I have a table that describes a dataset that I use for an analysis. The table describes the sample sizes of each of the four collecting events to create the dataset. It breaks down the dataset into the number of species, genera, families per collection event, and provides so other information. The details of the dataset are important for understanding the results, so I'd like to present it, but I can't decide where it goes. Sometimes when I'm writing the paper it feels like it goes in the results, other times the materials & methods.

What does the community think? Can tables ever be referenced int the M&M section, or are they always results?

  • I'm not sure this is the right place for this question. A science-based SE might be a better place to do so. Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 15:31
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    @JPChapleau - I read this as a question about how to write a report, which (along with Instruction Manuals and Corporate Communications) is all about the craft of writing. To me (though I'm admittedly biased) excluding professional writing of this nature would make less sense than omitting writing done primarily for pleasure. This seems more a "first or second act" question, if I can be forgiven a fiction analogy. Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 16:14
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    What is the origin of the data in the table? Was the data derived during your work leading up to this paper; or is it taken from previously published works (yours or others')?
    – user
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 17:10
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    @JPChapleau While questions about how to present results in a scientific paper might be on topic on the science SEs; as asked, this seems to be well within the realm of writing, which would make it perfectly on topic here. A question isn't off topic on one site because it would be on topic on another site in the network, though of course the focus of the answers can be different depending on the focus of the community to which one asks the question.
    – user
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


If you're describing the way data was collected and how that data is going to be presented, I would say this came under "method". If the table contains data recorded during the tests, I would say "results".

If the table currently contains data, I would think about whether there was a way to present a blank table as part of the method, and a populated table as the results.

"Materials" to me suggests "apparatus", and it doesn't sound like that. If you currently have a section called "Materials and Method", I would consider splitting this into two separate sections.

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