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Research Process Guide

Step 11: Writing Up Results

In empirical research, it is important to discuss the results of your research before you discuss the meaning and significance of those results. This gives the reader a clear idea of what your process was in analyzing the data before reading your interpretation of it. The results should be written in past tense and as concisely as possible. Only include results that are directly related to answering your research questions. This section is known as Chapter 4 when writing a dissertation.

Your findings and conclusions need to flow from analysis and show clear relevance to your overall project (Kumar, 2015).

Findings should be considered in light of:

  1. Significance of your findings
  2. How these results compare to the current research literature
  3. What are the limitations of the study
  4. What are your questions, aims, objectives, and theory


Quantitative Research Results

For quantitative results, you are going to discuss descriptive statistics to report on the mean, proportion, and variance of your data. You should also discuss the statistical test you used and the rationale for your choice. You also need to state whether or not your hypothesis was proved or disproved. The best way to discuss your results is to use your research questions and structure the discussion around each question.

It would be important to use graphs, charts, and diagrams to illustrate your results.

To reiterate:

  1.  A brief description of statistical analysis (test) used
  2.  A brief description of descriptive statistics (i.e., mean, variance, standard deviation) and inferential statistics (i.e., t-tests, degrees of freedom and p-values)
  3.  A description of how the results relate to the research questions or hypotheses


Qualitative Research Results

After your cycles of coding and data analysis, you will come up with the 5-7 themes which are your findings.

In this section, you should also discuss the data beyond the findings and how the findings answer your research questions, or in many cases of qualitative inquiry, demonstrate an understanding beyond the scope of the research questions. That’s normal and is somewhat the point of qualitative research designs: the idea of open-mindedness to the process and what the results reveal. It is important that research questions in qualitative research evolve as the narrative emerges through the data. Therefore, you may revisit your research questions as you complete data analysis because there may be new findings that you were not even aware of.


Discussion and Implications of your research

In your last and final chapter, Chapter 5, you will write up the discussion of your findings and the implications for future research, policy, and practice (depending on your field of study). Your discussion is not a reiteration of your results in Chapter 4, but rather a synthesis and further discussion of the significance of your findings. Regardless of your research design or methodology, you should discuss the following in your Chapter 5:

  1. The “So What” of your findings? - Why should we care? How do these findings answer your research questions or prove/disprove your hypothesis?
  2. What do these findings do for the field of study? - How do they fill a “hole” in the research wall?
  3. What are some conclusions you believe readers, researchers, policy makers, and practitioners can draw from your findings?
  4. Specifically, a discussion of the implications for policy, practice, and future research should be addressed.


Other things to address…

  1. The limitations of your research - Think: sample size, study location, generalizability or lack thereof.
  2. The validity, reliability, and credibility of your methods -How have you made sure that your study could be:
    • Replicated
    • The instrumentation is reliable
    • The data was collected and appropriately analyzed
  3. The ethical considerations that you adhered to during your research. Go back to reviewing your IRB application and the CITI training. Be sure to address things like informed consent, anonymity, confidentiality, and data storage.

Reference

Kumar, S. (2015). IRS introduction to research in special and inclusive education. [PowerPoint slides 4, 5, 37, 38, 39,43]. Informa─Źní systém Masarykovy univerzity. https://is.muni.cz/el/1441/podzim2015/SP_IRS/