The exact format of a research paper varies across disciplines, but they share certain features in common. They have the following sections, which may have different names in different fields: introduction, literature review (these first two are often combined), methodology, data analysis, results or findings, discussion and conclusion. These last two are also often combined into one section.
Basic Description of Analysis and Findings
In the analysis section, you describe what you did with your data. If it is a quantitative paper, this will include details of statistical procedures. If it is a qualitative paper, it may include a SWOT analysis which looks at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the statistical data. As an example, a SWOT analysis can be used in business applications to determine a future business path based on current analysis. In the findings or results section, you report what the analysis revealed but only the factual matter of the results, not their implication or meaning. The findings are the research questions that you found answers for during your research.
What is Needed to Write the Analysis and Findings Sections
To write the analysis section, you need to know what the analysis findings are. You do not necessarily need the specific data unless the analysis changed as a result of looking at that data. To write the findings section, you need to have already performed the data analysis.
Who Should Write the Analysis and Findings Sections
If the paper has more than one author as many research papers do, then different people may write the analysis and findings sections. The author who writes the analysis section should be knowledgeable about the methods used. If it is a quantitative paper, he or she may be a statistician or data analyst. The author who writes the findings section should be knowledgeable about the way findings in the field are reported. This author of the findings section will often also be the lead author of the paper.
Style of the Analysis and Findings Sections
The analysis section often includes a justification of the methods used. As it is often technical in nature, it may be skipped by many readers. By contrast, the findings section is purely descriptive and should be easily understood by all members of the paper's targeted audience. The findings section might be written in past tense and should be clear and concise enough for that audience to understand the reported results. Looking over the appropriate style guide for your research's paper or reading similar research sections in other papers are two ways to guide the writing of these sections.
- Monash University: Reporting and Discussing Your Findings
- American Psychological Association: Discussing Your Findings
- Proof Reading Service: How to Write the Findings Section of A Research Paper
- Sacred Heart University Library: The Results Organizing Academic Research Papers
- University of Southern California: Presenting Finds Qualitative