The results section is one of the most challenging and confusing parts of a dissertation or a thesis, especially for the reader. Many readers skip this part of the paper to the discussion part to get a better understanding of your findings. However, fellow researchers, supervisors or instructors focus on this part to assess your analytical skills. Therefore, you are required to report your findings in a clear, precise, objective manner and apply sound analytical thinking. This article will help guide you through the important tips for reporting your research findings.
How to report the qualitative results
Qualitative results should be aligned with the qualitative research method. Some of the types of qualitative research include observation, interviews, and research groups.
Interviews: For semi-structured interviews, the process of preparing and reporting results involves transcribing interviews, assigning codes, and grouping them into themes.
Observations: For the observation research method, the process involves observing the behavior of the subjects or participants then categorize them into relevant themes.
Focus group: The focus group data analysis and reporting is similar to that of interviews where responses are transcribed and themes developed.
How to report quantitative results
Unlike qualitative research, quantitative research is more complex and involves identifying the key variables to be assessed. After identifying the variables one needs to determine the dependent and independent variables for the analytical computation. The dependent variable is the outcome variable while the independent variable is the one that can be controlled to determine how it impacts the dependent variable. The quantitative analysis also involves determining whether the variables are continuous or categorical. Continuous variables have a wide range of values while categorical variables are discrete.
For example, you are conducting research on the demographics of people who received the COVID-19 vaccine within a population to determine factors affecting the vaccine uptake. In your research, you took take records of age, gender, and occupation. In such a scenario, the independent variables are age, gender, and occupation while the dependent variable is whether they have taken the vaccine or not. Gender is the categorical variable because it takes discrete numbers representing male or female. On the other hand, age is the continuous variable because it ranges from 0 to the oldest.
The first step to reporting the quantitative research is by conducting descriptive analysis to summarize the data. Also referred to as frequency statistics, it involves providing measures of variability or central tendency for continuous variables and measuring the frequency statistics for categorical data.
Some of the analysis methods used in quantitative research include:
Regression analysis: used to test if all the assumptions have been met such as if there is a linear relationship between dependent and independent variables or if there is lack of high correlation between the dependent variables.
Chi-square analysis: mainly used when all variables are categorical.
T-test analysis: Mainly used to examine the existence of significant differences between two groups where the dependent variable is continuous and the independent variable is categorical.
ANOVA: This is mainly used to compare two or more means especially when there is one continuous dependent variable and more than two categorical independent variables.
Procedure for reporting the results
Step 1: research on previous related studies
To get a better understanding of how to write good results section start by reviewing previous works and analyze what successful approaches were used. This also includes understanding the aims of the readers and the type of research.
Step 2: Create a catalog of the results
Having completed the analysis, create a catalog by focusing on the experimental results as well as related findings that are relevant to the research objectives. Use subheadings to represent different topics of your analysis. Consequently, create a structure by arranging the results in chronological order or based on different themes for qualitative research. It is important to follow the order of the research questions to help the reader correlate the two.
Step 3: Design the figures and tables
The next step after creating a structure is to prepare the tables and figures illustrating the data. They should be organized in the order of textual content. Moreover, every figure and table should be clear, informative and attached to the relevant textual content. It is important to ensure that tables and figures are well labeled and explained.
Step 4: Create a draft of the results
Having prepared everything, the next step involves putting them down on paper in a clear and precise manner. Start your results section with an introductory paragraph restating the research question. This should be followed by a body section detailing the research findings in the order determined in the previous steps. Conclude the results section with a summary of the findings.
Step 5: Proofread and edit the report
Go through the paper to ensure that the data is accurate and all figures and tables are well labeled. Review the draft for language or grammar errors and ensure that you followed the right order.
Tips for writing a result section
Things to avoid when writing the results section of dissertation or thesis
Explaining the findings
The main objective of a results section is to report the findings of your research. Therefore, attempts to give any explanations may seem out of place because this is what you will be doing in the discussion section. However, you should understand the difference between describing the data and explaining the findings. The results section should provide a descriptive analysis of the data but should not explain how the findings came to be.
Not including Negative results
The objective of the research is to prove your hypothesis or research questions. However, in most cases, you will come across negative results or those that do not support the hypothesis. It is recommended that you do not ignore but instead include them. However, it is important to explain in the discussion section why they emerged. This will also serve as a good benchmark for someone who would want to adopt your research methodology. Moreover, it shows your understanding of the domain.
Avoid generic terms
Make your research reporting precise and avoid vague terms such as “show a promising trend.” Instead, state the variation in particular trends by using numbers.
Non-labeled figures and tables
One of the greatest mistakes one can commit is failing to label the figures, charts or graphs. A figure without an appropriate label is useless to the reader because they cannot understand the meaning. Ensure that all non-textual elements are well labeled and named.
Result interpretation takes place at the discussion stage; however, you can compare your results with those of previous studies in this section.
Sample of results section
Follow the link to download a sample