In this article, we discuss the results and discussion sections of your thesis. It is where you present the results and discuss the findings that form the basis of your research. In other words, it is where you tell your readers what you discovered after conducting your research.
Results and discussion are often among the most exciting and challenging sections of a dissertation or thesis. Depending on the university’s guidelines and your own preferences, these two sections can be separate or combined. Each approach has its own advantages.
By writing your results and discussion as separate sections, you have the opportunity to first focus on how your experiments and/or investigations went without getting distracted by implications. By doing so, you will be able to keep track of what the results show and sort them in your head. Many people, however, find it easier to combine the results with their implications, because the two are closely related.
In your Results section, you should highlight your key experimental results, along with statistical analysis and whether they are significant. In addition, any literature supporting your interpretation should be cited.
Similarly, you should take into account how your results should be presented: tables, figures, graphs, or text. Choose a number of ways to present your results and always keep your readers in mind. Be sure to include a number and title for each table and figure. Separate your tables and figures, but order them consecutively as you mention them in your text. Often, it is helpful to include a list of tables and figures alongside the table of contents at the start of your dissertation if you have more than two or three.
Include details regarding the size and direction of any changes, including percentages if necessary. You should also specify the p values or confidence intervals and limits for statistical tests.
In this part, you are almost certain to discuss your results slightly. However, in this discussion, you should analyze the quality and reliability of your results, but not delve into an analysis of whether your results support your hypothesis and/or answer your research questions, as that should be done in the discussion section.
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There are four objectives for the discussion section. They include: interpreting and elucidating your results; answering your research question; justifying your approach; and critically evaluating your study.
Therefore, your discussion needs to place your findings in the context of existing literature and knowledge. It is also necessary to show that you understand the limitations of your research and how those findings may influence policy and practice.
Writing this section will probably be easiest if you prepare an outline, stating the main points and how your results support your argument. Then you can map out how your results might fit into your outline.
Writing up your research as you go along can help you see whether your results are overly focused in one area, which is why documenting your research as you go along can be beneficial. The results should be discussed in light of each theme or area, and how the results support your expectations and match the literature.
Moreover, evaluation of your own results should be done against the findings of others, especially if they differ from yours. Part of an effective discussion section is a full understanding of your research’s limitations.
Finally, summarize the implications of your findings in brief, explain why they are important for researchers and for practice, and offer some suggestions for future research.
The results and discussion of your dissertation, as well as the conclusion and recommendations, are the most substantial parts. Having completed these steps, you can begin to relax a bit: you’re heading toward the finishing line!