Part V: Plan Results Section

The purpose of the result s section is to report the outcomes of the statistical tests you ran to test your study’s hypothesis. Thus, your results section should include the following:

  1. Descriptives: Provide descriptive statistics on your data to give the reader a sense of what your data looked like overall. What were the average responses for your variables of interest?
  2. Consider your study’s hypothesis. Which statistical test did you use to test your hypothesis (e.g., correlation coefficients, t-tests, ANOVAs)? What was the result? Was it statistically significant? Report the outcome of each test using appropriate APA-style and statistical symbols. For all dependent variables of interest, include means and standard deviations.

Part VI: Write Results Section.

Now organize the answers the above material into an APA-style results section.

In the results section, you are reporting the basic facts – there is no need for stylistic flourishes or embellishment. Just report the tests you ran, whether they were significant, the accompanying statistical numbers, means, and standard deviations. You can write separate paragraphs for each statistical test or each hypothesis you tested. We recommend that you report simpler tests before more complex ones.

You will also create at least one supplementary figure, graph or table to reflect the results of your hypothesis. This will help the reader visualize the words and numbers you write in the results section. For most projects, more than one table or figure would be appropriate. A

supplementary items must follow APA style guidelines; in other words, cut-and-pasted SPSS/R output will not be acceptable!

Pointers for Writing Your Results Section

Your results section should specifically explain your results, not just report numbers or statistically significant differences. Numbers/stats are considered supplemental. Your sentences should make sense if you were to delete the stats you reported. See examples of what to do and not to do below.

BAD EXAMPLE: The t-test shows that there was a significant difference between participants with high levels of self-rated health and participants with low levels of self-reported rated, t(58) = 3.53, p

= .001.

(This needs work because it doesn’t tell the readers what the nature of the difference was. Participants with high and low self-rated health were different from each other relative to what variable? Were participants with high self-rate health happier than those with low self-rated health or was it the opposite? )

BAD EXAMPLE: The t-test shows t(58) = 3.53, p = .001.

(This needs work because it does not describe my results or tell me much of anything. Rather than telling the reader what I found, this only tells the readers about the statisitics that SPSS gave me. Remember that the sentence should make sense if I were to delete the statistics from it. If I were to delete my stats from this sentence, it would read: “The t-test shows.” This is an incomplete sentence and does not tell the reader anything!)

BAD EXAMPLE: Participants with high levels of self-rated health had a mean of 5.97 and standard deviation of .29, and participants with low levels of self-rated health had a mean of 2.15 and standard deviation of .31.

(This needs work because it does not explain what my results mean. What does it mean for the high self- rated health group to have a mean of 5.97 and for the low self-rated health group to have a mean of 2.15? To what do these means refer? Basically, these means indicate that participants with high self-rated health are happier than participants with low self-rated health. Also, standard deviations should not be written out as above, but should be reported APA style within parentheses and using SD = XX.)

GOOD EXAMPLE: The t-test shows that participants with high levels of self-rated health (M = 5.97, SD = .29) are happier than participants with low levels of self-rated health (M = 2.15, SD =

.31), t(58) = 3.53, p = .001.

(This is a good example because the focus of the sentence is not my statistics, but rather what the statistics are indicating. It explains the nature of the relationship between the two variables, self-rated health and happiness. Also, this sentence will still make sense and be informational if I were to remove all the stats from it. If I were to remove the stats from the sentence, it will read: “The t-test shows that participants with high levels of self-rated health are happier than participants with low levels of self- rated health.” Additionally, the statistics are correctly reported according to APA style.)

Part VII: Plan and write Discussion section.

The purpose of your paper’s discussion section is to sum up the conclusions and impacts of your study. This section of the paper is less cut-and-dry than the other sections of your paper. You must think critically about the design of your study, the tests that you ran, the results of those tests. Outline your responses to the following questions:

  1. Summary: Describe what you found in a concise, non-jargon way. Does it support your hypotheses? Does it support your overall research question or theory? How and why (or why not) do the results support the theory? What kind of claims can you make or conclusions can you draw from your findings? Tie the results back to the literature and theories you mentioned in the introduction.
  2. Evaluation: What were the strengths and weaknesses (limitations) of your study? Review your study in terms of the four validities and incorporate appropriate arguments and evidence.
  3. Specify the next step: Offer a concluding paragraph or two that indicate some directions for further research. Suggest specific direction(s) for the study to take. If your study had flaws, what specific steps could be taken to correct those flaws? What results would be expected? What part of the theory that you were interested in should be tested next? How could it be tested, what would be expected results, and what would those results mean? Other possibilities for future research might include addressing a limitation in this study, looking at a different sample, using a different operationalization, asking a related follow-up question, etc.

In the discussion section, the reader should get a brief overview of what you studied and what you found. You should also reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the study design, and comment on how they impact the conclusions that can be drawn from your results. Finally, write a concluding paragraph or two specifying directions for future research. Style is more important in the discussion than the results: try not to be repetitive, make sure each paragraph has a topic sentence, and use smooth transitions.

(Hint: make your OUTLINE in this order BEFORE writing the essay):


  1. Context of chosen topic (broad to narrow)
  2. Review of past studies and findings
  3. Evaluate current state of the field and challenges
  4. Research questions
  5. Study description
  6. Hypothesis Method section
  7. Participants
  8. Materials
  9. Procedure
  10. Statistical Plan Results section
  11. Descriptive or summary data, with a figure or table
  12. Test of each hypothesis
  13. Primary findings Discussion section
  1. Recap of what you found
  2. Critique of experiment’s strengths and weaknesses
  3. Conclusion statement

Don’t forget to include a Title page, Abstract, and References section


Abstract Concisely summarize the following in your abstract: problem under investigationthe participants, specifying pertinent characteristics (e.g., age, sex, race)essential features of study methodbasic findingsconclusions and implications or applications of your study Should be no more than 250 words              20
Introduction section Literature review of chosen topicCurrent gaps in existing literature that you will addressState research questions posedDescribe contribution of your studyBrief description of study designClearly defined hypotheses          40
Method section Participants Sample size, demographics, how selected MaterialsOperationalizations of variablesClear Description of stimuli/surveyStimuli/survey in Appendix ProceduresDescribe when and where experiment or survey took placeDescribe what participants did Statistical PlanCorrect tests are listed                    30
Results Section Descriptives Descriptives provided for each variable (e.g., sample averages, frequencies) Analyses Each hypothesis is explicitly referencedTests run are appropriateTests are run and reported correctly FormattingAppropriate statistical symbols, capitalization, italicization, and spacing                40
At least one supplementary figure, graph or tableFormatting (correct title and label location, axes labeled) 
Discussion section Findings are briefly summarizedAppropriate conclusions are drawn (e.g., appropriate claim made) for each hypothesisExplanation of how results fit with the theory or background literature described in the Introduction sectionStrengths and limitations of research are discussed in terms of the four validitiesConcluding paragraph(s) which indicate future research directions              40
Writing style Accurate spelling and grammarTechnical writing is clear and organizedWell organized paragraphs, clear topic sentences, varied sentences, proper sentence structure and good flowScientific writing style: objective, well-supported, formal, concise          25
References Minimum of 5 referencesListed alphabetically by author’s last nameAll information is listed correctly for each citationProper formatting      20
APA style, formatting, following directions Accurate APA-style in-text citationsIncluded a proper title page with a running headProper APA paraphrasing/quoting12-point Times New Roman font, double spaced with 1-inch margins10-12 pages          25

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