How to Write a Findings Report
Conducting experiments, collecting data and analyzing results is only a part of research. You must also prepare all this information in a written report, which tells the audience what you did and what you learned. One of the most important components of these reports is the “Results and Discussion” section, also called the “Findings” report. This portion of your paper summarizes main points but also provides interpretations of your observations or data.
Begin your Findings report with a brief summary of your experiment’s results. You already went into detail on the experiment’s procedure and data you collected, so this summary serves as a reminder to the reader. Use this space to mention the highlights of your results. Do not attempt to interpret your results, but rather present information objectively and informatively. This part of the Findings report should be no longer than one or two paragraphs.
The discussion is the meaty part of your Findings report and can be of great value to your audience if written appropriately. In the discussion section, you can provide interpretations based on your observations. While the summary presents information, the discussion analyzes the data and explains to the reader what your results mean relative to the problem you stated in your introduction. For example, you could write in your summary, “Only 27 percent of subjects reported they felt prepared for an earthquake,” but your discussion could add, “Our findings show a majority of people living in the Midwest are unprepared for earthquake emergencies, and new endeavors to improve natural disaster awareness and planning are necessary.” Use phrases like “Our findings indicate” or “The major finding of our investigation was” to begin sentences about what you discovered. You can also add words like “surprisingly” or “unexpectedly” to indicate results you did not anticipate. Use phrases like “could mean” or “may have” unless you are certain about your interpretations.
Using Visual Aids
While the text is primary to your Findings report, use visual aids to support your text. You do not need visual aids for every finding, but consider using graphs and tables to represent more complex information or crucial findings, according to the National University of Singapore. The visual aid needs to refer to something in the text, and draw attention to the visual aid by referencing titles like “Table 1” or “Figure 2” in parentheses but without quotation marks within your text. You can also write “Referring to Figure 1” or “Figure 1 shows” to draw attention to the visual aids. All tables and graphs need a number and a title, such as “Table 1: Summary of Survey Results.”
Presenting your Findings report in an easy-to-read manner is essential. Use headings and subheadings, and number each section consistently. If your summary is numbered 1.0, your discussion will be 2.0. The first topic heading in your discussion section will be 2.1, the second one will be 2.2, and each one will continue to be numbered consecutively. Talking headings, or those headings about a certain point related to the topic heading, should be numbered 2.1.1, followed by 2.1.2, continuing consecutively. These labels break up the information into sections, which is especially helpful to readers when Findings reports take up several pages. Put all figures and tables at the end of the text portion of your findings report.
Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.