Writing a dissertation’s findings or results section is a crucial step that essentially outlines what you have discovered in your research. This article aims to guide you through writing your dissertation findings chapter, from when to start writing it to how to present both quantitative and qualitative results.
When to Write Dissertation Findings Chapter
The findings chapter should be written after the data collection and analysis stages. Here are some key considerations to guide your timing:
After Data Collection and Analysis
Once your research data has been collected and analyzed, you’ll better understand your study outcomes. Writing the findings chapter at this stage ensures that you are grounded in the data and have a comprehensive understanding of what the data reveals, which aspects are noteworthy, and which require more interpretation. This helps in presenting a focused and credible findings chapter.
Post Methodology Chapter
In a dissertation, the findings chapter often follows the methodology chapter. This is a logical flow as you explain how you conducted the research to reveal what you have discovered. Writing the findings chapter at this point ensures you can reference your methodological approach and relate it directly to your research outcomes.
Before Discussion and Conclusion
The findings chapter sets the stage for the discussion and conclusion chapters by presenting factual data and outcomes without interpretation. These subsequent chapters will rely on the raw data presented in the findings chapter to make sense of the research in the broader context, interpret its implications, and draw conclusions. Therefore, it’s important to finalize your findings chapter before you embark on discussing its implications.
Review of Timeline
Some dissertations have set timelines for each component, particularly if they are part of an academic program with specific deadlines. Always ensure that you allocate sufficient time to write and revise your findings chapter well before the deadline for the final dissertation submission. This will allow you to review your findings and ensure they align well with the rest of your research paper.
Consult Your Advisor
Your advisor can provide guidance on the most logical and effective point to write your findings chapter. This can be particularly helpful when dealing with a complex research design or a multi-method study. Sometimes, a preliminary review of some of your findings can be beneficial, as it might inform the remaining data collection or analysis stages.
How to Write a Results Section
The Results section should be straightforward and factual, presenting your research findings clearly and concisely. Remember to follow the format required by your institution or preferred by your field of study. Consult your advisor or dissertation committee if you’re uncertain about the appropriate format.
Reporting Quantitative Research Results
Reporting quantitative research results is critical in the dissertation process, demanding attention to detail. Your findings are the basis for discussing the implications and drawing conclusions, making it imperative that they are clearly and accurately presented. Here’s a breakdown of how to go about it:
Define Statistical Terms and Concepts
Begin by defining the statistical terms and concepts you will use. This can include brief explanations of statistical tests, variables, and the rationale behind choosing specific methods. Providing definitions ensures your readers have the requisite background to understand your findings.
Data Presentation Formats
Choose the most appropriate formats to present your data. Tables and figures are common ways to display quantitative results, allowing for easier comparisons and trend identification. Be sure to label these clearly and refer to them in the text.
Start with descriptive statistics such as mean, median, and standard deviation to give an overview of the data. These can also be displayed graphically through histograms or box plots. This offers a baseline understanding of your dataset and primes the reader for the following inferential statistics.
After laying out the descriptive statistics, delve into the inferential statistics. This is where you present the results of the statistical tests you’ve performed. Explain each test’s purpose, assumptions, and outcomes, whether you’re using t-tests, ANOVA, regression analyses, or other methods. It is crucial to specify the statistical significance, often denoted by p-values, and to interpret the size effect and confidence intervals where applicable.
Correlations and Relationships
If your research involves examining relationships between variables, this is where you’ll present correlation coefficients or regression slopes. Explain whether the relationships are positive or negative, strong or weak, and statistically significant.
If your study involves comparisons between groups, lay out these results methodically, noting any significant differences and what those differences might suggest within the context of your research question.
Address Research Questions
Return to your original research questions and address each, summarizing how your quantitative findings answer these questions. This doesn’t require a deep interpretation (that’s for the Discussion chapter) but should offer enough insight for the reader to understand the importance of the findings.
Consistency and Transparency
Maintain consistency in your reporting. If you are rounding numbers, keep it consistent across all data. Similarly, maintain a uniform format for tables, figures, and equations. Be transparent about the limitations of your data, such as missing data points or potential biases in your sample.
A brief summary section at the end of the chapter can help condense the results and prepare the reader for the Discussion chapter, where you’ll delve into the meaning and implications of these results.
Reporting Qualitative Research Results
Qualitative research often aims to explore complex phenomena, which usually involve in-depth data analysis like interviews, observations, and textual materials. Here’s how to approach the Results section of your dissertation when your data is qualitative.
Objectivity and Context
Before diving into the findings, it’s important to remind the reader of your research questions, objectives, and the methods used for data collection. This will provide the necessary context and orientation.
You should maintain an objective tone, focusing on presenting the data without offering interpretations—that will come later in the Discussion section.
Qualitative research often relies on themes that emerge during data collection and analysis. In the Results section, you can structure your findings around these themes. Present the relevant supporting data for each theme, including verbatim quotes, descriptions, or document extracts.
Make sure to connect these data points to the corresponding research question or objective they inform.
Although qualitative research is often text-heavy, using visual aids like charts or graphs is possible, especially when these tools can help condense or arrange information in a more digestible form.
For example, if you’ve analyzed patient satisfaction with nursing care, a pie chart could represent the proportion of different types of feedback (positive, negative, neutral).
If you used multiple data sources or various types of data (e.g., interviews and observations), clarify how these elements contribute to your findings. Discuss the consistency or inconsistencies in the data from different sources without concluding; the aim is still to present the data, not to interpret it.
Coding and Quotations
In qualitative studies, data coding is often used to categorize findings. If you employed coding, briefly describe how you conducted it. Additionally, quotes from interviews or text excerpts can be powerful tools to exemplify your findings.
When you include a quote, provide enough context to clarify its relevance but save detailed analysis for the Discussion section.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to use case examples to illustrate findings, especially if your research involves complex or nuanced issues that are better explained through detailed examples rather than general statements.
Consistency and Flow
While your Results section should stick to the facts, it should also read well. Your findings should be presented in a logical sequence that reflects either your research process or the main themes that have emerged.
Always be transparent about your role in the research process and the data collection, especially when presenting qualitative findings. This lends credibility and allows the reader to assess the reliability and validity of your research.
Results vs. Discussion vs. Conclusion
These sections serve distinct purposes and require different writing approaches.
Purpose: The Results section is where you present the data collected during your research. The purpose is to report what you find without interpretation or bias. This section is often filled with tables, charts, and graphs to represent your findings visually. If the research is quantitative, statistical analysis is also included.
Content: The Results section should only include data directly relevant to your research questions or hypotheses. It’s essential to be as factual and straightforward as possible, allowing the data to speak for itself.
Style: In the Results section, the writing style is often detached and in the past tense. The focus is on providing a complete picture of what you found, relying heavily on empirical data.
Purpose: The Discussion section is where the interpretation of the Results takes place. It aims to answer the “so what?” question. Here, you explain the results and how they align or diverge from previous research.
Content: In the Discussion section, you relate your findings to your initial research questions and literature review. You should also address any limitations and the implications of your research. Contrary to the Results section, the Discussion section is interpretative and speculative.
Style: The writing style in the Discussion section can be more fluid, allowing for a narrative that explores various interpretations and potential implications of the research. However, it should still maintain a high level of academic rigor.
Purpose: The Conclusion serves to summarize the entire dissertation. It reiterates the research problem, methods, and major findings and offers a final interpretation. This section is the closing argument of your research and should leave the reader with a lasting impression.
Content: The Conclusion section often includes a summary of key findings, limitations, and practical implications for the field. It may also provide recommendations for future research. Unlike the Discussion section, the Conclusion aims to offer a final interpretation and overall perspective on the research.
Style: The writing style in the Conclusion section is usually straightforward and concise. The goal is to encapsulate the essence of the dissertation and provide closure to the reader.
Why the Distinction Matters
Understanding these distinctions is crucial for your audience. While the Results section provides the “what,” the Discussion explains the “why” and “how,” and the Conclusion offers a summarizing takeaway.
Distinguishing clearly between these sections will guide the reader through your dissertation logically and coherently, enhancing the impact of your research.
What to Avoid in Dissertation Findings Chapter
- Over-Interpreting Results: Stick to what the data shows you and save the interpretation for the Discussion section.
- Including Raw Data: Unless necessary for the study, do not include raw data; instead, use tables and figures to summarize it.
- Lack of Structure: Make sure your findings are organized logically. It should be easy for the reader to understand how each result relates to your research questions.
- Ignoring Negative Results: Sometimes, findings that do not support your hypothesis can offer important insights. Do not omit these.
Conclusion on Writing Dissertation Findings
The findings section of your nursing dissertation is the backbone of your research. It is where you present the data you collected and the results of your analysis without interpreting them or drawing conclusions.
While this might seem straightforward, presenting your findings clearly, concisely, and well-organized is crucial to your dissertation’s success.
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