Results of your thesis

How to formulate your results correctly

After you have conducted extensive research, the moment has arrived: you know the results. This brings you one step closer to answering the research question. You will include the results for your thesis in the results chapter. What should and should not be in this chapter? How do you describe the results correctly?

What are the results of your thesis?

In the results chapter, you discuss the main research results. You also use these results to answer the subquestions, and accept or reject any hypotheses

How you should describe the results in your thesis differs from one research method to another. For instance, it is different for literature research compared to if you are conducting an experiment. 

Whatever kind of research you have done, it is always important that the results chapter has a clear structure. You can provide that structure by devoting separate paragraphs to:

  • the various sub-questions and/or hypotheses;

  • various aspects of your thesis topic;

  • the different research methods you used (in a mixed methods design). 

Furthermore, make sure you only discuss the results that are important for answering the sub-questions and thus ultimately the main question. Have you found striking results that are not directly related to your research question? Then you may want to give them a place in your discussion, for instance where you make suggestions for follow-up research.

How will you process the research results?

In quantitative research, you often have to use specific formulations to present your results. For example, there are set formulations for certain statistical tests. Use a statistics manual to see what the standard formulation looks like for the statistical test you used.

In quantitative research, it can get a bit cluttered if you discuss all the results in the running text. That is why it is smart to highlight the most important results in graphs or tables. You can put these in a relevant place in the text, or include them in the appendices and refer to them in the running text.

Have you done qualitative research in the form of interviews, case studies or surveys? See if you can highlight certain quotes to illustrate the results.

Furthermore, do not forget to formulate partial conclusions in your thesis based on the results. You do this in the results chapter, often in a concluding subsection under the subtopic or sub-question concerned. Note: you keep the answer to the overarching main question until the conclusion. 

Results section vs conclusion

There is an important difference between what you discuss in the results section of your thesis and what you keep until the conclusion. In the results chapter, you discuss the actual results. You name specifically what you found in your research. Only in the sub-conclusions, at the end of each sub-paragraph, do you look a little more at the bigger picture. You then briefly answer the sub-questions, often in about one to three sentences. You only interpret these answers in the conclusion. 

In the conclusion, you discuss all the results found and combine them into one final conclusion. In that chapter, you use your partial conclusions to answer the main question. Then, in the discussion, you examine how the conclusion relates to the literature from the theoretical framework.

Example results chapter in thesis

Looking for an example of a results chapter in a thesis? For inspiration, look at thesis examples from your field of study written by people who have used a similar research method. Furthermore, for statistical tests, there are often good examples of results processing in your statistics manual.

Want to be sure your thesis is well written?

Do you sometimes doubt the strength or consistency of your academic writing style? Are you also not quite sure whether you have understood the distinction between the results, conclusion and discussion correctly? The editors of AthenaCheck will help you. They can check your entire thesis for you, for language, structure and common thread.