Ultimately, the purpose of a scientific paper is to share the results of a set of experiments that support or refute your hypothesis. Therefore it is essential that the results are presented in a clear manner that makes it easy for the reader to understand. This isn't as easy as it seems. The scientist who is the author of the paper and performer of the experiments can get mired in the details and may present more information than is helpful in understanding the topic. Generally, in presenting results there are three options, text, table, or figure. Deciding when to use each of these is key to making a complex set of results understandable to your reader.


Using text to convey results is best for results that yield a single result. For example:

“Superposition of the two structures yields a root mean square deviation of .92 Angstroms over 200 C alphas.”

This states a simple fact and does not require elaboration.


A table deals with multiples of data, like measurements of different inhibitor classes in different cell lines.

“Triplicate tests were done with 36 inhibitors in H. influenzae, P. aeruginosa, and B. subtilis, the purine-based inhibitors outperformed all other inhibitor classes by 45%.”

The table would show each group of inhibitors and their inhibition of each of the species.


Figures can include any information that is conveyed visually. This could mean a graph, an x-ray, a protein structure, or any of a number of other things. The aphorism 'a picture tells a thousand words' is helpful here; if you need to spend paragraphs describing something, then it's probably best to just use a figure.

Spending the effort on properly displaying your data gives your work its best chance of standing out and garnering interest from others in the scientific community, so be sure to showcase your results in the best possible way and get others as excited about your work as you are.


About the Author


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *