Whether you're writing a paper, thesis, or report: you're likely to present the results of your work. In this analysis, we look at the phrases authors use when referring to their results. Turns out there are many more words to use than the good old 'These results show…'.

Our analysis

For this analysis, we used a data set of 300 million sentences from papers published across a range of disciplines. We extracted all three-word combinations following the structure subject + verb + object (for example, 'table shows data'). To cover all relevant occurrences, the words were lemmatized and did not need to follow one another directly ('table shows data' might have been, for example, 'tables show data' or 'table that shows the remaining data').

Next, as we wanted to explore how authors present their results, we extracted only the phrases with 'results' as their subject, limiting the search to the 5000 most frequent word combinations. This gave us a list of 102 phrases following the structure 'research + verb + object'.

Results

The chart on the below sheet shows the most frequent verbs and subjects following 'results'. The nodes show the objects, which are grouped by the verbs they are combined with. The size and color of the nodes shows their frequency.

Authors most often write 'results show' (42%) and 'results provide' (17%). Other frequent verbs are 'demonstrate' (8.2%), 'support' (7.9%), and 'indicate' (5.6%). Some verbs are neutral in meaning (see 'show' and 'indicate'), while others are mostly followed by words with a positive meaning (for example, ‘provide’ and ‘demonstrate’ are used with 'evidence', 'insight', 'support', 'guidance', 'effectiveness', and 'feasibility').

Next time you're discussing your results, why not use this chart to see if you can add some variation to your vocabulary? To receive this chart for pedagogical (or other) purposes, don't hesitate to get in touch with us at support@writefull.com.

About the author

Hilde is Chief Applied Linguist at Writefull.