My project is to characterize a behavior and I have several graphs for the same, that I have put in my results section. Should I explain the graph in the results section or the discussion section of my project report?

For example, say a graph has a groupwise comparison, do I have to explain the inference of the difference in the curves in results or discussion? If I have to do it in the discussion section, wouldn't it be difficult since to explain such a thing I'd have to repeat the graphs there too?

  • What exactly do you mean by "explain"?
    – user9482
    Jan 7, 2018 at 9:28
  • @Roland - Why the graph maybe the way it is. Stuff that is not self explanatory by looking at the graph
    – Polisetty
    Jan 7, 2018 at 9:29
  • By that you mean discussing potential reasons for the observed results?
    – user9482
    Jan 7, 2018 at 9:31
  • 5
    You say what happened in results. You explain why it happened in discussion.
    – user9482
    Jan 7, 2018 at 9:42
  • 2
    Something like "the spike at x position is due to a cosmic ray particle fortuitously reaching the photodetecor" has to be mention in results. A description emphasising the graph features also go in the result section.
    – Alchimista
    Jan 7, 2018 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


It may depend on your field or specific journal, but typically: In the results section, describe the pattern quantitatively, with perhaps just a mechanistic matter-of-fact interpretation. In the discussion section, revisit the pattern but interpret qualitatively within the scope of your research question, tying it into your overall narrative.

For publications with severe space limitations (e.g. Science, Nature), jump straight to qualitative interpretation and present quantitative results in the figure caption.

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