When I give students research projects to do as part of their course requirements in the various courses I teach, I notice that some of them do not discuss the results. They miss an essential part of the Results and Discussion section. Students tend to present and show the analysis of their data, missing the interpretation or discussion part. The expected content of the R & D section is incomplete because it lacks the much-needed discussion of the results. They also tend to mix up the contents of the Results and Discussion section. As a result, the study is difficult to follow.
Reading through the thesis of students who have already graduated, I saw the same lack in the discussion of the Data Presentation, Analysis, and Presentation section. Students just presented their data and analysis without discussing the findings. If they did, the discussion is limited to a few sentences.
What then, is the correct way of discussing the results? How should students write it? Here are five tips on how to systematically discuss the results of the study.
Discuss the Results Logically
In the Introduction, the researcher lists the research goals or objectives of the thesis or research paper. Hence, it is logical that answers to the stated objectives are provided. The answer to research objective 1 should be discussed first in the Results and Discussion section. The answer to research objective 2 follows, and so on.
In writing the thesis, the Data Presentation, Analysis, and Interpretation should show the answer to the Statement of the Problem No. 1. The next discussion answers Statement Problem No. 2 and so on.
The following example demonstrates how it works:
Research objective 1: determine if there is a difference in the test scores between Math students under extended time and those who attend regular classes. The researcher presents the results of the t-test followed by covariance analysis, then discusses it.
Highlight the Major Findings
The researcher explains only the essential variables that show data trends, significant relationships, or differences. If the study involves many variables, the researcher emphasizes the factors that correlate or differ significantly.
If a table presents the results, there is no need to repeat entries. Only those items that readers would be interested to know should be discussed.
For example, in one study, mathematics interest (among other variables) significantly affects Mathematics performance (Shin et al., 2009). Hence, the discussion revolves around this factor as a predictor of Mathematics performance.
Present Only the Necessary Tables or Figures
Present only essential or relevant tables or figures to enlighten the reader on the findings of the study. The table or chart should aid the explanation of difference, relationship, or trend. Additional tables or figures may be prepared to support the first tables or figures.
Simpler, easily understood tables should precede more complex ones. For example, a regression summary shows if there is a significant relationship between a set of x variables and a y variable. A y variable, for instance, is Mathematics performance. X variables may include Mathematics interest, gender, a competitive setting, nationality, among others.
Explain Why People Should Care About Your Findings
Explain why your findings differ from previous findings. You need to go back to your literature to put your results into context. Come up with ideas on how your findings may be applied.
For example, knowing that Mathematics interest determines Mathematics performance, the researcher may recommend steps to develop an inclination in the subject by exposing children to Mathematics early in life. Engaging them in games that require Mathematical calculations can build interest.
However, don’t overdo writing about the implications of your study. Just stick to what your data says. It would be best if you strike a balance in your reasoning. It becomes an art. Know your limitations.
Discuss the Results with a Take Home Message
Finally, at the end of the discussion, make clear statements that highlight the relevance of your study. You can also suggest future studies related to those items uncovered in your research. Explain how your findings relate to previous literature or perhaps, your study opened new areas of investigation.
Azar, B. (n.d.). Discussing your findings. American Psychological Association. Retrieved on February 2, 2020 from https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2006/01/findings
Shin, J., Lee, H., & Kim, Y. (2009). Student and School Factors Affecting Mathematics Achievement: International Comparisons Between Korea, Japan and the USA. School Psychology International, 30(5), 520–537. https://doi.org/10.1177/0143034309107070