This is an interesting section in the writing of your dissertation. However, most students think that this is the most challenging section. Depending on your preferences and your university guidelines, you may combine these sections into one chapter or alternatively you can write them as separate chapters. You will notice that each of the option you choose has its advantages.
When you write them as separate sections, you get the opportunity to first deal with the results you obtained and also to detail exactly what happened during your investigations without having to worry about the nature of the results. This allows you a good opportunity to sort your results in a logical manner. But you will realize that most people will prefer to combine the two sections due to the fact that they are interconnected.
This is the section where you set out the experiment results and any other statistical analysis on the results. You should also state whether these results are significant in your research. You should use appropriate literature to support your interpretations of the results.
It is important to note that this section should be written in the past tense because you are reporting something you did in the past. It is also important to note that you are not compelled to include all your results especially if you are writing a doctoral dissertation. If you are not sure regarding the results that you should include, you should go back to your research question and see if the results in questions are relevant in answering the research questions. If you find that they are relevant, then you should include them.
Now that you have made a decision on what results to include, the next important thing is to decide what order you will use. You can employ a chronological order or you can simply arrange them in the order of most important to least important with respect to answering the research questions.
At this point, it would be important to decide how you are going to present your results. Are you going to use text, graphs, tables or figures? Using different methods of presenting your results would make your dissertation easy to read and understand. Also make sure that each table and graph you use has a number and a title.
Always ensure that you include direction and size of any changes. This will include percentage changes if appropriate. Whenever you carry out statistical tests, make sure that they include p details or confidence limits and intervals.
It has four main purposes
- Interpretation and explanation of your results
- Answer the research questions
- Justify the approach you used
- Evaluate your study critically
It is in the discussion section where you should review the findings in the context of existing literature plus existing knowledge regarding the subject. This is the section where you also show your understanding regarding the limitation of the research as well as the implications that your research will have on policy and practice. You should write this section in present tense.
The discussion section should follow the results section and must relate to the literature review. It is very crucial to ensure that whatever you discuss in this section is what you had stated in the results chapter.
Writing the task
You can start working on this section by first preparing an outline, developing your argument and then supporting your argument with the results. Techniques such as mind mapping could be very important when preparing the first outline. Once you have a outline, mapping will help you to see how your results are fitting into the outline.
Mapping plays a very important part in establishing whether your results are focused in only one area. For each of the sections, you should establish how the results have helped you in answering the research question and if these results have satisfied your expectations.
In the event that the results are unexpected or controversial, it would be important to explain why they are so. Your reasons for unexpected results could be a skewed response rate regarding those particular experiences, non-representative sample which was used for convenience purposes or maybe perhaps do to your own involvement where you were a participant in the research.
Evaluating your results against other findings is always very important to establish if you are on the right track. If your results are different, you should find a way to explain the difference. Understanding the limitations to your research will form a good part in your discussion section.
To summarize this section, explain your findings briefly and also explain how they will be important in practice and to other researchers. Also provide some suggestions for future research.
We can all agree that results and discussion are likely to be the most important sections in your dissertation. When you are done with this section, you can now afford a smile; you are almost done with your paper.