Conduct research

Reporting results

Know your audience

Know who your audience is and anticipate what they are most interested in knowing.


Follow formatting conventions for the field of a publication.


The title, usually written last, should clearly communicate the topic of the study.


An abstract, also usually written after other sections, provides a short (less than 150 words) synopsis of the study. Include the problem you investigated, a description of participants, methods with full names of measures you used, findings, and key conclusions.


In an introduction, include a review of empirical literature relating to your study, explain the purpose of your study and its contribution to your field, and provide hypotheses.


In a methods section, describe the design and execution of the study in enough detail for a knowledgeable reader to replicate it. Describe your sample, providing demographic statistics, and explain how participants were selected. If data from some participants were excluded from the final analyses, explain why. Describe any measures you used, providing citations and evidence of validity and reliability.

For survey research, give a complete description of your sampling procedure, including the target population and the sample frame-the list of the population from which the sample is drawn. Detail how many people were contacted, were not reached, refused participation, were ineligible, and who only partially completed the survey. Describe how respondents differed from non-respondents. Estimate sampling error. Describe the methods, locations, and dates of surveys. For phone or in-person surveys, describe the demographic characteristics of interviewers. Explain any sample weighting procedures or scoring of survey responses that affect your reported results. Report who sponsored the survey and who conducted it.


In a results section, first present main findings, then cover more peripheral ones. Explain whether your hypotheses were confirmed or not supported. For surveys, provide the frequencies and percentages that are the basis of conclusions. Identify statistical analyses you used and provide p values, means or medians, and standard deviations or standard errors. If you use tables and graphs, reserve them for the study's most important findings. For tables, provide a clear, descriptive title and the number of people responding to the specific items. For graphs, provide a clear, descriptive title and label both axes clearly, using a scale with equal intervals on the X (horizontal) axis. If the Y (vertical) axis does not begin with zero, clearly indicate this. On bar charts, all bars should have the same width


In a discussion section, compare the results of your study to those of prior studies. Summarize major findings, being careful not to overstate results. Discuss strengths and limitations of your study, including possible sources of bias and sampling error, possible explanations for your results, the implications of your findings, and directions for future research.

Reference section

List all literature cited in a reference section.


In an appendix, provide a copy of your data gathering instruments with any instructions and figures that accompanied them.

Page last updated: Sep 21 2011
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