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Brevity in manuscripts Part3

For the third part of this series, our concern is strategies for implementing brevity in the Results section. The Results are often overly lengthy because authors assume they need to be comprehensive. However, the judicious use of tables and figures allows the author to provide concise, clean Results section that is highly readable.

We will summarize some key points that will guide you in the creation of the Results section and the subsequent round of editing designed to whittle it down to the absolute necessities.

1. Use tables and figures to represent your major findings.
a. The volume of important data that you report in tables and figures will proportionally reduce the volume of text that you must devote to these findings in the main text.
b. A general rule of thumb is that any material found in your conclusions should also be contained in your figures. This leaves all Results text to account for ancillary results and the summarization of tables and figures. See the next point for more details.

2. The Results section should only summarize findings without stating explicit numerical findings.
a. You need only indicate the significant differences identified by conventional statistical hypothesis testing.
b. These brief statements will be accompanied by reference to the appropriate table or figure (remember to cite ALL tables and figures, and do so in numerical order.

3. List full statistical findings only for ancillary information that has not already been represented in a figure or table.
a. This information should not be central to the generation of the conclusions. Rather, it should be limited to supporting data that reinforces the validity and context of your findings.

4. Use Supplementary Information liberally.
a. The nature of many fields requires substantial ancillary data to support your conclusions. For example, reporting primer sequences.
b. This information is important and necessary; however, the reader is only using it for verification purposes. Including it in the main text can create reader fatigue, and it serves its intended purposely equally as well when it is included as a supplement.

In the next part of the series we will tackle the ever-challenging Discussion section of your manuscript.

(Please retain the reference in reprint:

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