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
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
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.