Wednesday, 11 May 2022

What goes in Findings and what in Discussion?

One of the most difficult things to work out when we are writing up the results from our research is to mentally create the boundary between what goes in the findings chapter, and what goes in the discussion chapter. However, there are some easy ways to divide the two elements - and the accompanying image on this post shows the key differences in the contents of these two chapters.

The findings chapter contains any raw data, such as participant quotes, and any clustered, summarised, coded information. As we analyse our results, the accumulation of facts which show connection, repetition and singularities are noted, ready to be described in our findings. The job of our findings is to shine a torch on what we found. This is an accumulation of evidence. This chapter is built entirely on the primary data we have discovered, and largely contains all new information.

The discussion chapter shows how we are applying meaning to our findings. This chapter is evaluative. Here we pull the threads of our literature review chapter and the meaning from our findings together, and begin to make sense of what our primary research has found. We construct meaning from our results, spring-boarding from a strong literature base. We look at our findings through the lens of the literature, and evaluate the literature review experts’ views against what we have found. We start to develop our own opinion as to what the results mean. This chapter contains no new information: it contains only information which has arrived into the work either via the literature review, the methods chapter, or the findings. It pulls the threads of both primary and secondary data together.

If we are careful to ensure that the findings remain descriptive, and the discussion remains evaluative, we are doing our job. In the example below, the blue highlighted material is findings, the pink is discussion:

I hope this makes the work of each chapter clearer. 



  • Jones, I. (2015). Research Methods for Sports Studies (3rd ed.). Routledge. 
  • Veal, A. J. (2005). Business Research Methods – A Managerial Approach (2nd ed.). Pearson Education Australia.

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