Dissertation Results Section: A Step-by-Step Guide
Dissertation Results Section
Have you reached the dissertation results section? Writing results for a dissertation can be a challenge, but if you know what to look for, it does not have to be. Once you finish this article, you should have a better idea about how to write the results section of a dissertation. When writing up dissertation results, you will find that can be both enjoyable and challenging at the same time. In some cases, you might include both the results and discussion section together, although it ultimately depends on your preference as well as the instructions as laid out by your university.
There are advantages to either approach. In terms of results vs discussion, if you decide to write them into separate sections, you can first lay out what you have discovered without needing to worry yet about what it means. On the other hand, other students and researchers prefer to combine the results and what they actually mean since these two elements are closely related. When in doubt, ask your dissertation supervisor how they would like these sections arranged whether it is together or separate.
The purpose of the results section is to explain what happened, using statistical analysis to illustrate this, and discussing whether the results are significant. When discussing how you measure significance, make sure to use sources to as a way to support it. Make sure to use past tense when discussing the results since you are describing a process that took place in the past. You should also discuss the methods that you used to carry out your study. There might be situations in which you decide not to include certain results since they are not relevant to your paper. Thus, you will want to focus on the results that help carry the study will excluding those that do not. When thinking about how to order the results, you have three options. Either list them in order of research question and/or hypothesis, by level of importance, or in chronological order.
It would also be a good idea to decide on the best way to illustrate your results. Through charts? Graphs? Tables? Figures? Text? If it enhances the dissertation, you are welcome to use any or all of these. Of course, you should also take into consideration the complexity of the paper as well as the level of your reader. For instance, you might think that including 10 pages of graphs will make your paper look more thorough, but in reality, you might confuse or overwhelm the reader. On the other hand, even just one perfectly chosen table might be enough to get the point across. When using tables, graphs and figures, make sure to label them with a number and title. In addition, if you decide to use more than around three of them, it would be a good idea to list them in the table of contents of your paper.
How to Write a Dissertation Results Chapter
Now let us dig deeper and discuss how to write a dissertation results chapter. The research results chapter (which can also be referred to as the research findings chapter) will look different depending on which tools you used. For example, when looking at the results in a science project, did you interview subjects? Did you use questionnaires? Did you do desk research? However, most of the same guidelines are universal regardless of the tools you used. Here is how to write the results chapter step-by-step depending on whether you used quantitative or qualitative research:
Results of quantitative research (surveys)
Step 1 – Introduce the Relevant Research
Discuss the sample size, explain why it is appropriate for the given study, and explain that you have analyzed the results.
Step 2 – Report the Results in an Organized Manner
The most effective way to report on the results is within the context of your sub-questions or hypotheses. By pairing up the results in this manner, you will be able to provide answers in relation to your main research question.
Step 3 – Discuss the Results
For each sub-question, provide a brief discussion about any results that are related to them and include any relevant remarks. But just make sure not to actually discuss the conclusions. You will wait to do this in the conclusions section. If you are testing hypotheses, discuss whether they can be accepted or rejected based on your results.
Step 4 – Look Over Your Results Chapter Again
Read the results section one more time to ensure that they are connected to your research questions and/or hypotheses. If you find that the results have to relation to any of these, you should either exclude them or move them to the appendix instead.
Results of qualitative research (interviews)
Step 1 – Introduce the Relevant Research
For instance, discuss the number of interviews conducted, whether you recorded them through notes or audio, and the process of coding the collected data.
Step 2 – Report the Results in an Organized Manner
Much like with quantitative research, you will want to link the results to any proposed hypotheses or sub-questions, since this will help you draw conclusions related to the main question under examination. Note that interviews aren’t necessarily directly related to the questions or hypotheses. Thus, you should discuss the results based on whatever topics were used during the interviews since they reflect the problems/issues under investigation.
Step 3 – Discuss the Results
Provide an overview of the results as related to the sub-questions, hypotheses or topics and justify their relevance. Using the subjects’ answers to your questions during the interview can help provide evidence of your observations. In one or two sentences, you should also discuss the implications of the results as they relate to each sub-question, hypothesis or topic. However, you should wait until the conclusions section to discuss the significance of the findings. If you have developed hypotheses for your dissertation, you should indicate whether the results allow you to accept or reject them.
Step 4 – Look at the Results Chapter for a Dissertation One Last Time
Make sure everything is organized well, is relevant and understandable. If there are certain results that are not necessarily relevant but might be interesting to include in the paper, you can place them in the appendix.
Your dissertation paper is a huge project, not to mention the most important academic assignment you will ever complete. This is why you want to make sure the entire dissertation looks its best, especially the results section. As you are writing the results section, you will focus on the primary or secondary research, or both. You will need to analyze the data and discuss their significance. If you are still struggling with this, reader further for additional advice on how to make your results section look its best. On the surface, analyzing data might seem like a boring, tedious task. But think of it this way: if your results indicate something surprising or even groundbreaking, you could very well make a name for yourself in your area of research.
The best way to help you strategize your results page is to separate the information based on whether the results are qualitative or quantitative. That way, you can choose the one that is most applicable to your dissertation.
Writing Up Your Quantitative Results
If you want to ensure that your quantitative results have been written up properly, you should first think back to some of the essential elements as it relates to your research. In particular, you should remember what was assessed or what the main variables are. Note that all quantitative research involves at least one independent and one dependent variable. You should make it clear to the reader which is which. As a refresher, keep in mind that an independent variable is the one that is controlled in order to determine how it impacts the dependent variable. In other words, the dependent variable indicates the outcome.
Another important task is determining whether your variables are categorical or continuous. A categorical variable contains a fixed number of possible values while a continuous variable has a wide range of values. Lastly, you will need to determine whether you utilized confounder variables. These are variables that might influence the relationship between the dependent and independent variables. You control them for the purpose of making an accurate measurement of the relationship between the key variables.
One more significant feature of the results section is discussing descriptive and frequencies statistics. Before reporting any analysis, which has the purpose of testing your hypotheses, it is important to examine these aforementioned statistics. They are used to summarize your data set, whether it is by examining specific groups or the entire sample. The way to report descriptive or frequencies statistics is to identify every variable used in the study and note whether they are continuous or categorical.
In regards to continuous variables, you would use descriptive statistics and report the on the mean and standard deviation. As it relates to categorical variables, you would use frequencies and report the number of subjects per category and their respective percentages. Regardless of which statistics you choose, it is necessary to make a table and discuss the statistics. You will do this when reporting ANOVA results, reporting chi square results, or when reporting correlations.
When reporting qualitative results, you will find that it is less of a challenge compared to reporting quantitative results, mainly because it does not involve interpreting or discussing statistics. That being the case, a section that includes qualitative results will not be as long as one that contains quantitative data.
Keep in mind that when you are discussing the results of your qualitative research, you will need to identify the type of research that you chose for the study. The three types that are most used for qualitative research are observations, focus groups and interviews. In all likelihood, your research will involve one of these.
You would report each of these three types a similar fashion. Nonetheless, we will separate them individually since you might find the information helpful.
When reporting the results of interviews, you should be aware of how you conducted them. For instance, if you used semi-structured interviews, it means you conducted a thematic analysis in order to analyze your qualitative data. This involves transcribing interviews, reading them, and codifying certain observations, and grouping codes to form themes. As you report the results, it is best to break the information down into subsections, which each one dedicated to a particular theme. Furthermore, within each section you should highlight whatever subthemes were uncovered in the data.
Turning to your reporting on the results of observations, this involves watching and taking note of particular behaviors within a defined setting. As an example, let’s consider a case in which you observe as a psychologist informs a patient that a condition that they are suffering from is merely psychological rather than physiological. As you report the results, it is important that you break down your observations into categories. For example, the psychologist might focus on the following:
- how the problem originated (1)
- noting that the patient does not have any identified physical problems (2)
- events that have caused significant stress in the patient (3)
- links between stress and their problem (4), and
- thinking about the problem in a new way (5).
As you are making observations, these could be considered as the themes. Based on this, you would report each theme separately by focusing on your observation first, then including comments about it.
Finally, if your research involved reporting the results of focus groups, you will analyze data obtained in a manner that is virtually the same as with the analysis of interview data.
How to Write a Results Section in APA Format
Now we will conclude by discussing how to write a results section in APA format. The APA style results section summarizes the collected data and statistical analyses that were performed. The purpose of the APA format results section is offer an objective report without including your personal thoughts or opinions. Here is how to make an interpretation of the results for a dissertation.
First, you should make sure that the results support whatever conclusions you make. Since you are basing the descriptive statistics results on your own interpretation, it is important to explain how you went about those interpretations. For instance, you would refer to reputable scholarly journals and research reports that offered interpretations of related work. This will add credibility to your paper since the reader will understand that your interpretations are not arbitrary or otherwise based on a hunch.
Make sure not to ignore any relevant information, even if it does not support your hypothesis. Along the same lines, do not ignore negative results. Remember that the entire purpose of doing a research paper is not to “prove” you are right, but rather to determine whether or not your predictions are correct. In fact, there are several benefits to research that do not support your original hypothesis. For instance, it could cause you to think about a problem in a whole new way, which in turn could lead to breakthroughs in scientific theory. Along the same lines, you might be able to identify flaws in your research and offer suggestions for improvement for future studies.
Make sure to summarize your results. This means providing a brief explanation for what happened. Keep in mind that your summary should not incorporate any raw data, since the raw data itself is not essential as it relates to the discussion itself. Instead, if any researchers are interested in looking through the raw data, you can include this in a supplemental index.
Include tables and figures in your dissertation, as illustrations provide a quick and convenient way for the reader to understand the results without having to read paragraphs of text. Your charts, graphs and figures should serve as the foundation for discussing the results. As you are adding the charts and graphs, make sure to include summary text so that everything is clear to the reader. Of course, you would not include tables and illustrations if you were not also discussing them in the text. Furthermore, if you have included data on a table, it is unnecessary to present it in a figure form.
As you report your statistical findings, it is always okay to assume that the reader has a strong understanding of statistical concepts (which is different from assuming that they understand the nature of your research problem, which is why you would want to provide some background and context when introducing the topic). For instance, anybody reading your paper will know what covariance, standard deviation and t-test are. Remember that you are writing a dissertation, not teaching the reader Introduction to Statistics.
Finally, make sure to make note of the effect sizes. The APA’s publication manual recommends discussing effect sizes in the results so that the reader can recognize the significance of your study’s results.