Lesson 12: Results
In this first part of our class, we’ll discuss how to properly report your results
- To establish the importance of writing your results objectively and honestly.
- To determine the proper way in which to write results for a thesis.
Quick Navigation through the Lesson 12:
- Be objective
- Provide summaries of data.
- Be honest—report all discrepancies.
- Don’t justify
- Avoid using “I”
In this lesson, we’ll be discussing how to properly report your results in a thesis paper. We’ll be setting guidelines which you can follow to help make this part easier for you to write. We’ll also be enumerating different ways in which the way you report your findings can contribute to the credibility of your paper.
This is part of the paper should not contain any interpretation. The aim of the section of your paper is to report what it is that you found—both through textual data and visual representations (Tables and Figures). This section always begins with text which introduces your findings, in a nutshell. From there, the results must be reported in a manner that is logical and objective. All opinions (and likewise, phrases like “I think” or “in my opinion”) should be excluded from this part of the paper. All important data should be reported. All implications and/or suggestions toward what the data should mean should be excluded from this part of the paper.
Below is an example of how a paragraph reporting data should be written:
The frogs in the distilled water were unresponsive to treatment. The frogs in the mineral water were mildly responsive to the treatment, laying about fifty eggs a day (estimated value). The frogs which were most responsive to the treatment were the frogs which were immersed in canal water, laying more than double of the frogs in the mineral water.
Below is an example of how not to write a paragraph reporting data (words and phrases to be avoided are written in boldface type):
The frogs in the distilled water were unresponsive, thus suggesting that the water was devoid of nutrition. This implies that in human beings, the same effect would take place.
The results section is simply for the delivery of the results. It should not contain any interpretations or implications.
Provide summaries of data.
This is the part where your figures and tables will come most in handy. While you still have to state your results in paragraph form, it’s essential that you have tables and figures to supplement your written data. This helps people better understand the structure of your study, the interactions of your data and your different variables.
Be honest—report all discrepancies.
All studies are subject to changes or inevitable errors which occur along the way. You may also encounter interactions effects or certain dilemmas which you were unable to foresee during the initial parts of your study. These discrepancies might make you feel uncomfortable—don’t be fooled: these are essential to your study because these are the things which the future researchers will learn to avoid. Even seemingly negative discoveries are still discoveries. You should always be honest when listing down your results. Write down everything: even (or especially) data that doesn’t agree with your results.
That said it’s often tempting for researchers to justify the discrepancies in their results—curb the urge to explain in this section. This keeps your data from being objective. Never be defensive about your results. Even in the next part of the paper where you’re allowed to explain your results, you still shouldn’t sound like you’re trying to justify them. Mistakes are part of the methodical process of discovery.
This goes hand-in-hand with our first step: it’s very important to be objective. Otherwise you risk your paper not being credible.
Avoid using “I”
When writing the results portion of your paper, you should always write in third person—referring to oneself (or one’s group) as the researcher(s). This helps the reader understand that this portion is being written for purely observational reasons (as with the methodology) and that it won’t be containing any opinions or interpretations of the data.
In this lesson, we learned that a good results chapter is one which is able to objectively and honestly convey the results of one’s study. We were able to find out that one of the best ways to do this is to simply list down the facts and provide tables and figures to supplement them. It can also be concluded that certain words which add bias to our sentences should be avoided, along with the usage of the pronoun “I”.
Next, we’ll be tackling the section where we can talk about the interpretations of our data. We’ll be discussing how to properly deliver interpretations of your data and how to back up your facts and figures. Keep reading and take one step closer to writing a really good thesis paper!