Once you’ve finished collecting and analysing your data, you can begin writing up the results section of your dissertation. This is where you report the main findings of your research and briefly observe how they relate to your research questions or hypotheses.
When to write a results section
Your results will look different depending on the research methodology you used. In some types of research, it might not make sense to include a separate results section – for example, in desk research that focuses on interpretation of texts or analysis of case studies.
But in most dissertations based on experimental research or collection of primary data, it’s a good idea to report the results of your study before you move onto the discussion of their meaning. This will give the reader a clear idea of exactly what you found.
The results section should be written in the past tense. Its length will depend on the amount of data you collected and analysed, but make sure you only include information that is relevant to your research problem and questions.
Results of quantitative research (e.g. surveys)
The easiest way to report your results is to frame them around any research sub-questions or hypotheses that you formulated.
For each sub-question, present the relevant results, including any statistical analysis you conducted, and briefly evaluate their significance and reliability. Observe how each result relates to the question or whether the hypothesis was supported. You can highlight the most important trends, differences, and relationships among the data, but do not speculate on their meaning or consequences – this should be saved for the discussion and conclusion sections.
If you have results that are not directly relevant to answering your questions, or any extra information that will help the reader understand how you gathered the data (such as the full survey design), you can include them in an appendix.
Tables and figures
In quantitative research, it’s often helpful to include visual elements such as graphs, charts and tables, but only if they accurately reflect your results and add value to the story you are trying to tell.
Make sure you refer to all tables and figures in the text, but don’t simply repeat information. Tables and figures can be used to condense lots of complex data or clearly illustrate a trend in the results, while the text should summarise or elaborate on specific aspects. Give your tables and figures clear, descriptive titles and labels so the reader can easily understand what is being shown.