Writing the results section of a dissertation

Writing Research Papers.

Experimental Biosciences Resources. Rice University; Hancock, Dawson R. January 4, ; Kretchmer, Paul. San Francisco Edit ; Ng, K. February ; Results. Bates College; Schafer, Mickey S.


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Writing the Results. Thesis Writing in the Sciences. Course Syllabus. University of Florida. It's not unusual to find articles in social science journals where the author s have combined a description of the findings with a discussion describing their implications. You could do this. However, if you are inexperienced writing research papers, consider creating two distinct sections for each element in your paper as a way to better organize your thoughts and, by extension, your paper.

Think of the results section as the place where you report what your study found; think of the discussion section as the place where you interpret your data and answer the "So What? As you become more skilled writing research papers, you may want to meld the results of your study with a discussion of its implications. Driscoll, Dana Lynn and Aleksandra Kasztalska. Purdue University. Contact us. The Results Search this Guide Search. The Results This guide provides advice on how to develop and organize a research paper in the social and behavioral sciences.

The Conclusion Toggle Dropdown Appendices Definition The results section is where you report the findings of your study based upon the methodology [or methodologies] you applied to gather information. Importance of a Good Results Section When formulating the results section, it's important to remember that the results of a study do not prove anything. Structure and Writing Style I. Organization and Approach For most research papers in the social and behavioral sciences, there are two possible ways of organizing the results.

Present a synopsis of the results followed by an explanation of key findings. This approach can be used to highlight important findings. For example, you may have noticed an unusual correlation between two variables during the analysis of your findings. It is appropriate to point this out in the results section. However, speculating as to why this correlation exists, and offering a hypothesis about what may be happening, belongs in the discussion section of your paper. Present a result and then explain it, before presenting the next result then explaining it, and so on, then end with an overall synopsis.

This is the preferred approach if you have multiple results of equal significance. It is more common in longer papers because it helps the reader to better understand each finding. In this model, it is helpful to provide a brief conclusion that ties each of the findings together and provides a narrative bridge to the discussion section of the your paper.

Content In general, the content of your results section should include the following: Introductory context for understanding the results by restating the research problem underpinning your study. This is useful in re-orientating the reader's focus back to the research problem after reading the literature review and your explanation of the methods of data gathering and analysis.

Inclusion of non-textual elements, such as, figures, charts, photos, maps, tables, etc. Rather than relying entirely on descriptive text, consider how your findings can be presented visually. This is a helpful way of condensing a lot of data into one place that can then be referred to in the text. Consider referring to appendices if there is a lot of non-textual elements. A systematic description of your results, highlighting for the reader observations that are most relevant to the topic under investigation.

Not all results that emerge from the methodology used to gather information may be related to answering the " So What? Do not confuse observations with interpretations; observations in this context refers to highlighting important findings you discovered through a process of reviewing prior literature and gathering data.

The page length of your results section is guided by the amount and types of data to be reported. However, focus on findings that are important and related to addressing the research problem. It is not uncommon to have unanticipated results that are not relevant to answering the research question. This is not to say that you don't acknowledge tangential findings and, in fact, can be referred to as areas for further research in the conclusion of your paper.

However, spending time in the results section describing tangential findings clutters your overall results section. A short paragraph that concludes the results section by synthesizing the key findings of the study. Highlight the most important findings you want readers to remember as they transition into the discussion section. Nature , , National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commonly asked questions about ozone.

Pfirman, S. Stute, H. Simpson, and J. Pechenik, J. Harper Collins Publishers, New York, pp. Pitelka, D. Child Review of ciliary structure and function. In: Biochemistry and Physiology of Protozoa , Vol. Hutner, editor , Academic Press, New York, Sambrotto, R. Stute, M. Clark, P. Schlosser, W. Broecker, and G. Bonani A high altitude continental paleotemperature record derived from noble gases dissolved in groundwater from the San Juan Basin, New Mexico. Tables where more than pages. Calculations where more than pages.

You may include a key article as appendix. If you consulted a large number of references but did not cite all of them, you might want to include a list of additional resource material, etc. List of equipment used for an experiment or details of complicated procedures. Note: Figures and tables, including captions, should be embedded in the text and not in an appendix, unless they are more than pages and are not critical to your argument. Order of Writing Your thesis is not written in the same order as it is presented in.

The following gives you one idea how to proceed. Here is another approach. Write up a preliminary version of the background section first. This will serve as the basis for the introduction in your final paper. As you collect data, write up the methods section. It is much easier to do this right after you have collected the data. Be sure to include a description of the research equipment and relevant calibration plots. When you have some data, start making plots and tables of the data. These will help you to visualize the data and to see gaps in your data collection.

If time permits, you should go back and fill in the gaps. You are finished when you have a set of plots that show a definite trend or lack of a trend. Be sure to make adequate statistical tests of your results. Once you have a complete set of plots and statistical tests, arrange the plots and tables in a logical order. Write figure captions for the plots and tables. As much as possible, the captions should stand alone in explaining the plots and tables. Many scientists read only the abstract, figures, figure captions, tables, table captions, and conclusions of a paper. Be sure that your figures, tables and captions are well labeled and well documented.

Dr. Cheryl Lentz: Chapter 4: Results: Dissertation Writing Tips

Once your plots and tables are complete, write the results section. Writing this section requires extreme discipline.

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How to Write a Dissertation Results Chapter

You must describe your results, but you must NOT interpret them. If good ideas occur to you at this time, save them at the bottom of the page for the discussion section. Be factual and orderly in this section, but try not to be too dry. Once you have written the results section, you can move on to the discussion section. This is usually fun to write, because now you can talk about your ideas about the data. Many papers are cited in the literature because they have a good cartoon that subsequent authors would like to use or modify.

In writing the discussion session, be sure to adequately discuss the work of other authors who collected data on the same or related scientific questions. Be sure to discuss how their work is relevant to your work. If there were flaws in their methodology, this is the place to discuss it. After you have discussed the data, you can write the conclusions section. In this section, you take the ideas that were mentioned in the discussion section and try to come to some closure. If some hypothesis can be ruled out as a result of your work, say so.

If more work is needed for a definitive answer, say that.

Importance of a Good Results Section

The final section in the paper is a recommendation section. This is really the end of the conclusion section in a scientific paper. Make recommendations for further research or policy actions in this section. If you can make predictions about what will be found if X is true, then do so. You will get credit from later researchers for this. After you have finished the recommendation section, look back at your original introduction.

Your introduction should set the stage for the conclusions of the paper by laying out the ideas that you will test in the paper. Now that you know where the paper is leading, you will probably need to rewrite the introduction. You must write your abstract last. All figures and tables should be numbered and cited consecutively in the text as figure 1, figure 2, table 1, table 2, etc. Include a caption for each figure and table, citing how it was constructed reference citations, data sources, etc. Include an index figure map showing and naming all locations discussed in paper.

You are encouraged to make your own figures, including cartoons, schematics or sketches that illustrate the processes that you discuss. Are your axes labeled and are the units indicated? Show the uncertainty in your data with error bars.

Writing the Results

If the data are fit by a curve, indicate the goodness of fit. Could chart junk be eliminated? Could non-data ink be eliminated? Could redundant data ink be eliminated? Could data density be increased by eliminating non-data bearing space? Is this a sparse data set that could better be expressed as a table? Does the figure distort the data in any way? Are the data presented in context? Does the figure caption guide the reader's eye to the "take-home lesson" of the figure? Figures should be oriented vertically, in portrait mode, wherever possible.

If you must orient them horizontally, in landscape mode, orient them so that you can read them from the right, not from the left, where the binding will be. If there are no data provided to support a given statement of result or observation, consider adding more data, or deleting the unsupported "observation.

Final Thesis Make 3 final copies: 1 to mentor and 2 to department, so that we can have 2 readers. Final thesis should be bound. Printed cleanly on white paper. Double-spaced using point font. Double-sided saves paper. Include page numbers. Resources The Barnard Writing Room provides assistance on writing senior theses. Look at other theses on file in the Environmental Science department, they will give you an idea of what we are looking for. Of course do not hesitate to ask us, or your research advisor for help. The Barnard Environmental Science Department has many books on scientific writing, ask the departmental administrator for assistance in locating them.

Also see additional books listed as Resources. Copy Editing Proof read your thesis a few times.

Writing a Results Section

Check your spelling. Make sure that you use complete sentences Check your grammar: punctuation, sentence structure, subject-verb agreement plural or singular , tense consistency, etc. Give it to others to read and comment. Content Editing logic repetition, relevance style. Avoiding ambiguity Do not allow run-on sentences to sneak into your writing; try semicolons. Avoid clauses or phrases with more than two ideas in them.

Do not use double negatives. Do not use dangling participles i. Make sure that the antecedent for every pronoun it, these, those, that, this, one is crystal clear. If in doubt, use the noun rather than the pronoun, even if the resulting sentence seems a little bit redundant. Ensure that subject and verb agree in number singular versus plural. Be especially careful with compound subjects. Avoid qualitative adjectives when describing concepts that are quantifiable "The water is deep. Do not use unexplained acronyms. Spell out all acronyms the first time that you use them.

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: 7. The Results

Thesis length Write for brevity rather than length. The goal is the shortest possible paper that contains all information necessary to describe the work and support the interpretation. Avoid unnecessary repetition and irrelevant tangents.


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  7. Necessary repetition: the main theme should be developed in the introduction as a motivation or working hypothesis. It is then developed in the main body of the paper, and mentioned again in the discussion section and, of course, in the abstract and conclusions. Include only sufficient background material to permit the reader to understand your story, not every paper ever written on the subject. Use figure captions effectively. Instead, use the text to point out the most significant patterns, items or trends in the figures and tables.

    Delete "observations" or "results" that are mentioned in the text for which you have not shown data. Delete "conclusions" that are not directly supported by your observations or results. Delete "interpretation" or "discussion" sections that are inconclusive. Delete "interpretation" or "discussion" sections that are only peripherally related to your new results or observations. Scrutinize adjectives! Although it varies considerably from project to project, average thesis length is about 40 pages of text plus figures.

    This total page count includes all your text as well as the list of references, but it does not include any appendices.