| How to Write Findings
One important topic in writing papers is writing findings. It is important to gain an understanding of how to write findings for college papers (e.g., a psychology research paper) and theses. College papers should be consistent with an academic writing style and academic writing standards. Papers and theses should report findings in an accurate, specific, precise, and informative manner.
Below are some guidelines for writing findings:
1. Describe the findings in a manner that allows the reader to gain a clear understanding of the type of study that was involved in the research. It should be clear to the reader whether the study was a case study, a correlational study, or an experiment. It would be best to state the type of study when describing the findings. For example, if it was an experiment, a sentence could start with the words, "In the experiment..."
2. If the findings are from a correlational study, the description of the findings could involve a brief description of how the variables were measured. For example, if the study addressed the relationship between empathy and helping behavior, the description of the findings could involve a description of how empathy was measured in the study.
3. If the findings are from an experiment, the description of the study could involve a description of the conditions in the experiment. For example, imagine that an experiment addressed the influence of listening to music on productivity, and there were two conditions: experimental condition with music and control condition without music. In this example, it would be would to describe both the experimental condition and the control condition.
4. If the study was an experiment, it is important to mention whether the participants were randomly assigned to conditions. Random assignment allows us to make causal conclusions because we can rule out explanations based on personality and individual differences.
5. It is important to mention whether the findings are statistically significant. If the findings are not statistically significant, we would not conclude that there is a difference between conditions in an experiment, or that variables are associated in a correlational study. Generally, a finding of a study is considered statistically significant if the chance probability is less than .05 (the p value for the finding is indicated as less than .05).
6. Causal conclusions should not be made from correlational findings. We cannot make causal conclusions from correlational findings because we are not able to rule out alternative explanations. Thus, causal language should not be used when describing correlational findings. Words such as "effect," "cause," and "influence" should not be used for correlational findings. However, it would be fine to use the words "relationship," "association," and "correlation" for correlational findings. For example, imagine that empathy was found to be associated with helping behavior in a correlational study. In this example, it would be acceptable to state that empathy was found to be associated, correlated, or related to helping behavior. In this example, it would not be acceptable to state that empathy influenced, caused, or had an effect on helping behavior.