How to Write a Results Section for a Dissertation

A results chapter in a dissertation serves the purpose of summarizing any data that has been collected and the analysis of this in terms of its mechanics and statistical interrogation. The opening paragraph in a results section should reiterate in brief the problem outlined in the first chapter. The nature and objective of every experiment should be explained and you should draw attention to the most significant results by presenting them in figures, tables, charts, and/or other media typically used to show statistical or factual data. Figures and tables should be used carefully. Sometimes, it is easier to support and/or defend certain studies if all raw data is contained within a chapter. In other cases, the process is easier when most or all raw data is contained in appendices.      

In studies of the quantitative variety, it is usual to start presenting results by describing any samples used e.g. the size of the sample, who participated or was excluded, why certain participants were included or excluded, how missing or unavailable data was handled, and so on. Then you should describe any statistical information e.g. percentages or frequencies of variables in different categories, ranges or deviations of variables, etc. Every hypothesis should be addressed in turn, with a description of any analysis that was undertaken to prove or discount it, and the findings from those analyses. Say if you rejected any hypothesis because it was proved flawed or invalid.   

Avoid describing what is immediately obvious to an intelligent or knowledgeable person in repetitive or monotonous prose. An instructor or examiner will almost always advise on the amount of detail required in a results chapter. It should be easy to understand the captions on figures or the titles on tables without having to read all the text in the chapter. All relevant or significant results should be noted, even those that prove contrary to the “alternative” hypothesis or those that seem not to offer clear conclusions.      

State all results without assessment, interpretation, detailed evaluation, speculation, and without implying anything. It is not unusual to combine a results chapter with a discussion chapter, but in most cases, it is best to present the results, discussion, and conclusion chapters as separate entities.  

In studies of the qualitative variety, it is usual to include as many interviewee quotes as possible in a results chapter.