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How to Write the Dissertation Findings or Results – Steps & Tips

Published by Grace Graffin at August 11th, 2021 , Revised On October 9, 2023

Each  part of the dissertation is unique, and some general and specific rules must be followed. The dissertation’s findings section presents the key results of your research without interpreting their meaning .

Theoretically, this is an exciting section of a dissertation because it involves writing what you have observed and found. However, it can be a little tricky if there is too much information to confuse the readers.

The goal is to include only the essential and relevant findings in this section. The results must be presented in an orderly sequence to provide clarity to the readers.

This section of the dissertation should be easy for the readers to follow, so you should avoid going into a lengthy debate over the interpretation of the results.

It is vitally important to focus only on clear and precise observations. The findings chapter of the  dissertation  is theoretically the easiest to write.

It includes  statistical analysis and a brief write-up about whether or not the results emerging from the analysis are significant. This segment should be written in the past sentence as you describe what you have done in the past.

This article will provide detailed information about  how to   write the findings of a dissertation .

When to Write Dissertation Findings Chapter

As soon as you have gathered and analysed your data, you can start to write up the findings chapter of your dissertation paper. Remember that it is your chance to report the most notable findings of your research work and relate them to the research hypothesis  or  research questions set out in  the introduction chapter of the dissertation .

You will be required to separately report your study’s findings before moving on to the discussion chapter  if your dissertation is based on the  collection of primary data  or experimental work.

However, you may not be required to have an independent findings chapter if your dissertation is purely descriptive and focuses on the analysis of case studies or interpretation of texts.

  • Always report the findings of your research in the past tense.
  • The dissertation findings chapter varies from one project to another, depending on the data collected and analyzed.
  • Avoid reporting results that are not relevant to your research questions or research hypothesis.

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1. Reporting Quantitative Findings

The best way to present your quantitative findings is to structure them around the research  hypothesis or  questions you intend to address as part of your dissertation project.

Report the relevant findings for each research question or hypothesis, focusing on how you analyzed them.

Analysis of your findings will help you determine how they relate to the different research questions and whether they support the hypothesis you formulated.

While you must highlight meaningful relationships, variances, and tendencies, it is important not to guess their interpretations and implications because this is something to save for the discussion  and  conclusion  chapters.

Any findings not directly relevant to your research questions or explanations concerning the data collection process  should be added to the dissertation paper’s appendix section.

Use of Figures and Tables in Dissertation Findings

Suppose your dissertation is based on quantitative research. In that case, it is important to include charts, graphs, tables, and other visual elements to help your readers understand the emerging trends and relationships in your findings.

Repeating information will give the impression that you are short on ideas. Refer to all charts, illustrations, and tables in your writing but avoid recurrence.

The text should be used only to elaborate and summarize certain parts of your results. On the other hand, illustrations and tables are used to present multifaceted data.

It is recommended to give descriptive labels and captions to all illustrations used so the readers can figure out what each refers to.

How to Report Quantitative Findings

Here is an example of how to report quantitative results in your dissertation findings chapter;

Two hundred seventeen participants completed both the pretest and post-test and a Pairwise T-test was used for the analysis. The quantitative data analysis reveals a statistically significant difference between the mean scores of the pretest and posttest scales from the Teachers Discovering Computers course. The pretest mean was 29.00 with a standard deviation of 7.65, while the posttest mean was 26.50 with a standard deviation of 9.74 (Table 1). These results yield a significance level of .000, indicating a strong treatment effect (see Table 3). With the correlation between the scores being .448, the little relationship is seen between the pretest and posttest scores (Table 2). This leads the researcher to conclude that the impact of the course on the educators’ perception and integration of technology into the curriculum is dramatic.

Paired Samples

Paired samples correlation, paired samples test.

Also Read: How to Write the Abstract for the Dissertation.

2. Reporting Qualitative Findings

A notable issue with reporting qualitative findings is that not all results directly relate to your research questions or hypothesis.

The best way to present the results of qualitative research is to frame your findings around the most critical areas or themes you obtained after you examined the data.

In-depth data analysis will help you observe what the data shows for each theme. Any developments, relationships, patterns, and independent responses directly relevant to your research question or hypothesis should be mentioned to the readers.

Additional information not directly relevant to your research can be included in the appendix .

How to Report Qualitative Findings

Here is an example of how to report qualitative results in your dissertation findings chapter;

How do I report quantitative findings?

The best way to present your quantitative findings is to structure them around the  research hypothesis  or  research questions  you intended to address as part of your dissertation project. Report the relevant findings for each of the research questions or hypotheses, focusing on how you analyzed them.

How do I report qualitative findings?

The best way to present the  qualitative research  results is to frame your findings around the most important areas or themes that you obtained after examining the data.

An in-depth analysis of the data will help you observe what the data is showing for each theme. Any developments, relationships, patterns, and independent responses that are directly relevant to your  research question  or  hypothesis  should be clearly mentioned for the readers.

Can I use interpretive phrases like ‘it confirms’ in the finding chapter?

No, It is highly advisable to avoid using interpretive and subjective phrases in the finding chapter. These terms are more suitable for the  discussion chapter , where you will be expected to provide your interpretation of the results in detail.

Can I report the results from other research papers in my findings chapter?

NO, you must not be presenting results from other research studies in your findings.

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How to Write a Results Section for a Dissertation or Research Paper: Guide & Examples

Dissertation Results

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A results section is a crucial part of a research paper or dissertation, where you analyze your major findings. This section goes beyond simply presenting study outcomes. You should also include a comprehensive statistical analysis and interpret the collected data in detail.

Without dissertation research results, it is impossible to imagine a scientific work. Your task here is to present your study findings. What are qualitative or quantitative indicators? How to use tables and diagrams? How to describe data? Our article answers all these questions and many more. So, read further to discover how to analyze and describe your research indexes or contact or professionals for dissertation help from StudyCrumb.

What Is a Results Section of Dissertation?

The results section of a dissertation is a data statement from your research. Here you should present the main findings of your study to your readers. This section aims to show information objectively, systematically, concisely. It is allowed using text supplemented with illustrations.  In general, this section's length is not limited but should include all necessary data. Interpretations or conclusions should not be included in this section. Therefore, in theory, this is one of your shortest sections. But it can also be one of the most challenging sections.  The introduction presents a research topic and answers the question "why?". The Methods section explains the data collection process and answers "how?". Meanwhile, the result section shows actual data gained from experiments and tells "what?" Thus, this part plays a critical role in highlighting study's relevance. This chapter gives reader study relevance with novelty. So, you should figure out how to write it correctly. Here are main tasks that you should keep in mind while writing:

  • Results answer the question "What was found in your research?"
  • Results contain only your study's outcome. They do not include comments or interpretations.
  • Results must always be presented accurately & objectively.
  • Tables & figures are used to draw readers' attention. But the same data should never be presented in the form of a table and a figure. Don't repeat anything from a table also in text.

Dissertation: Results vs Discussion vs Conclusion

Results and discussion sections of a dissertation are often confused among researchers. Sometimes both these parts are mixed up with a conclusion for thesis . Figured out what is covered in each of these important chapters. Your readers should see that you notice how different they are. A clear understanding of differences will help you write your dissertation more effectively. 5 differences between Results VS Discussion VS Conclusion:

Wanna figure out the actual difference between discussion vs conclusion? Check out our helpful articles about Dissertation Discussion or Dissertation Conclusion.

Present Your Findings When Writing Results Section of Dissertation

Now it's time to understand how to arrange the results section of the dissertation. First, present most general findings, then narrow it down to a more specific one. Describe both qualitative & quantitative results. For example, imagine you are comparing the behavior of hamsters and mice. First, say a few words about the behavioral type of mammals that you studied. Then, mention rodents in general. At end, describe specific species of animals you carried out an experiment on.

Qualitative Results Section in Dissertation

In your dissertation results section, qualitative data may not be directly related to specific sub-questions or hypotheses. You can structure this chapter around main issues that arise when analyzing data. For each question, make a general observation of what data show. For example, you may recall recurring agreements or differences, patterns, trends. Personal answers are the basis of your research. Clarify and support these views with direct quotes. Add more information to the thesis appendix if it's needed.

Quantitative Results Section in a Dissertation

The easiest way to write a quantitative dissertation results section is to build it around a sub-question or hypothesis of your research. For each subquery, provide relevant results and include statistical analysis . Then briefly evaluate importance & reliability. Notice how each result relates to the problem or whether it supports the hypothesis. Focus on key trends, differences, and relationships between data. But don't speculate about their meaning or consequences. This should be put in the discussion vs conclusion section. Suppose your results are not directly related to answering your questions. Maybe there is additional information that helps readers understand how you collect data. In that case, you can include them in the appendix. It is often helpful to include visual elements such as graphs, charts, and tables. But only if they accurately support your results and add value.

Tables and Figures in Results Section in Dissertation

We recommend you use tables or figures in the dissertation results section correctly. Such interpretation can effectively present complex data concisely and visually. It allows readers to quickly gain a statistical overview. On the contrary, poorly designed graphs can confuse readers. That will reduce the effectiveness of your article.  Here are our recommendations that help you understand how to use tables and figures:

  • Make sure tables and figures are self-explanatory. Sometimes, your readers may look at tables and figures before reading the entire text. So they should make sense as separate elements.
  • Do not repeat the content of tables and figures in text. Text can be used to highlight key points from tables and figures. But do not repeat every element.
  • Make sure that values ​​or information in tables and text are consistent. Make sure that abbreviations, group names, interpretations are the same as in text.
  • Use clear, informative titles for tables and figures. Do not leave any table or figure without a title or legend. Otherwise, readers will not be able to understand data's meaning. Also, make sure column names, labels, figures are understandable.
  • Check accuracy of data presented in tables and figures. Always double-check tables and figures to make sure numbers converge.
  • Tables should not contain redundant information. Make sure tables in the article are not too crowded. If you need to provide extensive data, use Appendixes.
  • Make sure images are clear. Make sure images and all parts of drawings are precise. Lettering should be in a standard font and legible against the background of the picture.
  • Ask for permission to use illustrations. If you use illustrations, be sure to ask copyright holders and indicate them.

Tips on How to Write a Results Section

We have prepared several tips on how to write the results section of the dissertation!  Present data collected during study objectively, logically, and concisely. Highlight most important results and organize them into specific sections. It is an excellent way to show that you have covered all the descriptive information you need. Correct usage of visual elements effectively helps your readers with understanding. So, follow main 3 rules for writing this part:

  • State only actual results. Leave explanations and comments for Discussion.
  • Use text, tables, and pictures to orderly highlight key results.
  • Make sure that contents of tables and figures are not repeated in text.

In case you have questions about a  conceptual framework in research , you will find a blog dedicated to this issue in our database.

What to Avoid When Writing the Results Section of a Dissertation

Here we will discuss how NOT to write the results section of a dissertation. Or simply, what points to avoid:

  • Do not make your research too complicated. Your paper, tables, and graphs should be clearly marked and follow order. So that they can exist independently without further explanation.
  • Do not include raw data. Remember, you are summarizing relevant results, not reporting them in detail. This chapter should briefly summarize your findings. Avoid complete introduction to each number and calculation.
  • Do not contradict errors or false results. Explain these errors and contradictions in conclusions. This often happens when different research methods have been used.
  • Do not write a conclusion or discussion. Instead, this part should contain summaries of findings.
  • Do not tend to include explanations and inferences from results. Such an approach can make this chapter subjective, unclear, and confusing to the reader.
  • Do not forget about novelty. Its lack is one of the main reasons for the paper's rejection.

Dissertation Results Section Example

Let's take a look at some good results section of dissertation examples. Remember that this part shows fundamental research you've done in detail. So, it has to be clear and concise, as you can see in the sample.

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Final Thoughts on Writing Results Section of Dissertation

When writing a results section of a dissertation, highlight your achievements by data. The main chapter's task is to convince the reader of conclusions' validity of your research. You should not overload text with too detailed information. Never use words whose meanings you do not understand. Also, oversimplification may seem unconvincing for readers. But on the other hand, writing this part can even be fun. You can directly see your study results, which you'll interpret later. So keep going, and we wish you courage!

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How to Write an Impressive Thesis Results Section

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After collecting and analyzing your research data, it’s time to write the results section. This article explains how to write and organize the thesis results section, the differences in reporting qualitative and quantitative data, the differences in the thesis results section across different fields, and the best practices for tables and figures.

What is the thesis results section?

The thesis results section factually and concisely describes what was observed and measured during the study but does not interpret the findings. It presents the findings in a logical order.

What should the thesis results section include?

  • Include all relevant results as text, tables, or figures
  • Report the results of subject recruitment and data collection
  • For qualitative research, present the data from all statistical analyses, whether or not the results are significant
  • For quantitative research, present the data by coding or categorizing themes and topics
  • Present all secondary findings (e.g., subgroup analyses)
  • Include all results, even if they do not fit in with your assumptions or support your hypothesis

What should the thesis results section not include?

  • If the study involves the thematic analysis of an interview, don’t include complete transcripts of all interviews. Instead, add these as appendices
  • Don’t present raw data. These may be included in appendices
  • Don’t include background information (this should be in the introduction section )
  • Don’t speculate on the meaning of results that do not support your hypothesis. This will be addressed later in the discussion and conclusion sections.
  • Don’t repeat results that have been presented in tables and figures. Only highlight the pertinent points or elaborate on specific aspects

How should the thesis results section be organized?

The opening paragraph of the thesis results section should briefly restate the thesis question. Then, present the results objectively as text, figures, or tables.

Quantitative research presents the results from experiments and  statistical tests , usually in the form of tables and figures (graphs, diagrams, and images), with any pertinent findings emphasized in the text. The results are structured around the thesis question. Demographic data are usually presented first in this section.

For each statistical test used, the following information must be mentioned:

  • The type of analysis used (e.g., Mann–Whitney U test or multiple regression analysis)
  • A concise summary of each result, including  descriptive statistics   (e.g., means, medians, and modes) and  inferential statistics   (e.g., correlation, regression, and  p  values) and whether the results are significant
  • Any trends or differences identified through comparisons
  • How the findings relate to your research and if they support or contradict your hypothesis

Qualitative research   presents results around key themes or topics identified from your data analysis and explains how these themes evolved. The data are usually presented as text because it is hard to present the findings as figures.

For each theme presented, describe:

  • General trends or patterns observed
  • Significant or representative responses
  • Relevant quotations from your study subjects

Relevant characteristics about your study subjects

Differences among the results section in different fields of research

Nevertheless, results should be presented logically across all disciplines and reflect the thesis question and any hypotheses that were tested.

The presentation of results varies considerably across disciplines. For example, a thesis documenting how a particular population interprets a specific event and a thesis investigating customer service may both have collected data using interviews and analyzed it using similar methods. Still, the presentation of the results will vastly differ because they are answering different thesis questions. A science thesis may have used experiments to generate data, and these would be presented differently again, probably involving statistics. Nevertheless, results should be presented logically across all disciplines and reflect the thesis question and any  hypotheses that were tested.

Differences between reporting thesis results in the Sciences and the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) domains

In the Sciences domain (qualitative and experimental research), the results and discussion sections are considered separate entities, and the results from experiments and statistical tests are presented. In the HSS domain (qualitative research), the results and discussion sections may be combined.

There are two approaches to presenting results in the HSS field:

  • If you want to highlight important findings, first present a synopsis of the results and then explain the key findings.
  • If you have multiple results of equal significance, present one result and explain it. Then present another result and explain that, and so on. Conclude with an overall synopsis.

Best practices for using tables and figures

The use of figures and tables is highly encouraged because they provide a standalone overview of the research findings that are much easier to understand than wading through dry text mentioning one result after another. The text in the results section should not repeat the information presented in figures and tables. Instead, it should focus on the pertinent findings or elaborate on specific points.

Some popular software programs that can be used for the analysis and presentation of statistical data include  Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS ) ,  R software ,  MATLAB , Microsoft Excel,  Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) ,  GraphPad Prism , and  Minitab .

The easiest way to construct tables is to use the  Table function in Microsoft Word . Microsoft Excel can also be used; however, Word is the easier option.

General guidelines for figures and tables

  • Figures and tables must be interpretable independent from the text
  • Number tables and figures consecutively (in separate lists) in the order in which they are mentioned in the text
  • All tables and figures must be cited in the text
  • Provide clear, descriptive titles for all figures and tables
  • Include a legend to concisely describe what is presented in the figure or table

Figure guidelines

  • Label figures so that the reader can easily understand what is being shown
  • Use a consistent font type and font size for all labels in figure panels
  • All abbreviations used in the figure artwork should be defined in the figure legend

Table guidelines

  • All table columns should have a heading abbreviation used in tables should be defined in the table footnotes
  • All numbers and text presented in tables must correlate with the data presented in the manuscript body

Quantitative results example : Figure 3 presents the characteristics of unemployed subjects and their rate of criminal convictions. A statistically significant association was observed between unemployed people <20 years old, the male sex, and no household income.

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Qualitative results example: Table 5 shows the themes identified during the face-to-face interviews about the application that we developed to anonymously report corruption in the workplace. There was positive feedback on the app layout and ease of use. Concerns that emerged from the interviews included breaches of confidentiality and the inability to report incidents because of unstable cellphone network coverage.

Table 5. Themes and selected quotes from the evaluation of our app designed to anonymously report workplace corruption.

Tips for writing the thesis results section

  • Do not state that a difference was present between the two groups unless this can be supported by a significant  p-value .
  • Present the findings only . Do not comment or speculate on their interpretation.
  • Every result included  must have a corresponding method in the methods section. Conversely, all methods  must have associated results presented in the results section.
  • Do not explain commonly used methods. Instead, cite a reference.
  • Be consistent with the units of measurement used in your thesis study. If you start with kg, then use the same unit all throughout your thesis. Also, be consistent with the capitalization of units of measurement. For example, use either “ml” or “mL” for milliliters, but not both.
  • Never manipulate measurement outcomes, even if the result is unexpected. Remain objective.

Results vs. discussion vs. conclusion

Results are presented in three sections of your thesis: the results, discussion, and conclusion.

  • In the results section, the data are presented simply and objectively. No speculation or interpretation is given.
  • In the discussion section, the meaning of the results is interpreted and put into context (e.g., compared with other findings in the literature ), and its importance is assigned.
  • In the conclusion section, the results and the main conclusions are summarized.

A thesis is the most crucial document that you will write during your academic studies. For professional thesis editing and thesis proofreading services , visit Enago Thesis Editing for more information.

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Have you  completed all data collection procedures and analyzed all results ?

Have you  included all results relevant to your thesis question, even if they do not support your hypothesis?

Have you reported the results  objectively , with no interpretation or speculation?

For quantitative research, have you included both  descriptive and  inferential statistical results and stated whether they support or contradict your hypothesis?

Have you used  tables and figures to present all results?

In your thesis body, have you presented only the pertinent results and elaborated on specific aspects that were presented in the tables and figures?

Are all tables and figures  correctly labeled and cited in numerical order in the text?

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Writing your Dissertation:  Results and Discussion

When writing a dissertation or thesis, the results and discussion sections can be both the most interesting as well as the most challenging sections to write.

You may choose to write these sections separately, or combine them into a single chapter, depending on your university’s guidelines and your own preferences.

There are advantages to both approaches.

Writing the results and discussion as separate sections allows you to focus first on what results you obtained and set out clearly what happened in your experiments and/or investigations without worrying about their implications.This can focus your mind on what the results actually show and help you to sort them in your head.

However, many people find it easier to combine the results with their implications as the two are closely connected.

Check your university’s requirements carefully before combining the results and discussions sections as some specify that they must be kept separate.

Results Section

The Results section should set out your key experimental results, including any statistical analysis and whether or not the results of these are significant.

You should cover any literature supporting your interpretation of significance. It does not have to include everything you did, particularly for a doctorate dissertation. However, for an undergraduate or master's thesis, you will probably find that you need to include most of your work.

You should write your results section in the past tense: you are describing what you have done in the past.

Every result included MUST have a method set out in the methods section. Check back to make sure that you have included all the relevant methods.

Conversely, every method should also have some results given so, if you choose to exclude certain experiments from the results, make sure that you remove mention of the method as well.

If you are unsure whether to include certain results, go back to your research questions and decide whether the results are relevant to them. It doesn’t matter whether they are supportive or not, it’s about relevance. If they are relevant, you should include them.

Having decided what to include, next decide what order to use. You could choose chronological, which should follow the methods, or in order from most to least important in the answering of your research questions, or by research question and/or hypothesis.

You also need to consider how best to present your results: tables, figures, graphs, or text. Try to use a variety of different methods of presentation, and consider your reader: 20 pages of dense tables are hard to understand, as are five pages of graphs, but a single table and well-chosen graph that illustrate your overall findings will make things much clearer.

Make sure that each table and figure has a number and a title. Number tables and figures in separate lists, but consecutively by the order in which you mention them in the text. If you have more than about two or three, it’s often helpful to provide lists of tables and figures alongside the table of contents at the start of your dissertation.

Summarise your results in the text, drawing on the figures and tables to illustrate your points.

The text and figures should be complementary, not repeat the same information. You should refer to every table or figure in the text. Any that you don’t feel the need to refer to can safely be moved to an appendix, or even removed.

Make sure that you including information about the size and direction of any changes, including percentage change if appropriate. Statistical tests should include details of p values or confidence intervals and limits.

While you don’t need to include all your primary evidence in this section, you should as a matter of good practice make it available in an appendix, to which you should refer at the relevant point.

For example:

Details of all the interview participants can be found in Appendix A, with transcripts of each interview in Appendix B.

You will, almost inevitably, find that you need to include some slight discussion of your results during this section. This discussion should evaluate the quality of the results and their reliability, but not stray too far into discussion of how far your results support your hypothesis and/or answer your research questions, as that is for the discussion section.

See our pages: Analysing Qualitative Data and Simple Statistical Analysis for more information on analysing your results.

Discussion Section

This section has four purposes, it should:

  • Interpret and explain your results
  • Answer your research question
  • Justify your approach
  • Critically evaluate your study

The discussion section therefore needs to review your findings in the context of the literature and the existing knowledge about the subject.

You also need to demonstrate that you understand the limitations of your research and the implications of your findings for policy and practice. This section should be written in the present tense.

The Discussion section needs to follow from your results and relate back to your literature review . Make sure that everything you discuss is covered in the results section.

Some universities require a separate section on recommendations for policy and practice and/or for future research, while others allow you to include this in your discussion, so check the guidelines carefully.

Starting the Task

Most people are likely to write this section best by preparing an outline, setting out the broad thrust of the argument, and how your results support it.

You may find techniques like mind mapping are helpful in making a first outline; check out our page: Creative Thinking for some ideas about how to think through your ideas. You should start by referring back to your research questions, discuss your results, then set them into the context of the literature, and then into broader theory.

This is likely to be one of the longest sections of your dissertation, and it’s a good idea to break it down into chunks with sub-headings to help your reader to navigate through the detail.

Fleshing Out the Detail

Once you have your outline in front of you, you can start to map out how your results fit into the outline.

This will help you to see whether your results are over-focused in one area, which is why writing up your research as you go along can be a helpful process. For each theme or area, you should discuss how the results help to answer your research question, and whether the results are consistent with your expectations and the literature.

The Importance of Understanding Differences

If your results are controversial and/or unexpected, you should set them fully in context and explain why you think that you obtained them.

Your explanations may include issues such as a non-representative sample for convenience purposes, a response rate skewed towards those with a particular experience, or your own involvement as a participant for sociological research.

You do not need to be apologetic about these, because you made a choice about them, which you should have justified in the methodology section. However, you do need to evaluate your own results against others’ findings, especially if they are different. A full understanding of the limitations of your research is part of a good discussion section.

At this stage, you may want to revisit your literature review, unless you submitted it as a separate submission earlier, and revise it to draw out those studies which have proven more relevant.

Conclude by summarising the implications of your findings in brief, and explain why they are important for researchers and in practice, and provide some suggestions for further work.

You may also wish to make some recommendations for practice. As before, this may be a separate section, or included in your discussion.

The results and discussion, including conclusion and recommendations, are probably the most substantial sections of your dissertation. Once completed, you can begin to relax slightly: you are on to the last stages of writing!

Continue to: Dissertation: Conclusion and Extras Writing your Methodology

See also: Writing a Literature Review Writing a Research Proposal Academic Referencing What Is the Importance of Using a Plagiarism Checker to Check Your Thesis?

Grad Coach

Dissertation Structure & Layout 101: How to structure your dissertation, thesis or research project.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Reviewed By: David Phair (PhD) | July 2019

So, you’ve got a decent understanding of what a dissertation is , you’ve chosen your topic and hopefully you’ve received approval for your research proposal . Awesome! Now its time to start the actual dissertation or thesis writing journey.

To craft a high-quality document, the very first thing you need to understand is dissertation structure . In this post, we’ll walk you through the generic dissertation structure and layout, step by step. We’ll start with the big picture, and then zoom into each chapter to briefly discuss the core contents. If you’re just starting out on your research journey, you should start with this post, which covers the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis .

Dissertation structure and layout - the basics

*The Caveat *

In this post, we’ll be discussing a traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout, which is generally used for social science research across universities, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. However, some universities may have small variations on this structure (extra chapters, merged chapters, slightly different ordering, etc).

So, always check with your university if they have a prescribed structure or layout that they expect you to work with. If not, it’s safe to assume the structure we’ll discuss here is suitable. And even if they do have a prescribed structure, you’ll still get value from this post as we’ll explain the core contents of each section.  

Overview: S tructuring a dissertation or thesis

  • Acknowledgements page
  • Abstract (or executive summary)
  • Table of contents , list of figures and tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Results
  • Chapter 5: Discussion
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

As I mentioned, some universities will have slight variations on this structure. For example, they want an additional “personal reflection chapter”, or they might prefer the results and discussion chapter to be merged into one. Regardless, the overarching flow will always be the same, as this flow reflects the research process , which we discussed here – i.e.:

  • The introduction chapter presents the core research question and aims .
  • The literature review chapter assesses what the current research says about this question.
  • The methodology, results and discussion chapters go about undertaking new research about this question.
  • The conclusion chapter (attempts to) answer the core research question .

In other words, the dissertation structure and layout reflect the research process of asking a well-defined question(s), investigating, and then answering the question – see below.

A dissertation's structure reflect the research process

To restate that – the structure and layout of a dissertation reflect the flow of the overall research process . This is essential to understand, as each chapter will make a lot more sense if you “get” this concept. If you’re not familiar with the research process, read this post before going further.

Right. Now that we’ve covered the big picture, let’s dive a little deeper into the details of each section and chapter. Oh and by the way, you can also grab our free dissertation/thesis template here to help speed things up.

The title page of your dissertation is the very first impression the marker will get of your work, so it pays to invest some time thinking about your title. But what makes for a good title? A strong title needs to be 3 things:

  • Succinct (not overly lengthy or verbose)
  • Specific (not vague or ambiguous)
  • Representative of the research you’re undertaking (clearly linked to your research questions)

Typically, a good title includes mention of the following:

  • The broader area of the research (i.e. the overarching topic)
  • The specific focus of your research (i.e. your specific context)
  • Indication of research design (e.g. quantitative , qualitative , or  mixed methods ).

For example:

A quantitative investigation [research design] into the antecedents of organisational trust [broader area] in the UK retail forex trading market [specific context/area of focus].

Again, some universities may have specific requirements regarding the format and structure of the title, so it’s worth double-checking expectations with your institution (if there’s no mention in the brief or study material).

Dissertations stacked up

Acknowledgements

This page provides you with an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped you along your research journey. Generally, it’s optional (and won’t count towards your marks), but it is academic best practice to include this.

So, who do you say thanks to? Well, there’s no prescribed requirements, but it’s common to mention the following people:

  • Your dissertation supervisor or committee.
  • Any professors, lecturers or academics that helped you understand the topic or methodologies.
  • Any tutors, mentors or advisors.
  • Your family and friends, especially spouse (for adult learners studying part-time).

There’s no need for lengthy rambling. Just state who you’re thankful to and for what (e.g. thank you to my supervisor, John Doe, for his endless patience and attentiveness) – be sincere. In terms of length, you should keep this to a page or less.

Abstract or executive summary

The dissertation abstract (or executive summary for some degrees) serves to provide the first-time reader (and marker or moderator) with a big-picture view of your research project. It should give them an understanding of the key insights and findings from the research, without them needing to read the rest of the report – in other words, it should be able to stand alone .

For it to stand alone, your abstract should cover the following key points (at a minimum):

  • Your research questions and aims – what key question(s) did your research aim to answer?
  • Your methodology – how did you go about investigating the topic and finding answers to your research question(s)?
  • Your findings – following your own research, what did do you discover?
  • Your conclusions – based on your findings, what conclusions did you draw? What answers did you find to your research question(s)?

So, in much the same way the dissertation structure mimics the research process, your abstract or executive summary should reflect the research process, from the initial stage of asking the original question to the final stage of answering that question.

In practical terms, it’s a good idea to write this section up last , once all your core chapters are complete. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing and rewriting this section multiple times (just wasting time). For a step by step guide on how to write a strong executive summary, check out this post .

Need a helping hand?

dissertation write results

Table of contents

This section is straightforward. You’ll typically present your table of contents (TOC) first, followed by the two lists – figures and tables. I recommend that you use Microsoft Word’s automatic table of contents generator to generate your TOC. If you’re not familiar with this functionality, the video below explains it simply:

If you find that your table of contents is overly lengthy, consider removing one level of depth. Oftentimes, this can be done without detracting from the usefulness of the TOC.

Right, now that the “admin” sections are out of the way, its time to move on to your core chapters. These chapters are the heart of your dissertation and are where you’ll earn the marks. The first chapter is the introduction chapter – as you would expect, this is the time to introduce your research…

It’s important to understand that even though you’ve provided an overview of your research in your abstract, your introduction needs to be written as if the reader has not read that (remember, the abstract is essentially a standalone document). So, your introduction chapter needs to start from the very beginning, and should address the following questions:

  • What will you be investigating (in plain-language, big picture-level)?
  • Why is that worth investigating? How is it important to academia or business? How is it sufficiently original?
  • What are your research aims and research question(s)? Note that the research questions can sometimes be presented at the end of the literature review (next chapter).
  • What is the scope of your study? In other words, what will and won’t you cover ?
  • How will you approach your research? In other words, what methodology will you adopt?
  • How will you structure your dissertation? What are the core chapters and what will you do in each of them?

These are just the bare basic requirements for your intro chapter. Some universities will want additional bells and whistles in the intro chapter, so be sure to carefully read your brief or consult your research supervisor.

If done right, your introduction chapter will set a clear direction for the rest of your dissertation. Specifically, it will make it clear to the reader (and marker) exactly what you’ll be investigating, why that’s important, and how you’ll be going about the investigation. Conversely, if your introduction chapter leaves a first-time reader wondering what exactly you’ll be researching, you’ve still got some work to do.

Now that you’ve set a clear direction with your introduction chapter, the next step is the literature review . In this section, you will analyse the existing research (typically academic journal articles and high-quality industry publications), with a view to understanding the following questions:

  • What does the literature currently say about the topic you’re investigating?
  • Is the literature lacking or well established? Is it divided or in disagreement?
  • How does your research fit into the bigger picture?
  • How does your research contribute something original?
  • How does the methodology of previous studies help you develop your own?

Depending on the nature of your study, you may also present a conceptual framework towards the end of your literature review, which you will then test in your actual research.

Again, some universities will want you to focus on some of these areas more than others, some will have additional or fewer requirements, and so on. Therefore, as always, its important to review your brief and/or discuss with your supervisor, so that you know exactly what’s expected of your literature review chapter.

Dissertation writing

Now that you’ve investigated the current state of knowledge in your literature review chapter and are familiar with the existing key theories, models and frameworks, its time to design your own research. Enter the methodology chapter – the most “science-ey” of the chapters…

In this chapter, you need to address two critical questions:

  • Exactly HOW will you carry out your research (i.e. what is your intended research design)?
  • Exactly WHY have you chosen to do things this way (i.e. how do you justify your design)?

Remember, the dissertation part of your degree is first and foremost about developing and demonstrating research skills . Therefore, the markers want to see that you know which methods to use, can clearly articulate why you’ve chosen then, and know how to deploy them effectively.

Importantly, this chapter requires detail – don’t hold back on the specifics. State exactly what you’ll be doing, with who, when, for how long, etc. Moreover, for every design choice you make, make sure you justify it.

In practice, you will likely end up coming back to this chapter once you’ve undertaken all your data collection and analysis, and revise it based on changes you made during the analysis phase. This is perfectly fine. Its natural for you to add an additional analysis technique, scrap an old one, etc based on where your data lead you. Of course, I’m talking about small changes here – not a fundamental switch from qualitative to quantitative, which will likely send your supervisor in a spin!

You’ve now collected your data and undertaken your analysis, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. In this chapter, you’ll present the raw results of your analysis . For example, in the case of a quant study, you’ll present the demographic data, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics , etc.

Typically, Chapter 4 is simply a presentation and description of the data, not a discussion of the meaning of the data. In other words, it’s descriptive, rather than analytical – the meaning is discussed in Chapter 5. However, some universities will want you to combine chapters 4 and 5, so that you both present and interpret the meaning of the data at the same time. Check with your institution what their preference is.

Now that you’ve presented the data analysis results, its time to interpret and analyse them. In other words, its time to discuss what they mean, especially in relation to your research question(s).

What you discuss here will depend largely on your chosen methodology. For example, if you’ve gone the quantitative route, you might discuss the relationships between variables . If you’ve gone the qualitative route, you might discuss key themes and the meanings thereof. It all depends on what your research design choices were.

Most importantly, you need to discuss your results in relation to your research questions and aims, as well as the existing literature. What do the results tell you about your research questions? Are they aligned with the existing research or at odds? If so, why might this be? Dig deep into your findings and explain what the findings suggest, in plain English.

The final chapter – you’ve made it! Now that you’ve discussed your interpretation of the results, its time to bring it back to the beginning with the conclusion chapter . In other words, its time to (attempt to) answer your original research question s (from way back in chapter 1). Clearly state what your conclusions are in terms of your research questions. This might feel a bit repetitive, as you would have touched on this in the previous chapter, but its important to bring the discussion full circle and explicitly state your answer(s) to the research question(s).

Dissertation and thesis prep

Next, you’ll typically discuss the implications of your findings? In other words, you’ve answered your research questions – but what does this mean for the real world (or even for academia)? What should now be done differently, given the new insight you’ve generated?

Lastly, you should discuss the limitations of your research, as well as what this means for future research in the area. No study is perfect, especially not a Masters-level. Discuss the shortcomings of your research. Perhaps your methodology was limited, perhaps your sample size was small or not representative, etc, etc. Don’t be afraid to critique your work – the markers want to see that you can identify the limitations of your work. This is a strength, not a weakness. Be brutal!

This marks the end of your core chapters – woohoo! From here on out, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

The reference list is straightforward. It should contain a list of all resources cited in your dissertation, in the required format, e.g. APA , Harvard, etc.

It’s essential that you use reference management software for your dissertation. Do NOT try handle your referencing manually – its far too error prone. On a reference list of multiple pages, you’re going to make mistake. To this end, I suggest considering either Mendeley or Zotero. Both are free and provide a very straightforward interface to ensure that your referencing is 100% on point. I’ve included a simple how-to video for the Mendeley software (my personal favourite) below:

Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography, as opposed to a reference list. These two things are not the same . A bibliography is similar to a reference list, except that it also includes resources which informed your thinking but were not directly cited in your dissertation. So, double-check your brief and make sure you use the right one.

The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. This is where you’ll include any supporting data and evidence. Importantly, supporting is the keyword here.

Your appendices should provide additional “nice to know”, depth-adding information, which is not critical to the core analysis. Appendices should not be used as a way to cut down word count (see this post which covers how to reduce word count ). In other words, don’t place content that is critical to the core analysis here, just to save word count. You will not earn marks on any content in the appendices, so don’t try to play the system!

Time to recap…

And there you have it – the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows:

  • Acknowledgments page

Most importantly, the core chapters should reflect the research process (asking, investigating and answering your research question). Moreover, the research question(s) should form the golden thread throughout your dissertation structure. Everything should revolve around the research questions, and as you’ve seen, they should form both the start point (i.e. introduction chapter) and the endpoint (i.e. conclusion chapter).

I hope this post has provided you with clarity about the traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below, or feel free to get in touch with us. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the  Grad Coach Blog .

dissertation write results

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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Download the dissertation and thesis template

35 Comments

ARUN kumar SHARMA

many thanks i found it very useful

Derek Jansen

Glad to hear that, Arun. Good luck writing your dissertation.

Sue

Such clear practical logical advice. I very much needed to read this to keep me focused in stead of fretting.. Perfect now ready to start my research!

hayder

what about scientific fields like computer or engineering thesis what is the difference in the structure? thank you very much

Tim

Thanks so much this helped me a lot!

Ade Adeniyi

Very helpful and accessible. What I like most is how practical the advice is along with helpful tools/ links.

Thanks Ade!

Aswathi

Thank you so much sir.. It was really helpful..

You’re welcome!

Jp Raimundo

Hi! How many words maximum should contain the abstract?

Karmelia Renatee

Thank you so much 😊 Find this at the right moment

You’re most welcome. Good luck with your dissertation.

moha

best ever benefit i got on right time thank you

Krishnan iyer

Many times Clarity and vision of destination of dissertation is what makes the difference between good ,average and great researchers the same way a great automobile driver is fast with clarity of address and Clear weather conditions .

I guess Great researcher = great ideas + knowledge + great and fast data collection and modeling + great writing + high clarity on all these

You have given immense clarity from start to end.

Alwyn Malan

Morning. Where will I write the definitions of what I’m referring to in my report?

Rose

Thank you so much Derek, I was almost lost! Thanks a tonnnn! Have a great day!

yemi Amos

Thanks ! so concise and valuable

Kgomotso Siwelane

This was very helpful. Clear and concise. I know exactly what to do now.

dauda sesay

Thank you for allowing me to go through briefly. I hope to find time to continue.

Patrick Mwathi

Really useful to me. Thanks a thousand times

Adao Bundi

Very interesting! It will definitely set me and many more for success. highly recommended.

SAIKUMAR NALUMASU

Thank you soo much sir, for the opportunity to express my skills

mwepu Ilunga

Usefull, thanks a lot. Really clear

Chrisogonas Odhiambo

That was incredibly useful. Thanks Grad Coach Crew!

Luke

My stress level just dropped at least 15 points after watching this. Just starting my thesis for my grad program and I feel a lot more capable now! Thanks for such a clear and helpful video, Emma and the GradCoach team!

Judy

Do we need to mention the number of words the dissertation contains in the main document?

It depends on your university’s requirements, so it would be best to check with them 🙂

Christine

Such a helpful post to help me get started with structuring my masters dissertation, thank you!

Simon Le

Great video; I appreciate that helpful information

Brhane Kidane

It is so necessary or avital course

johnson

This blog is very informative for my research. Thank you

avc

Doctoral students are required to fill out the National Research Council’s Survey of Earned Doctorates

Emmanuel Manjolo

wow this is an amazing gain in my life

Paul I Thoronka

This is so good

Tesfay haftu

How can i arrange my specific objectives in my dissertation?

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Guide on How to Write the Results Section of a Dissertation

dissertation results writing

The dissertation results chapter can be written once data has been collected and analyzed. In this section, the main findings of the research are reported and their relation to hypotheses or research questions are observed briefly. This chapter is among the most crucial parts of a study. It is here that statistical analysis is accurately performed, findings reported and explained, and assumptions examined. After this analysis, results are presented in a manner that shows non-support or support of the stated hypothesis.

Writing a thesis results section requires statistical expertise to present and defend the findings effectively. What’s more, the core findings should be presented logically without interpretation or bias from the writer. This section should set up the read for evaluation or interpretation of the findings in the discussion chapter .

When writing the thesis results chapter, the author should break down the findings into simple sentences. Essentially, this section should tell readers what the author found in the research.

What to Include in the Dissertation Results Chapter

The results chapter of a dissertation should include the core findings of a study. Essentially, only the findings of a specific study should be included in this section. These include:

  • Data presented in graphs, tables, charts, and figures
  • Data collection recruitment, collection, and/or participants
  • Secondary findings like subgroup analyses and secondary outcomes
  • Contextual data analysis and explanation of the meaning
  • Information that corresponds to research questions

It’s crucial to consider the scope of your research when writing up dissertation results. That’s because a study with many variables or a broader scope can yield different results. In that case, only the most relevant results should be stated. Any data that doesn’t present direct outcomes or findings of a study should not be included in this section.

What are the Five Chapters of a Dissertation?

Traditionally, a dissertation has five major chapters. The results section is one of the most important chapters because it summarizes and presents the collected and analyzed data. The major chapters of this paper are:

  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology

The methodology section can vary depending on whether the author conducted qualitative research or quantitative research or a mixed study. However, the methodology section is also very important because the used methods can influence how the gathered results will be presented. For instance, you can use a questionnaire to gather information. If you don’t know how to analyze questionnaire results dissertation paper might not impress your readers. Therefore, choose your research methods wisely to make writing the findings or results section easier.

How to Write a Dissertation Results Chapter

Every research project is unique. As such, learners should not take a one-size-fits-all approach when writing results for a dissertation. The layout and content of this chapter should be determined by your research area, study design, and the chosen methodologies. Also, consider the target journal guidelines and editors.

But, when writing the results section dissertation authors can follow certain steps, especially for scientific studies. Those steps are as follows.

  • Check the Target Journal’s Instructions or GuidelinesDifferent journals outline the requirements, instructions, or guidelines that authors should follow when writing the findings or results section. A journal can also provide a dissertation results section example to guide authors. It’s crucial that you note the content length limitations, scope, and aims that the journal requires dissertation authors to consider.
  • Consider How Your Results Relate to the Catalogue and Requirements of the JournalConsider your findings or experimental results that are relevant to the research objectives or questions. Include even the findings that don’t support your hypothesis or are unexpected. Also, catalog the findings of your research using subheadings to clarify and streamline your report. That way, you can avoid peripheral and excessive details and make your findings easy to understand.It’s important to decide on the results structure. For instance, you can match the hypothesis or research questions to the results. You can also arrange them the way they are ordered in your Methods section. Alternatively, use the importance hierarchy or chronological order. Most importantly, consider your evidence, audience, and objectives of the study when deciding on the dissertation structure for the results section.
  • Design Tables and Figures for Illustrating Your DataNumber your figures and tables in the order that you use to mention them in main the paper text. Make sure that your figures have self-explanatory information. Also, include the necessary information, such as definitions in the design to make the findings data easy to understand. Essentially, readers should understand your tables and figures without reading the text.Additionally, make your figures and tables the focal point of this section. Ensure that they tell an informative and clear story about the study without repetition. However, always remember that figures should enhance and clarify your text, not replace it.

Checklist for the Results Chapter

Once you have written this section, go through it carefully to ensure the following:

  • All findings that are relevant to the research questions have been included.
  • Each result has been reported objectively and concisely, including relevant inferential statistics and descriptive statistics.
  • You have stated whether the study findings refuted or supported every hypothesis.
  • You have used figures and tables to illustrate your results appropriately.
  • All figures and tables are referred to and labeled correctly in the text.
  • The presented results do not include speculations or subjective interpretation

You may come across many tips on how to write the results section of a dissertation. However, the most important tip is to ensure that the results that you present in this section are relevant to your study questions or hypotheses. If this sounds too complicated, you can ask us “ do my thesis for me “, and we’ll take care of it. Anyways, you have to remember that relevance is the most important thing regardless of whether the results support or do not support the hypotheses. Also, decide on the order to use when presenting the results of your study. This is very important because it makes it easier for your readers to understand them. Including figures, tables, and graphs makes the information in this section easier to understand.

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  • How to Write a Results Section | Tips & Examples

How to Write a Results Section | Tips & Examples

Published on 27 October 2016 by Bas Swaen . Revised on 25 October 2022 by Tegan George.

A results section is where you report the main findings of the data collection and analysis you conducted for your thesis or dissertation . You should report all relevant results concisely and objectively, in a logical order. Don’t include subjective interpretations of why you found these results or what they mean – any evaluation should be saved for the discussion section .

Table of contents

How to write a results section, reporting quantitative research results, reporting qualitative research results, results vs discussion vs conclusion, checklist: research results, frequently asked questions about results sections.

When conducting research, it’s important to report the results of your study prior to discussing your interpretations of it. This gives your reader a clear idea of exactly what you found and keeps the data itself separate from your subjective analysis.

Here are a few best practices:

  • Your results should always be written in the past tense.
  • While the length of this section depends on how much data you collected and analysed, it should be written as concisely as possible.
  • Only include results that are directly relevant to answering your research questions . Avoid speculative or interpretative words like ‘appears’ or ‘implies’.
  • If you have other results you’d like to include, consider adding them to an appendix or footnotes.
  • Always start out with your broadest results first, and then flow into your more granular (but still relevant) ones. Think of it like a shoe shop: first discuss the shoes as a whole, then the trainers, boots, sandals, etc.

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

If you conducted quantitative research , you’ll likely be working with the results of some sort of statistical analysis .

Your results section should report the results of any statistical tests you used to compare groups or assess relationships between variables . It should also state whether or not each hypothesis was supported.

The most logical way to structure quantitative results is to frame them around your research questions or hypotheses. For each question or hypothesis, share:

  • A reminder of the type of analysis you used (e.g., a two-sample t test or simple linear regression ). A more detailed description of your analysis should go in your methodology section.
  • A concise summary of each relevant result, both positive and negative. This can include any relevant descriptive statistics (e.g., means and standard deviations ) as well as inferential statistics (e.g., t scores, degrees of freedom , and p values ). Remember, these numbers are often placed in parentheses.
  • A brief statement of how each result relates to the question, or whether the hypothesis was supported. You can briefly mention any results that didn’t fit with your expectations and assumptions, but save any speculation on their meaning or consequences for your discussion  and conclusion.

A note on tables and figures

In quantitative research, it’s often helpful to include visual elements such as graphs, charts, and tables , but only if they are directly relevant to your results. Give these elements clear, descriptive titles and labels so that your reader can easily understand what is being shown. If you want to include any other visual elements that are more tangential in nature, consider adding a figure and table list .

As a rule of thumb:

  • Tables are used to communicate exact values, giving a concise overview of various results
  • Graphs and charts are used to visualise trends and relationships, giving an at-a-glance illustration of key findings

Don’t forget to also mention any tables and figures you used within the text of your results section. Summarise or elaborate on specific aspects you think your reader should know about rather than merely restating the same numbers already shown.

Example of using figures in the results section

Figure 1: Intention to donate to environmental organisations based on social distance from impact of environmental damage.

In qualitative research , your results might not all be directly related to specific hypotheses. In this case, you can structure your results section around key themes or topics that emerged from your analysis of the data.

For each theme, start with general observations about what the data showed. You can mention:

  • Recurring points of agreement or disagreement
  • Patterns and trends
  • Particularly significant snippets from individual responses

Next, clarify and support these points with direct quotations. Be sure to report any relevant demographic information about participants. Further information (such as full transcripts , if appropriate) can be included in an appendix .

‘I think that in role-playing games, there’s more attention to character design, to world design, because the whole story is important and more attention is paid to certain game elements […] so that perhaps you do need bigger teams of creative experts than in an average shooter or something.’

Responses suggest that video game consumers consider some types of games to have more artistic potential than others.

Your results section should objectively report your findings, presenting only brief observations in relation to each question, hypothesis, or theme.

It should not  speculate about the meaning of the results or attempt to answer your main research question . Detailed interpretation of your results is more suitable for your discussion section , while synthesis of your results into an overall answer to your main research question is best left for your conclusion .

I have completed my data collection and analyzed the results.

I have included all results that are relevant to my research questions.

I have concisely and objectively reported each result, including relevant descriptive statistics and inferential statistics .

I have stated whether each hypothesis was supported or refuted.

I have used tables and figures to illustrate my results where appropriate.

All tables and figures are correctly labelled and referred to in the text.

There is no subjective interpretation or speculation on the meaning of the results.

You've finished writing up your results! Use the other checklists to further improve your thesis.

The results chapter of a thesis or dissertation presents your research results concisely and objectively.

In quantitative research , for each question or hypothesis , state:

  • The type of analysis used
  • Relevant results in the form of descriptive and inferential statistics
  • Whether or not the alternative hypothesis was supported

In qualitative research , for each question or theme, describe:

  • Recurring patterns
  • Significant or representative individual responses
  • Relevant quotations from the data

Don’t interpret or speculate in the results chapter.

Results are usually written in the past tense , because they are describing the outcome of completed actions.

The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.

In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.

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Reporting Research Results in APA Style | Tips & Examples

Published on December 21, 2020 by Pritha Bhandari . Revised on July 9, 2022.

The results section of a quantitative research paper is where you summarize your data and report the findings of any relevant statistical analyses.

The APA manual provides rigorous guidelines for what to report in quantitative research papers in the fields of psychology, education, and other social sciences.

Use these standards to answer your research questions and report your data analyses in a complete and transparent way.

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Table of contents

What goes in your results section, introduce your data, summarize your data, report statistical results, presenting numbers effectively, what doesn’t belong in your results section, frequently asked questions about results in apa.

In APA style, the results section includes preliminary information about the participants and data, descriptive and inferential statistics, and the results of any exploratory analyses.

Include these in your results section:

  • Participant flow and recruitment period. Report the number of participants at every stage of the study, as well as the dates when recruitment took place.
  • Missing data . Identify the proportion of data that wasn’t included in your final analysis and state the reasons.
  • Any adverse events. Make sure to report any unexpected events or side effects (for clinical studies).
  • Descriptive statistics . Summarize the primary and secondary outcomes of the study.
  • Inferential statistics , including confidence intervals and effect sizes. Address the primary and secondary research questions by reporting the detailed results of your main analyses.
  • Results of subgroup or exploratory analyses, if applicable. Place detailed results in supplementary materials.

Write up the results in the past tense because you’re describing the outcomes of a completed research study.

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Before diving into your research findings, first describe the flow of participants at every stage of your study and whether any data were excluded from the final analysis.

Participant flow and recruitment period

It’s necessary to report any attrition, which is the decline in participants at every sequential stage of a study. That’s because an uneven number of participants across groups sometimes threatens internal validity and makes it difficult to compare groups. Be sure to also state all reasons for attrition.

If your study has multiple stages (e.g., pre-test, intervention, and post-test) and groups (e.g., experimental and control groups), a flow chart is the best way to report the number of participants in each group per stage and reasons for attrition.

Also report the dates for when you recruited participants or performed follow-up sessions.

Missing data

Another key issue is the completeness of your dataset. It’s necessary to report both the amount and reasons for data that was missing or excluded.

Data can become unusable due to equipment malfunctions, improper storage, unexpected events, participant ineligibility, and so on. For each case, state the reason why the data were unusable.

Some data points may be removed from the final analysis because they are outliers—but you must be able to justify how you decided what to exclude.

If you applied any techniques for overcoming or compensating for lost data, report those as well.

Adverse events

For clinical studies, report all events with serious consequences or any side effects that occured.

Descriptive statistics summarize your data for the reader. Present descriptive statistics for each primary, secondary, and subgroup analysis.

Don’t provide formulas or citations for commonly used statistics (e.g., standard deviation) – but do provide them for new or rare equations.

Descriptive statistics

The exact descriptive statistics that you report depends on the types of data in your study. Categorical variables can be reported using proportions, while quantitative data can be reported using means and standard deviations . For a large set of numbers, a table is the most effective presentation format.

Include sample sizes (overall and for each group) as well as appropriate measures of central tendency and variability for the outcomes in your results section. For every point estimate , add a clearly labelled measure of variability as well.

Be sure to note how you combined data to come up with variables of interest. For every variable of interest, explain how you operationalized it.

According to APA journal standards, it’s necessary to report all relevant hypothesis tests performed, estimates of effect sizes, and confidence intervals.

When reporting statistical results, you should first address primary research questions before moving onto secondary research questions and any exploratory or subgroup analyses.

Present the results of tests in the order that you performed them—report the outcomes of main tests before post-hoc tests, for example. Don’t leave out any relevant results, even if they don’t support your hypothesis.

Inferential statistics

For each statistical test performed, first restate the hypothesis , then state whether your hypothesis was supported and provide the outcomes that led you to that conclusion.

Report the following for each hypothesis test:

  • the test statistic value,
  • the degrees of freedom ,
  • the exact p- value (unless it is less than 0.001),
  • the magnitude and direction of the effect.

When reporting complex data analyses, such as factor analysis or multivariate analysis, present the models estimated in detail, and state the statistical software used. Make sure to report any violations of statistical assumptions or problems with estimation.

Effect sizes and confidence intervals

For each hypothesis test performed, you should present confidence intervals and estimates of effect sizes .

Confidence intervals are useful for showing the variability around point estimates. They should be included whenever you report population parameter estimates.

Effect sizes indicate how impactful the outcomes of a study are. But since they are estimates, it’s recommended that you also provide confidence intervals of effect sizes.

Subgroup or exploratory analyses

Briefly report the results of any other planned or exploratory analyses you performed. These may include subgroup analyses as well.

Subgroup analyses come with a high chance of false positive results, because performing a large number of comparison or correlation tests increases the chances of finding significant results.

If you find significant results in these analyses, make sure to appropriately report them as exploratory (rather than confirmatory) results to avoid overstating their importance.

While these analyses can be reported in less detail in the main text, you can provide the full analyses in supplementary materials.

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To effectively present numbers, use a mix of text, tables , and figures where appropriate:

  • To present three or fewer numbers, try a sentence ,
  • To present between 4 and 20 numbers, try a table ,
  • To present more than 20 numbers, try a figure .

Since these are general guidelines, use your own judgment and feedback from others for effective presentation of numbers.

Tables and figures should be numbered and have titles, along with relevant notes. Make sure to present data only once throughout the paper and refer to any tables and figures in the text.

Formatting statistics and numbers

It’s important to follow capitalization , italicization, and abbreviation rules when referring to statistics in your paper. There are specific format guidelines for reporting statistics in APA , as well as general rules about writing numbers .

If you are unsure of how to present specific symbols, look up the detailed APA guidelines or other papers in your field.

It’s important to provide a complete picture of your data analyses and outcomes in a concise way. For that reason, raw data and any interpretations of your results are not included in the results section.

It’s rarely appropriate to include raw data in your results section. Instead, you should always save the raw data securely and make them available and accessible to any other researchers who request them.

Making scientific research available to others is a key part of academic integrity and open science.

Interpretation or discussion of results

This belongs in your discussion section. Your results section is where you objectively report all relevant findings and leave them open for interpretation by readers.

While you should state whether the findings of statistical tests lend support to your hypotheses, refrain from forming conclusions to your research questions in the results section.

Explanation of how statistics tests work

For the sake of concise writing, you can safely assume that readers of your paper have professional knowledge of how statistical inferences work.

In an APA results section , you should generally report the following:

  • Participant flow and recruitment period.
  • Missing data and any adverse events.
  • Descriptive statistics about your samples.
  • Inferential statistics , including confidence intervals and effect sizes.
  • Results of any subgroup or exploratory analyses, if applicable.

According to the APA guidelines, you should report enough detail on inferential statistics so that your readers understand your analyses.

  • the test statistic value
  • the degrees of freedom
  • the exact p value (unless it is less than 0.001)
  • the magnitude and direction of the effect

You should also present confidence intervals and estimates of effect sizes where relevant.

In APA style, statistics can be presented in the main text or as tables or figures . To decide how to present numbers, you can follow APA guidelines:

  • To present three or fewer numbers, try a sentence,
  • To present between 4 and 20 numbers, try a table,
  • To present more than 20 numbers, try a figure.

Results are usually written in the past tense , because they are describing the outcome of completed actions.

The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.

In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.

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How to Write the Dissertation or Thesis Results  Section – Guide with Examples

Published by Carmen Troy at February 1st, 2023 , Revised On June 22, 2023

Start writing the results section of your dissertation when your research data has been gathered and analysed. The results section of a dissertation or thesis can be the most engaging and difficult to write.

But don’t worry!  Because in this guide, we have explained about writing and organising the result section of your thesis, presenting primary and secondary data differently, structuring the results of the thesis differently for various subjects, and best practices for tables and figures are all covered in this article.

Results Section

The result section of a thesis discusses in factual and concise language what was seen and measured during the investigation but does not analyse the conclusions. It rationally arranges the findings of your research.

Findings/Results Example

Impact of social media on mental health.

The sample consisted of 500 participants, with an equal number of males and females. The age range was between 18 and 35, with an average age of 25. Most of the participants reported using social media on a daily basis, with Instagram being the most commonly used platform.

The findings indicate a significant negative relationship between social media use and mental health. Participants who reported using social media more frequently also reported higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, those who reported spending more time on social media also reported experiencing more negative social comparisons and feelings of inadequacy. The findings suggest that certain social media platforms are more likely to affect mental health negatively.

Specifically, participants who reported using image-based platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat were likelier to report negative mental health outcomes than those who reported using text-based platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. The findings also reveal interesting gender differences in social media use and mental health.

Females reported using social media more frequently than males and were more likely to report negative mental health outcomes. Additionally, females reported experiencing more negative social comparisons on social media than males.

What you Should Include in the Result Section of your Thesis

  • Add all pertinent findings as text, tables, or figures.
  • Report the outcomes of subject acquisition and data gathering.
  • Present the data from all statistical analyses in qualitative research, regardless of whether the findings are significant.
  • Present the data by classifying or categorising themes and subjects for quantitative research.
  • Present all supporting evidence (e.g., subgroup analyses)
  • Include all findings, even those that contradict your presumptions or your premise.

What you Should not Include in the Result Section of your Thesis

  • Do not include whole transcripts of all interviews if the study incorporates theme analysis of an interview. Instead, include them as appendices.
  • Do not include background information (this should be in the introduction section)
  • Don’t discuss the significance of data that contradicts your theory. This will be addressed in the discussion and conclusion sections later on.
  • Do not restate findings that have already been reported in tables and figures. Focus only on the relevant topics or elaborate on key features.

How to Organise your Result Section

The thesis question should be briefly restated in the first paragraph of the thesis outcomes section. Present the findings next in text, graphics, or tables in an objective manner.

The results of experiments and statistical tests are presented in quantitative research, typically as tables and figures (graphs, diagrams, and pictures), with any important findings highlighted in the text. The thesis question serves as the framework for the findings. In this section, demographic information is typically presented first.

The following data must be supplied for each statistical test used:

  • The type of analysis used
  • A concise summary of each result, including descriptive statistics and inferential statistics and whether the results are significant
  • Any trends or differences identified through comparisons
  • How do the findings relate to your research and if they support or contradict your hypothesis

With the use of qualitative research , you may describe the development of the major themes or subjects that your data analysis revealed. Since it is challenging to portray the results as figures, the data are typically presented as text.

  • Describe each of the themes presented.
  • General patterns or tendencies noticed
  • Statistically significant or typical reactions
  • Quotations from your research disciplines that are pertinent
  • Relevant characteristics of your study subjects

Different Result Sections for Different Areas of Research

Findings must be coherently presented across all disciplines, reflect the research question, and support any tested hypotheses.

The way that results are presented varies greatly between fields. For instance, a thesis looking into customer service might have used interviews to gather data and analyse that data, similar to a thesis looking into how a particular population interprets a particular event. The results will still be presented very differently because they address different thesis-related concerns.

It is possible for a science thesis to have employed experiments to produce data, and this data would then be presented in a different way, most often including statistics. Nevertheless, findings must be coherently presented across all disciplines, reflect the research question, and support any tested hypotheses.

Differences Between the Results Section of the Sciences and Humanities and Social Sciences fields

The results and discussion sections are regarded as different entities in the Sciences realm (qualitative and experimental research), and the results of experiments and statistical tests are provided. It is possible to integrate the results and discussion sections in the HSS domain (qualitative research).

In the humanities and social science field, there are two methods for presenting results:

  • If you wish to draw attention to key findings, first give a summary of the findings before outlining them.
  • If you have several results that are equally important, only offer one and explain it. Present a different outcome next, explain it, and so on. Finish with a summary of the whole thing.

Best Way to Add Figures and Tables

Figures and tables offer a comprehensive overview of the research findings that are far simpler to understand than slogging through dense text describing one result after another. This is why the usage of figures and tables is strongly advised. The information supplied in figures and tables shouldn’t be repeated in the results section text. It should instead highlight the important findings or go into greater detail on certain points.

Other important guide: Writing a Dissertation or Research Proposal

The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) , R software , MATLAB , Microsoft Excel , Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) , GraphPad Prism , and Minitab are a few well-known software tools that can be used for the analysis and presentation of statistical data. Utilising Microsoft Word’s Table tool is the simplest approach to creating tables. Additionally, Microsoft Excel is also available to help you through it.

Also read: List of Abbreviations

Guidelines to Add Tables and Figures

  • Figures and tables need to be understandable without the text.
  • Tables and figures should be numbered consecutively (in separate lists) in the order that they appear in the text.
  • Each table and graph must include a citation.
  • Give each figure and table a clear, meaningful caption.
  • Add a legend to clearly explain the information shown in the figure or table.

Read more articles: Writing a Literature Review – Step-by-Step Guide

Guidelines for Tables

  • The heading abbreviation used in tables must be defined in the footnotes for each table column.
  • Table data must match up with all numbers and language in the main body of the document.

Guidelines for Figures

  • Figures should be labelled so that the reader can quickly grasp what is being displayed.
  • Consistently use the same font style and size for all labels in figure panels.
  • The figure legend should contain definitions for any acronyms used in the figure artwork.

Useful content link: Steps of Writing a Dissertation or Thesis Introduction

Some useful tips:

  • Just present the findings. Don’t speculate or make any remarks or interpret it.
  • The methods section must contain a method for each result that was included. On the other hand, outcomes for each method must be included in the results section.
  • Don’t describe tried-and-true techniques. Cite a source in its place.
  • Be consistent in the measurement units you utilise for your thesis investigation. Use the same unit throughout your argument if you begin with kg. Consistency is also important when capitalising units of measurement.
  • Even if the conclusion is surprising, never modify measurement results.

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The Difference in Results, Discussion and Conclusion

Your thesis has three sections that present the results: the results, the discussion, and the conclusion.

The data are given clearly and unbiasedly in the findings section. There isn’t any inference or interpretation made.

The significance of the results is determined in the discussion section, which also interprets and contextualises them (e.g., by comparing them to other findings in the literature).

The key conclusions and the results are discussed in the conclusion section.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to write the dissertation or thesis results section.

1) Present findings objectively and concisely, using tables or charts.

2) Organize results based on research questions or hypotheses.

3) Explain the significance of each finding and relate them to previous research.

4) Avoid interpretation or speculation, focusing solely on data.

5) Provide clear references to the methodologies used.

You May Also Like

An organised list of the chapters, sections, and subsections that help the reader navigate through your dissertation or thesis is called the table of content.  For the reader to jump to any part or section of their interest, the structure and the sections should clearly be labelled with the correct page numbers. 

Nurses are primarily seen as someone who care for and ensure the best treatment and support for the patients. So it is no surprise that many nursing students struggle to write a flawless nursing dissertation and fail to achieve their desired grade.

An abstract gives readers a quick overview of the main conclusions, research questions, methodology, and findings of your thesis or dissertation.

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Dissertation Results Chapter: Easy Writing Guide

dissertation results

One of the most important parts of your upcoming dissertation is the dissertation results section. We know you probably haven’t started writing the paper yet. In most cases, students are trying to “do their homework” and learn as much as possible about the dissertation writing process. If you want to learn more about how to write a dissertation results chapter, we can assure you that you have arrived at the right place.

We will also talk a bit about the structure of a thesis, explain why the results section is important, and give you the answers to the most frequently asked questions. We will also give you a guide that will help you write a results chapter dissertation writers would be proud of. Read on, it won’t take more than 5 minutes of your time.

Dissertation Chapters: The Structure

Before we get to the dissertation results in particular, we would like to talk a bit about the structure of a thesis or dissertation. There are several more chapters that you are required to write; 5 in total, to be more specific. Most students don’t know much about any of them, so we’ll do our best to explain each chapter in easy to understand terms. Ok, so what are the five chapters of a dissertation? Here is the structure of the main body of a dissertation:

  • Introduction . This is the chapter that presents the background of the problem, presents you thesis, makes the purpose of your research clear, and asks the research questions you want to answer.
  • Literature Review . This is where you define the theoretical or conceptual framework, describe the literature you have reviewed, and make a review of the available research. This is where you show your readers the gap in knowledge your research will fill.
  • Methodology . This is the chapter where you discuss the methods used to collect the data. Explain the design of the research and the research questions. Describe the participants, population, sample, instrumentation, collection of data, and analysis of data.
  • Research Findings . In this chapter, after a brief introduction, present all the findings of your studies and research. You should organize these by research questions or by very specific hypotheses. Do not discuss the findings – yet.
  • Discussion, Suggestions for Future Research, Conclusion . This is the part where you can discuss your findings. Include a summary of findings, discuss each one, suggest future research, and then wrap everything up with a catch conclusion.

What Is the Dissertation Results Chapter?

Now that you know how the dissertation structure looks like, it’s time to talk a bit more about the results chapter. Why is it so important? What should you include in it and what should you leave out? It’s not difficult to write this section, fortunately.

Basically, the thesis results section is the chapter where you present the results of your research . In other words, this is where you will report the results of your studies, including all key experimental results and statistical analysis data. The results should be presented in a logical manner and should be free of any bias or your own personal interpretation.

In fact, the results chapter should not be used to provide your personal opinions about the results of your research in any way. Instead, you can discuss the thesis results in relation to the research questions. Did the research uncover some interesting data? Did the results support your thesis statement? Don’t be afraid to state if some of the results disprove some of your theses. After all, you have no way of knowing what the research findings will prove or disprove prior to conducting the research. Nobody is expecting your results to support your every thesis.

How to Write a Dissertation Results Chapter: Quick Guide

We know you are eager to learn how to write the results section of a dissertation. After all, this is what this article is all about. We think the best and fastest way to make sure you understand the process of writing this section is to provide you with a quick guide. Each step will be explained, of course. Here we go:

  • First, create an outline . This is very important when writing up dissertation results because it enables you to organize the findings in a logical manner. Start with the most important results and work your way down. Don’t forget a small introduction at the start of the chapter.
  • List your findings in each section of the chapter . Remember that each paragraph should discuss one single finding. When writing results section dissertation, you can briefly remind your readers how you’ve gathered that specific data (interviews, surveys, etc.)
  • Evaluate the results in each paragraph . What does the data mean? Is it important? Keep in mind that you should not provide your personal opinions in the Results section. This should be completely objective and to the point. It should focus just on the findings of your research.
  • Read everything out loud and do the necessary edits . You want the information to be concise and free of any unnecessary words or phrases. Keep in mind that scholars usually want to get the facts as quickly as possible.
  • Do some proofreading . This is very important because a few typos can lose you valuable points. If you are not a native English speaker, don’t hesitate to hire a professional academic writer from a writing company. He or she will really make a difference.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: So I need to write just these 5 chapters and I’m done?

A: Unfortunately, no. There are several other sections you need to write:

  • Acknowledgements page (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Abstract (sometimes called “executive summary”)
  • Table of contents
  • List of tables (if necessary)
  • List of figures (if necessary)
  • Footnotes (if necessary)
  • Bibliography (very rarely required)
  • Appendix (if required)

Q: Where can I get a good dissertation results section example from?

A: The best way to get a good example is to get it from an academic writing company and professional dissertation writers for hire .

Q: How long will writing results for dissertation take?

A: You can expect to work on this chapter for 3 to 5 days. You may be able to finish it quicker if you don’t have a lot of important results. However, don’t rush because this is a very important part of your dissertation.

Q: Do I absolutely need to write all the chapters of dissertation?

A: Yes, you must. Not including a chapter will usually get your paper rejected. At a minimum, you will lose important points.

Q: What’s the difference between Results and Discussion?

A: In the Results chapter, you answer the research questions using the data you’ve gathered during the research phase. In the Discussion chapter, you are free to interpret the results as you see fit.

Need Some Help With Any of the Dissertation Chapters?

Don’t know how to analyze questionnaire results dissertation? Need more help with interviews or surveys? The best way to make sure you dissertation is written perfectly and that the data is accurately represented and interpreted is to get thesis writing help at our custom dissertation writing service .

Our experienced dissertation writers (native English speakers) can help you with your academic paper as soon as possible. Our customer support department is online 24/7, so you can get the help you need right away. We can help you write the dissertation results and interpret them. In addition, you can get the most reliable dissertation editing and proofreading services in mere hours. Our experts are ready to help you get maximum points on all dissertation chapters.

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The Plagiarism War Has Begun

Claudine Gay was taken down by a politically motivated investigation. Would the same approach work for any academic?

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Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET on January 4, 2024.

When the conservative authors Christopher Rufo and Christopher Brunet accused Harvard’s Claudine Gay last month of having committed plagiarism in her dissertation, they were clearly motivated by a culture-war opportunity . Gay, the school’s first Black president—and, for some critics , an avatar of the identity-politics bureaucracy on college campuses—had just flubbed testimony before Congress about anti-Semitism on campus. She was already under pressure to resign. Evidence of scholarly misconduct was just the parsley decorating an anti-wokeness blue-plate special.

But soon enough, the integrity of Gay’s research became the central issue in a scandal that appears to have led to her resignation on Tuesday. It turned out that the New York Post had gone to Harvard in October with separate allegations of plagiarism in her published articles; and then, earlier this week, still more examples were produced. “My critics found instances in my academic writings where some material duplicated other scholars’ language, without proper attribution,” Gay wrote in a New York Times op-ed shortly after she’d stepped down. She acknowledged having made “citation errors,” and has in recent weeks requested a handful of formal corrections to published works. Still, she avowed in her op-ed, “I have never misrepresented my research findings, nor have I ever claimed credit for the research of others.”

I haven’t either—at least as far as I know. For the past couple of decades, I’ve been a professor at elite research universities; I’ve published 150 or so scholarly articles and conference papers, and 10 books. Might any of these contain the sort of improprieties that led to a university president’s downfall? I felt sure the answer was no, but the question lingered in my mind and was echoed in the claims of the other academics who have lately rushed to Gay’s defense. Some people argued that her citation practices were not egregious or even that they represent business as usual . “If that’s going to count as plagiarism,” one professor wrote , “all writers are vulnerable to it, and anyone who writes anything controversial can expect to suffer for it.” If all writers were vulnerable, was I?

A version of this question lies at the core of many disagreements over Gay’s departure. Does her now-acknowledged sloppiness really stand out among her peers? What would happen if the same degree of scrutiny were applied to the work of any other scholar? In short: Is the baseline rate of these transgressions in academia high or low?

I had no idea. So, as a simple experiment, I decided to launch a targeted plagiarism investigation of myself to see if similar scrutiny of my dissertation, performed for no good reason, could deliver similar results. Perhaps I, too, am guilty of some carelessness that might be taken—maybe out of context, perhaps in bad faith—as a sign of scholarly malfeasance. I promised my editor ahead of time that I’d come clean about whatever I found, reporting any misdeeds to my university’s research-integrity office and facing applicable consequences.

I’ve had a comfortable, 20-year career in academia; perhaps this would be the end of it.

How to do it? The instances of copying in Claudine Gay’s dissertation that I’ve seen are not the kind that jump right out at you, but they are near-direct quotations of other scholars’ work, presented in the form of paraphrases. Brunet and Rufo appear to have reviewed her roughly 200-page text systematically, and I wanted to hew as close to their methods as possible. When I reached out to ask how they’d performed their analysis, Brunet said “No comment” and Rufo didn’t answer. (Isabel Vincent, the Post reporter who had received separate plagiarism allegations from an anonymous source in October, also declined to offer any details.)

I suspected that the probe had been carried out using one of the several plagiarism-detection software packages that are now available for private use. Jonathan Bailey, a copyright and plagiarism consultant who also runs the plagiarism-news website Plagiarism Today , told me that the analysis of Gay’s dissertation is likely to have been carried out with iThenticate, an online service run by the same company that operates the popular student-oriented plagiarism detector Turnitin. “When dealing with cases of research integrity, the best tool is iThenticate,” he said. Turnitin has cooperative agreements with academic publishers, which allows the software to check a document for text shared with sources that would otherwise be hidden behind paywalls or in library archives. “It’s a pricey tool, but in this space, it’s easily the best one out there,” Bailey added. (Turnitin didn’t respond when I asked whether iThenticate might have been used to investigate Gay’s work.)

Tyler Austin Harper : The real Harvard scandal

On December 29, I downloaded my thesis from the institutional repository at UCLA, where I had earned my doctorate, signed up for an iThenticate account, and arranged for The Atlantic to pay the standard rate of $300 to analyze my dissertation’s 68,038 words.

Then I started to wonder what the hell I was doing. I had fairly strong confidence in the integrity of my work. My dissertation is about how to do cultural criticism of computational works such as software, simulations, and video games—a topic that was novel enough in 2004, when I filed it, that there wasn’t a ton of material for me to copy even if I’d wanted to. But other factors worked against me. Like Gay, who submitted her dissertation in 1997, I wrote mine during a period when computers were commonplace but the scholarly literature wasn’t yet easily searchable. That made it easier for acts of plagiarism, whether intended or not, to go unnoticed. Was it really worth risking my career to overturn those rocks?

On the principle that only a coward hides from the truth, I pressed the “Upload” button on the iThenticate website, waited for the progress bar to fill, then closed my laptop. When I came back for my report the next day, it felt a little like calling up my doctor’s office for the news, possibly bad, about whatever test they had run on my aging, mortal body. I took a breath and clicked to see my result.

It was 74. Was I a plagiarist? This, apparently, was my answer. Plagiarism isn’t normally summed up as a number, so I didn’t know quite how to respond. It seemed plausible that 74 might be a good score. Turns out it wasn’t: The number describes what percentage of a document’s material is similar to text from its database of reference works. My result—my 74—suggested that three-quarters of my dissertation had been copied from other sources. “What the heck?” I said aloud, except I didn’t say “heck . ”

This seemed wrong to me. I was there when I wrote the thing, and I’d have remembered copying seven out of every 10 words from other sources, even 20 years later. Turns out it was wrong. I wrote the dissertation from 2002 to 2004, and the plagiarism software checks a work against whatever it finds—even if the compared text was published later. As Bailey told me, “iThenticate doesn’t detect plagiarism. It detects copied or similar text.” From there, Bailey said, “You have to do a lot of manual work.”

So I started doing the manual work.

The first, most obvious source of my plagiarism score was the fact that I’d subsequently published a book based on my dissertation (a common practice in academia), which itself appeared in many forms throughout the iThenticate database. In other words, the software suggested that I’d plagiarized my dissertation from a future version of myself. But to confirm each of these false-positives, a plagiarism sleuth like myself has to go through the report and click on each allegedly copied source individually.

Once I’d excluded the literal copies of (and commentaries upon) my own work from the analysis, my similarity index dropped to 26 percent. Phew! But iThenticate still listed 288 possible sources of copying. Exonerating myself was going to take a while.

I noticed that a lot of the matches were citations of other books, articles, or materials. iThenticate has a checkbox to “Exclude bibliography,” so I ticked it. Now my score was down to 23. Other matches were literal quotes, which I had quoted with footnotes to their sources. Ticking another checkbox, “Exclude quotes,” brought my similarity index to 9.

Most of the remaining matches were boilerplate chaff. The institutional-archive copy of my dissertation had added a line to the footer of each page, “Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.” iThenticate had matched a dozen or more other dissertations with the same notice, including “Pathogenesis of Bartonella Henselae in the Domestic Cat” and “Hyperdeprivation and Race-Specific Homicide, 1980–1990.” Laboriously excluding those and similar materials left me with 87 potential instances of plagiarism, and a similarity index of 3.

I carefully reviewed the matches that remained. Some were just citations of my work. Others were appropriately footnoted quotations that I’d used, but that iThenticate hadn’t construed as such because they were indented in the text. I also had to click through titles or other proper names that were showing up as copied phrases. Bibliographic citations that the filter hadn’t caught came up too. So did a lot of textual noise—phrases such as to preserve the , which appeared in similar patterns across unrelated materials.

After a couple of hours of work, I still had 60 individual entries to review, each requiring precision mousing to assess and exclude. Determined to see if I’d copied any original work according to the software, I persisted—after all, some of the instances of plagiarism that had sunk Claudine Gay were measured in the tens of words. But not one single match that iThenticate had found amounted to illegitimate copying. In the end, my dissertation’s fraud factor had dropped from 74 percent to zero.

The story I’ve told above has been fact-checked by The Atlantic , although the checking did not replicate the several hours of manual verification. And I realize that on some level I’m just asking you to trust me when I report that the work I analyzed does not include uncited text from other authors. I can only hope the same is true of all my other published research.

Does this imply that Gay’s record is unusual among professors? Not in and of itself. Her field of quantitative social science may have different standards for textual reference. The sciences are more concerned with the originality of research findings than the descriptions of experiments. But it does at least refute the case that this was nothing more than academic jaywalking, or, in its purest straw-man form, that everybody does it .

But even if there’s substance to this Harvard scandal, I’m more afraid of what it may portend. The result of my experiment brought me no relief, only a new anxiety. The very ease of the self-investigation, conducted at a relatively modest cost with the help of powerful technology, hints at how a full-bore plagiarism war could end up playing out. In her New York Times op-ed, Gay admitted that she’d been wrong to copy text without attribution. She also characterized the campaign against her as part of a coordinated attempt to undermine educational institutions and their leaders. On both counts, she was right.

Similar probes are sure to follow. Business Insider has already published allegations that Neri Oxman, a former professor at MIT and the wife of the Harvard donor and vociferous Gay critic Bill Ackman, plagiarized in her dissertation, too. (In a post on X, former Twitter, Oxman acknowledged some improper citations and wrote, “I regret and apologize for these errors.”) And after Gay resigned, Rufo announced that he would contribute $10,000 to a “‘plagiarism hunting’ fund” meant to “expose rot” and “restore truth.” That’s enough dough to test a few dozen dissertations or a few hundred articles with iThenticate, and their authors wouldn’t be able to dismiss the findings solely as the product of “bad faith.” I suppose that’s good news for companies such as Turnitin. (Academics may be getting their just deserts for subjecting students to constant surveillance with the company’s student-focused plagiarism-detection software.)

Read: The first year of AI college ends in ruin

If a plagiarism war does break out, I suspect that universities and their leaders will end up fighting it defensively, with bureaucratic weapons directed inward. “If I were a school looking to appoint a new president,” Bailey told me, “I’d consider doing this kind of analysis before doing so.” To run standard plagiarism checks on top brass may end up seeming reasonable, but with that policy in place, what’s to stop beleaguered and embattled administrators from insisting on the same—best practices!—before any faculty hire or award of tenure? Academic publishers could demand iThenticate-style checks on all submissions. Legislatures could demand plagiarism-assessment reports from state colleges, with a special focus on fields that are purportedly “woke.”

Plagiarism assessment, with automated accusations and manual rebuttals, could become a way of life, a necessary evil brought about by, yes, the bad actors who seek to undermine educational institutions and their leaders. That isn’t likely to improve academic work, but it would certainly make higher education worse.

This story previously stated that Neri Oxman is a professor at MIT. Business Insider reports that, according to the university, Oxman left in 2021.

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  • Knowledge Base
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  • How to Write a Results Section | Tips & Examples

How to Write a Results Section | Tips & Examples

Published on August 30, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.

A results section is where you report the main findings of the data collection and analysis you conducted for your thesis or dissertation . You should report all relevant results concisely and objectively, in a logical order. Don’t include subjective interpretations of why you found these results or what they mean—any evaluation should be saved for the discussion section .

Table of contents

How to write a results section, reporting quantitative research results, reporting qualitative research results, results vs. discussion vs. conclusion, checklist: research results, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about results sections.

When conducting research, it’s important to report the results of your study prior to discussing your interpretations of it. This gives your reader a clear idea of exactly what you found and keeps the data itself separate from your subjective analysis.

Here are a few best practices:

  • Your results should always be written in the past tense.
  • While the length of this section depends on how much data you collected and analyzed, it should be written as concisely as possible.
  • Only include results that are directly relevant to answering your research questions . Avoid speculative or interpretative words like “appears” or “implies.”
  • If you have other results you’d like to include, consider adding them to an appendix or footnotes.
  • Always start out with your broadest results first, and then flow into your more granular (but still relevant) ones. Think of it like a shoe store: first discuss the shoes as a whole, then the sneakers, boots, sandals, etc.

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If you conducted quantitative research , you’ll likely be working with the results of some sort of statistical analysis .

Your results section should report the results of any statistical tests you used to compare groups or assess relationships between variables . It should also state whether or not each hypothesis was supported.

The most logical way to structure quantitative results is to frame them around your research questions or hypotheses. For each question or hypothesis, share:

  • A reminder of the type of analysis you used (e.g., a two-sample t test or simple linear regression ). A more detailed description of your analysis should go in your methodology section.
  • A concise summary of each relevant result, both positive and negative. This can include any relevant descriptive statistics (e.g., means and standard deviations ) as well as inferential statistics (e.g., t scores, degrees of freedom , and p values ). Remember, these numbers are often placed in parentheses.
  • A brief statement of how each result relates to the question, or whether the hypothesis was supported. You can briefly mention any results that didn’t fit with your expectations and assumptions, but save any speculation on their meaning or consequences for your discussion  and conclusion.

A note on tables and figures

In quantitative research, it’s often helpful to include visual elements such as graphs, charts, and tables , but only if they are directly relevant to your results. Give these elements clear, descriptive titles and labels so that your reader can easily understand what is being shown. If you want to include any other visual elements that are more tangential in nature, consider adding a figure and table list .

As a rule of thumb:

  • Tables are used to communicate exact values, giving a concise overview of various results
  • Graphs and charts are used to visualize trends and relationships, giving an at-a-glance illustration of key findings

Don’t forget to also mention any tables and figures you used within the text of your results section. Summarize or elaborate on specific aspects you think your reader should know about rather than merely restating the same numbers already shown.

A two-sample t test was used to test the hypothesis that higher social distance from environmental problems would reduce the intent to donate to environmental organizations, with donation intention (recorded as a score from 1 to 10) as the outcome variable and social distance (categorized as either a low or high level of social distance) as the predictor variable.Social distance was found to be positively correlated with donation intention, t (98) = 12.19, p < .001, with the donation intention of the high social distance group 0.28 points higher, on average, than the low social distance group (see figure 1). This contradicts the initial hypothesis that social distance would decrease donation intention, and in fact suggests a small effect in the opposite direction.

Example of using figures in the results section

Figure 1: Intention to donate to environmental organizations based on social distance from impact of environmental damage.

In qualitative research , your results might not all be directly related to specific hypotheses. In this case, you can structure your results section around key themes or topics that emerged from your analysis of the data.

For each theme, start with general observations about what the data showed. You can mention:

  • Recurring points of agreement or disagreement
  • Patterns and trends
  • Particularly significant snippets from individual responses

Next, clarify and support these points with direct quotations. Be sure to report any relevant demographic information about participants. Further information (such as full transcripts , if appropriate) can be included in an appendix .

When asked about video games as a form of art, the respondents tended to believe that video games themselves are not an art form, but agreed that creativity is involved in their production. The criteria used to identify artistic video games included design, story, music, and creative teams.One respondent (male, 24) noted a difference in creativity between popular video game genres:

“I think that in role-playing games, there’s more attention to character design, to world design, because the whole story is important and more attention is paid to certain game elements […] so that perhaps you do need bigger teams of creative experts than in an average shooter or something.”

Responses suggest that video game consumers consider some types of games to have more artistic potential than others.

Your results section should objectively report your findings, presenting only brief observations in relation to each question, hypothesis, or theme.

It should not  speculate about the meaning of the results or attempt to answer your main research question . Detailed interpretation of your results is more suitable for your discussion section , while synthesis of your results into an overall answer to your main research question is best left for your conclusion .

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

I have completed my data collection and analyzed the results.

I have included all results that are relevant to my research questions.

I have concisely and objectively reported each result, including relevant descriptive statistics and inferential statistics .

I have stated whether each hypothesis was supported or refuted.

I have used tables and figures to illustrate my results where appropriate.

All tables and figures are correctly labelled and referred to in the text.

There is no subjective interpretation or speculation on the meaning of the results.

You've finished writing up your results! Use the other checklists to further improve your thesis.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

Research bias

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  • Self-serving bias
  • Availability heuristic
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  • Supervised vs. unsupervised learning

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The results chapter of a thesis or dissertation presents your research results concisely and objectively.

In quantitative research , for each question or hypothesis , state:

  • The type of analysis used
  • Relevant results in the form of descriptive and inferential statistics
  • Whether or not the alternative hypothesis was supported

In qualitative research , for each question or theme, describe:

  • Recurring patterns
  • Significant or representative individual responses
  • Relevant quotations from the data

Don’t interpret or speculate in the results chapter.

Results are usually written in the past tense , because they are describing the outcome of completed actions.

The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.

In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.

Cite this Scribbr article

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George, T. (2023, July 18). How to Write a Results Section | Tips & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved January 10, 2024, from https://qa.scribbr.com/dissertation/results/

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5 Effective Essay Writing Services for Proven Results in 2024

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These websites offer skilled writers, affordable prices, easy ordering processes, user-friendly interfaces, and helpful customer support.

5 Effective Essay Writing Services for Proven Results in 2024

On the verge of finding the top 5 most effective essay writing websites for proven results in 2024, the list was curated through authentic websites like Trustpilot and SiteJabber. While going through all essay writers' reviews 2023, it was noticed that some legit essay writers' websites are giving tough competition to other companies.

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  • Best Essay Writing Services UK in 2024

1. The Academic Papers UK

The Academic Papers UK

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Yes, legitimate essay writing services in UK provide best essay help to students worldwide. The 5 best cheap essay writing services we mentioned in this article are registered in the UK and can help students writing their essays.

What Is The Best Essay Writing Service UK?

The Academic Papers UK is a cheap and reliable essay writing service online that has professional essay writers on board who craft excellent essays for the students. It has a stellar online rating and is known in London for quality essay help. You shall never be disappointed by the work of its essay writers.

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The best platform to get the reviews of essay writing services is Trustpilot with millions of reviews by genuine clients. The Academic Papers UK is the top ranked essay writing service per this platform as it provides exceptional essay help to clients across the globe and has the best reviews.

Disclaimer: This article is a paid publication and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of Hindustan Times. Hindustan Times does not endorse/subscribe to the content(s) of the article/advertisement and/or view(s) expressed herein. Hindustan Times shall not in any manner, be responsible and/or liable in any manner whatsoever for all that is stated in the article and/or also with regard to the view(s), opinion(s), announcement(s), declaration(s), affirmation(s) etc., stated/featured in the same.

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  1. Follow Our Guide on How to Write Result Section of Dissertation

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  6. How to Write a Dissertation Findings / Results

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Results Section

    Revised on July 18, 2023. A results section is where you report the main findings of the data collection and analysis you conducted for your thesis or dissertation. You should report all relevant results concisely and objectively, in a logical order.

  2. Dissertation Results/Findings Chapter (Quantitative)

    What exactly is the results chapter? The results chapter (also referred to as the findings or analysis chapter) is one of the most important chapters of your dissertation or thesis because it shows the reader what you've found in terms of the quantitative data you've collected.

  3. How to Write the Dissertation Findings or Results

    TIPS Always report the findings of your research in the past tense. The dissertation findings chapter varies from one project to another, depending on the data collected and analyzed. Avoid reporting results that are not relevant to your research questions or research hypothesis. Does your Dissertation Have the Following? Great Research/Sources

  4. Dissertation Results & Findings Chapter (Qualitative)

    The results chapter in a dissertation or thesis (or any formal academic research piece) is where you objectively and neutrally present the findings of your qualitative analysis (or analyses if you used multiple qualitative analysis methods ).

  5. How to Write a Results Section: Definition, Tips & Examples

    The results section of a dissertation is a data statement from your research. Here you should present the main findings of your study to your readers. This section aims to show information objectively, systematically, concisely. It is allowed using text supplemented with illustrations.

  6. What goes in the results section of a dissertation?

    The results chapter of a thesis or dissertation presents your research results concisely and objectively. In quantitative research, for each question or hypothesis, state: The type of analysis used Relevant results in the form of descriptive and inferential statistics Whether or not the alternative hypothesis was supported

  7. What Is a Dissertation?

    What Is a Dissertation? | Guide, Examples, & Template A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program. Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you've ever completed.

  8. How to Write an Impressive Thesis Results Section

    This article explains how to write and organize the thesis results section, the differences in reporting qualitative and quantitative data, the differences in the thesis results section across different fields, and the best practices for tables and figures. What is the thesis results section?

  9. Dissertation Writing: Results and Discussion

    You should write your results section in the past tense: you are describing what you have done in the past. Warning! Every result included MUST have a method set out in the methods section. Check back to make sure that you have included all the relevant methods.

  10. Dissertation Structure & Layout 101 (+ Examples)

    Time to recap…. And there you have it - the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows: Title page. Acknowledgments page. Abstract (or executive summary) Table of contents, list of figures and tables.

  11. Guide on How to Write the Results Section of a Dissertation

    These include: Data presented in graphs, tables, charts, and figures Data collection recruitment, collection, and/or participants Secondary findings like subgroup analyses and secondary outcomes Contextual data analysis and explanation of the meaning Information that corresponds to research questions

  12. How to Write a Results Section

    Revised on 25 October 2022 by Tegan George. A results section is where you report the main findings of the data collection and analysis you conducted for your thesis or dissertation. You should report all relevant results concisely and objectively, in a logical order.

  13. Dissertation Research Results Chapter

    4. Examine the data shape and composite measures. The fourth step in writing the results chapter of a dissertation is to examine the data shape and composite measures. This step is important because it helps to determine the appropriateness of the data for the research question. In addition, this step helps to ensure that the data are ...

  14. Writing up the results section of your dissertation

    Writing up the results section of your dissertation (Last updated: 12 May 2021) Since 2006, Oxbridge Essays has been the UK's leading paid essay-writing and dissertation service We have helped 10,000s of undergraduate, Masters and PhD students to maximise their grades in essays, dissertations, model-exam answers, applications and other materials.

  15. How to Write the Results Section of a Research Paper

    Figures can enhance and clarify the text. They should not be used as a substitute for written content. Remember to use tables and figures as focal points to enhance your research findings and ensure they add value to your paper. Step 4. Outlining the results section based on the research findings.

  16. Dissertation Results Section Writing Guide

    Writing The Results Section. To make the dissertation easier to interpret, it is best to have a results chapter and then a discussion chapter separately. By separating these two sections, you are then able to present the findings and then interpret them and review them against any secondary data found in the literature review or in the ...

  17. Reporting Research Results in APA Style

    Revised on July 9, 2022. The results section of a quantitative research paper is where you summarize your data and report the findings of any relevant statistical analyses. The APA manual provides rigorous guidelines for what to report in quantitative research papers in the fields of psychology, education, and other social sciences.

  18. The Results Section of a Dissertation

    Conventionally, the results section is the fourth chapter of your dissertation, written after you present your method of study. How exactly you present your findings differs from study to study, depending on the topic and discipline your research is situated in, the methods you used, and what kind of data you are presenting. Here's what you ...

  19. How to Write the Dissertation Results Section

    Start writing the results section of your dissertation when your research data has been gathered and analysed. The results section of a dissertation or thesis can be the most engaging and difficult to write. But don't worry!

  20. Dissertation

    Write the results: The results section should present the findings of your research in a clear and organized manner. Use charts, graphs, and tables to help illustrate your data. ... Some professions, such as academia and research, may require individuals to have a doctoral degree. Writing a dissertation can help you advance your career by ...

  21. Dissertation Results

    Methodology. This is the chapter where you discuss the methods used to collect the data. Explain the design of the research and the research questions. Describe the participants, population, sample, instrumentation, collection of data, and analysis of data. Research Findings.

  22. General recommendations on how to write a dissertation results section

    When writing results chapter of dissertation an author should focus on quantitative analyses rather than qualitative. It means that students should avoid specifying personal opinions and points of view in a dissertation results section. The findings part is followed by the conclusions section where students have to express their own thoughts on ...

  23. The Plagiarism War Has Begun

    My dissertation is about how to do cultural criticism of computational works such as software, simulations, and video games—a topic that was novel enough in 2004, when I filed it, that there ...

  24. [QA] How to Write a Results Section

    How to Write a Results Section | Tips & Examples. Published on August 30, 2022 by Tegan George. Revised on July 18, 2023. A results section is where you report the main findings of the data collection and analysis you conducted for your thesis or dissertation. You should report all relevant results concisely and objectively, in a logical order.

  25. 5 Effective Essay Writing Services for Proven Results in 2024

    The Academic Papers UK - Undoubtedly the Best essay writing service in the UK for university students- 9.9/10; Affordable Dissertation UK -The best college paper writing service- 9.7/10 ...