How to write the findings of a research paper?

Findings of a research paper are crucial as they present the data collected during the study in a clear, concise and systematic manner without interpretation. This section provides the empirical evidence needed to support the study’s conclusions. Primarily, the findings section aims to display the data systematically and logically, allowing readers to understand the basis of the study’s conclusions. Additionally, it shows how the results align with the research questions or hypotheses, indicating whether they were supported or refuted by the data. It ensures transparency and reproducibility by providing enough detail for other researchers to replicate the study if needed, thereby verifying the results.

Read this blog post to understand how to effectively write the findings section of a research paper and learn about the purpose and structure of this critical section, ensuring that your data is presented clearly and systematically. Moreover, the post includes practical examples of both qualitative and quantitative results sections, illustrating how to present data effectively. It also offers insights into various editing services and how they can refine your findings section, making your paper more professional and publishable.

What is the purpose of a findings section?

The purpose of the findings section in a research article is to present the findings of the study in a clear, concise and systematic manner without interpretation. This section is critical as it provides the empirical evidence needed to support the study’s conclusions. Primarily, the findings section aims to display the data collected during the research systematically and logically, providing detailed information that allows readers to understand the basis of the study’s conclusions.

Additionally, the findings section shows how the results align with the research questions or hypotheses posed in the study, indicating whether the hypotheses were supported or refuted by the data. It also ensures transparency and reproducibility by providing enough detail about the findings so that other researchers can replicate the study if needed, thereby verifying the results. This section lays the groundwork for the discussion section, where the implications, interpretations and significance of the results are explored, and it separates the factual data presentation from the interpretation, which follows in subsequent sections.

Structure of findings section of a research paper

The findings section of academic writing, such as in research articles, presents the results of the research conducted. It is a critical part of the paper where the data collected and analysed is presented in a clear and organised manner. Here are the typical components of the findings section:

Introduction to findings

Begin by briefly restating the research question or hypothesis. Provide an overview of the structure of the findings section to guide the reader through the upcoming data presentation.

Presentation of data

Include both quantitative and qualitative data as applicable. For quantitative data, use numerical data presented in tables, charts, graphs and statistical outputs, explaining the significance of the data shown. For qualitative data, include themes, categories and direct quotes from participants, explaining how these themes were derived from the data.

Description of key findings

Highlight the most important results and relate these findings directly to the research questions or hypotheses. Use subheadings to organise the findings logically, ensuring that each key result is easy to locate and understand.

Detailed analysis

Discuss the patterns, relationships and trends observed in the data. Explain any unexpected findings or anomalies and provide context for the findings by comparing them to previous studies or theoretical frameworks.

An example of the findings section in a research paper

Use of visual aids

Integrate tables, charts, graphs and figures to visually represent the data, making complex information more accessible and understandable. Ensure that each visual aid is clearly labelled and referenced in the text, with explanatory captions.

Statistical analysis (if applicable)

Report the results of statistical tests such as t-tests, ANOVA or regression analysis. Include p-values, confidence intervals, effect sizes and other relevant statistical measures to support the robustness of the findings.

Summary of findings

Provide a concise summary of the key points from the data presentation. Highlight how these findings address the research question or hypothesis and their importance in the context of the study.

Contextualisation

Compare and contrast the findings with existing literature. Discuss how the findings contribute to the field of study, emphasising their novelty, significance or how they support or challenge existing theories.

Tables and figures

Ensure that each table and figure is self-explanatory, with clear labels and detailed captions. Reference them appropriately in the text to enhance the clarity and comprehension of the results.

Ethical considerations

Mention any ethical considerations related to the findings, such as confidentiality and consent, ensuring that the presentation of results adheres to ethical guidelines and standards.

Briefly discuss any limitations in the data or analysis that may impact the interpretation of the findings. Acknowledge these limitations to provide a balanced and honest account of the research outcomes.

How does a findings section differ from a discussion section?

The findings section and the discussion section serve distinct purposes in a research paper, each playing a critical role in presenting and interpreting the research findings.

Findings section presents objectively the data collected during the study without any interpretation. This section provides the empirical evidence needed to support the study’s conclusions. It includes factual data such as numerical results, statistical analyses, and direct observations, often organised using tables, graphs and figures to enhance clarity. The findings section is structured around presenting the data logically, typically organised by research questions or hypotheses. The language used is objective and straightforward, focusing solely on reporting the data accurately.

In contrast, the discussion section aims to interpret the findings, explain their implications and relate them to existing knowledge. This section contextualises the results within the broader field of study, exploring their significance and how they contribute to or challenge current understanding. It begins with a summary of the key findings and then delves into the meaning and implications of the results. The discussion section compares the findings with previous studies, discusses unexpected results and explains the broader significance. The language is more interpretative and analytical, as it involves the author’s insights and conclusions drawn from the data.

While the findings section relies heavily on visual aids to present data, the discussion section may refer to these aids but focuses on interpreting and discussing their meaning. The findings section provides the factual basis for the study, while the discussion section explores the significance of these facts, integrates them into the existing body of knowledge and suggests directions for future research. This separation ensures clarity and allows readers to understand the data before considering its broader implications and interpretations.

Findings vs discussion summary

FindingsDiscussion
PurposePresent data objectively, without interpretation and provide empirical evidence.Interpret findings, explain implications and relate to existing knowledge.
ContentFactual data with tables, graphs, and figures. Reports numerical results and analyses.Interpretation, significance, implications. Relates to research questions, context and future research.
StructureLogical data presentation, organised by research questions or hypotheses, with subheadings.Interpretation and analysis, starting with key findings, then meaning and implications.
Language and toneObjective, straightforward, neutral.Interpretative, analytical, more subjective.
Visual aidsRelies on tables, graphs, figures for clarity.Refers to visual aids but focuses on meaning.
ContextualisationPresents data without broader context.Places findings in the context of existing research.
The summary of differences between findings and discussion sections in a research paper.

Example of qualitative findings section

This section presents findings from a qualitative study on high school teachers’ experiences during the transition to online teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with twenty teachers, analysed using thematic analysis. Key themes include technological challenges and adaptations, changes in teaching practices and impacts on student engagement and learning.

Teachers initially faced significant technological difficulties, such as learning new software and ensuring student access to technology. One teacher remarked, ‘The first few weeks were a nightmare with tech issues.’ Over time, they adapted through professional development and peer support, as another noted, ‘We formed a support group to exchange tips, which was very helpful.’

The shift required substantial changes in teaching practices. Teachers modified lesson plans to include more interactive elements, with one stating, ‘I used more videos and online quizzes to keep students engaged.’ Increased reliance on asynchronous methods also became necessary.

The transition had mixed effects on student engagement. Some students thrived, while others struggled without face-to-face interaction. A teacher observed, ‘Some students became more active online, but others disappeared.’ Performance gaps widened, especially among students with poor internet access.

Visual aids, including a thematic map and a summary table of theme frequencies, support the findings. For instance, technological challenges were mentioned in 85% of interviews, highlighting their prevalence.

In summary, the findings reveal significant technological challenges, necessary adaptations in teaching practices and varied impacts on student engagement. These insights emphasise teachers’ resilience and adaptability, aligning with existing literature on online teaching challenges and the importance of professional development. Ethical considerations were maintained through informed consent and confidentiality, with pseudonyms protecting participants’ identities. The study’s limitations include its sample size and specific context, suggesting that future research should explore these themes in broader settings to enhance generalisability.

Example of quantitative findings section

This section presents findings from a quantitative study on the impact of online teaching on student performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from 200 high school students, including standardised test scores and survey responses, were analysed.

The average test score dropped significantly from 78.5 (SD = 10.2) pre-pandemic to 72.3 (SD = 12.7) during the pandemic, t(199) = 6.89, p < 0.001. Mathematics showed the most substantial decrease, from 80.4 to 70.2, t(199) = 8.47, p < 0.001.

Multiple regression analysis revealed that access to reliable internet (β = 0.35, p < 0.001) and parental support (β = 0.29, p < 0.01) significantly predicted test scores, while the number of devices per household did not (β = 0.10, p = 0.15). The model was significant, F(3, 196) = 25.47, p < 0.001, explaining 28% of the variance in scores (R^2 = 0.28).

Survey responses indicated mixed perceptions of online learning: 45% enjoyed the flexibility, 60% struggled with motivation and 55% cited technical issues as major barriers. There was a significant correlation between satisfaction with online learning and self-reported performance (r = 0.42, p < 0.001).

In summary, student performance declined significantly with the shift to online learning, especially in mathematics. Key factors influencing performance included reliable internet access and parental support. Survey results highlighted both benefits and challenges of online learning, emphasising the need for addressing technical and motivational issues.

How can editing services prepare a research paper for publishing?

Editing services play a crucial role in preparing a research paper, especially the findings section, for publishing. Each type of editing focuses on different aspects of the manuscript, ensuring clarity, coherence and overall quality.

Proofreading

Proofreading is the final step in the editing process, focusing on correcting minor errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling and formatting. In the findings section, a proofreader ensures that the text is free of typos and small mistakes that can distract readers or detract from the professionalism of the paper. This service ensures that the presentation of data, including tables, figures and captions is accurate and consistent with the journal’s style guide.

Copyediting

Copyediting goes beyond proofreading to improve the overall readability and flow of the text. In the findings section, a copyeditor will check for proper usage of terminology, consistency in style, and clarity of the language. They ensure that the data is presented logically and that the narrative connects smoothly between different pieces of evidence. Copyeditors also verify that references and citations are correctly formatted and cross-checked with the reference list.

Line editing

Line editing focuses on the style and flow at the sentence and paragraph levels. For the findings section, a line editor will enhance the clarity and impact of the writing by refining sentence structure, eliminating redundancy, and improving word choice. They ensure that complex data and results are communicated effectively and that each sentence contributes to the overall coherence of the findings. Line editing helps make the section more engaging and easier to understand, even for readers who may not be specialists in the field.

Developmental editing

Developmental editing is the most comprehensive form of editing, addressing the structure, content, and overall argument of the manuscript. For the findings section, a developmental editor will work with the author to ensure that the data presentation aligns with the research questions or hypotheses and that the results are logically organised and clearly linked to the study’s objectives. They might suggest restructuring sections, adding or removing content or clarifying complex points. Developmental editors help ensure that the findings are compelling and well-integrated with the rest of the paper, providing a strong foundation for the subsequent discussion and conclusions.

Resources for writing effective findings of a research paper

Books

Online guides and tutorials

Journal articles

Software tools

Online forums and communities

Key takeaways

Understanding how to write the findings section of a research paper is essential for effectively communicating your research results. This section must present data in a clear, concise and systematic manner, providing the empirical evidence needed to support the study’s conclusions. The findings section should display data logically and transparently, ensuring that other researchers can replicate and verify your study if needed.

Moreover, distinguishing between the findings and discussion sections is crucial. While the findings section focuses on presenting data objectively, the discussion section interprets these findings, placing them in the broader context of existing research. This separation ensures clarity and allows readers to understand the data before considering its broader implications.

I am an editor and indexer working with academic writers, journals and presses. If your academic manuscript needs a second pair of eyes, contact me for a free sample edit (and remember to use my early bird discount).

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Magda

I am an editor, indexer and a lifelong lover of literature with a PhD in literary history. I am an Intermediate Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, a student member of the Society of Indexers and a vetted partner of the Alliance of Independent Authors.