Results

The results section presents the findings of your study. It is important to plan this section carefully as it may contain a large amount of material that needs to be presented in an accessible, reader-friendly manner. This is a predominantly descriptive section, although in certain circumstances some commentary on the results may be appropriate. For example, it may be useful to indicate whether your results confirm your hypothesis, or whether they are similar to or significantly different from those of existing studies.

The results section normally contains tables and figures accompanied by text. Here is some advice on how to present the results in this way:

  • Decide which results need to be presented in tables or figures. For example, a table showing the gender distribution of the participants (male or female) is normally not necessary: this information can be presented clearly and succinctly in words only. However, results presenting more complex data or a larger number of variables should be presented numerically or graphically as well as in words.

  • Decide how the results should be organised. For example, you could use your research questions as headings, presenting each set of results under the appropriate heading; or, if reporting the results of a survey, you could follow the order of the questions in the survey. In some cases, it may be more appropriate to present the most important findings first.

  • Use headings and sub-headings to make the structure of your results section more transparent and improve readability.

  • Number all tables and figures and give each a title.

  • When describing the content of a table or figure in the text, refer to the number of the table or figure. For example, ‘Figure 1 shows….’, or ‘The results of … are given in Table 2.’

  • Do not attempt to describe all the numeric information in a table or figure. The written text should highlight significant or interesting findings. However, in some cases it may be appropriate to state that certain findings are not significant; for example, if the findings do not support one of your hypotheses, you need to indicate this in the text.