How do I write up my results?

The Results section describes what you found that can be used to answer your research question, or confirm / disprove / partially confirm your hypotheses as presented in the introduction of your thesis. It may be combined with your Discussion section, or have elements of discussion included. It functions as a stepping-stone to the Discussion section by presenting the framework on which the Discussion can be built.

The results section will present the findings of the study in figures and tables and in written text. Figures (graphs and diagrams) and tables present the complete findings in numerical, visual or graphical terms, while the accompanying text helps the reader to focus on the most important aspects of the results and to interpret them.

Generally, there are 4 stages to a results section:

  • In the first stage you provide sufficient background information so that the reader can place your results in the context of other research.
  • In the second stage you present your results in tables and/or figures, locating and identifying them through numbers (e.g. Table 1) and captions.
  • In the third stage you should refer to the tables or figures in the accompanying text, describing the aspects of the results you wish to focus on.
  • In the final stage you should make some comments on the results – these could be generalisations arising from the results, explanations of possible reasons for the results or a comparison of the results with results from other studies.

Sometimes results can be presented together, with an accompanying general comment; at other times each result may require its own comment.

As well as simply presenting your results, the Results section forms a basis for the Discussion section (whether separate or integrated). In this section you may have to explain the significance of your research, deal with unexpected outcomes, refer to previous research, give examples, relate your results to your hypothesis, and make recommendations

Note: Not all of the elements above are included in all theses – there is considerable variation among different disciplines.

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