How to Write a Results Section in your Dissertation
Take time to practice your writing, learn and read material:
If you're doing a paper that reports on original investigative work, the Results section will be where you detail your findings. However, suppose you've carried out surveys, taken measurements in the field, or collected any other sort of data to test the hypothesis. In that case, you need to carefully think about how to organize this information and make it easy to understand for your readers.
The Results chapter of your dissertation is one of the most important parts of this paper because it shows your reader the results of the work you've done. You must avoid the widespread mistake - including explaining the data you found while conducting the research. This section should include your findings and statistics, nothing more. If you want to describe how these results were obtained and what they mean, do it in Methodology or Discussion.
Finding a Starting Point
To outline and write this section correctly, a student must gather and structure the information in the right way. Remember, everything you add to Results must address the question or issue of your research in some way, which means your task is to understand what information is relevant to your discussion and what can be omitted. Next, decide which pieces of information are of the top priority to be added to the Result section. The preparation stage takes time but spending more time preparing means you'll have an easier time inserting that data into your paper.
How To Define The Proper Data To Be Added?
Dissertations rarely presuppose that you should insert the raw data into them: there's no need to overwhelm the audience with long lists of statistical data and numbers. As the author, it's your responsibility to review the data, select the relevant values, and choose the statistics necessary to answer your research question: both the data supporting the hypothesis and other negative findings.
To ensure you don't miss anything, make a compilation of the main points you'll add to your discussion, and don't forget about the data necessary to back up those claims. Please, omit the information that can't answer your research question and won't add any value to your paper. We've already mentioned that including raw information in your paper is a mistake, but if you feel it's necessary, do it in the appendix section.
The Systematization of Data
If you have already written any academic paper, you must know that readability is key to creating a good paper. A perfect Results section should comprise a large amount of information, although in summary form, distilled with a few key quotes or graphics. You can find a few illustrative dissertations, and you'll see that the Results section in 90% of cases is a mixture of different types of content ( graphics, text, etc.). We advise you to start with completing the visual aids and then revolve the text part around them.
You can help your readers move quickly through the material by providing clear subheadings that organize your data around central themes or ideas. For example, if you're research includes surveys, you may include subheadings that address different sample groups or have questions grouped together by the concept. Likewise, if your hypothesis includes several parts, you can organize your results into sections that address those parts separately. Often subheadings are organized around important visual aids.
No matter what your subheadings are, you'll want to outline your Results section so that the strongest findings are listed first, and the weakest arguments are left until the end. While we'd like to think that the people reading our work will complete the entire paper, often, they will only be skimming for the strengths. So put the most significant results first, and you'll create a strong impression on the reader and increase the chance that they will remember your most important findings.
Start each section with a sample description, including sample size and an explanation for missing or excluded data. Next, give any necessary descriptive statistics (i.e., mean, median, frequency, range, etc.), then provide any other statistical analysis you performed (i.e., t-test, data transformations, ANOVA, etc.). In case you choose to do a qualitative study, you can also add quotes and other information that will be important in your discussion.
Visual Elements: Figures, Graphics, Tables
Including visual elements in your paper lets you convey more information using less space. Of course, you can do it in text, but tables and other elements are much easier to read and access. If you remember, readability is our key purpose, so if you want to have a strong Results section, don't ignore these elements.
Let's Talk About Inserting Tables
This visual element lets you structure the data in a specific way: using columns and rows. It's a perfect way to make complex information easy to read and understand.
Use tables if you have more information than can easily be handled in the text. There's a good rule on using tables: never include tables with less than nine cells, i.e., if you can fit the information in a table that is smaller than 3 x 3, you can just list it in text. The example below shows the average students' test scores given by week for three treatments:
|Treatment||Average Test Score Week 1||Average Test Score Week 2||Average Test Score Week 3||Cumulative Test Score Average||Difference from Control|
|1 - control||62||65||61||62.67||N/A|
|2 - more study time||66||71||75||70.67||12; +6%|
|3 - less study time||61||58||55||58||4.67; -2.33%|
What About Figures?
It's a collective name for different visual elements, such as graphs, pictures, charts, maps, or any other illustration you include in the Results section. Inserting a figure presupposes you should include a brief description. For example, if you add a photograph, you should explain what it depicts and identify its source. Graphs are the most frequently used types of
It's up to you to choose what visual elements to add to present your information. We advise you to keep in mind a kind of rule: don't use visual elements to show connections between the sets of values.
The example above showed that you could add the table to discuss the cumulative effects of treatments, but you could insert a figure to track the changes of each treatment by week. Don't repeat the data you already included. Otherwise, you'll never achieve conciseness.
Keep in mind the proper formatting of the graphics. Every style guide presupposes the specific rules of formatting tables and figures, but there are a few things in common. Tables are numbered sequentially, and the table number and title are listed above the graphic, whereas any explanatory notes are underneath. The same rule applies to figures, but the numbers, titles, and descriptions are below the graphic. In the text, both are referred to by the numbers, for example, "see Table 1 or Fig. 2."
A Guide on How To Start Writing
If you feel it difficult to find the right approach to writing, we'll give you a hint: just cut to the chase and nothing more. Use past tense and active voice as much as possible (although using some passive voice is sometimes acceptable). Assume that your audience understands basic statistics, so don't waste time and space adding explanations for statistical tests or terms. If you're using an unusual or new statistical model or method, that information should be included in the Methodology section.
Students often want to add introductory or explanatory language to the results, but it's unnecessary. All you need to add is a straightforward recitation of data. For example, this text is too wordy and provides a subjective analysis of the information:
From the table, it can be seen that the second treatment group proved to be the better model for student performance. Learners in the first group scored an average of 62 on the test, while those in the second improved to 87, proving that increased preparation positively impacted test scores.
This abstract can be rewritten to make it shorter and to omit the analysis provided by the author:
Students in the second treatment had higher test scores than those in the control group (Table 1). Students in control scored an average of 62 on the test, while those in the second treatment scored an average of 87, an improvement of 12.5%.
Be brief. If you present your findings using visual elements (tables, figures), don't restate this information in the text. However, you can define what details are the key ones and decide to add them to the text to highlight their importance. Adding tables and figures presupposes that you should refer to them in your text. It may seem a bit controversial for you, but figures always need context. The results section doesn't presuppose you should interpret the data added, but you still must explain what motivated you to include this or that data in this section. If you can't understand how to implement it in practice, check some templates.
You don't need to write a conclusion here. Instead, move straight into your Discussion chapter.