Monday, 9 May 2022

What goes in our Findings chapter

It is so strange that, when writing blog posts, it can often be the simplest of posts which we find that we have not yet done. So recently, when I was asked by a student recently to review their findings - or results - chapter, I searched my blog for a suitable post... only to find that I had not yet done a clear, plain post about what the findings chapter should contain. This is a continuation of the research write up series. 

Each chapter does a certain job. The literature review scopes out the existing - secondary - research relating to the field. The methods chapter details how the project data collection process will be undertaken. The job of the findings - primary data - is to gather and present the relevant facts found from running in the data collection process. 

One easy way to determine what is findings is to remember that they should contain primary data only. Secondary data - which goes in our literature review - is anything we get from a third party: a book chapter; website; journal; a graph from a source; or an existing data set. There will be few, if any, expert references in our findings section. 

Further, our findings chapter contains our primary information: it does not contain data. Data is unsorted material. Our findings must instead to be grouped, clustered and organised from raw data into information that begins to answer the story of our research question. What we include begins to show the reader how our research question is likely to be answered. 

This chapter is not for continued exploration of expert data or opinion, or the continued development of expert argument. That is the job of our literature review, so we can pick it those elements from the literature in the Discussion section, combining them with any relevant facts we have found in the Findings. The findings contain ONLY our work. What WE found. This is a descriptive section, not evaluative. It is factual. It describes what is. It is crisp, clear, and as unambiguous as we can make it.

It is our discussion section that will be evaluative, as this is the chapter where we create meaning. And that is a topic for another day. 

When I reviewed this particular student's work, I found that their chapter was - while largely findings - also muddled with both discussion and method. We talked through what each chapter should contain, then they were able to review, and to withdraw elements of literature, method and discussion which were in the findings.

That made the final result much clearer. It told the story well.




  • Jones, I. (2015). Research Methods for Sports Studies (3rd ed.). Routledge.
  • University of Southern California. (n.d.). Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: 7 - The Results
  • Wang, G. T., & Park, K. (2016). From Topic Selection to the Complete Paper. John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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