The Results chapter is the core of any dissertation showing what a student has achieved. Discussion is, in turn, evidence that the author is able to be objective and analytical. Both chapters are often given little attention because of a lack of knowledge. This post will explain the main points to know about them.
Even though these sections go as one sometimes, it is crucial to know what content suits each of them. For instance, in Results, you can’t use the sources from Introduction, Literature Review or Methodology. On the other hand, Discussion shouldn’t contain any new sources, only those from Literature Review and Results.
Why so? Let’s step back to the purpose of Literature Review. Its aim is to collect useful information related to the topic and identify the research gap – what is not known. When there is no research gap, the study can’t contribute to the research and becomes useless.
If the core of your study contains mainly the sources you used previously, it may mean only two things. Either there is no gap in knowledge or you couldn’t find the sources to answer the research questions. In both cases, the study becomes irrelevant.
The purpose of Discussion is to later get back to the ideas from Literature Review. Remember that in dissertations, all chapters are interconnected. If the review presented at least one theory, it is a must to take your results and comment on whether they support the theory or disprove it.
Even if you didn’t use theories, the outcomes of your research should be compared to the previous studies. Comment not only on similarities. Professors do not like Discussion with few analytical ideas. The latter comes directly from the differences you notice between your outcomes and someone else’s.
What Sources to Choose for Results?
The chapter requires specific sources. It should be taken into account as early as possible, but not after Methodology is written. When Methodology promises to use the sources the student hasn’t seen, you risk making a lot of changes.
First, read the literature, find the gap, and what sources can bridge it. In case you’re busy with the preliminary research, you may order it or any other chapter from Essay Service to save your time.
If Literature Review or Introduction may contain any kind of quality sources, Results must be built upon primary ones. If the research is primary, they can be:
- responses from the people you surveyed;
- experiments conducted by you in a lab;
- action research, intervention;
- photos taken by you (usually, suitable for arts or areas connected to it.)
When you can’t conduct primary research, secondary research will require one or several types of primary sources in Results:
- articles whose authors conducted trials, experiments, or interviews, used questionnaires;
- official reports (e.g. Samsung yearly reports to compare the business dynamics;)
- already published codebooks based on surveys (often, national ones;)
- pieces of media (ads, speeches, songs, videos, TV broadcast, press, forums, social media posts;)
- primary books (e.g. work of a prominent author introducing a theory for the first time.)
What to avoid:
- literature review articles;
- systematic literature review and meta-analysis/meta-synthesis articles;
- any other sources analyzing something that has been done by another researcher.
The sources above are secondary and, even when allowed by the supervisor, can comprise not more than 20% of the literature from Results.
Not to confuse the terms, remember that your dissertation will be the primary source if you choose something from the first list. Also, somebody else will be able to include your work in their Results chapter. Meanwhile, the options from the second list will still help you to contribute to research but make your study secondary.
When starting Results, don’t forget about a short introduction. It should explain the source(s) and type of information. Remind the reader about what data analysis you used. Be careful, some students tend to repeat the whole Methodology or aim/objectives/questions of the study. The latter is sometimes requested in guidelines, but not that often.
After that, you should follow what you wrote in Methodology. If you chose statistical analysis, the information could be grouped according to the tests. Thematic analysis will require thematic structure.
If the study is mixed and you have either different types of data or both secondary and primary research, be careful. Students tend to mix all information without a clear structure in that case. Choose what makes sense to you, use logic.
Sometimes, it is possible to answer each research question using both primary and secondary research or mixed data. In that case, structure Results according to the questions (or hypotheses.)
If there are questions for the qualitative part and hypotheses/other questions for quantitative, split the chapter according to the type of data. Do not get distracted by the demographics too much. When the major part of the section consists of tables with the age of participants or their gender, a low mark is guaranteed.
In case there is only primary research, it means that Results won’t contain any external sources. Then, there is no need for standard citations, but do not forget to cite visual items created by you: “(Source: Author, 2021).”
The structure of Discussion may vary as well. Some supervisors advise duplicating the themes from Literature Review for a clear comparison. The technique is simple and minimizes the risk that you will deviate from what you are writing about.
Sometimes, Discussion is structured according to objectives or research questions/hypotheses as well. Mind that it’s not recommendable to structure all chapters identically. You can’t conduct thematic analysis both in Results and Discussion (unless they are one chapter.)
Also, do not put figures in both chapters or refer to those in Discussion. Place all percentages and graphs in Results. In Discussion, make rather general references.
For instance, you may look at a percentage from Results and at another one from Literature Review. Then compare them in your head and write that your study noticed a higher prevalence than another author did.
Don’t forget that the chapters demand critical analysis. If you honestly discuss what drawbacks and advantages your study has, the supervisor will appreciate it. Good luck!