Research results in your dissertation

Date published by Date updated: September 17, 2017

Once you’ve finished your research and analyses, you can begin working on the results section of your dissertation. This is where you present the main findings of your research and answer your research questions or test your hypotheses.

Different types of research involve a variety of tools, including observations, surveys and interviews; desk research is also a common choice. What your results section will look like depends on the kind of research you have undertaken, but you still proceed in generally the same manner.

This article provides a roadmap for presenting results related to both quantitative research (surveys) and qualitative research (interviews). Note that all of the steps below relate explicitly to your results chapter.

Results of quantitative research (surveys)

Step 1 – Introduce the relevant research

Explain that your survey was completed by a sufficient number of respondents and that you have analyzed the results.

Step 2 – Report the results in a structured manner

The easiest way to report your results is to frame them around any research sub-questions or hypotheses that you formulated before starting your research (as presented earlier in your dissertation). Your findings in relation to these sub-questions and hypotheses will together enable you to eventually answer your main research question.

Step 3 – Discuss the results

For sub-questions, briefly discuss (in one or two sentences) any results that relate to each question and make any relevant observations. However, don’t go so far as to actually answer your research questions or draw any formal conclusions (this happens only in your conclusions chapter).

The process is similar for hypotheses, although in this case you should state whether each hypothesis is actually proven by your research.

Step 4 – Add further tables or figures (optional)

You can include tables or figures (such as charts), but only if they reflect your results and add value to the story you are trying to tell. Make sure that you refer to these graphics in your running text, to ensure that readers understand how they relate to the point you are trying to make.

Note that it’s not necessary to fully explain each table or figure in the text; readers should be able to figure this out on their own. You can make it easier for them to do so by designing your tables and figures in a clear and logical manner and choosing a descriptive title.

Step 5 – Double-check your results chapter

Review the results you have addressed to make that that they all relate to your research questions/sub-questions and hypotheses. If results any are not directly related, either delete them entirely or shift them to an appendix to your dissertation.

Results section example: Write-up of a quantitative survey

The first hypothesis was tested by means of a regression analysis that used donation intention as the dependent variable and social distance as the independent variable. The results of this analysis (see Table 5) show that social distance has a significant weak link with donation intention (b * = 18, p = .05), which makes it a significant predictor of donation intention; once social distance increases, donation intention increases as well. As a result, H1 is not confirmed. To the contrary, this result suggests a significant effect in the opposite direction.

Results of qualitative research (interviews)

Step 1 – Introduce the relevant research

For example, note how many interviews you conducted and explain how you transcribed and coded the data that you collected.

Step 2 – Report the results in a structured manner

If your dissertation includes specific sub-questions or hypotheses, you can discuss the results on this basis. Answering these questions and testing your hypotheses is an important step that prepares you to answer your main question (which you will do in your conclusion section).

In qualitative research, however, interviews are not always directly related to specific questions or hypotheses. In this case, it’s better to discuss your results using the list of topics (or questionnaire) that you used for the interviews. These topics reflect the issues you are investigating and are thus tied in to your main question.

Step 3 – Discuss the results

Highlight the results that relate to each sub-question, hypothesis or topic and explain why they are relevant. You can clarify and support your observations with quotes from the interviews (so long as they speak to the topic).

You should also include a brief explanation (one or two sentences) that indicates precisely what those results mean in relation that that particular sub-question, hypothesis or topic. You might even think of this as a short conclusion – but remember that the significance of this conclusion to your research question should not be addressed until your conclusions chapter.

If you have formulated any hypotheses, you should indicate whether your research has proven or rejected them.

Step 4 – Double-check your results chapter

Take another look to ensure that all of the results you have presented relate to you sub-questions, hypotheses or topics.

Other results (such as full transcripts of your interviews, if appropriate) can be included in an appendix.

When asked what types of video games are more or less a form of art, the respondent

When asked what types of video games are more or less a form of art, the respondent replied that video games themselves are not an art form but that creativity is sometimes involved. The criteria used to identify art games consider aspects of a game that relate to its design, story and music as well as the creative teams working on it. One respondent noted the following:

“Well I think that in role-playing games [eh], more [eh] attention to [eh] character design […] to world design […] because there is a great […] because the whole story is important and more attention is paid to certain game elements […] so that perhaps […] that there is more [er][…]. Yes, […] there do you need bigger teams of creative experts than […] in […]. For example, an average shooter or something.”

It can be concluded that video games are perceived as art forms themselves, but it is clear that the creativity and art elements are more important in some games than in others.

What is the difference between the results and conclusion chapters?

The results chapter presents brief observations for each sub-question, hypothesis or topic (as seen in examples 1 and 2 above). In each case, the observations should only be one to two sentences long. Take care to not begin discussing the significance of these observations to your main research question.

This is where the conclusions step in. The results of all of the sub-questions, hypotheses or topics in the results chapter are merged in the conclusions chapter. Together they form the answer to the main research question, which is then discussed in detail in this chapter.

Checklist: Research results

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Article by Bas Swaen

Bas is co-founder of Scribbr. Bas loves to teach and is an experienced thesis writer. He tries to help students with writing clear and easy to comprehend articles about difficult topics.

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