper. It will appear after the introduction and methods sections and before the discussion section.

The results section should include:

  • A summary of the research findings.
  • Information about participant flow, recruitment, retention, and attrition. If some participants started the study and later left or failed to complete the study, then this should be described. 
  • Information about any reasons why some data might have been excluded from the study. 
  • Statistical information including samples sizes and statistical tests that were used. It should report standard deviations, p-values, and other measures of interest.

The Results Should Justify Your Claims

Report data in order to sufficiently justify your conclusions. Since you'll be talking about your own interpretation of the results in the discussion section, you need to be sure that the information reported in the results section justifies your claims.

As you write your discussion section, look back on your results section to ensure that all the data you need are there to fully support the conclusions you reach. And when you are writing your discussion section, be sure not to make claims that are not supported by your results.

Summarize Your Results

Remember, you are summarizing the results of your psychological study, not reporting them in full detail. The results section should be a relatively brief overview of your findings, not a complete presentation of every single number and calculation.

If you choose, you can create a supplemental online archive where other researchers can access the raw data if they choose.

Report All Relevant Results

Just as the results section of your psychology paper should sufficiently justify your claims, it should also provide an accurate look at what you found in your study. Be sure to mention all relevant information.

Don't omit findings simply because they failed to support your predictions.

Your hypothesis may have expected more statistically significant results or your study didn't support your hypothesis, but that doesn't mean that the conclusions you reach are not useful. Provide data about what you found in your results section, then save your interpretation for what the results might mean in the discussion section.

While your study might not have supported your original predictions, your finding can provide important inspiration for future explorations into a topic.

Report Your Statistical Findings

Always assume that your readers have a solid understanding of statistical concepts. There's no need to explain what a t-test is or how a one-way ANOVA works. Your responsibility is to report the results of your study, not to teach your readers how to analyze or interpret statistics.

Include Effect Sizes

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association recommends including effect sizes in your results section so that readers can appreciate the importance of your study's findings.

Include Tables and Figures

Your results section should include both text and illustrations. Presenting data in this way makes it easier for readers to quickly look at your results.

Structure your results section around tables or figures that summarize the results of your statistical analysis. In many cases, the easiest way to accomplish this is to first create your tables and figures and then organize them in a logical way. Next, write the summary text to support your illustrative materials.

Only include tables and figures if you are going to talk about them in the body text of your results section.

What Not to Include

In addition to knowing what you should include in the results section of your psychology paper, it's also important to be aware of things that you should avoid putting in this section:

  • Don't draw cause-effect conclusions. Avoid making any claims suggesting that your result "proves" that something is true. 
  • Present the data without editorializing it. Save your comments and interpretations for the discussion section of your paper. 
  • But don't include statistics without narration. The results section should not be a number dump. Instead, you should sequentially narrate what these numbers mean.
  • Don't include the raw data in the results section. The results section should be a concise presentation of the results. If there is raw data that would be useful, include it in the appendix.
  • Don't only rely on descriptive text. Use tables and figures to present these findings when appropriate.
  • Don't present the same data twice in your illustrative materials. If you have already presented some data in a table, don't present it again in a figure. If you have presented data in a figure, don't present it again in a table.
  • Don't feel like you have to include everything. If there is data that is not relevant to the research question, don't include it in the results section.
  • But don't leave out results because they don't support your claims. Even if your data did not support your hypothesis, it is important to include it in your findings if it's relevant.

More Tips for Writing a Results Section

If you are struggling, there are a few things to remember that might help:

  • Use the past tense. The results section should be written in the past tense.
  • Be concise and objective. You will have the opportunity to give your own interpretations of the results in the discussion section.
  • Use APA format. As you are writing your results section, keep a style guide on hand. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is the official source for APA style.
  • Visit your library. Read some journal articles that are on your topic. Pay attention to how the authors present the results of their research.
  • Get a second opinion. If possible, take your paper to your school's writing lab for additional assistance.

A Word From Verywell

Remember, the results section of your paper is all about providing the data from your study. This section is often the shortest part of your paper, and in most cases, the most clinical.

Be sure not to include any subjective interpretation of the results. Simply relay the data in the most objective and straightforward way possible. You can then provide your own analysis of what these results mean in the discussion section of your paper.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long should a results section be?

    The length of your results section will vary depending on the nature of your paper and the complexity of your research. In most cases, this will be the shortest section of your paper.

  • How is the results section different from the discussion section?

    The results section provides the results of your study or experiment. The goal of the section is to report what happened and the statistical analyses you performed. The discussion section is where you will examine what these results mean and whether they support or fail to support your hypothesis.

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bavdekar SB, Chandak S. Results: Unraveling the findings. J Assoc Physicians India. 2015 Sep;63(9):44-6. PMID:27608866.

  2. American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2019.

  3. Purdue Online Writing Lab. APA sample paper: Experimental psychology.

  4. Berkeley University. Reviewing test results.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."