Once you have carried out your research, you will be presented with a set of either quantitative or qualitative data. In your methodology you will have already stated which analytical technique you are planning to use to organise and present the findings from the research.
A good results section (or chapter) will answer the research questions with the use of the findings from the research. An easier way to organise the results section would be to present the research question and to then answer it with the results from the experiment.
In order to interpret the findings, you will need to use either a qualitative or quantitative analytical technique.
The most common qualitative research techniques are observations, questionnaires, interviews and focus groups. If you used any of these in your research, then you will need to analyse the data using either content analysis, narrative analysis, thematic analysis, framework analysis, discourse analysis and grounded theory.
Qualitative analysis involves coding the data sets to organise the results. Due to the results not being quantifiable, it is often difficult to determine the output of the results. Once the findings have been coded and a key has been produced, any trends or commonalities can be determined.
As the data collected will be in numerical form, in order to understand and interpret the outcome of those figures, it is necessary to choose an analytical technique that will allow the data set to be analysed to produce a specific outcome that will address the research question posed or to determine the relationship between one independent variable and an outcome variable.
Writing the results section
To make the dissertation easier to interpret, it is best to have a results chapter and then a discussion chapter separately. By separating these two sections, you are then able to present the findings and then interpret them and review them against any secondary data found in the literature review or in the conceptual framework.
Always make sure that you speak to your supervisor or check your university’s guidelines before structuring your dissertation. Some universities will have a specific structure that they would like you to follow (e.g. separating the results and the discussion chapters).
Depending on what type of data you have, you may need to create graphics, diagrams and tables. It is encouraged that these are to be used as it can be easier for not only you, but also the reader to understand any themes, trends or abnormalities in the results.
Although it is encouraged to use tables, diagrams and graphics in the work, it is also a necessity that you ensure that you explain the meaning of the data in text. This allows for further detail and interpretation to be given.
At times, it is also good to compare the results with any secondary research that would validate your findings. For example, in your literature review, if you found that a study of a similar nature yielded the same results or findings, when presenting your results, it can be good to refer to this as validation of your findings.
Due to word count restrictions of dissertations, presenting every single piece of data collected could take up a significant portion of the word count. For this reason, it is good to present a full set of the data collected in the appendices and refer to this in the text (e.g. Appendix 1, Appendix 2 etc.).
A brief example of something that would be found in an appendix would be a transcript from any interviews carried out. If presenting numerical data and statistical analysis, any data that perhaps does not directly answer a research question but is relevant in the overall findings of the work would be placed in an appendix and referred to in the work.
Checklist for writing dissertation results
- Have I presented my data in a clear and easy-to-understand way?
- Have I used graphs/charts/tables wherever this is relevant?
- Have I made sure the data is presented in a logical order?
- Have I added necessary appendices and referred to them in the text?
See our full dissertation writing guide for guidance on writing other dissertation chapters.
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