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How to Write a Discussion Section | Tips & Examples

Published on August 21, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 18, 2023.

Discussion section flow chart

The discussion section is where you delve into the meaning, importance, and relevance of your results .

It should focus on explaining and evaluating what you found, showing how it relates to your literature review and paper or dissertation topic , and making an argument in support of your overall conclusion. It should not be a second results section.

There are different ways to write this section, but you can focus your writing around these key elements:

  • Summary : A brief recap of your key results
  • Interpretations: What do your results mean?
  • Implications: Why do your results matter?
  • Limitations: What can’t your results tell us?
  • Recommendations: Avenues for further studies or analyses

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Table of contents

What not to include in your discussion section, step 1: summarize your key findings, step 2: give your interpretations, step 3: discuss the implications, step 4: acknowledge the limitations, step 5: share your recommendations, discussion section example, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about discussion sections.

There are a few common mistakes to avoid when writing the discussion section of your paper.

  • Don’t introduce new results: You should only discuss the data that you have already reported in your results section .
  • Don’t make inflated claims: Avoid overinterpretation and speculation that isn’t directly supported by your data.
  • Don’t undermine your research: The discussion of limitations should aim to strengthen your credibility, not emphasize weaknesses or failures.

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Start this section by reiterating your research problem and concisely summarizing your major findings. To speed up the process you can use a summarizer to quickly get an overview of all important findings. Don’t just repeat all the data you have already reported—aim for a clear statement of the overall result that directly answers your main research question . This should be no more than one paragraph.

Many students struggle with the differences between a discussion section and a results section . The crux of the matter is that your results sections should present your results, and your discussion section should subjectively evaluate them. Try not to blend elements of these two sections, in order to keep your paper sharp.

  • The results indicate that…
  • The study demonstrates a correlation between…
  • This analysis supports the theory that…
  • The data suggest that…

The meaning of your results may seem obvious to you, but it’s important to spell out their significance for your reader, showing exactly how they answer your research question.

The form of your interpretations will depend on the type of research, but some typical approaches to interpreting the data include:

  • Identifying correlations , patterns, and relationships among the data
  • Discussing whether the results met your expectations or supported your hypotheses
  • Contextualizing your findings within previous research and theory
  • Explaining unexpected results and evaluating their significance
  • Considering possible alternative explanations and making an argument for your position

You can organize your discussion around key themes, hypotheses, or research questions, following the same structure as your results section. Alternatively, you can also begin by highlighting the most significant or unexpected results.

  • In line with the hypothesis…
  • Contrary to the hypothesized association…
  • The results contradict the claims of Smith (2022) that…
  • The results might suggest that x . However, based on the findings of similar studies, a more plausible explanation is y .

As well as giving your own interpretations, make sure to relate your results back to the scholarly work that you surveyed in the literature review . The discussion should show how your findings fit with existing knowledge, what new insights they contribute, and what consequences they have for theory or practice.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do your results support or challenge existing theories? If they support existing theories, what new information do they contribute? If they challenge existing theories, why do you think that is?
  • Are there any practical implications?

Your overall aim is to show the reader exactly what your research has contributed, and why they should care.

  • These results build on existing evidence of…
  • The results do not fit with the theory that…
  • The experiment provides a new insight into the relationship between…
  • These results should be taken into account when considering how to…
  • The data contribute a clearer understanding of…
  • While previous research has focused on  x , these results demonstrate that y .

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discussion of the findings in research

Even the best research has its limitations. Acknowledging these is important to demonstrate your credibility. Limitations aren’t about listing your errors, but about providing an accurate picture of what can and cannot be concluded from your study.

Limitations might be due to your overall research design, specific methodological choices , or unanticipated obstacles that emerged during your research process.

Here are a few common possibilities:

  • If your sample size was small or limited to a specific group of people, explain how generalizability is limited.
  • If you encountered problems when gathering or analyzing data, explain how these influenced the results.
  • If there are potential confounding variables that you were unable to control, acknowledge the effect these may have had.

After noting the limitations, you can reiterate why the results are nonetheless valid for the purpose of answering your research question.

  • The generalizability of the results is limited by…
  • The reliability of these data is impacted by…
  • Due to the lack of data on x , the results cannot confirm…
  • The methodological choices were constrained by…
  • It is beyond the scope of this study to…

Based on the discussion of your results, you can make recommendations for practical implementation or further research. Sometimes, the recommendations are saved for the conclusion .

Suggestions for further research can lead directly from the limitations. Don’t just state that more studies should be done—give concrete ideas for how future work can build on areas that your own research was unable to address.

  • Further research is needed to establish…
  • Future studies should take into account…
  • Avenues for future research include…

Discussion section example

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In the discussion , you explore the meaning and relevance of your research results , explaining how they fit with existing research and theory. Discuss:

  • Your  interpretations : what do the results tell us?
  • The  implications : why do the results matter?
  • The  limitation s : what can’t the results tell us?

The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.

In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.

In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.

The conclusion is more shorter and more general: it concisely answers your main research question and makes recommendations based on your overall findings.

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McCombes, S. (2023, July 18). How to Write a Discussion Section | Tips & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/discussion/

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  • How to Write Discussions and Conclusions

How to Write Discussions and Conclusions

The discussion section contains the results and outcomes of a study. An effective discussion informs readers what can be learned from your experiment and provides context for the results.

What makes an effective discussion?

When you’re ready to write your discussion, you’ve already introduced the purpose of your study and provided an in-depth description of the methodology. The discussion informs readers about the larger implications of your study based on the results. Highlighting these implications while not overstating the findings can be challenging, especially when you’re submitting to a journal that selects articles based on novelty or potential impact. Regardless of what journal you are submitting to, the discussion section always serves the same purpose: concluding what your study results actually mean.

A successful discussion section puts your findings in context. It should include:

  • the results of your research,
  • a discussion of related research, and
  • a comparison between your results and initial hypothesis.

Tip: Not all journals share the same naming conventions.

You can apply the advice in this article to the conclusion, results or discussion sections of your manuscript.

Our Early Career Researcher community tells us that the conclusion is often considered the most difficult aspect of a manuscript to write. To help, this guide provides questions to ask yourself, a basic structure to model your discussion off of and examples from published manuscripts. 

discussion of the findings in research

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Was my hypothesis correct?
  • If my hypothesis is partially correct or entirely different, what can be learned from the results? 
  • How do the conclusions reshape or add onto the existing knowledge in the field? What does previous research say about the topic? 
  • Why are the results important or relevant to your audience? Do they add further evidence to a scientific consensus or disprove prior studies? 
  • How can future research build on these observations? What are the key experiments that must be done? 
  • What is the “take-home” message you want your reader to leave with?

How to structure a discussion

Trying to fit a complete discussion into a single paragraph can add unnecessary stress to the writing process. If possible, you’ll want to give yourself two or three paragraphs to give the reader a comprehensive understanding of your study as a whole. Here’s one way to structure an effective discussion:

discussion of the findings in research

Writing Tips

While the above sections can help you brainstorm and structure your discussion, there are many common mistakes that writers revert to when having difficulties with their paper. Writing a discussion can be a delicate balance between summarizing your results, providing proper context for your research and avoiding introducing new information. Remember that your paper should be both confident and honest about the results! 

What to do

  • Read the journal’s guidelines on the discussion and conclusion sections. If possible, learn about the guidelines before writing the discussion to ensure you’re writing to meet their expectations. 
  • Begin with a clear statement of the principal findings. This will reinforce the main take-away for the reader and set up the rest of the discussion. 
  • Explain why the outcomes of your study are important to the reader. Discuss the implications of your findings realistically based on previous literature, highlighting both the strengths and limitations of the research. 
  • State whether the results prove or disprove your hypothesis. If your hypothesis was disproved, what might be the reasons? 
  • Introduce new or expanded ways to think about the research question. Indicate what next steps can be taken to further pursue any unresolved questions. 
  • If dealing with a contemporary or ongoing problem, such as climate change, discuss possible consequences if the problem is avoided. 
  • Be concise. Adding unnecessary detail can distract from the main findings. 

What not to do

Don’t

  • Rewrite your abstract. Statements with “we investigated” or “we studied” generally do not belong in the discussion. 
  • Include new arguments or evidence not previously discussed. Necessary information and evidence should be introduced in the main body of the paper. 
  • Apologize. Even if your research contains significant limitations, don’t undermine your authority by including statements that doubt your methodology or execution. 
  • Shy away from speaking on limitations or negative results. Including limitations and negative results will give readers a complete understanding of the presented research. Potential limitations include sources of potential bias, threats to internal or external validity, barriers to implementing an intervention and other issues inherent to the study design. 
  • Overstate the importance of your findings. Making grand statements about how a study will fully resolve large questions can lead readers to doubt the success of the research. 

Snippets of Effective Discussions:

Consumer-based actions to reduce plastic pollution in rivers: A multi-criteria decision analysis approach

Identifying reliable indicators of fitness in polar bears

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The purpose of the discussion section is to interpret and describe the significance of your findings in relation to what was already known about the research problem being investigated and to explain any new understanding or insights that emerged as a result of your research. The discussion will always connect to the introduction by way of the research questions or hypotheses you posed and the literature you reviewed, but the discussion does not simply repeat or rearrange the first parts of your paper; the discussion clearly explains how your study advanced the reader's understanding of the research problem from where you left them at the end of your review of prior research.

Annesley, Thomas M. “The Discussion Section: Your Closing Argument.” Clinical Chemistry 56 (November 2010): 1671-1674.

Importance of a Good Discussion

The discussion section is often considered the most important part of your research paper because it:

  • Most effectively demonstrates your ability as a researcher to think critically about an issue, to develop creative solutions to problems based upon a logical synthesis of the findings, and to formulate a deeper, more profound understanding of the research problem under investigation;
  • Presents the underlying meaning of your research, notes possible implications in other areas of study, and explores possible improvements that can be made in order to further develop the concerns of your research;
  • Highlights the importance of your study and how it can contribute to understanding the research problem within the field of study;
  • Presents how the findings from your study revealed and helped fill gaps in the literature that had not been previously exposed or adequately described; and,
  • Engages the reader in thinking critically about issues based on an evidence-based interpretation of findings; it is not governed strictly by objective reporting of information.

Annesley Thomas M. “The Discussion Section: Your Closing Argument.” Clinical Chemistry 56 (November 2010): 1671-1674; Bitchener, John and Helen Basturkmen. “Perceptions of the Difficulties of Postgraduate L2 Thesis Students Writing the Discussion Section.” Journal of English for Academic Purposes 5 (January 2006): 4-18; Kretchmer, Paul. Fourteen Steps to Writing an Effective Discussion Section. San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  General Rules

These are the general rules you should adopt when composing your discussion of the results :

  • Do not be verbose or repetitive; be concise and make your points clearly
  • Avoid the use of jargon or undefined technical language
  • Follow a logical stream of thought; in general, interpret and discuss the significance of your findings in the same sequence you described them in your results section [a notable exception is to begin by highlighting an unexpected result or a finding that can grab the reader's attention]
  • Use the present verb tense, especially for established facts; however, refer to specific works or prior studies in the past tense
  • If needed, use subheadings to help organize your discussion or to categorize your interpretations into themes

II.  The Content

The content of the discussion section of your paper most often includes :

  • Explanation of results : Comment on whether or not the results were expected for each set of findings; go into greater depth to explain findings that were unexpected or especially profound. If appropriate, note any unusual or unanticipated patterns or trends that emerged from your results and explain their meaning in relation to the research problem.
  • References to previous research : Either compare your results with the findings from other studies or use the studies to support a claim. This can include re-visiting key sources already cited in your literature review section, or, save them to cite later in the discussion section if they are more important to compare with your results instead of being a part of the general literature review of prior research used to provide context and background information. Note that you can make this decision to highlight specific studies after you have begun writing the discussion section.
  • Deduction : A claim for how the results can be applied more generally. For example, describing lessons learned, proposing recommendations that can help improve a situation, or highlighting best practices.
  • Hypothesis : A more general claim or possible conclusion arising from the results [which may be proved or disproved in subsequent research]. This can be framed as new research questions that emerged as a consequence of your analysis.

III.  Organization and Structure

Keep the following sequential points in mind as you organize and write the discussion section of your paper:

  • Think of your discussion as an inverted pyramid. Organize the discussion from the general to the specific, linking your findings to the literature, then to theory, then to practice [if appropriate].
  • Use the same key terms, narrative style, and verb tense [present] that you used when describing the research problem in your introduction.
  • Begin by briefly re-stating the research problem you were investigating and answer all of the research questions underpinning the problem that you posed in the introduction.
  • Describe the patterns, principles, and relationships shown by each major findings and place them in proper perspective. The sequence of this information is important; first state the answer, then the relevant results, then cite the work of others. If appropriate, refer the reader to a figure or table to help enhance the interpretation of the data [either within the text or as an appendix].
  • Regardless of where it's mentioned, a good discussion section includes analysis of any unexpected findings. This part of the discussion should begin with a description of the unanticipated finding, followed by a brief interpretation as to why you believe it appeared and, if necessary, its possible significance in relation to the overall study. If more than one unexpected finding emerged during the study, describe each of them in the order they appeared as you gathered or analyzed the data. As noted, the exception to discussing findings in the same order you described them in the results section would be to begin by highlighting the implications of a particularly unexpected or significant finding that emerged from the study, followed by a discussion of the remaining findings.
  • Before concluding the discussion, identify potential limitations and weaknesses if you do not plan to do so in the conclusion of the paper. Comment on their relative importance in relation to your overall interpretation of the results and, if necessary, note how they may affect the validity of your findings. Avoid using an apologetic tone; however, be honest and self-critical [e.g., in retrospect, had you included a particular question in a survey instrument, additional data could have been revealed].
  • The discussion section should end with a concise summary of the principal implications of the findings regardless of their significance. Give a brief explanation about why you believe the findings and conclusions of your study are important and how they support broader knowledge or understanding of the research problem. This can be followed by any recommendations for further research. However, do not offer recommendations which could have been easily addressed within the study. This would demonstrate to the reader that you have inadequately examined and interpreted the data.

IV.  Overall Objectives

The objectives of your discussion section should include the following: I.  Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings

Briefly reiterate the research problem or problems you are investigating and the methods you used to investigate them, then move quickly to describe the major findings of the study. You should write a direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results, usually in one paragraph.

II.  Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important

No one has thought as long and hard about your study as you have. Systematically explain the underlying meaning of your findings and state why you believe they are significant. After reading the discussion section, you want the reader to think critically about the results and why they are important. You don’t want to force the reader to go through the paper multiple times to figure out what it all means. If applicable, begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most significant or unanticipated finding first, then systematically review each finding. Otherwise, follow the general order you reported the findings presented in the results section.

III.  Relate the Findings to Similar Studies

No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for your research. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps to support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your study differs from other research about the topic. Note that any significant or unanticipated finding is often because there was no prior research to indicate the finding could occur. If there is prior research to indicate this, you need to explain why it was significant or unanticipated. IV.  Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings

It is important to remember that the purpose of research in the social sciences is to discover and not to prove . When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations for the study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. This is especially important when describing the discovery of significant or unanticipated findings.

V.  Acknowledge the Study’s Limitations

It is far better for you to identify and acknowledge your study’s limitations than to have them pointed out by your professor! Note any unanswered questions or issues your study could not address and describe the generalizability of your results to other situations. If a limitation is applicable to the method chosen to gather information, then describe in detail the problems you encountered and why. VI.  Make Suggestions for Further Research

You may choose to conclude the discussion section by making suggestions for further research [as opposed to offering suggestions in the conclusion of your paper]. Although your study can offer important insights about the research problem, this is where you can address other questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or highlight hidden issues that were revealed as a result of conducting your research. You should frame your suggestions by linking the need for further research to the limitations of your study [e.g., in future studies, the survey instrument should include more questions that ask..."] or linking to critical issues revealed from the data that were not considered initially in your research.

NOTE: Besides the literature review section, the preponderance of references to sources is usually found in the discussion section . A few historical references may be helpful for perspective, but most of the references should be relatively recent and included to aid in the interpretation of your results, to support the significance of a finding, and/or to place a finding within a particular context. If a study that you cited does not support your findings, don't ignore it--clearly explain why your research findings differ from theirs.

V.  Problems to Avoid

  • Do not waste time restating your results . Should you need to remind the reader of a finding to be discussed, use "bridge sentences" that relate the result to the interpretation. An example would be: “In the case of determining available housing to single women with children in rural areas of Texas, the findings suggest that access to good schools is important...," then move on to further explaining this finding and its implications.
  • As noted, recommendations for further research can be included in either the discussion or conclusion of your paper, but do not repeat your recommendations in the both sections. Think about the overall narrative flow of your paper to determine where best to locate this information. However, if your findings raise a lot of new questions or issues, consider including suggestions for further research in the discussion section.
  • Do not introduce new results in the discussion section. Be wary of mistaking the reiteration of a specific finding for an interpretation because it may confuse the reader. The description of findings [results section] and the interpretation of their significance [discussion section] should be distinct parts of your paper. If you choose to combine the results section and the discussion section into a single narrative, you must be clear in how you report the information discovered and your own interpretation of each finding. This approach is not recommended if you lack experience writing college-level research papers.
  • Use of the first person pronoun is generally acceptable. Using first person singular pronouns can help emphasize a point or illustrate a contrasting finding. However, keep in mind that too much use of the first person can actually distract the reader from the main points [i.e., I know you're telling me this--just tell me!].

Analyzing vs. Summarizing. Department of English Writing Guide. George Mason University; Discussion. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Hess, Dean R. "How to Write an Effective Discussion." Respiratory Care 49 (October 2004); Kretchmer, Paul. Fourteen Steps to Writing to Writing an Effective Discussion Section. San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008; The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Sauaia, A. et al. "The Anatomy of an Article: The Discussion Section: "How Does the Article I Read Today Change What I Will Recommend to my Patients Tomorrow?” The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 74 (June 2013): 1599-1602; Research Limitations & Future Research . Lund Research Ltd., 2012; Summary: Using it Wisely. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Schafer, Mickey S. Writing the Discussion. Writing in Psychology course syllabus. University of Florida; Yellin, Linda L. A Sociology Writer's Guide . Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2009.

Writing Tip

Don’t Over-Interpret the Results!

Interpretation is a subjective exercise. As such, you should always approach the selection and interpretation of your findings introspectively and to think critically about the possibility of judgmental biases unintentionally entering into discussions about the significance of your work. With this in mind, be careful that you do not read more into the findings than can be supported by the evidence you have gathered. Remember that the data are the data: nothing more, nothing less.

MacCoun, Robert J. "Biases in the Interpretation and Use of Research Results." Annual Review of Psychology 49 (February 1998): 259-287.

Another Writing Tip

Don't Write Two Results Sections!

One of the most common mistakes that you can make when discussing the results of your study is to present a superficial interpretation of the findings that more or less re-states the results section of your paper. Obviously, you must refer to your results when discussing them, but focus on the interpretation of those results and their significance in relation to the research problem, not the data itself.

Azar, Beth. "Discussing Your Findings."  American Psychological Association gradPSYCH Magazine (January 2006).

Yet Another Writing Tip

Avoid Unwarranted Speculation!

The discussion section should remain focused on the findings of your study. For example, if the purpose of your research was to measure the impact of foreign aid on increasing access to education among disadvantaged children in Bangladesh, it would not be appropriate to speculate about how your findings might apply to populations in other countries without drawing from existing studies to support your claim or if analysis of other countries was not a part of your original research design. If you feel compelled to speculate, do so in the form of describing possible implications or explaining possible impacts. Be certain that you clearly identify your comments as speculation or as a suggestion for where further research is needed. Sometimes your professor will encourage you to expand your discussion of the results in this way, while others don’t care what your opinion is beyond your effort to interpret the data in relation to the research problem.

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How to Write the Discussion Section of a Research Paper

The discussion section of a research paper analyzes and interprets the findings, provides context, compares them with previous studies, identifies limitations, and suggests future research directions.

Updated on September 15, 2023

researchers writing the discussion section of their research paper

Structure your discussion section right, and you’ll be cited more often while doing a greater service to the scientific community. So, what actually goes into the discussion section? And how do you write it?

The discussion section of your research paper is where you let the reader know how your study is positioned in the literature, what to take away from your paper, and how your work helps them. It can also include your conclusions and suggestions for future studies.

First, we’ll define all the parts of your discussion paper, and then look into how to write a strong, effective discussion section for your paper or manuscript.

Discussion section: what is it, what it does

The discussion section comes later in your paper, following the introduction, methods, and results. The discussion sets up your study’s conclusions. Its main goals are to present, interpret, and provide a context for your results.

What is it?

The discussion section provides an analysis and interpretation of the findings, compares them with previous studies, identifies limitations, and suggests future directions for research.

This section combines information from the preceding parts of your paper into a coherent story. By this point, the reader already knows why you did your study (introduction), how you did it (methods), and what happened (results). In the discussion, you’ll help the reader connect the ideas from these sections.

Why is it necessary?

The discussion provides context and interpretations for the results. It also answers the questions posed in the introduction. While the results section describes your findings, the discussion explains what they say. This is also where you can describe the impact or implications of your research.

Adds context for your results

Most research studies aim to answer a question, replicate a finding, or address limitations in the literature. These goals are first described in the introduction. However, in the discussion section, the author can refer back to them to explain how the study's objective was achieved. 

Shows what your results actually mean and real-world implications

The discussion can also describe the effect of your findings on research or practice. How are your results significant for readers, other researchers, or policymakers?

What to include in your discussion (in the correct order)

A complete and effective discussion section should at least touch on the points described below.

Summary of key findings

The discussion should begin with a brief factual summary of the results. Concisely overview the main results you obtained.

Begin with key findings with supporting evidence

Your results section described a list of findings, but what message do they send when you look at them all together?

Your findings were detailed in the results section, so there’s no need to repeat them here, but do provide at least a few highlights. This will help refresh the reader’s memory and help them focus on the big picture.

Read the first paragraph of the discussion section in this article (PDF) for an example of how to start this part of your paper. Notice how the authors break down their results and follow each description sentence with an explanation of why each finding is relevant. 

State clearly and concisely

Following a clear and direct writing style is especially important in the discussion section. After all, this is where you will make some of the most impactful points in your paper. While the results section often contains technical vocabulary, such as statistical terms, the discussion section lets you describe your findings more clearly. 

Interpretation of results

Once you’ve given your reader an overview of your results, you need to interpret those results. In other words, what do your results mean? Discuss the findings’ implications and significance in relation to your research question or hypothesis.

Analyze and interpret your findings

Look into your findings and explore what’s behind them or what may have caused them. If your introduction cited theories or studies that could explain your findings, use these sources as a basis to discuss your results.

For example, look at the second paragraph in the discussion section of this article on waggling honey bees. Here, the authors explore their results based on information from the literature.

Unexpected or contradictory results

Sometimes, your findings are not what you expect. Here’s where you describe this and try to find a reason for it. Could it be because of the method you used? Does it have something to do with the variables analyzed? Comparing your methods with those of other similar studies can help with this task.

Context and comparison with previous work

Refer to related studies to place your research in a larger context and the literature. Compare and contrast your findings with existing literature, highlighting similarities, differences, and/or contradictions.

How your work compares or contrasts with previous work

Studies with similar findings to yours can be cited to show the strength of your findings. Information from these studies can also be used to help explain your results. Differences between your findings and others in the literature can also be discussed here. 

How to divide this section into subsections

If you have more than one objective in your study or many key findings, you can dedicate a separate section to each of these. Here’s an example of this approach. You can see that the discussion section is divided into topics and even has a separate heading for each of them. 

Limitations

Many journals require you to include the limitations of your study in the discussion. Even if they don’t, there are good reasons to mention these in your paper.

Why limitations don’t have a negative connotation

A study’s limitations are points to be improved upon in future research. While some of these may be flaws in your method, many may be due to factors you couldn’t predict.

Examples include time constraints or small sample sizes. Pointing this out will help future researchers avoid or address these issues. This part of the discussion can also include any attempts you have made to reduce the impact of these limitations, as in this study .

How limitations add to a researcher's credibility

Pointing out the limitations of your study demonstrates transparency. It also shows that you know your methods well and can conduct a critical assessment of them.  

Implications and significance

The final paragraph of the discussion section should contain the take-home messages for your study. It can also cite the “strong points” of your study, to contrast with the limitations section.

Restate your hypothesis

Remind the reader what your hypothesis was before you conducted the study. 

How was it proven or disproven?

Identify your main findings and describe how they relate to your hypothesis.

How your results contribute to the literature

Were you able to answer your research question? Or address a gap in the literature?

Future implications of your research

Describe the impact that your results may have on the topic of study. Your results may show, for instance, that there are still limitations in the literature for future studies to address. There may be a need for studies that extend your findings in a specific way. You also may need additional research to corroborate your findings. 

Sample discussion section

This fictitious example covers all the aspects discussed above. Your actual discussion section will probably be much longer, but you can read this to get an idea of everything your discussion should cover.

Our results showed that the presence of cats in a household is associated with higher levels of perceived happiness by its human occupants. These findings support our hypothesis and demonstrate the association between pet ownership and well-being. 

The present findings align with those of Bao and Schreer (2016) and Hardie et al. (2023), who observed greater life satisfaction in pet owners relative to non-owners. Although the present study did not directly evaluate life satisfaction, this factor may explain the association between happiness and cat ownership observed in our sample.

Our findings must be interpreted in light of some limitations, such as the focus on cat ownership only rather than pets as a whole. This may limit the generalizability of our results.

Nevertheless, this study had several strengths. These include its strict exclusion criteria and use of a standardized assessment instrument to investigate the relationships between pets and owners. These attributes bolster the accuracy of our results and reduce the influence of confounding factors, increasing the strength of our conclusions. Future studies may examine the factors that mediate the association between pet ownership and happiness to better comprehend this phenomenon.

This brief discussion begins with a quick summary of the results and hypothesis. The next paragraph cites previous research and compares its findings to those of this study. Information from previous studies is also used to help interpret the findings. After discussing the results of the study, some limitations are pointed out. The paper also explains why these limitations may influence the interpretation of results. Then, final conclusions are drawn based on the study, and directions for future research are suggested.

How to make your discussion flow naturally

If you find writing in scientific English challenging, the discussion and conclusions are often the hardest parts of the paper to write. That’s because you’re not just listing up studies, methods, and outcomes. You’re actually expressing your thoughts and interpretations in words.

  • How formal should it be?
  • What words should you use, or not use?
  • How do you meet strict word limits, or make it longer and more informative?

Always give it your best, but sometimes a helping hand can, well, help. Getting a professional edit can help clarify your work’s importance while improving the English used to explain it. When readers know the value of your work, they’ll cite it. We’ll assign your study to an expert editor knowledgeable in your area of research. Their work will clarify your discussion, helping it to tell your story. Find out more about AJE Editing.

Adam Goulston, Science Marketing Consultant, PsyD, Human and Organizational Behavior, Scize

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Organizing Academic Research Papers: 8. The Discussion

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Executive Summary
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tertiary Sources
  • What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • How to Manage Group Projects
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Essays
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Acknowledgements

The purpose of the discussion is to interpret and describe the significance of your findings in light of what was already known about the research problem being investigated, and to explain any new understanding or fresh insights about the problem after you've taken the findings into consideration. The discussion will always connect to the introduction by way of the research questions or hypotheses you posed and the literature you reviewed, but it does not simply repeat or rearrange the introduction; the discussion should always explain how your study has moved the reader's understanding of the research problem forward from where you left them at the end of the introduction.

Importance of a Good Discussion

This section is often considered the most important part of a research paper because it most effectively demonstrates your ability as a researcher to think critically about an issue, to develop creative solutions to problems based on the findings, and to formulate a deeper, more profound understanding of the research problem you are studying.

The discussion section is where you explore the underlying meaning of your research , its possible implications in other areas of study, and the possible improvements that can be made in order to further develop the concerns of your research.

This is the section where you need to present the importance of your study and how it may be able to contribute to and/or fill existing gaps in the field. If appropriate, the discussion section is also where you state how the findings from your study revealed new gaps in the literature that had not been previously exposed or adequately described.

This part of the paper is not strictly governed by objective reporting of information but, rather, it is where you can engage in creative thinking about issues through evidence-based interpretation of findings. This is where you infuse your results with meaning.

Kretchmer, Paul. Fourteen Steps to Writing to Writing an Effective Discussion Section . San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  General Rules

These are the general rules you should adopt when composing your discussion of the results :

  • Do not be verbose or repetitive.
  • Be concise and make your points clearly.
  • Avoid using jargon.
  • Follow a logical stream of thought.
  • Use the present verb tense, especially for established facts; however, refer to specific works and references in the past tense.
  • If needed, use subheadings to help organize your presentation or to group your interpretations into themes.

II.  The Content

The content of the discussion section of your paper most often includes :

  • Explanation of results : comment on whether or not the results were expected and present explanations for the results; go into greater depth when explaining findings that were unexpected or especially profound. If appropriate, note any unusual or unanticipated patterns or trends that emerged from your results and explain their meaning.
  • References to previous research : compare your results with the findings from other studies, or use the studies to support a claim. This can include re-visiting key sources already cited in your literature review section, or, save them to cite later in the discussion section if they are more important to compare with your results than being part of the general research you cited to provide context and background information.
  • Deduction : a claim for how the results can be applied more generally. For example, describing lessons learned, proposing recommendations that can help improve a situation, or recommending best practices.
  • Hypothesis : a more general claim or possible conclusion arising from the results [which may be proved or disproved in subsequent research].

III. Organization and Structure

Keep the following sequential points in mind as you organize and write the discussion section of your paper:

  • Think of your discussion as an inverted pyramid. Organize the discussion from the general to the specific, linking your findings to the literature, then to theory, then to practice [if appropriate].
  • Use the same key terms, mode of narration, and verb tense [present] that you used when when describing the research problem in the introduction.
  • Begin by briefly re-stating the research problem you were investigating and answer all of the research questions underpinning the problem that you posed in the introduction.
  • Describe the patterns, principles, and relationships shown by each major findings and place them in proper perspective. The sequencing of providing this information is important; first state the answer, then the relevant results, then cite the work of others. If appropriate, refer the reader to a figure or table to help enhance the interpretation of the data. The order of interpreting each major finding should be in the same order as they were described in your results section.
  • A good discussion section includes analysis of any unexpected findings. This paragraph should begin with a description of the unexpected finding, followed by a brief interpretation as to why you believe it appeared and, if necessary, its possible significance in relation to the overall study. If more than one unexpected finding emerged during the study, describe each them in the order they appeared as you gathered the data.
  • Before concluding the discussion, identify potential limitations and weaknesses. Comment on their relative importance in relation to your overall interpretation of the results and, if necessary, note how they may affect the validity of the findings. Avoid using an apologetic tone; however, be honest and self-critical.
  • The discussion section should end with a concise summary of the principal implications of the findings regardless of statistical significance. Give a brief explanation about why you believe the findings and conclusions of your study are important and how they support broader knowledge or understanding of the research problem. This can be followed by any recommendations for further research. However, do not offer recommendations which could have been easily addressed within the study. This demonstrates to the reader you have inadequately examined and interpreted the data.

IV.  Overall Objectives

The objectives of your discussion section should include the following: I.  Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings

Briefly reiterate for your readers the research problem or problems you are investigating and the methods you used to investigate them, then move quickly to describe the major findings of the study. You should write a direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results.

II.  Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important

No one has thought as long and hard about your study as you have. Systematically explain the meaning of the findings and why you believe they are important. After reading the discussion section, you want the reader to think about the results [“why hadn’t I thought of that?”]. You don’t want to force the reader to go through the paper multiple times to figure out what it all means. Begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most important finding first.

III.  Relate the Findings to Similar Studies

No study is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to other previously published research. The discussion section should relate your study findings to those of other studies, particularly if questions raised by previous studies served as the motivation for your study, the findings of other studies support your findings [which strengthens the importance of your study results], and/or they point out how your study differs from other similar studies. IV.  Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings

It is important to remember that the purpose of research is to discover and not to prove . When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations for the study results, rather than just those that fit your prior assumptions or biases.

V.  Acknowledge the Study’s Limitations

It is far better for you to identify and acknowledge your study’s limitations than to have them pointed out by your professor! Describe the generalizability of your results to other situations, if applicable to the method chosen, then describe in detail problems you encountered in the method(s) you used to gather information. Note any unanswered questions or issues your study did not address, and.... VI.  Make Suggestions for Further Research

Although your study may offer important insights about the research problem, other questions related to the problem likely remain unanswered. Moreover, some unanswered questions may have become more focused because of your study. You should make suggestions for further research in the discussion section.

NOTE: Besides the literature review section, the preponderance of references to sources in your research paper are usually found in the discussion section . A few historical references may be helpful for perspective but most of the references should be relatively recent and included to aid in the interpretation of your results and/or linked to similar studies. If a study that you cited disagrees with your findings, don't ignore it--clearly explain why the study's findings differ from yours.

V.  Problems to Avoid

  • Do not waste entire sentences restating your results . Should you need to remind the reader of the finding to be discussed, use "bridge sentences" that relate the result to the interpretation. An example would be: “The lack of available housing to single women with children in rural areas of Texas suggests that...[then move to the interpretation of this finding].”
  • Recommendations for further research can be included in either the discussion or conclusion of your paper but do not repeat your recommendations in the both sections.
  • Do not introduce new results in the discussion. Be wary of mistaking the reiteration of a specific finding for an interpretation.
  • Use of the first person is acceptable, but too much use of the first person may actually distract the reader from the main points.

Analyzing vs. Summarizing. Department of English Writing Guide. George Mason University; Discussion . The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Hess, Dean R. How to Write an Effective Discussion. Respiratory Care 49 (October 2004); Kretchmer, Paul. Fourteen Steps to Writing to Writing an Effective Discussion Section . San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008; The Lab Report . University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Summary: Using it Wisely . The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Schafer, Mickey S. Writing the Discussion . Writing in Psychology course syllabus. University of Florida; Yellin, Linda L. A Sociology Writer's Guide. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2009.

Writing Tip

Don’t Overinterpret the Results!

Interpretation is a subjective exercise. Therefore, be careful that you do not read more into the findings than can be supported by the evidence you've gathered. Remember that the data are the data: nothing more, nothing less.

Another Writing Tip

Don't Write Two Results Sections!

One of the most common mistakes that you can make when discussing the results of your study is to present a superficial interpretation of the findings that more or less re-states the results section of your paper. Obviously, you must refer to your results when discussing them, but focus on the interpretion of those results, not just the data itself.

Azar, Beth. Discussing Your Findings.  American Psychological Association gradPSYCH Magazine (January 2006)

Yet Another Writing Tip

Avoid Unwarranted Speculation!

The discussion section should remain focused on the findings of your study. For example, if you studied the impact of foreign aid on increasing levels of education among the poor in Bangladesh, it's generally not appropriate to speculate about how your findings might apply to populations in other countries without drawing from existing studies to support your claim. If you feel compelled to speculate, be certain that you clearly identify your comments as speculation or as a suggestion for where further research is needed. Sometimes your professor will encourage you to expand the discussion in this way, while others don’t care what your opinion is beyond your efforts to interpret the data.

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General research paper guidelines: discussion, discussion section.

The overall purpose of a research paper’s discussion section is to evaluate and interpret results, while explaining both the implications and limitations of your findings. Per APA (2020) guidelines, this section requires you to “examine, interpret, and qualify the results and draw inferences and conclusions from them” (p. 89). Discussion sections also require you to detail any new insights, think through areas for future research, highlight the work that still needs to be done to further your topic, and provide a clear conclusion to your research paper. In a good discussion section, you should do the following:

  • Clearly connect the discussion of your results to your introduction, including your central argument, thesis, or problem statement.
  • Provide readers with a critical thinking through of your results, answering the “so what?” question about each of your findings. In other words, why is this finding important?
  • Detail how your research findings might address critical gaps or problems in your field
  • Compare your results to similar studies’ findings
  • Provide the possibility of alternative interpretations, as your goal as a researcher is to “discover” and “examine” and not to “prove” or “disprove.” Instead of trying to fit your results into your hypothesis, critically engage with alternative interpretations to your results.

For more specific details on your Discussion section, be sure to review Sections 3.8 (pp. 89-90) and 3.16 (pp. 103-104) of your 7 th edition APA manual

*Box content adapted from:

University of Southern California (n.d.). Organizing your social sciences research paper: 8 the discussion . https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/discussion

Limitations

Limitations of generalizability or utility of findings, often over which the researcher has no control, should be detailed in your Discussion section. Including limitations for your reader allows you to demonstrate you have thought critically about your given topic, understood relevant literature addressing your topic, and chosen the methodology most appropriate for your research. It also allows you an opportunity to suggest avenues for future research on your topic. An effective limitations section will include the following:

  • Detail (a) sources of potential bias, (b) possible imprecision of measures, (c) other limitations or weaknesses of the study, including any methodological or researcher limitations.
  • Sample size: In quantitative research, if a sample size is too small, it is more difficult to generalize results.
  • Lack of available/reliable data : In some cases, data might not be available or reliable, which will ultimately affect the overall scope of your research. Use this as an opportunity to explain areas for future study.
  • Lack of prior research on your study topic: In some cases, you might find that there is very little or no similar research on your study topic, which hinders the credibility and scope of your own research. If this is the case, use this limitation as an opportunity to call for future research. However, make sure you have done a thorough search of the available literature before making this claim.
  • Flaws in measurement of data: Hindsight is 20/20, and you might realize after you have completed your research that the data tool you used actually limited the scope or results of your study in some way. Again, acknowledge the weakness and use it as an opportunity to highlight areas for future study.
  • Limits of self-reported data: In your research, you are assuming that any participants will be honest and forthcoming with responses or information they provide to you. Simply acknowledging this assumption as a possible limitation is important in your research.
  • Access: Most research requires that you have access to people, documents, organizations, etc.. However, for various reasons, access is sometimes limited or denied altogether. If this is the case, you will want to acknowledge access as a limitation to your research.
  • Time: Choosing a research focus that is narrow enough in scope to finish in a given time period is important. If such limitations of time prevent you from certain forms of research, access, or study designs, acknowledging this time restraint is important. Acknowledging such limitations is important, as they can point other researchers to areas that require future study.
  • Potential Bias: All researchers have some biases, so when reading and revising your draft, pay special attention to the possibilities for bias in your own work. Such bias could be in the form you organized people, places, participants, or events. They might also exist in the method you selected or the interpretation of your results. Acknowledging such bias is an important part of the research process.
  • Language Fluency: On occasion, researchers or research participants might have language fluency issues, which could potentially hinder results or how effectively you interpret results. If this is an issue in your research, make sure to acknowledge it in your limitations section.

University of Southern California (n.d.). Organizing your social sciences research paper: Limitations of the study . https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/limitations

In many research papers, the conclusion, like the limitations section, is folded into the larger discussion section. If you are unsure whether to include the conclusion as part of your discussion or as a separate section, be sure to defer to the assignment instructions or ask your instructor.

The conclusion is important, as it is specifically designed to highlight your research’s larger importance outside of the specific results of your study. Your conclusion section allows you to reiterate the main findings of your study, highlight their importance, and point out areas for future research. Based on the scope of your paper, your conclusion could be anywhere from one to three paragraphs long. An effective conclusion section should include the following:

  • Describe the possibilities for continued research on your topic, including what might be improved, adapted, or added to ensure useful and informed future research.
  • Provide a detailed account of the importance of your findings
  • Reiterate why your problem is important, detail how your interpretation of results impacts the subfield of study, and what larger issues both within and outside of your field might be affected from such results

University of Southern California (n.d.). Organizing your social sciences research paper: 9. the conclusion . https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/conclusion

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Dissertations 5: findings, analysis and discussion: home.

  • Results/Findings

Alternative Structures

The time has come to show and discuss the findings of your research. How to structure this part of your dissertation? 

Dissertations can have different structures, as you can see in the dissertation  structure  guide.

Dissertations organised by sections

Many dissertations are organised by sections. In this case, we suggest three options. Note that, if within your course you have been instructed to use a specific structure, you should do that. Also note that sometimes there is considerable freedom on the structure, so you can come up with other structures too. 

A) More common for scientific dissertations and quantitative methods:

- Results chapter 

- Discussion chapter

Example: 

  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology
  • (Recommendations)

if you write a scientific dissertation, or anyway using quantitative methods, you will have some  objective  results that you will present in the Results chapter. You will then interpret the results in the Discussion chapter.  

B) More common for qualitative methods

- Analysis chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic subheadings.

- Discussion chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic subheadings.

  • Case study of Company X (fashion brand) environmental strategies 
  • Successful elements
  • Lessons learnt
  • Criticisms of Company X environmental strategies 
  • Possible alternatives

C) More common for qualitative methods

- Analysis and discussion chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic titles.

  • Case study of Company X (fashion brand) environmental strategies 

If your dissertation uses qualitative methods, it is harder to identify and report objective data. Instead, it may be more productive and meaningful to present the findings in the same sections where you also analyse, and possibly discuss, them. You will probably have different sections dealing with different themes. The different themes can be subheadings of the Analysis and Discussion (together or separate) chapter(s). 

Thematic dissertations

If the structure of your dissertation is thematic ,  you will have several chapters analysing and discussing the issues raised by your research. The chapters will have descriptive/thematic titles. 

  • Background on the conflict in Yemen (2004-present day)
  • Classification of the conflict in international law  
  • International law violations
  • Options for enforcement of international law
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  • J Clin Transl Sci
  • v.4(3); 2020 Jun

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Communicating and disseminating research findings to study participants: Formative assessment of participant and researcher expectations and preferences

Cathy l. melvin.

1 College of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA

Jillian Harvey

2 College of Health Professions/Healthcare Leadership & Management, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA

Tara Pittman

3 South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research Institute (CTSA), Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA

Stephanie Gentilin

Dana burshell.

4 SOGI-SES Add Health Study Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Teresa Kelechi

5 College of Nursing, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA

Introduction:

Translating research findings into practice requires understanding how to meet communication and dissemination needs and preferences of intended audiences including past research participants (PSPs) who want, but seldom receive, information on research findings during or after participating in research studies. Most researchers want to let others, including PSP, know about their findings but lack knowledge about how to effectively communicate findings to a lay audience.

We designed a two-phase, mixed methods pilot study to understand experiences, expectations, concerns, preferences, and capacities of researchers and PSP in two age groups (adolescents/young adults (AYA) or older adults) and to test communication prototypes for sharing, receiving, and using information on research study findings.

Principal Results:

PSP and researchers agreed that sharing study findings should happen and that doing so could improve participant recruitment and enrollment, use of research findings to improve health and health-care delivery, and build community support for research. Some differences and similarities in communication preferences and message format were identified between PSP groups, reinforcing the best practice of customizing communication channel and messaging. Researchers wanted specific training and/or time and resources to help them prepare messages in formats to meet PSP needs and preferences but were unaware of resources to help them do so.

Conclusions:

Our findings offer insight into how to engage both PSP and researchers in the design and use of strategies to share research findings and highlight the need to develop services and support for researchers as they aim to bridge this translational barrier.

Introduction

Since 2006, the National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) have aimed to advance science and translate knowledge into evidence that, if implemented, helps patients and providers make more informed decisions with the potential to improve health care and health outcomes [ 1 , 2 ]. This aim responded to calls by leaders in the fields of comparative effectiveness research, clinical trials, research ethics, and community engagement to assure that results of clinical trials were made available to participants and suggesting that providing participants with results both positive and negative should be the “ethical norm” [ 1 , 3 ]. Others noted that

on the surface, the concept of providing clinical trial results might seem straightforward but putting such a plan into action will be much more complicated. Communication with patients following participation in a clinical trial represents an important and often overlooked aspect of the patient-physician relationship. Careful exploration of this issue, both from the patient and clinician-researcher perspective, is warranted [ 4 ].

Authors also noted that no systematic approach to operationalizing this “ethical norm” existed and that evidence was lacking to describe either positive or negative outcomes of sharing clinical trial results with study participants and the community [ 4 ]. It was generally assumed, but not supported by research, that sharing would result in better patient–physician/researcher communication, improvement in patient care and satisfaction with care, better patient/participant understanding of clinical trials, and enhanced clinical trial accrual [ 4 ].

More recent literature informs these processes but also raises unresolved concerns about the communication and dissemination of research results. A 2008 narrative review of available data on the effects of communicating aggregate and individual research showed that

  • research participants want aggregate and clinically significant individual study results made available to them despite the transient distress that communication of results sometimes elicits [ 3 , 5 ]. While differing in their preferences for specific channels of communication, they indicated that not sharing results fostered lack of participant trust in the health-care system, providers, and researchers [ 6 ] and an adverse impact on trial participation [ 5 ];
  • investigators recognized their ethical obligation to at least offer to share research findings with recipients and the nonacademic community but differed on whether they should proactively re-contact participants, the type of results to be offered to participants, the need for clinical relevance before disclosure, and the stage at which research results should be offered [ 5 ]. They also reported not being well versed in communication and dissemination strategies known to be effective and not having funding sources to implement proven strategies for sharing with specific audiences [ 5 ];
  • members of the research enterprise noted that while public opinion regarding participation in clinical trials is positive, clinical trial accrual remains low and that the failure to provide information about study results may be one of many factors negatively affecting accrual. They also called for better understanding of physician–researcher and patient attitudes and preferences and posit that development of effective mechanisms to share trial results with study participants should enhance patient–physician communication and improve clinical care and research processes [ 5 ].

A 2010 survey of CTSAs found that while professional and scientific audiences are currently the primary focus for communicating and disseminating research findings, it is equally vital to develop approaches for sharing research findings with other audiences, including individuals who participate in clinical trials [ 1 , 5 ]. Effective communication and dissemination strategies are documented in the literature [ 6 , 7 ], but most are designed to promote adoption of evidence-based interventions and lack of applicability to participants overall, especially to participants who are members of special populations and underrepresented minorities who have fewer opportunities to participate in research and whose preferences for receiving research findings are unknown [ 7 ].

Researchers often have limited exposure to methods that offer them guidance in communicating and disseminating study findings in ways likely to improve awareness, adoption, and use of their findings [ 7 ]. Researchers also lack expertise in using communication channels such as traditional journalism platforms, live or face-to-face events such as public festivals, lectures, and panels, and online interactions [ 8 ]. Few strategies provide guidance for researchers about how to develop communications that are patient-centered, contain plain language, create awareness of the influence of findings on participant or population health, and increase the likelihood of enrollment in future studies.

Consequently, researchers often rely on traditional methods (e.g., presentations at scientific meetings and publication of study findings in peer-reviewed journals) despite evidence suggesting their limited reach and/or impact among professional/scientific and/or lay audiences [ 9 , 10 ].

Input from stakeholders can enhance our understanding of how to assure that participants will receive understandable, useful information about research findings and, as appropriate, interpret and use this information to inform their decisions about changing health behaviors, interacting with their health-care providers, enrolling in future research studies, sharing their study experiences with others, or recommending to others that they participate in studies.

Purpose and Goal

This pilot project was undertaken to address issues cited above and in response to expressed concerns of community members in our area about not receiving information on research studies in which they participated. The project design, a two-phase, mixed methods pilot study, was informed by their subsequent participation in a committee of community-academic representatives to determine possible options for improving the communication and dissemination of study results to both study participants and the community at large.

Our goals were to understand the experiences, expectations, concerns, preferences, and capacities of researchers and past research participants (PSP) in two age groups (adolescents/young adults (AYA) aged 15–25 years and older adults aged 50 years or older) and to test communication prototypes for sharing, receiving, and using information on research study findings. Our long-term objectives are to stimulate new, interdisciplinary collaborative research and to develop resources to meet PSP and researcher needs.

This study was conducted in an academic medical center located in south-eastern South Carolina. Phase one consisted of surveying PSP and researchers. In phase two, in-person focus groups were conducted among PSP completing the survey and one-on-one interviews were conducted among researchers. Participants in either the interviews or focus groups responded to a set of questions from a discussion guide developed by the study team and reviewed three prototypes for communicating and disseminating study results developed by the study team in response to PSP and researcher survey responses: a study results letter, a study results email, and a web-based communication – Mail Chimp (Figs.  1 – 3 ).

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Prototype 1: study results email prototype. MUSC, Medical University of South Carolina.

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Prototype 3: study results MailChimp prototypes 1 and 2. MUSC, Medical University of South Carolina.

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Prototype 2: study results letter prototype.

PSP and researcher surveys

A 42-item survey questionnaire representing seven domains was developed by a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, researchers, and PSP that evaluated the questions for content, ease of understanding, usefulness, and comprehensiveness [ 11 ]. Project principal investigators reviewed questions for content and clarity [ 11 ]. The PSP and researcher surveys contained screening and demographic questions to determine participant eligibility and participant characteristics. The PSP survey assessed prior experience with research, receipt of study information from the research team, intention to participate in future research, and preferences and opinions about receipt of information about study findings and next steps. Specific questions for PSP elicited their preferences for communication channels such as phone call, email, social or mass media, and public forum and included channels unique to South Carolina, such as billboards. PSP were asked to rank their preferences and experiences regarding receipt of study results using a Likert scale with the following measurements: “not at all interested” (0), “not very interested” (1), “neutral” (3), “somewhat interested” (3), and “very interested” (4).

The researcher survey contained questions about researcher decisions, plans, and actions regarding communication and dissemination of research results for a recently completed study. Items included knowledge and opinions about how to communicate and disseminate research findings, resources used and needed to develop communication strategies, and awareness and use of dissemination channels, message development, and presentation format.

A research team member administered the survey to PSP and researchers either in person or via phone. Researchers could also complete the survey online through Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap©).

Focus groups and discussion guide content

The PSP focus group discussion guide contained questions to assess participants’ past experiences with receiving information about research findings; identify participant preferences for receiving research findings whether negative, positive, or equivocal; gather information to improve communication of research results back to participants; assess participant intention to enroll in future research studies, to share their study experiences with others, and to refer others to our institution for study participation; and provide comments and suggestions on prototypes developed for communication and dissemination of study results. Five AYA participated in one focus group, and 11 older adults participated in one focus group. Focus groups were conducted in an off-campus location with convenient parking and at times convenient for participants. Snacks and beverages were provided.

The researcher interview guide was designed to understand researchers’ perspectives on communicating and disseminating research findings to participants; explore past experiences, if any, of researchers with communication and dissemination of research findings to study participants; document any approaches researchers may have used or intend to use to communicate and disseminate research findings to study participants; assess researcher expectations of benefits associated with sharing findings with participants, as well as, perceived and actual barriers to sharing findings; and provide comments and suggestions on prototypes developed for communication and dissemination of study results.

Prototype materials

Three prototypes were presented to focus group participants and included (1) a formal letter on hospital letterhead designed to be delivered by standard mail, describing the purpose and findings of a fictional study and thanking the individual for his/her participation, (2) a text-only email including a brief thank you and a summary of major findings with a link to a study website for more information, and (3) an email formatted like a newsletter with detailed information on study purpose, method, and findings with graphics to help convey results. A mock study website was shown and included information about study background, purpose, methods, results, as well as, links to other research and health resources. Prototypes were presented either in paper or PowerPoint format during the focus groups and explained by a study team member who then elicited participant input using the focus group guide. Researchers also reviewed and commented on prototype content and format in one-on-one interviews with a study team member.

Protection of Human Subjects

The study protocol (No. Pro00067659) was submitted to and approved by the Institutional Review Board at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2017. PSP (or the caretakers for PSP under age 18), and researchers provided verbal informed consent prior to completing the survey or participating in either a focus group or interview. Participants received a verbal introduction prior to participating in each phase.

Recruitment and Interview Procedures

Past study participants.

A study team member reviewed study participant logs from five recently completed studies at our institution involving AYA or older adults to identify individuals who provided consent for contact regarding future studies. Subsequent PSP recruitment efforts based on these searches were consistent with previous contact preferences recorded in each study participant’s consent indicating desire to be re-contacted. The primary modes of contact were phone/SMS and email.

Efforts to recruit other PSP were made through placement of flyers in frequented public locations such as coffee shops, recreation complexes, and college campuses and through social media, Yammer, and newsletters. ResearchMatch, a web-based recruitment tool, was used to alert its subscribers about the study. Potential participants reached by these methods contacted our study team to learn more about the study, and if interested and pre-screened eligible, volunteered and were consented for the study. PSP completing the survey indicated willingness to share experiences with the study team in a focus group and were re-contacted to participate in focus groups.

Researcher recruitment

Researchers were identified through informal outreach by study investigators and staff, a flyer distributed on campus, use of Yammer and other institutional social media platforms, and internal electronic newsletters. Researchers responding to these recruitment efforts were invited to participate in the researcher survey and/or interview.

Incentives for participation

Researchers and PSP received a $25 gift card for completing the survey and $75 for completing the interview (researcher) or focus group (PSP) (up to $100 per researcher or PSP).

Data tables displaying demographic and other data from the PSP surveys (Table ​ (Table1) 1 ) were prepared from the REDCap© database and responses reported as number and percent of respondents choosing each response option.

Post study participant (PSP) characteristics by Adolescents/Young Adults (AYA), Older Adults, and ALL (All participants regardless of age)

Age mean (SD) = 49.7 (18.6).

Focus group and researcher interview data were recorded (either via audio recording and/or notes taken by research staff) and analyzed via a general inductive qualitative approach, a method appropriate for program evaluation studies and aimed at condensing large amounts of textual data into frameworks that describe the underlying process and experiences under study [ 12 ]. Data were analyzed by our team’s qualitative expert who read the textual data multiple times, developed a coding scheme to identify themes in the textual data, and used group consensus methods with other team members to identify unique, key themes.

Sixty-one of sixty-five PSP who volunteered to participate in the PSP survey were screened eligible, fifty were consented, and forty-eight completed the survey questionnaire. Of the 48 PSP completing the survey, 15 (32%) were AYA and 33 (68%) older adults. The mean age of survey respondents was 49.7 years, 23.5 for AYA, and 61.6 for older adults. Survey respondents were predominantly White, non-Hispanic/Latino, female, and with some college or a college degree (Table ​ (Table1). 1 ). The percentage of participants in each group never or rarely needing any help with reading/interpreting written materials was above 93% in both groups.

Over 90% of PSP responded that they would participate in another research study, and more than 75% of PSP indicated that study participants should know about study results. Most (68.8%) respondents indicated that they did not receive any communications from study staff after they finished a study .

PSP preferences for communication channel are summarized in Table ​ Table2 2 and based on responses to the question “How do you want to receive information?.” Both AYA and older adults agree or completely agree that they prefer email to other communication channels and that billboards did not apply to them. Older adult preferences for communication channels as indicated by agreeing or completely agreeing were in ranked order of highest to lowest: use of mailed letters/postcards, newsletter, and phone. A majority (over 50%) of older adults completely disagreed or disagreed on texting and social media as options and had only slight preference for mass media, public forum, and wellness fairs or expos.

Communication preference by group: AYA * , older adult ** , and ALL ( n = 48)

ALL, total per column.

While AYA preferred email over all other options, they completely disagreed/disagreed with mailed letters/postcards, social media, and mass media options.

When communication formats were ranked overall by each group and by both groups combined, the ranking from most to least preferred was written materials, opportunities to interact with study teams and ask questions, visual charts, graphs, pictures, and videos, audios, and podcasts.

PSP Focus Groups

PSP want to receive and share information on study findings for studies in which he/she participated. Furthermore, participants stated their desire to share study results across social networks and highlighted opportunities to share communicated study results with their health-care providers, family members, friends, and other acquaintances with similar medical conditions.

Because of the things I was in a study for, it’s a condition I knew three other people who had the same condition, so as soon as it worked for me, I put the word out, this is great stuff. I would forward the email with the link, this is where you can go to also get in on this study, or I’d also tell them, you know, for me, like the medication. Here’s the medication. Here’s the name of it. Tell your doctor. I would definitely share. I’d just tell everyone without a doubt. Right when I get home, as soon as I walk in the door, and say Renee-that’s my daughter-I’ve got to tell you this.

Communication of study information could happen through several channels including social media, verbal communication, sharing of written documents, and forwarding emails containing a range of content in a range of formats (e.g., reports and pamphlets).

Word of mouth and I have no shame in saying I had head to toe psoriasis, and I used the drug being studied, and so I would just go to people, hey, look. So, if you had it in paper form, like a pamphlet or something, yeah I’d pass it on to them.

PSP prefer clear, simple messaging and highlighted multiple, preferred communication modalities for receiving information on study findings including emails, letters, newsletters, social media, and websites.

The wording is really simple, which I like. It’s to the point and clear. I really like the bullet points, because it’s quick and to the point. I think the [long] paragraphs-you get lost, especially when you are reading on your phone.

They indicated a clear preference for colorful, simple, easy to read communication. PSP also expressed some concern about difficulty opening emails with pictures and dislike lengthy written text. “I don’t read long emails. I tend to delete them”

PSP indicated some confusion about common research language. For example, one participant indicated that using the word “estimate” indicates the research findings were an approximation, “When I hear those words, I just think you’re guessing, estimate, you know? It sounds like an estimate, not a definite answer.”

Researcher Survey

Twenty-three of thirty-two researchers volunteered to participate in the researcher survey, were screened eligible, and two declined to participate, resulting in 19 who provided consent to participate and completed the survey. The mean age of survey respondents was 51.8 years. Respondents were predominantly White, non-Hispanic/Latino, and female, and all were holders of either a professional school degree or a doctoral degree. When asked if it is important to inform study participants of study results, 94.8% of responding researchers agreed that it was extremely important or important. Most researchers have disseminated findings to study participants or plan to disseminate findings.

Researchers listed a variety of reasons for their rating of the importance of informing study participants of study results including “to promote feelings of inclusion by participants and other community members”, “maintaining participant interest and engagement in the subject study and in research generally”, “allowing participants to benefit somewhat from their participation in research and especially if personal health data are collected”, “increasing transparency and opportunities for learning”, and “helping in understanding the impact of the research on the health issue under study”.

Some researchers view sharing study findings as an “ethical responsibility and/or a tenet of volunteerism for a research study”. For example, “if we (researchers) are obligated to inform participants about anything that comes up during the conduct of the study, we should feel compelled to equally give the results at the end of the study”.

One researcher “thought it a good idea to ask participants if they would like an overview of findings at the end of the study that they could share with others who would like to see the information”.

Two researchers said that sharing research results “depends on the study” and that providing “general findings to the participants” might be “sufficient for a treatment outcome study”.

Researchers indicated that despite their willingness to share study results, they face resource challenges such as a lack of funding and/or staff to support communication and dissemination activities and need assistance in developing these materials. One researcher remarked “I would really like to learn what are (sic) the best ways to share research findings. I am truly ignorant about this other than what I have casually observed. I would enjoy attending a workshop on the topic with suggested templates and communication strategies that work best” and that this survey “reminds me how important this is and it is promising that our CTSA seems to plan to take this on and help researchers with this important study element.”

Another researcher commented on a list of potential types of assistance that could be made available to assist with communicating and disseminating results, that “Training on developing lay friendly messaging is especially critically important and would translate across so many different aspects of what we do, not just dissemination of findings. But I’ve noticed that it is a skill that very few people have, and some people never can seem to develop. For that reason, I find as a principal investigator that I am spending a lot of my time working on these types of materials when I’d really prefer research assistant level folks having the ability to get me 99% of the way there.”

Most researchers indicated that they provide participants with personal tests or assessments taken from the study (60% n = 6) and final study results (72.7%, n = 8) but no other information such as recruitment and retention updates, interim updates or results, information on the impact of the study on either the health topic of the study or the community, information on other studies or provide tips and resources related to the health topic and self-help. Sixty percent ( n = 6) of researcher respondents indicated sharing planned next steps for the study team and information on how the study results would be used.

When asked about how they communicated results, phone calls were mentioned most frequently followed by newsletters, email, webpages, public forums, journal article, mailed letter or postcard, mass media, wellness fairs/expos, texting, or social media.

Researchers used a variety of communication formats to communicate with study participants. Written descriptions of study findings were most frequently reported followed by visual depictions, opportunities to interact with study staff and ask questions or provide feedback, and videos/audio/podcasts.

Seventy-three percent of researchers reported that they made efforts to make study findings information available to those with low levels of literacy, health literacy, or other possible limitations such as non-English-speaking populations.

In open-ended responses, most researchers reported wanting to increase their awareness and use of on-campus training and other resources to support communication and dissemination of study results, including how to get resources and budgets to support their use.

Researcher Interviews

One-on-one interviews with researchers identified two themes.

Researchers may struggle to see the utility of communicating small findings

Some researchers indicated hesitancy in communicating preliminary findings, findings from small studies, or highly summarized information. In addition, in comparison to research participants, researchers seemed to place a higher value on specific details of the study.

“I probably wouldn’t put it up [on social media] until the actual manuscript was out with the graphs and the figures, because I think that’s what people ultimately would be interested in.”

Researchers face resource and time limitations in communication and dissemination of study findings

Researchers expressed interest in communicating research results to study participants. However, they highlighted several challenges including difficulties in tracking current email and physical addresses for participants; compliance with literacy and visual impairment regulations; and the number of products already required in research that consume a considerable amount of a research team’s time. Researchers expressed a desire to have additional resources and templates to facilitate sharing study findings. According to one respondent, “For every grant there is (sic) 4-10 papers and 3-5 presentations, already doing 10-20 products.” Researchers do not want to “reinvent the wheel” and would like to pull from existing papers and presentations on how to share with participants and have boilerplate, writing templates, and other logistical information available for their use.

Researchers would also like training in the form of lunch-n-learns, podcasts, or easily accessible online tools on how to develop materials and approaches. Researchers are interested in understanding the “do’s and don’ts” of communicating and disseminating study findings and any regulatory requirements that should be considered when communicating with research participants following a completed study. For example, one researcher asked, “From beginning to end – the do’s and don’ts – are stamps allowed as a direct cost? or can indirect costs include paper for printing newsletters, how about designing a website, a checklist for pulling together a newsletter?”

The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the current experiences, expectations, concerns, preferences, and capacities of PSP including youth/young adult and older adult populations and researchers for sharing, receiving, and using information on research study findings. PSP and researchers agreed, as shown in earlier work [ 3 , 5 ], that sharing information upon study completion with participants was something that should be done and that had value for both PSP and researchers. As in prior studies [ 3 , 5 ], both groups also agreed that sharing study findings could improve ancillary outcomes such as participant recruitment and enrollment, use of research findings to improve health and health-care delivery, and build overall community support for research. In addition, communicating results acknowledges study participants’ contributions to research, a principle firmly rooted in respect for treating participants as not merely a means to further scientific investigation [ 5 ].

The majority of PSP indicated that they did not receive research findings from studies they participated in, that they would like to receive such information, and that they preferred specific communication methods for receipt of this information such as email and phone calls. While our sample was small, we did identify preferences for communication channels and for message format. Some differences and similarities in preferences for communication channels and message format were identified between AYA and older adults, thus reinforcing the best practice of customizing communication channel and messaging to each specific group. However, the preference for email and the similar rank ordering of messaging formats suggest that there are some overall communication preferences that may apply to most populations of PSP. It remains unclear whether participants prefer individual or aggregate results of study findings and depends on the type of study, for example, individual results of genotypes versus aggregate results of epidemiological studies [ 13 ]. A study by Miller et al suggests that the impact of receiving aggregate results, whether clinically relevant or not, may equal that of receiving individual results [ 14 ]. Further investigation warrants evaluation of whether, when, and how researchers should communicate types of results to study participants, considering multiple demographics of the populations such as age and ethnicity on preferences.

While researchers acknowledged that PSP would like to hear from them regarding research results and that they wanted to meet this expectation, they indicated needing specific training and/or time and resources to provide this information to PSP in a way that meets PSP needs and preferences. Costs associated with producing reports of findings were a concern of researchers in our study, similar to findings from a study conducted by Di Blasi and colleagues in which 15% (8 of 53 investigators) indicated that they wanted to avoid extra costs associated with the conduct of their studies and extra administrative work [ 15 ]. In this same study, the major reason for not informing participants about study results was that forty percent of investigators never considered this option. Researchers were unaware of resources available on existing platforms at their home institution or elsewhere to help them with communication and dissemination efforts [ 10 ].

Addressing Barriers to Implementation

Information from academic and other organizations on how to best communicate research findings in plain language is available and could be shared with researchers and their teams. The Cochrane Collaborative [ 16 ], the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [ 17 ], and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute [ 18 ] have resources to help researchers develop plain language summaries using proven approaches to overcome literacy and other issues that limit participant access to study findings. Some academic institutions have electronic systems in place to confidentially share templated laboratory and other personal study information with participants and, if appropriate, with their health-care providers.

Limitations

Findings from the study are limited by several study and respondent characteristics. The sample was drawn from research records at one university engaging in research in a relatively defined geographic area and among two special populations: AYA and older adults. As such, participants were not representative of either the general population in the area, the population of PSP or researchers available in the area, or the racial and ethnic diversity of potential and/or actual participants in the geographic area. The small number of researcher participants did not represent the pool of researchers at the university, and the research studies from which participants were drawn were not representative of the broad range of clinical and translational research undertaken by our institution or within the geographic community it serves. The number of survey and focus group participants was insufficient to allow robust analysis of findings specific to participants’ race, ethnicity, gender, or membership in the target age groups of AYA or older adult. However, these data will inform a future trial with adequate representations from underrepresented and special population groups.

Since all PSP had participated in research, they may have been biased in favor of wanting to know more about study results and/or supportive/nonsupportive of the method of communication/dissemination they were exposed to through their participation in these studies.

Conclusions

Our findings provide information from PSP and researchers on their expectations about sharing study findings, preferences for how to communicate and disseminate study findings, and need for greater assistance in removing roadblocks to using proven communication and dissemination approaches. This information illustrates the potential to engage both PSP and researchers in the design and use of communication and dissemination strategies and materials to share research findings, engage in efforts to more broadly disseminate research findings, and inform our understanding of how to interpret and communicate research findings for members of special population groups. While several initial prototypes were developed in response to this feedback and shared for review by participants in this study, future research will focus on finalizing and testing specific communication and dissemination prototypes aimed at these special population groups.

Findings from our study support a major goal of the National Center for Advancing Translational Science Recruitment Innovation Center to engage and collaborate with patients and their communities to advance translation science. In response to the increased awareness of the importance of sharing results with study participants or the general public, a template for dissemination of research results is available in the Recruitment and Retention Toolbox through the CTSA Trial Innovation Network (TIN: trialinnovationnetwork.org ). We believe that our findings will inform resources for use in special populations through collaborations within the TIN.

Acknowledgment

This pilot project was supported, in part, by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the NIH under Grant Number UL1 TR001450. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

Disclosures

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Ethical Approval

This study was reviewed, approved, and continuously overseen by the IRB at the Medical University of South Carolina (ID: Pro00067659). All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Research Method

Home » Research Findings – Types Examples and Writing Guide

Research Findings – Types Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Research Findings

Research Findings

Definition:

Research findings refer to the results obtained from a study or investigation conducted through a systematic and scientific approach. These findings are the outcomes of the data analysis, interpretation, and evaluation carried out during the research process.

Types of Research Findings

There are two main types of research findings:

Qualitative Findings

Qualitative research is an exploratory research method used to understand the complexities of human behavior and experiences. Qualitative findings are non-numerical and descriptive data that describe the meaning and interpretation of the data collected. Examples of qualitative findings include quotes from participants, themes that emerge from the data, and descriptions of experiences and phenomena.

Quantitative Findings

Quantitative research is a research method that uses numerical data and statistical analysis to measure and quantify a phenomenon or behavior. Quantitative findings include numerical data such as mean, median, and mode, as well as statistical analyses such as t-tests, ANOVA, and regression analysis. These findings are often presented in tables, graphs, or charts.

Both qualitative and quantitative findings are important in research and can provide different insights into a research question or problem. Combining both types of findings can provide a more comprehensive understanding of a phenomenon and improve the validity and reliability of research results.

Parts of Research Findings

Research findings typically consist of several parts, including:

  • Introduction: This section provides an overview of the research topic and the purpose of the study.
  • Literature Review: This section summarizes previous research studies and findings that are relevant to the current study.
  • Methodology : This section describes the research design, methods, and procedures used in the study, including details on the sample, data collection, and data analysis.
  • Results : This section presents the findings of the study, including statistical analyses and data visualizations.
  • Discussion : This section interprets the results and explains what they mean in relation to the research question(s) and hypotheses. It may also compare and contrast the current findings with previous research studies and explore any implications or limitations of the study.
  • Conclusion : This section provides a summary of the key findings and the main conclusions of the study.
  • Recommendations: This section suggests areas for further research and potential applications or implications of the study’s findings.

How to Write Research Findings

Writing research findings requires careful planning and attention to detail. Here are some general steps to follow when writing research findings:

  • Organize your findings: Before you begin writing, it’s essential to organize your findings logically. Consider creating an outline or a flowchart that outlines the main points you want to make and how they relate to one another.
  • Use clear and concise language : When presenting your findings, be sure to use clear and concise language that is easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms unless they are necessary to convey your meaning.
  • Use visual aids : Visual aids such as tables, charts, and graphs can be helpful in presenting your findings. Be sure to label and title your visual aids clearly, and make sure they are easy to read.
  • Use headings and subheadings: Using headings and subheadings can help organize your findings and make them easier to read. Make sure your headings and subheadings are clear and descriptive.
  • Interpret your findings : When presenting your findings, it’s important to provide some interpretation of what the results mean. This can include discussing how your findings relate to the existing literature, identifying any limitations of your study, and suggesting areas for future research.
  • Be precise and accurate : When presenting your findings, be sure to use precise and accurate language. Avoid making generalizations or overstatements and be careful not to misrepresent your data.
  • Edit and revise: Once you have written your research findings, be sure to edit and revise them carefully. Check for grammar and spelling errors, make sure your formatting is consistent, and ensure that your writing is clear and concise.

Research Findings Example

Following is a Research Findings Example sample for students:

Title: The Effects of Exercise on Mental Health

Sample : 500 participants, both men and women, between the ages of 18-45.

Methodology : Participants were divided into two groups. The first group engaged in 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five times a week for eight weeks. The second group did not exercise during the study period. Participants in both groups completed a questionnaire that assessed their mental health before and after the study period.

Findings : The group that engaged in regular exercise reported a significant improvement in mental health compared to the control group. Specifically, they reported lower levels of anxiety and depression, improved mood, and increased self-esteem.

Conclusion : Regular exercise can have a positive impact on mental health and may be an effective intervention for individuals experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Applications of Research Findings

Research findings can be applied in various fields to improve processes, products, services, and outcomes. Here are some examples:

  • Healthcare : Research findings in medicine and healthcare can be applied to improve patient outcomes, reduce morbidity and mortality rates, and develop new treatments for various diseases.
  • Education : Research findings in education can be used to develop effective teaching methods, improve learning outcomes, and design new educational programs.
  • Technology : Research findings in technology can be applied to develop new products, improve existing products, and enhance user experiences.
  • Business : Research findings in business can be applied to develop new strategies, improve operations, and increase profitability.
  • Public Policy: Research findings can be used to inform public policy decisions on issues such as environmental protection, social welfare, and economic development.
  • Social Sciences: Research findings in social sciences can be used to improve understanding of human behavior and social phenomena, inform public policy decisions, and develop interventions to address social issues.
  • Agriculture: Research findings in agriculture can be applied to improve crop yields, develop new farming techniques, and enhance food security.
  • Sports : Research findings in sports can be applied to improve athlete performance, reduce injuries, and develop new training programs.

When to use Research Findings

Research findings can be used in a variety of situations, depending on the context and the purpose. Here are some examples of when research findings may be useful:

  • Decision-making : Research findings can be used to inform decisions in various fields, such as business, education, healthcare, and public policy. For example, a business may use market research findings to make decisions about new product development or marketing strategies.
  • Problem-solving : Research findings can be used to solve problems or challenges in various fields, such as healthcare, engineering, and social sciences. For example, medical researchers may use findings from clinical trials to develop new treatments for diseases.
  • Policy development : Research findings can be used to inform the development of policies in various fields, such as environmental protection, social welfare, and economic development. For example, policymakers may use research findings to develop policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Program evaluation: Research findings can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of programs or interventions in various fields, such as education, healthcare, and social services. For example, educational researchers may use findings from evaluations of educational programs to improve teaching and learning outcomes.
  • Innovation: Research findings can be used to inspire or guide innovation in various fields, such as technology and engineering. For example, engineers may use research findings on materials science to develop new and innovative products.

Purpose of Research Findings

The purpose of research findings is to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of a particular topic or issue. Research findings are the result of a systematic and rigorous investigation of a research question or hypothesis, using appropriate research methods and techniques.

The main purposes of research findings are:

  • To generate new knowledge : Research findings contribute to the body of knowledge on a particular topic, by adding new information, insights, and understanding to the existing knowledge base.
  • To test hypotheses or theories : Research findings can be used to test hypotheses or theories that have been proposed in a particular field or discipline. This helps to determine the validity and reliability of the hypotheses or theories, and to refine or develop new ones.
  • To inform practice: Research findings can be used to inform practice in various fields, such as healthcare, education, and business. By identifying best practices and evidence-based interventions, research findings can help practitioners to make informed decisions and improve outcomes.
  • To identify gaps in knowledge: Research findings can help to identify gaps in knowledge and understanding of a particular topic, which can then be addressed by further research.
  • To contribute to policy development: Research findings can be used to inform policy development in various fields, such as environmental protection, social welfare, and economic development. By providing evidence-based recommendations, research findings can help policymakers to develop effective policies that address societal challenges.

Characteristics of Research Findings

Research findings have several key characteristics that distinguish them from other types of information or knowledge. Here are some of the main characteristics of research findings:

  • Objective : Research findings are based on a systematic and rigorous investigation of a research question or hypothesis, using appropriate research methods and techniques. As such, they are generally considered to be more objective and reliable than other types of information.
  • Empirical : Research findings are based on empirical evidence, which means that they are derived from observations or measurements of the real world. This gives them a high degree of credibility and validity.
  • Generalizable : Research findings are often intended to be generalizable to a larger population or context beyond the specific study. This means that the findings can be applied to other situations or populations with similar characteristics.
  • Transparent : Research findings are typically reported in a transparent manner, with a clear description of the research methods and data analysis techniques used. This allows others to assess the credibility and reliability of the findings.
  • Peer-reviewed: Research findings are often subject to a rigorous peer-review process, in which experts in the field review the research methods, data analysis, and conclusions of the study. This helps to ensure the validity and reliability of the findings.
  • Reproducible : Research findings are often designed to be reproducible, meaning that other researchers can replicate the study using the same methods and obtain similar results. This helps to ensure the validity and reliability of the findings.

Advantages of Research Findings

Research findings have many advantages, which make them valuable sources of knowledge and information. Here are some of the main advantages of research findings:

  • Evidence-based: Research findings are based on empirical evidence, which means that they are grounded in data and observations from the real world. This makes them a reliable and credible source of information.
  • Inform decision-making: Research findings can be used to inform decision-making in various fields, such as healthcare, education, and business. By identifying best practices and evidence-based interventions, research findings can help practitioners and policymakers to make informed decisions and improve outcomes.
  • Identify gaps in knowledge: Research findings can help to identify gaps in knowledge and understanding of a particular topic, which can then be addressed by further research. This contributes to the ongoing development of knowledge in various fields.
  • Improve outcomes : Research findings can be used to develop and implement evidence-based practices and interventions, which have been shown to improve outcomes in various fields, such as healthcare, education, and social services.
  • Foster innovation: Research findings can inspire or guide innovation in various fields, such as technology and engineering. By providing new information and understanding of a particular topic, research findings can stimulate new ideas and approaches to problem-solving.
  • Enhance credibility: Research findings are generally considered to be more credible and reliable than other types of information, as they are based on rigorous research methods and are subject to peer-review processes.

Limitations of Research Findings

While research findings have many advantages, they also have some limitations. Here are some of the main limitations of research findings:

  • Limited scope: Research findings are typically based on a particular study or set of studies, which may have a limited scope or focus. This means that they may not be applicable to other contexts or populations.
  • Potential for bias : Research findings can be influenced by various sources of bias, such as researcher bias, selection bias, or measurement bias. This can affect the validity and reliability of the findings.
  • Ethical considerations: Research findings can raise ethical considerations, particularly in studies involving human subjects. Researchers must ensure that their studies are conducted in an ethical and responsible manner, with appropriate measures to protect the welfare and privacy of participants.
  • Time and resource constraints : Research studies can be time-consuming and require significant resources, which can limit the number and scope of studies that are conducted. This can lead to gaps in knowledge or a lack of research on certain topics.
  • Complexity: Some research findings can be complex and difficult to interpret, particularly in fields such as science or medicine. This can make it challenging for practitioners and policymakers to apply the findings to their work.
  • Lack of generalizability : While research findings are intended to be generalizable to larger populations or contexts, there may be factors that limit their generalizability. For example, cultural or environmental factors may influence how a particular intervention or treatment works in different populations or contexts.

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How to Write the Results/Findings Section in Research

discussion of the findings in research

What is the research paper Results section and what does it do?

The Results section of a scientific research paper represents the core findings of a study derived from the methods applied to gather and analyze information. It presents these findings in a logical sequence without bias or interpretation from the author, setting up the reader for later interpretation and evaluation in the Discussion section. A major purpose of the Results section is to break down the data into sentences that show its significance to the research question(s).

The Results section appears third in the section sequence in most scientific papers. It follows the presentation of the Methods and Materials and is presented before the Discussion section —although the Results and Discussion are presented together in many journals. This section answers the basic question “What did you find in your research?”

What is included in the Results section?

The Results section should include the findings of your study and ONLY the findings of your study. The findings include:

  • Data presented in tables, charts, graphs, and other figures (may be placed into the text or on separate pages at the end of the manuscript)
  • A contextual analysis of this data explaining its meaning in sentence form
  • All data that corresponds to the central research question(s)
  • All secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.)

If the scope of the study is broad, or if you studied a variety of variables, or if the methodology used yields a wide range of different results, the author should present only those results that are most relevant to the research question stated in the Introduction section .

As a general rule, any information that does not present the direct findings or outcome of the study should be left out of this section. Unless the journal requests that authors combine the Results and Discussion sections, explanations and interpretations should be omitted from the Results.

How are the results organized?

The best way to organize your Results section is “logically.” One logical and clear method of organizing research results is to provide them alongside the research questions—within each research question, present the type of data that addresses that research question.

Let’s look at an example. Your research question is based on a survey among patients who were treated at a hospital and received postoperative care. Let’s say your first research question is:

results section of a research paper, figures

“What do hospital patients over age 55 think about postoperative care?”

This can actually be represented as a heading within your Results section, though it might be presented as a statement rather than a question:

Attitudes towards postoperative care in patients over the age of 55

Now present the results that address this specific research question first. In this case, perhaps a table illustrating data from a survey. Likert items can be included in this example. Tables can also present standard deviations, probabilities, correlation matrices, etc.

Following this, present a content analysis, in words, of one end of the spectrum of the survey or data table. In our example case, start with the POSITIVE survey responses regarding postoperative care, using descriptive phrases. For example:

“Sixty-five percent of patients over 55 responded positively to the question “ Are you satisfied with your hospital’s postoperative care ?” (Fig. 2)

Include other results such as subcategory analyses. The amount of textual description used will depend on how much interpretation of tables and figures is necessary and how many examples the reader needs in order to understand the significance of your research findings.

Next, present a content analysis of another part of the spectrum of the same research question, perhaps the NEGATIVE or NEUTRAL responses to the survey. For instance:

  “As Figure 1 shows, 15 out of 60 patients in Group A responded negatively to Question 2.”

After you have assessed the data in one figure and explained it sufficiently, move on to your next research question. For example:

  “How does patient satisfaction correspond to in-hospital improvements made to postoperative care?”

results section of a research paper, figures

This kind of data may be presented through a figure or set of figures (for instance, a paired T-test table).

Explain the data you present, here in a table, with a concise content analysis:

“The p-value for the comparison between the before and after groups of patients was .03% (Fig. 2), indicating that the greater the dissatisfaction among patients, the more frequent the improvements that were made to postoperative care.”

Let’s examine another example of a Results section from a study on plant tolerance to heavy metal stress . In the Introduction section, the aims of the study are presented as “determining the physiological and morphological responses of Allium cepa L. towards increased cadmium toxicity” and “evaluating its potential to accumulate the metal and its associated environmental consequences.” The Results section presents data showing how these aims are achieved in tables alongside a content analysis, beginning with an overview of the findings:

“Cadmium caused inhibition of root and leave elongation, with increasing effects at higher exposure doses (Fig. 1a-c).”

The figure containing this data is cited in parentheses. Note that this author has combined three graphs into one single figure. Separating the data into separate graphs focusing on specific aspects makes it easier for the reader to assess the findings, and consolidating this information into one figure saves space and makes it easy to locate the most relevant results.

results section of a research paper, figures

Following this overall summary, the relevant data in the tables is broken down into greater detail in text form in the Results section.

  • “Results on the bio-accumulation of cadmium were found to be the highest (17.5 mg kgG1) in the bulb, when the concentration of cadmium in the solution was 1×10G2 M and lowest (0.11 mg kgG1) in the leaves when the concentration was 1×10G3 M.”

Captioning and Referencing Tables and Figures

Tables and figures are central components of your Results section and you need to carefully think about the most effective way to use graphs and tables to present your findings . Therefore, it is crucial to know how to write strong figure captions and to refer to them within the text of the Results section.

The most important advice one can give here as well as throughout the paper is to check the requirements and standards of the journal to which you are submitting your work. Every journal has its own design and layout standards, which you can find in the author instructions on the target journal’s website. Perusing a journal’s published articles will also give you an idea of the proper number, size, and complexity of your figures.

Regardless of which format you use, the figures should be placed in the order they are referenced in the Results section and be as clear and easy to understand as possible. If there are multiple variables being considered (within one or more research questions), it can be a good idea to split these up into separate figures. Subsequently, these can be referenced and analyzed under separate headings and paragraphs in the text.

To create a caption, consider the research question being asked and change it into a phrase. For instance, if one question is “Which color did participants choose?”, the caption might be “Color choice by participant group.” Or in our last research paper example, where the question was “What is the concentration of cadmium in different parts of the onion after 14 days?” the caption reads:

 “Fig. 1(a-c): Mean concentration of Cd determined in (a) bulbs, (b) leaves, and (c) roots of onions after a 14-day period.”

Steps for Composing the Results Section

Because each study is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to designing a strategy for structuring and writing the section of a research paper where findings are presented. The content and layout of this section will be determined by the specific area of research, the design of the study and its particular methodologies, and the guidelines of the target journal and its editors. However, the following steps can be used to compose the results of most scientific research studies and are essential for researchers who are new to preparing a manuscript for publication or who need a reminder of how to construct the Results section.

Step 1 : Consult the guidelines or instructions that the target journal or publisher provides authors and read research papers it has published, especially those with similar topics, methods, or results to your study.

  • The guidelines will generally outline specific requirements for the results or findings section, and the published articles will provide sound examples of successful approaches.
  • Note length limitations on restrictions on content. For instance, while many journals require the Results and Discussion sections to be separate, others do not—qualitative research papers often include results and interpretations in the same section (“Results and Discussion”).
  • Reading the aims and scope in the journal’s “ guide for authors ” section and understanding the interests of its readers will be invaluable in preparing to write the Results section.

Step 2 : Consider your research results in relation to the journal’s requirements and catalogue your results.

  • Focus on experimental results and other findings that are especially relevant to your research questions and objectives and include them even if they are unexpected or do not support your ideas and hypotheses.
  • Catalogue your findings—use subheadings to streamline and clarify your report. This will help you avoid excessive and peripheral details as you write and also help your reader understand and remember your findings. Create appendices that might interest specialists but prove too long or distracting for other readers.
  • Decide how you will structure of your results. You might match the order of the research questions and hypotheses to your results, or you could arrange them according to the order presented in the Methods section. A chronological order or even a hierarchy of importance or meaningful grouping of main themes or categories might prove effective. Consider your audience, evidence, and most importantly, the objectives of your research when choosing a structure for presenting your findings.

Step 3 : Design figures and tables to present and illustrate your data.

  • Tables and figures should be numbered according to the order in which they are mentioned in the main text of the paper.
  • Information in figures should be relatively self-explanatory (with the aid of captions), and their design should include all definitions and other information necessary for readers to understand the findings without reading all of the text.
  • Use tables and figures as a focal point to tell a clear and informative story about your research and avoid repeating information. But remember that while figures clarify and enhance the text, they cannot replace it.

Step 4 : Draft your Results section using the findings and figures you have organized.

  • The goal is to communicate this complex information as clearly and precisely as possible; precise and compact phrases and sentences are most effective.
  • In the opening paragraph of this section, restate your research questions or aims to focus the reader’s attention to what the results are trying to show. It is also a good idea to summarize key findings at the end of this section to create a logical transition to the interpretation and discussion that follows.
  • Try to write in the past tense and the active voice to relay the findings since the research has already been done and the agent is usually clear. This will ensure that your explanations are also clear and logical.
  • Make sure that any specialized terminology or abbreviation you have used here has been defined and clarified in the  Introduction section .

Step 5 : Review your draft; edit and revise until it reports results exactly as you would like to have them reported to your readers.

  • Double-check the accuracy and consistency of all the data, as well as all of the visual elements included.
  • Read your draft aloud to catch language errors (grammar, spelling, and mechanics), awkward phrases, and missing transitions.
  • Ensure that your results are presented in the best order to focus on objectives and prepare readers for interpretations, valuations, and recommendations in the Discussion section . Look back over the paper’s Introduction and background while anticipating the Discussion and Conclusion sections to ensure that the presentation of your results is consistent and effective.
  • Consider seeking additional guidance on your paper. Find additional readers to look over your Results section and see if it can be improved in any way. Peers, professors, or qualified experts can provide valuable insights.

One excellent option is to use a professional English proofreading and editing service  such as Wordvice, including our paper editing service . With hundreds of qualified editors from dozens of scientific fields, Wordvice has helped thousands of authors revise their manuscripts and get accepted into their target journals. Read more about the  proofreading and editing process  before proceeding with getting academic editing services and manuscript editing services for your manuscript.

As the representation of your study’s data output, the Results section presents the core information in your research paper. By writing with clarity and conciseness and by highlighting and explaining the crucial findings of their study, authors increase the impact and effectiveness of their research manuscripts.

For more articles and videos on writing your research manuscript, visit Wordvice’s Resources page.

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How To Write the Findings Section of a Research Paper

Posted by Rene Tetzner | Sep 2, 2021 | Paper Writing Advice | 0 |

How To Write the Findings Section of a Research Paper

How To Write the Findings Section of a Research Paper Each research project is unique, so it is natural for one researcher to make use of somewhat different strategies than another when it comes to designing and writing the section of a research paper dedicated to findings. The academic or scientific discipline of the research, the field of specialisation, the particular author or authors, the targeted journal or other publisher and the editor making the decisions about publication can all have a significant impact. The practical steps outlined below can be effectively applied to writing about the findings of most advanced research, however, and will prove especially helpful for early-career scholars who are preparing a research paper for a first publication.

discussion of the findings in research

Step 1 : Consult the guidelines or instructions that the targeted journal (or other publisher) provides for authors and read research papers it has already published, particularly ones similar in topic, methods or results to your own. The guidelines will generally outline specific requirements for the results or findings section, and the published articles will provide sound examples of successful approaches. Watch particularly for length limitations and restrictions on content. Interpretation, for instance, is usually reserved for a later discussion section, though not always – qualitative research papers often combine findings and interpretation. Background information and descriptions of methods, on the other hand, almost always appear in earlier sections of a research paper. In most cases it is appropriate in a findings section to offer basic comparisons between the results of your study and those of other studies, but knowing exactly what the journal wants in the report of research findings is essential. Learning as much as you can about the journal’s aims and scope as well as the interests of its readers is invaluable as well.

discussion of the findings in research

Step 2 : Reflect at some length on your research results in relation to the journal’s requirements while planning the findings section of your paper. Choose for particular focus experimental results and other research discoveries that are particularly relevant to your research questions and objectives, and include them even if they are unexpected or do not support your ideas and hypotheses. Streamline and clarify your report, especially if it is long and complex, by using subheadings that will help you avoid excessive and peripheral details as you write and also help your reader understand and remember your findings. Consider appendices for raw data that might interest specialists but prove too long or distracting for other readers. The opening paragraph of a findings section often restates research questions or aims to refocus the reader’s attention, and it is always wise to summarise key findings at the end of the section, providing a smooth intellectual transition to the interpretation and discussion that follows in most research papers. There are many effective ways in which to organise research findings. The structure of your findings section might be determined by your research questions and hypotheses or match the arrangement of your methods section. A chronological order or hierarchy of importance or meaningful grouping of main themes or categories might prove effective. It may be best to present all the relevant findings and then explain them and your analysis of them, or explaining the results of each trial or test immediately after reporting it may render the material clearer and more comprehensible for your readers. Keep your audience, your most important evidence and your research goals in mind.

discussion of the findings in research

Step 3 : Design effective visual presentations of your research results to enhance the textual report of your findings. Tables of various styles and figures of all kinds such as graphs, maps and photos are used in reporting research findings, but do check the journal guidelines for instructions on the number of visual aids allowed, any required design elements and the preferred formats for numbering, labelling and placement in the manuscript. As a general rule, tables and figures should be numbered according to first mention in the main text of the paper, and each one should be clearly introduced and explained at least briefly in that text so that readers know what is presented and what they are expected to see in a particular visual element. Tables and figures should also be self-explanatory, however, so their design should include all definitions and other information necessary for a reader to understand the findings you intend to show without returning to your text. If you construct your tables and figures before drafting your findings section, they can serve as focal points to help you tell a clear and informative story about your findings and avoid unnecessary repetition. Some authors will even work on tables and figures before organising the findings section (Step 2), which can be an extremely effective approach, but it is important to remember that the textual report of findings remains primary. Visual aids can clarify and enrich the text, but they cannot take its place.

Step 4 : Write your findings section in a factual and objective manner. The goal is to communicate information – in some cases a great deal of complex information – as clearly, accurately and precisely as possible, so well-constructed sentences that maintain a simple structure will be far more effective than convoluted phrasing and expressions. The active voice is often recommended by publishers and the authors of writing manuals, and the past tense is appropriate because the research has already been done. Make sure your grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct and effective so that you are conveying the meaning you intend. Statements that are vague, imprecise or ambiguous will often confuse and mislead readers, and a verbose style will add little more than padding while wasting valuable words that might be put to far better use in clear and logical explanations. Some specialised terminology may be required when reporting findings, but anything potentially unclear or confusing that has not already been defined earlier in the paper should be clarified for readers, and the same principle applies to unusual or nonstandard abbreviations. Your readers will want to understand what you are reporting about your results, not waste time looking up terms simply to understand what you are saying. A logical approach to organising your findings section (Step 2) will help you tell a logical story about your research results as you explain, highlight, offer analysis and summarise the information necessary for readers to understand the discussion section that follows.

Step 5 : Review the draft of your findings section and edit and revise until it reports your key findings exactly as you would have them presented to your readers. Check for accuracy and consistency in data across the section as a whole and all its visual elements. Read your prose aloud to catch language errors, awkward phrases and abrupt transitions. Ensure that the order in which you have presented results is the best order for focussing readers on your research objectives and preparing them for the interpretations, speculations, recommendations and other elements of the discussion that you are planning. This will involve looking back over the paper’s introductory and background material as well as anticipating the discussion and conclusion sections, and this is precisely the right point in the process for reviewing and reflecting. Your research results have taken considerable time to obtain and analyse, so a little more time to stand back and take in the wider view from the research door you have opened is a wise investment. The opinions of any additional readers you can recruit, whether they are professional mentors and colleagues or family and friends, will often prove invaluable as well.

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How To Write the Findings Section of a Research Paper These five steps will help you write a clear & interesting findings section for a research paper

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Writing the Discussion Section/ Results/ Findings Section of an Academic Research Study/ Thesis

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2021, Writing a succesful a cademic thesis

This article is a brief guidance on effective writing of academic research thesis with a focus on the results/ findings section/ chapters. It provides step by step highlights on how to present data from the field, interpretation of the findings, corroborating the findings with existing studies as well as the use of theoretical tenets to discuss the findings. The conclusions and recommendations sections are also highlighted.

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IAA Journal of Applied Sciences

EZE V A L H Y G I N U S UDOKA

Many young researchers find it difficult to write a good and quality research thesis/article because they are not prone to article writing ethics and training. Yet, a thesis/publication is often vital and paramount for career advancement, grants, academic qualifications and others. This research work described the basics and systematic steps to follow in writing a good scientific thesis/article. This research also outlined the main sections that an average thesis/article should contain, the elements that should appear in each section, the systematic approaches in writing research, the characteristics of a good thesis/article, the attributes of a good research thesis/article, qualities of a good researcher and finally the ethics guiding research.

VIDYA - A JOURNAL OF GUJARAT UNIVERSITY

Alpesh Prajapati

The paper is designed to acquaint the researchers about how to write a research report. The paper intends to discuss the common format of research report. There can be several reasons for writing a research report. It can be written for publishing in scholarly journals, peer-reviewed journals, publications and books. The paper will improve our understanding of writing a good academic research report with example of our research topics on various issues. The examples are based on our research on HIV positive people, adolescent health and infertility issues. The primary source of data collection for the paper is our field work.

Avinash Advani

In this study an attempt has been made to answer the questions " What are Research and its types? " What is difference between research paper and article? What is difference between project report, thesis and dissertation? A systematic literature review is undertaken giving an overview of its processes and principles. Research' is a particular type of investigation. It is impossible to do research without having a problem, which is required to be resolved, or a question, which needs to be answered but it is difficult for scholars to select and write topic, statement of purpose and thesis, so the solutions of these are given in this article. The definition and evolution of the approach are described, including the various kinds of research being used today. The research procedure and its nature have been discussed from different scholars' point of view. This article also seeks to organize the scattered knowledge at one point to get research scholars equipped with the latest knowledge. Finally, this study has revealed that research is purposeful and solution-oriented investigation which needs every step properly written. Guidelines given in this study are very clear to help the student to complete their article thesis and dissertation so researchers are advised to follow the guidelines to write quality thesis.

Dr. Ibrahim Suliman

Alexander Decker

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HOW TO WRITE A GOOD DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS FOR THESIS PROJECT

discussion of the findings in research

The discussion of findings is often considered one of the most important part of thesis project/research work in the sense that, this is where the researcher of a project topic presents the underlying findings of his research. Discussion of findings for thesis project should contain the explanation of result of your project/research work: showing how your respondents responded to the questions asked. You could get the particular number of your respondents that indicated both positive and negative interest in the question you asked in your research questionnaire; then make references to the previous research works done by other researchers (i.e their findings) to backup your claim for affirmation,

When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations for the study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. This is especially important when describing the discovery of significant or unanticipated findings.

Make a consistent effort to stick with the same general tone of the introduction. This means using the same key terms, the same tense, and the same point of view as used in your introduction. Start by rewriting your research questions and re-stating your hypothesis (if any) that you previously posed in your introduction. Then declare the answers to your research questions – make sure to support these answers with the findings of your dissertation. Continue by explaining how your results relate to the expectations of your study and to literature.

Clearly explain why these results are acceptable and how they consistently fit in with previously published knowledge about the subject. Be sure to use relevant citations. Make sure to give the proper attention for all the results relating to your research questions, this is regardless of whether or not the findings were statistically significant. Don’t forget to tell your audience about the patterns, principles, and key relationships shown by each of your major findings and then put them into perspective as this will enhance a good project work.

The sequencing of this information is important: state the answer, show the relevant results and cite the work of credible sources. When necessary, point the audience to figures and/or graphs to ‘enhance’ your argument. Make sure to defend your answers. Try to do so in two ways: by explaining the validity of your answer and by showing the shortcomings of others’ answers. You will make your point of view more convincing if you give both sides to the argument. Also make sure to identify conflicting data in your work.

Make a good point of discussing and evaluating any conflicting explanations of your results. This is an effective way to win over your audience and make them sympathetic to any true knowledge your study might have to offer. Make sure to include a discussion of any unexpected findings. When doing this, begin with a paragraph about the finding and then describe it.

Also identify potential limitations and weaknesses inherent in your study. Then comment on the importance of these limitations to the interpretation of your findings and how they may impact their validity. Do not use an apologetic tone in this section. Every study has limitations. Conduct a brief summary of the principal implications of your findings (do this regardless of any statistical significance). Make sure to provide 1-2 recommendations for potential research in the future.

Show how the results of your study and their conclusions are significant and how they impact our understanding of the problem(s) that your dissertation examines. On a final note, discuss everything this is relevant but be brief, specific, and to the point.

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  • Published: 07 February 2024

Psychedelics and sexual functioning: a mixed-methods study

  • Tommaso Barba   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-2565-4628 1   na1 ,
  • Hannes Kettner 1 , 2   na1 ,
  • Caterina Radu 1 ,
  • Joseph M. Peill 1 ,
  • Leor Roseman 1 ,
  • David J. Nutt 1 ,
  • David Erritzoe   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-7022-6211 1 ,
  • Robin Carhart-Harris 1 , 2   na2 &
  • Bruna Giribaldi 1   na2  

Scientific Reports volume  14 , Article number:  2181 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Human behaviour

Do psychedelics affect sexual functioning postacutely? Anecdotal and qualitative evidence suggests they do, but this has never been formally tested. While sexual functioning and satisfaction are generally regarded as an important aspect of human wellbeing, sexual dysfunction is a common symptom of mental health disorders. It is also a common side effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a first line treatment for depression. The aim of the present paper was to investigate the post-acute effects of psychedelics on self-reported sexual functioning, combining data from two independent studies, one large and naturalistic and the other a smaller but controlled clinical trial. Naturalistic use of psychedelics was associated with improvements in several facets of sexual functioning and satisfaction, including improved pleasure and communication during sex, satisfaction with one’s partner and physical appearance. Convergent results were found in a controlled trial of psilocybin therapy versus an SSRI, escitalopram, for depression. In this trial, patients treated with psilocybin reported positive changes in sexual functioning after treatment, while patients treated with escitalopram did not. Despite focusing on different populations and settings, this is the first research study to quantitively investigate the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning. Results imply a potential positive effect on post-acute sexual functioning and highlight the need for more research on this.

Introduction

Between the 1950s and the 70 s, psychedelic substances such as LSD were studied in clinical settings for the treatment of mood disorders and alcohol dependence in particular 1 . In the 1960s, psychedelics became associated with the ‘hippy’ subculture, whose anti-war and sexually liberal values were encapsulated by the playful slogan “Make Love Not War” 2 . Scientific research with psychedelics was abruptly stunted by the 1971 United Nations Controlled Substances Act 1 , but it has been revived in recent decades, with several trials supporting the promise of psychedelic-therapy as a mental health intervention 3 . Psychedelics and therapeutic support are believed to act synergistically on the patient, leading to therapeutic experiences like emotional catharsis, ego dissolution, and psychological insights 4 . One area of particular promise has been psilocybin-therapy for anxiety and depressive symptoms 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 . In one notable study, psilocybin-therapy was found to be at least as effective as a 6-week course of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), escitalopram, at reducing depressive symptoms in major depressive disorder (MDD). Moreover, the psychedelic intervention performed significantly better than the SSRI on secondary outcomes measuring well-being, general functioning and anhedonia 7 .

Major depressive disorder is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. It is characterised by episodes of extreme low mood, motivation, ability to feel pleasure (anhedonia), and cognitive ability 9 . Despite sexual dysfunction (SD) not being classified as a core symptom of MDD in the DSM-5 criteria, it frequently presents itself in MDD cases, reported most frequently as decreased libido, arousal difficulties and absent or delayed orgasms in both women and men 10 . SD is also a common side effect of SSRIs, reported by 40% to 65% of individuals treated with those drugs 11 , 12 . Highly selective SSRIs like fluoxetine, escitalopram, and citalopram are especially associated with SD 13 , impairing sexual function in both depressed subjects 13 and healthy individuals dosed with these drugs 14 , 15 , 16 —likely due to downstream effects on serotoninergic and dopaminergic functioning 17 . SD is therefore a risk factor for treatment adherence and resulting relapse or recurrence of a depressive episode 10 , 11 .

Sexual dysfunction has also been found to be associated with lower well-being in healthy populations from both cross-sectional and longitudinal research 18 , 19 , 20 , which is unsurprising considering that SD is known to considerably affect quality of life, self-esteem and relationship quality 21 . Converging research indeed shows that sexual satisfaction is an important part of psychological well-being, linked to subjectively related happiness 20 , 22 , 23 , meaning in life 24 and relationship satisfaction 19 , 25 , 26 , 27 . Consequently, lower rates of depression are reported among men and women who report to be sexually satisfied 28 . Finally, several studies have cited numerous physical health benefits of sexual activity, including, but not limited to, stronger immune system function, lower blood pressure and decreased risk of prostate cancer 29 . Sexual satisfaction thus appears to be important for a satisfying and meaningful life, both in healthy subjects, and individuals with depression.

To date, some qualitative evidence indicates that psychedelic-use may have beneficial effects on the expression and acceptance of sexual feelings and behaviours 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 . However, to our knowledge, no contemporary quantitative studies have assessed the impact of psychedelic-use on sexual functioning and wellbeing. Nevertheless. previous research suggests that psychedelics are capable of fostering mindfulness capacities 36 , 37 , enduring feelings of emotional empathy and connectedness towards others 38 , 39 , 40 , positive attitudes towards one’s body and lifestyle 41 , 42 , as well as increased curiosity and openness towards new experiences 43 , 44 , all of which might impact on experiences of and attitudes towards sex.

By drawing on data collected from subjects consuming psychedelic substance in naturalistic settings like attending psychedelic ceremonies, we sought to assess the impact of psychedelic-use on several facets of sexual functioning and satisfaction. We further tested the same research question in a trial of psilocybin versus 6 weeks of the SSRI escitalopram in MDD patients. The term “sexual functioning” is widely used in the sexuality literature 45 and here is defined according to the domains of experienced pleasure, sexual satisfaction, arousal, communication of sexual desires, importance of sex, and body image. We further included two self-constructed questions conceived with the aim of investigating whether psychedelic use could change people’s perceptions of sexual intercourse beyond functioning, within the domains of increased interest in sexual exploration (below defined as "sexual openness") and spirituality. Finally, we explored possible differences in these effects between male and females in Supplementary Materials. This research question is worthwhile investigating for both clinical and basic-science implications. Clinically speaking, the propensity of SSRIs to induce sexual dysfunction can affect treatment adherence and potentially lead to a relapse or recurrence of depressive episodes. With Psilocybin-assisted therapy emerging as a promising alternative, having shown favourable results in phase 1, 2a, and 2b trials, it’s important to thoroughly assess its side effects. This can provide valuable data for patients when choosing treatment options. From a basic science viewpoint, this paper strengthens the foundation built upon qualitative findings that suggest a beneficial influence of psychedelics on sexual wellbeing. Previous research has unveiled a positive correlation between mindfulness skills, intimacy/connectedness, and sexual satisfaction 46 , 47 , 48 , 49 . Considering the demonstrated capacity of psychedelics to enhance mindfulness and connectedness, it becomes particularly compelling to explore their potential impact on sexual functioning.

Participants

Across the combined survey samples, a total of N = 261 participants were included in the analyses who completed baseline, 4-week and 6-month endpoint assessments. A total of 1463 participants completed baseline, 718 completed key endpoint at 4-weeks and 322 completed FU at 6 months. 61 participants completed FU but did not complete either BL or Key endpoint, therefore obtaining 322–61 = 261 participants in the present analysis. 43% of those were females and 55.6% were males sex-wise. Participants were mostly from the United States (43.8%), working full-time (63.4%) and white (90.7%). A more detailed picture of participants’ demographics can be found in Table 1 .

We used an intention-to-treat analysis for coherence with the main publication from this clinical trial 7 . 30 patients were randomised to the psilocybin group and 29 to the escitalopram group; constituting the entire sample from Ref. 7 . Of the 59 patients enrolled, 23 (39%) were on psychiatric medication, which they stopped at least 2 weeks before starting the trial; four (7%) had to discontinue psychotherapy (see 7 for stopping criteria). In the escitalopram group, four participants stopped taking their escitalopram capsules before the end of the trial because of adverse effects attributed to the drug. In the psilocybin group, one participant smoked cannabis regularly during the trial and three participants missed the second psilocybin dosing day because of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions (2 in the psilocybin arm and 1 in the escitalopram arm). The mean age was 41 years, 20 (34%) participants were women, and 52 (85%) participants were White. Written informed consent was obtained from all patients. Sixteen patients reported having no partner either at baseline of follow-up on questions on pleasure, communication and satisfaction and thus were not included in the analyses of these questions. The remaining items and retrospective changes in sexual functioning were assessed in all 59 patients. For more information on participant recruitment and demographics, see 7 .

Changes in sexual functioning and perceptions

Friedman rank tests (Table 2 ) showed statistically significant differences in the survey samples across time for all variables apart from “importance of sex” (χ 2 (2) = 1.9, p = 0.40), with the most significant changes seen for the following items: seeing sex as spiritual or sacred experience (χ 2 (2) = 35.6, p < 0.0001), satisfaction with one’s own appearance (χ 2 (2) = 30.5, p < 0.0001), satisfaction with one’s own partner (χ 2 (2) = 22.2, p < 0.0001) and experience of pleasure (χ 2 (2) = 20.9, p < 0.0001). Follow-up pairwise Wilcoxon signed-rank tests between baseline, 4-week, and 6-month endpoints showed that both 4-week and 6-month scores were elevated when compared with baseline, which was again the case for each item other than importance (Fig.  1 ). A detailed summary of the results can be found in Table 2 .

figure 1

Single item analyses assessing changes in sexual functioning and satisfaction after naturalistic psychedelic use in a sample of N = 261 completers at 4 weeks and 6-month follow-up. ‘n.s’ indicates that the difference between baseline and follow-up scores is non-significant (P > 0.05). ***The difference between baseline and follow-up scores is significant, with a P < 0.0001. **The difference between baseline and follow-up scores is significant, with a P < 0.001. *The difference between baseline and follow-up scores is significant, with a P < 0.01. Error bars represent SE(M). Y-axis dimensions are scaled flexibly for better visibility of results.

Correlations with changes in well-being (study 1)

Significant Bonferroni-corrected spearman rank correlations between items of the BISF-W and the Flourishing Scale were detected for the following items: sexual communication with partner (rho = 0.25, p = 0.001), satisfaction with one’s own appearance (rho = 0.24, p = 0.0001), openness to try new things in one’s sex life (“sexual openness”) (rho = 0.22, p < 0.001), and sex as spiritual (rho = 0.17, p < 0.01), but not satisfaction with one’s partner (rho = 0.11, p = 0.16), or pleasure (rho = 0.15, p = 0.06).

Across all items, except for perceived importance of sex, subjects in the psilocybin condition were more likely to experience a greater extent of positive change, indicated by the positive beta estimates (Table 3 ). Results of within-group post-hoc tests based on estimated marginal means derived from cumulative link models are reported in Table 3 . Among the items that showed a significant interaction, post-hoc contrasts revealed psilocybin-specific improvements for the items ‘Partner satisfaction’, ‘Communication’, and ‘Sex as spiritual’. ‘Appearance satisfaction’ improved significantly in both the psilocybin and escitalopram condition, while there was a non-significant trend for perceived importance of sexuality increasing following escitalopram treatment (Fig.  2 ). Additionally, a significant pre-post test contrast was found in the psilocybin group for the experience of pleasure during sexual activity, despite absence of an interaction, with a change on the latent construct of 1.3 points (ΔEMM = 1.30, z = 3.10, p = 0.0019), equivalent to patients feeling pleasure 1.3 × 25% = 32.5% more frequently during sexual experiences than before treatment with psilocybin.

figure 2

Single item analyses assessing changes in sexual functioning and satisfaction before (BL) and after (FFU) treatment with psilocybin or escitalopram in Study 2. P values indicate univariate significance in each study arm. Error bars represent SE(M). Y-axis dimensions are scaled flexibly for better visibility of results.

Significant differences between Escitalopram and Psilocybin’s effects on sexual functioning were identified using retrospective BISF-W item 13, which was divided into changes in sexual interest, arousal, activity, satisfaction, and anxiety. Mann Whitney-U tests showed that patients receiving psilocybin were significantly more likely than those who received escitalopram to report higher, rather than lower levels of interest (p = 0.0002), arousal (p = 0.0004), activity (p = 0.0007), and satisfaction (p = 0.0006). In each case, mean values reported by patients receiving psilocybin reflected a ‘higher level’ at 4 weeks compared with baseline, while those in the escitalopram group on average reported a ‘lower level’ compared with baseline (Fig.  3 ). This pattern was reversed for sexual anxiety, which was increased in those receiving escitalopram, and reduced in those receiving psilocybin, although this difference only reached significance before correction for multiple comparisons (p = 0.028; Table 4 ).

figure 3

Percentage of participants who retrospectively rated decreases or increases in sexual interest, arousal, activity, satisfaction, and anxiety (reversed) after treatment with psilocybin or escitalopram at the 6 weeks follow-up of Study 2. “Increase” indicates that participants retrospectively reported an increase in the associated dimension at the end of the study compared to the beginning of it. “Decrease” indicates that participants retrospectively reported a decrease in the associated dimension at the end of the study compared to the beginning of it.

Regarding sexual dysfunction (PRSexDQ-SALSEX), at the 6-week post-treatment endpoint, in the escitalopram condition 8 patients were classified as “severe”, 6 as “moderate”, 3 as “mild” and 12 as “none”. At the same endpoint, in the psilocybin condition, 1 patient classified as “severe”, 3 as “moderate” and 26 as “none” (Fig.  4 ). A Mann Whitney U test (U = 255.5, p = 0.001, MD = 0.98) showed that patients in the escitalopram condition were significantly more likely to have higher levels of SD severity (M = 1.3, SD = 1.3) than patients in the psilocybin condition (M = 0.3, SD = 0.8). A previous study report on this trial only reported median values when calculating PRSexDQ-SALSEX scores, but the present paper has reported the number cases pertaining to each category, which exposed the robustly significant difference between the two conditions.

figure 4

Percentage of participants who reported different degrees of sexual dysfunction after treatment with escitalopram or psilocybin at the primary endpoint of Study 2. Sexual dysfunction includes loss of libido, delayed or lack of orgasm or ejaculation, erectile dysfunction in men/vaginal lubrication dysfunction in women and patient’s tolerance of it.

Correlation with changes in depressive symptoms (study 2)

Collapsing the psilocybin and escitalopram groups into one, retrospectively rated changes in several aspects of sexual functioning were correlated with before-vs-after changes in depressive symptoms. Spearman rank correlations identified the strongest correlations for changes in depression and changes in both sexual arousal (Spearman’s rho = 0.38, p < 0.01) and sexual interest (Spearman’s rho = 0.36, p < 0.01), such that bigger changes in depression resulted in higher improvements in sexual arousal/interest. Correlations between changes in depressive symptoms and sexual satisfaction did not survive multiple comparison correction (Spearman’s rho = 0.31, p = 0.03) and correlations with changes in sexual activity (Spearman’s rho = 0.23, p = 0.09) and sexual anxiety change (Spearman’s rho = 0.22, p = 0.13) also did not reach significance.

The current study sought to examine the impact of psychedelic use on sexual functioning and satisfaction across two distinct studies and populations: one group used psychedelics for recreational and well-being purposes, while the other consisted of depressed patients. One study adopted a naturalistic observational survey approach, while the other was a controlled clinical trial. Notably, both studies and populations reported enhanced sexual functioning and satisfaction following psychedelic use.

Participants in the former study showed significant improvements in their communication with their partners, increased frequency of experiencing pleasure during sex, as well as increased satisfaction with their partners and their own physical appearance following the psychedelic experience. They also appeared to be more open to trying new things in their sex life and were more likely to perceive sex as a spiritual or sacred experience post-use. These changes were significant both 4 weeks and 6 months after the experience. However, this cohort did not report experiencing changes in the overall importance attributed to sex. Exploratory analyses aimed at investigating possible differences in these effects between males and females found no evidence of such differences, except for partner satisfaction at 6-months where we found a return of partner satisfaction levels back to baseline in female but not male participants (Supplementary Materials). Several of these changes significantly correlated with post-psychedelic changes in well-being, consistent with previous research indicating a positive association between sexual functioning and general psychological well-being 20 , 22 , 23 . Given the inherent limitations of survey studies, such as the lack of a control condition, the inclusion of individuals already particularly interested in psychedelics and the lack of control of the circumstances of psychedelic exposure, we aimed to replicate these results in controlled settings, despite focusing on a different population. Consistent with the effects reported in the naturalistic study, individuals with depression treated with psilocybin-therapy in a controlled trial setting showed improvements from baseline to post-treatment in communicating with their partners, experiencing greater sexual pleasure during sex, being more satisfied with their partner and their own appearance, and being more likely to perceive sex as a spiritual experience. Conversely, in the same trial, patients treated with a 6-week course of the SSRI escitalopram, and the same amount of therapy, only reported increased satisfaction with their appearance and no positive changes in any other domain. Furthermore, patients treated with psilocybin were more likely to report increased sexual interest, activity, arousal, and satisfaction at the 6-week endpoint than patients treated with escitalopram, who on average, reported a worsening in the same domains. Similarly, anxiety linked to sexual activity decreased for patients in the psilocybin condition and increased for those treated with escitalopram. Across both groups, changes in sexual arousal and interest were moderately correlated with changes in depressive symptoms, while changes in the other domains appeared to be somewhat independent from changes in depression. With regard to sexual dysfunction, patients treated with escitalopram were more likely to retrospectively report higher levels of sexual dysfunction after treatment compared with the individuals treated with psilocybin. These observations are consistent with recent findings from the same trial that explicit symptoms of depression related to SD (i.e., Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression-17 Libido 50 , Beck Depression Inventory-Reduced Sexual Interest 51 ), as well as amotivation, anhedonia and energy levels were among the most differentially responsive to psilocybin versus escitalopram 52 . The results constitute the first empirical evidence that psychedelics might exert beneficial effects on sexual functioning and sexual wellbeing after acute use of the drug itself, consistent with previous qualitative reports indicating such an effect 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 . Future research to replicate and further investigate these findings is thus highly encouraged.

While we previously found that both escitalopram and psilocybin were equally effective in reducing depressive symptoms when assessed with the primary outcome of the study 7 , differences in their impact on sexual functioning and dysfunction could be explained by their differing mechanism of action in treating MDD (see 7 , 53 for full discussion). It is generally thought that the pharmacological mechanisms for SSRIs-induced sexual dysfunction are intrinsically linked with their hypothesised antidepressant mechanism. By selectively inhibiting serotonin reuptake in the central nervous system (CNS), SSRIs elevate synaptic serotonin concentrations consequently increasing post-synaptic serotonin activity 11 . Generally, an increase in serotoninergic functioning appears to negatively impact on sexual functioning—perhaps as a consequence of a negative downstream effect on the production of dopamine, testosterone, acetylcholine and nitric oxide which are crucial for libido, sexual arousal and achieving orgasm in both men and women 10 . Additionally, it is also plausible that the emotional blunting sometimes induced by SSRIs might also be linked with diminished sexual functioning 54 , 55 . Accordingly, as previously reported in the main publication from this trial, the percentage of patients reporting emotional blunting (assessed with the Laukes Emotional Intensity Scale) and a self-constructed “Post-Treatment Changes Scale” (PTCS) at the 6-week endpoint was higher in individuals treated with escitalopram compared with psilocybin 7 . While some research suggest that the prevalence of SSRI sexual side effects may be overestimated due to a priori deterioration of sexual functioning in MDD 10 several RCTs indicate that escitalopram 14 and other SSRIs 15 , 16 do indeed induce SD—including in healthy individuals. Such results support the view that SSRIs have a detrimental effect on sexual function beyond their impact on depression. This is clinically concerning as sexual functioning bears relevance to two core facets of depression, namely anhedonia and amotivation 56 . The occurrence of SD as a side effect of SSRIs can lead to a dilemma for both patients and clinicians. On one hand, these treatments are necessary for managing depressive symptoms, but on the other hand, they can exacerbate SD, thereby further impacting the patient’s quality of life and potentially affecting treatment adherence. Moreover, SD can contribute to the persistence or worsening of depressive symptoms, creating a vicious cycle that is difficult to break 10 . Despite the high prevalence and significant impact of SD, it is often underassessed and undertreated in mental health care settings. This oversight may be due to a variety of factors, including lack of awareness among clinicians, discomfort discussing sexual issues, or the assumption that SD is an inevitable consequence of depression or its treatment 57 . While most cases of SD associated with SSRI use tend to resolve shortly after discontinuing the medication, a minority of patients may experience enduring dysfunction, referred to as post-SSRI sexual dysfunction (PSSD 58 ). PSSD is characterized by persistent symptoms such as genital anesthesia, erectile dysfunction, and pleasureless orgasm. The underlying causes of PSSD remain largely unknown, however it is acknowledged as a rare side effect associated with SSRI use 58 . Psilocybin also exerts its acute effects by acting on the serotoninergic system, but via direct agonism at serotonin 2A receptors (5-HT2AR 3 ). Despite limited research on the effects of 5-HT2AR agonists on sexual activity, animal studies have indicated that 5-HT2AR agonism contributes to the inhibition of sexual activity in male rats 59 , 60 while having a positive effect in females 61 . Antidepressant drugs that possess 5-HT2AR antagonist activity, such as mirtazapine and nefazodone, generally have a positive effect on SD 62 . Therefore, some have proposed that activity at 5-HT2A receptors has suppressing effects on sexual functioning in humans 10 . Nevertheless, anecdotal reports of increased sexual pleasure and intense sexual feelings under psychedelics 32 , 33 , 63 contradict this. Clearly, more research is needed to understand the acute effects of psilocybin and other psychedelics on sexual functioning. However, it is important to note that our present study assess post-acute effects of psychedelic-use or psychedelic-therapy on sexual functioning and not acute effects; thus, our results should not be confused with ‘drug-sex’ or ‘chem-sex’. As such, the acute (e.g., pharmacological) effects of psilocybin on sexual functioning is not be centrally relevant here; rather, our focus has been on longer-term changes post psychedelic-use or psilocybin-therapy.

Despite not being able to directly test these hypotheses, we speculate that the results obtained from both studies might be explained by the capacity of classic psychedelics (and relatedly psilocybin-assisted therapy) to foster long-term improvements in mindfulness capacities and connectedness with significant others 37 , 64 , consequently impacting sexual satisfaction. Qualitative and quantitative research shows that psychedelic-use can foster non-judgement and non-reactivity 37 , 64 , an ability to articulate momentary experience 36 , 65 and an openness to new experiences 43 , 44 , 66 . Furthermore, psychedelics appear to promote durable feelings of connection towards self and others 63 , 67 , increased willingness to accept and let go of one’s emotions, and decreased ruminative thinking 68 . In tandem, work by Keinplatz et al. 69 identified eight major components that contribute to an optimal sexual experience: being present, connection, deep sexual and erotic intimacy, extraordinary communication, interpersonal risk-taking and exploration, authenticity, vulnerability, and transcendence. Subsequent research evidenced the importance of maintaining a mindful 70 , 71 and open 72 state of mind for attaining a satisfactory sexual performance. Moreover, it has been shown that increasing trait mindfulness in both women and men improved SD, including arousal/interest disorders 46 , 47 , 73 , 74 , 75 . Cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental studies also indicate that experiencing emotional connection and intimacy with one’s partner can maintain sexual desire and activity in relationships of longer duration 48 , 49 , 76 and that a type of sexual activity understood as shared and mutual by both partners can be conductive of a better couple’s mental health 28 . Additionally, evidence from neuroimaging research 77 previously found that female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder’ (HSDD) was linked with higher levels of activity in brain regions involved in self-referential functions, such as the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex. It was suggested that HSDD might be the result of excessive cognitive activity directed toward oneself—i.e., self-consciousness, rather than naturally attending to sensory aspects of the sexual experience. Disruption of cortical activity in brain regions involved in self-referential processing has been found to be a somewhat consistent marker of the action of psychedelics 78 . By combining the results from these fields of research, it thus appears plausible that psychedelic-use, or more cautiously, psychedelic-therapy, could have a positive effect on traits associated with more embodied and satisfactory sexual experiences, freer from cognitive interferences, aversions, anxieties and demands. Additionally, we speculate that an effect of psilocybin therapy on attachment styles might have also contributed to the observed results, despite this was not directly investigated. Depression has been previously demonstrated to be linked with attachment insecurity 79 and anxious and avoidant attachment styles have been both shown to be linked with decreased sexual satisfaction in the general population 80 , 81 . Psilocybin-therapy has been shown to improve attachment insecurity 3 months post-intervention 82 . Thus, the formation of a more secure attachment could have also contributed to improving sexual satisfaction. Future research should investigate this matter.

Interestingly, it was also found that participants reported perceiving sex as a more spiritual or sacred experience after psychedelic use. The rationale behind investigating this research question stems from our prior discovery that psychedelic use can amplify spiritual beliefs and attitudes towards life 83 . We are thus wanted to explore whether this increased spirituality translates into the domain of sexual experiences. While an allegiance to a religious belief system has been found to be associated with fewer life partners and lower rates of premarital and extramarital sex 84 , the link with spirituality, typically involves a ‘self-transcendent’ perspective, is less clear. Previous research indicates that ascribing spiritual or transcendent qualities to sexual intercourse is linked with increased sexual satisfaction 69 , 85 . However, conflicting research indicated that perceiving sex as more spiritual is not inherently positive, as spirituality has been found to be positively associated with a higher frequency of sex without a condom in women, suggesting that it might be a factor for risky sexual behaviour 84 . Additionally, participants from the survey sample appeared to be more willing to try new things in their sexual life, an effect that might be explained by increased openness to experience after psychedelic use 43 , 44 , 66 . More research investigating the links between sexual attitudes and behaviours, spirituality and psychedelic use is needed to better understand the complex relationships between these factors.

Limitations

The findings of the present study should be considered in the context of its limitations.

Analyses in this study were conducted based on individual items of the BISF-W 86 , a previously validated measure. Given our mixed-gender sample, we chose items relevant to both sexes, focusing on domains like pleasure, communication, partner satisfaction, sex importance, and body image satisfaction. To reduce participant burden amidst multiple measures, we didn’t use the full scale. While we employed suitable statistical methods for ordinal data, future studies should use comprehensive, validated scales. We also introduced unvalidated items on viewing sex as a spiritual experience and sexual openness, without defining terms like “spiritual” and “new things”. For these reasons, caution is advised before interpreting these specific results.

Additionally, there are several distinct features and limitations to the observational study design employed in our investigation. Study 1 lacks of experimental control, potential biases towards psychedelic drugs due to opportunity sampling, demographic and other biases related to sampling and attrition issues, and reliance on subjective reporting of drug dosages. Importantly, without experimental control, we cannot establish causality or control for potential confounding factors. On the other hand, Study 2, based on RCT data, provides evidence with the experimental control that Study 1 lacks. RCTs, including ours, offer controlled settings to evaluate specific interventions, often seen as valuable in the research community for treatment evaluation. However, it is important to note that Study 1 and Study 2 cater to different contexts and realities. Study 1 assesses community-dwelling individuals, most of whom are presumably healthy and use psychedelics for recreational and wellbeing related purposes. In contrast, Study 2 evaluates the effects of psilocybin on depressed patients in a clinical setting. While the studies address different questions and settings, by presenting both observational and RCT data, our intention was to provide a broader perspective on the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning and wellbeing. These two distinct study designs offer complementary insights into the topic, each from a different vantage point. While this approach possesses inherent limitations, our aim was to provide readers with a richer understanding by juxtaposing these two different perspectives, despite focusing on different populations and settings. Being this the first quantitative investigation on the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning/wellbeing, we strongly encourage further research on the topic in order to overcome the current limitations.

Furthermore, future research on the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning should consider including dyadic assessments, i.e., where the partner of the primary participant is involved, and questions that pertain to the social and cultural context of use, e.g., whether the substance was taken together with one’s partner. Relatedly, we do not know if participants engaged in sexual activities in while using psychedelics in Study 1, which could have implications for how they perceive its impact on their sexuality. However, it’s important to note that most participants in Study 1 consumed psychedelics in ceremonial settings, where sexual intercourse is strongly discouraged or even prohibited, even between romantic partners 87 . Partners are typically asked to maintain distance during these ceremonies. Nevertheless, we cannot exclude the possibility that some participants from Ref. 88 , consuming psychedelics in personal settings, engaged in such activities.

Study participants from the survey study sample and the RCT were predominantly white, sexually straight, employed and well-educated, limiting generalizability. Similar demographic data have been found in other psychedelic research studies 89 . Such consistency may imply that these demographics are reflective of the broader psychedelic-using population; however, they are not necessarily reflective of broader populations per se. Recent research has indicated that ethnoracial background moderates the health impact of psychedelic-use 90 . It is important therefore that future studies test the replicability of the present findings in more sociodemographically diverse samples. Moreover, both treatment groups benefited from extensive psychological support, with an approach inspired by the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy model 91 . Given that this model emphasizes enhancing acceptance and minimizing the suppression of challenging emotions, it might be possible that the therapeutic support acted synergistically with psilocybin to promote positive effects on sexual wellbeing. Future research should better investigate this matter, especially considering the link between sexual shame and sexual dysfunction.

The present results pertaining to escitalopram’s effects on sexual functioning cannot be generalised to other existing antidepressants, as existing research indicates that there are approved antidepressant medications on the market that do not induce SD at such high rates as SSRIs 14 . These medications have been previously advised for patients suffering from SSRI-induced SD. A further limitation of study 2 might be related to the confounding factor of antidepressant withdrawal, as the observed improvements in sexual function in the psilocybin arm could be attributed to the suspension of all antidepressants in the weeks preceding the administration of psilocybin. While only 11 out of 30 patients from the psilocybin group discontinued antidepressant medications before starting the study 7 , this could have impacted the results.

Lastly, there have been reports of sexually abusive behaviour in the context of psychedelic ceremonies and therapy 87 , 92 . While these dynamics are not unique to psychedelic therapies 93 , the addition of powerful mind-altering compounds in the equation requires the employment of additional caution, prevention and mitigation strategies. Relatedly, the use of psychedelic or empathogenic compounds in romantic contexts might also create complex relationship dynamics such as promoting feelings of attachment to an ordinarily undesired or abusive partner, sexual activities done under drug influence that are later regretted, or wrongly perceiving another individual as romantically or sexually interested or engaged—an issue that extends to other psychoactive drugs such as alcohol. As policies around psychedelic use evolve, it’s imperative to define clear ethical standards and professional guidelines to prevent abuse and ensure accountability. Educating individuals about potential risks and encouraging vigilance can further reduce harm and foster a safer environment for all involved.

Conclusions

The present study contributes some first preliminary evidence that both the naturalistic and controlled therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs might foster an improvement in several facets of sexual functioning and satisfaction, including experienced pleasure, sexual satisfaction, communication of sexual desires and body image. Moreover, the present study specifically highlights that psilocybin therapy for MDD might be linked with improvements in sexual functioning. On the other hand, escitalopram—a commonly used SSRI—seemed to negatively impact sexual functioning, despite both treatments inducing similar reductions in depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the need for further research utilizing more comprehensive and validated measures to fully understand the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning. However, the preliminary results do suggest that psychedelics may be a useful tool for disorders that impact sexual functioning.

The present study combined datasets from two large prospective online survey studies investigating the impact of psychedelics consumed in personal and ceremonial settings in the real world. All studies collected data using the bespoke online software platform www.psychedelicsurvey.com and the online platform Alchemer. The first cohort survey study 88 recruited participants who were already planning to consume psychedelics in the near future, outside of a research or organised ceremonial setting. The second dataset comes from a survey study targeted towards individuals planning to attend an organised ‘ceremony’ entailing the consumption of a classic psychedelic substance (psilocybin/magic mushrooms/truffles, ayahuasca, DMT, San Pedro, LSD/1P‐LSD), e.g., in a psychedelic retreat or other form of guided psychedelic experience 38 . Both studies received a favourable opinion from the Imperial College Research Ethics Committee and were sponsored by the Imperial Joint Research and Compliance Office, and all participants were 18+ years old, recruited online and provided informed consent. In all three survey studies, participants were prompted to select the date of their future psychedelic experience, and questionnaires were automatically sent to them 1 week before the experience (baseline), and 4 weeks and 6 months after the experience. All methods were carried out by respecting/adhering to relevant guidelines and regulations. An overview of study 1 timepoints can be found in Fig.  5 . Extensive information about the design of these two prospective online surveys can be found in Refs. 38 , 88 . CONSORT diagram for Study 1 can be found in Supplementary Materials.

figure 5

Overview of Study 1 with the included items assessing sexual functioning and perceptions of sex at the relevant timepoints.

It comprises data derived from a phase II double-blind randomised controlled clinical trial (RCT) comparing psilocybin-therapy versus escitalopram treatment for major depression 7 . Participants had a diagnosis of moderate-severe MDD (> 17 on Hamilton-Depression [HAM-D-17 50 ] scale at screening), were between 18 to 65 years old and were recruited through trial networks, social media, and other sources (see 7 for demographic information). Participants were randomised to one of two arms: either receiving two doses of an active dose of psilocybin (25 mg) alongside 6 weeks of daily placebo (“psilocybin arm”), or two doses of a ‘control’ dose of psilocybin (1 mg) and daily escitalopram (10 mg for 3 weeks, then 20 mg for 3 weeks, “escitalopram arm”). During the active treatment period, each participant worked with two experienced therapists or psychiatrists administering an adapted form of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy 91 . On dosing days, the therapists accompanied them from the moment they ingested the drug until the day’s end. Before and after dosing days, participants underwent psychological preparation and integration, respectively. Taking into account screening, preparation, dosing, and integration, participants in each condition received approximately 20 h of in-person therapeutic support during the trial, as well as up to six further integration calls over Skype or by telephone. Licenses and approvals were obtained from the Home Office (Schedule 1), UK Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Brent Research Ethics Committee (REC), the Health Research Authority (HRA) and Imperial College London (ICL) GDPR and the sponsors ICL Joint Research Compliance Office. Proprietary psilocybin was provided by COMPASS Pathways as ‘COMP360’ (Compass Pathways’ investigational, proprietary, synthetic, psilocybin formulation) and escitalopram by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Pharmacy. An overview of study 2 timepoints can be found in Fig.  6 , see 7 for further details on the study protocol and the main results of the trial. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03429075, registered on February 12, 2018; EudraCT: 2017-000219-18. CONSORT diagram for Study 2 can be found in Supplementary Materials.

figure 6

Overview of the DB-RCT trial procedure (Study 2). Numbers indicate days from baseline (day 0) to the 6-week trial primary end-point (day 42). The listed measures are only the ones included in the present study.

Sexual functioning and satisfaction

Consistent measures were used in Study 1 and 2. In Study 1, measures were employed at baseline (one week prior to the experience), 4 weeks, and 6 months after naturalistic psychedelic-use. In Study 2, measures were administered at baseline (1 week before dosing day 1) and at the 6-weeks follow-up, the RCT’s primary endpoint. Outcome measures were items extracted from the Brief Index of Sexual Functioning for Women (BISF-W), a standardized self-report measure of overall sexual function in women 86 . As the questionnaire was designed to be specifically used with women and our sample constituted of both men and women, we only used items that could be generalised to both sexes and we focused on the domains of experienced pleasure, communication, satisfaction of one’s partner, importance of sex, and satisfaction with one’s body image. We also did not use the full scale to limit the burden on participants, as a variety of other measures were also included. The questions and the response options were as follows: During the past month, have you felt pleasure from any forms of sexual experience? (0) I have not had a partner, (1) Have not felt any pleasure, (2) Seldom, less than 25% of the time, (3) Sometimes, about 50% of the time, (4) Usually, about 75% of the time, (5) Always felt pleasure. During the past month, how frequently have you been able to communicate your sexual desires or preferences to your partner/s?: (0) I have not had a partner/s, (1) I have been unable to communicate my desires or preferences, (2) Seldom, less than 25% of the time, (3) Sometimes, about 50% of the time, (4) usually, about 75% of the time, (5) I was always able to communicate my desires or my preferences. Overall, how satisfied have you been with your sexual relationship with your partner/s? (0) I have not had a partner/s, (1) Very satisfied, (2) Somewhat satisfied, (3) Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, (4) Somewhat dissatisfied, (5) Very dissatisfied. Overall, how important is sexual activity in your life? (0) Not at all important, (1) Somewhat unimportant, (2) Neither important nor unimportant, (3) Somewhat important, (4) Very important. How satisfied you are with the overall appearance of your body? (0) Very satisfied, (1) Somewhat satisfied, (2) Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, (3) Somewhat dissatisfied, (4) Very dissatisfied. If participants responded they did not have a partner in a question (response option 0), the answer was not included in the analysis for that specific item.

Additionally, we constructed two items to investigate whether psychedelics would be associated with a change in people’s (1) openness to sexual exploration and (2) perception of sex as a ‘spiritual experience’, where the latter term was not explicitly defined for the respondent. We conceived these 2 items after a review of the existing anecdotal reports of the effects of psychedelics on one’s sexual life 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 and the cultural association between psychedelic-use, liberal sexual attitudes and behaviours and spiritual ideologies 2 . The items read as follows: “I am very open to trying out new things in my sex life” and “I see sex as a spiritual or sacred experience” and could be answered on a 7-point Likert scale.

Finally, exclusively in the 6 weeks follow-up of Study 2, we added item 13 from the BISF-W. This asks participants to retrospectively rate the level of change in any of the following areas of sexual functioning in the previous 6 weeks: (1) sexual interest, (2) sexual arousal, (3) sexual activity, (4) sexual satisfaction, (5) sexual anxiety. The response options were: (1) not applicable, (2) no change, (3) increase, (4) decrease.

Sexual dysfunction

To assess the appearance of sexual dysfunction after drug treatment in Study 2 we used the Psychotropic-Related Sexual Dysfunction Questionnaire (PRSexDQ-SALSEX 94 ). The scales include 7 items assessing SD. The first is a screening item that assesses if the patient experienced any sort of SD during treatment. The second item assesses whether the patient has spontaneously reported any SD to his or her physician. The next items (items 3–7) assess five dimensions of SD according to severity or frequency: loss of libido (0 = nil, 1 = mild, 2 = moderate, 3 = severe), delayed orgasm or ejaculation (0 = nil, 1 = mild, 2 = moderate, 3 = severe), lack of orgasm or ejaculation (0 = never, 1 = occasionally, 2 = often, 3 = always), erectile dysfunction in men/vaginal lubrication dysfunction in women (0 = never, 1 = occasionally, 2 = often, 3 = always), and patient's tolerance of the SD (0 = no sexual dysfunction, 1 = good, 2 = fair, 3 = poor). Only items 3 through 7 account for the total score of the PRSexDQ-SALSEX. Sexual dysfunction is scored as mild = 1–5 (with no item > 1); moderate = 6–10 (OR any item = 2, with no item = 3) or severe = 11–15 (OR any item = 3). As the scale is designed for retrospective use, it was only collected at the 6-weeks follow-up of the trial.

The Flourishing Scale 95 is a brief 8-item summary measure of the respondent’s self-perceived success in important areas such as relationships, self-esteem, purpose, and optimism. The scale provides a single psychological well-being score. The scores range from 8 to 56. A high score represents a person with many psychological resources and strengths.

Depressive symptoms were assessed with the 16-item Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology Self-Report 96 . The total score establishes the severity of depression, ranging from ‘absent’ (0–5) to ‘mild’ (6–10), ‘moderate’ (11–15), ‘severe’ (16–20) and ‘very severe’ (21–27).

Statistical analyses

Changes on the individual items of the adapted BISF-W from baseline to 4 weeks and 6 months after the psychedelic experience were assessed via non-parametric Friedman rank sum tests due to the ordinal nature of the response items. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests between baseline, 4-week, and 6-month endpoints were used as follow-up tests. Additionally, spearman correlations between changes on individual items of the BISF-W and changes in flourishing (FS) from baseline to the 4-week endpoint are reported in order to investigate if changes in sexual functioning correlated with changes in wellbeing. Finally, cumulative links models were fitted in order to investigate differences between male and female participants on any of the sexuality-related items (Supplementary Material 1 ).

Due to the limited sample size and structure of the Likert-item based data, cumulative link models for ordinal regression were performed to compare changes in BISF-W items between the psilocybin and escitalopram arms of the RCT 97 . Cumulative link models are structurally related to mixed linear models, in that they allow fitting random intercepts and slopes on ordinal, instead of continuous data. For the present sample, models with random intercept only were found to produce the best fit indices, based on Bayesian Information Criteria (BIC). Symmetric threshold parameters were chosen for items rated from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree, while equidistant thresholds were used for items rated using equally spaced numerically defined proportions (e.g., None of the time, 25% of the time, 50% of the time, etc.). Post-hoc within-group contrasts were calculated based on estimated marginal means for all items. Rosenthal correlation coefficients (R) were added as effect size (EF) estimates in Table 3 . They are calculated by dividing the z value by the sqrt of the sample size 98 . These coefficients are commonly used in the case of ordinal variables and a value of 0.00 < 0.20 indicates a very low ES, 0.20 < 0.40 low ES, 0.40 < 0.60 moderate ES, 0.60 < 0.80 strong ES, 0.80 < 1.00 very strong ES. Scores on the BISF-W item 13, which was only included at the endpoint, were compared between the groups via Mann Whitney U tests, where rank-biserial correlation coefficients (r) ≥ 0.3 was defined as a small, r ≤ 0.5 medium and r > 0.5 as a large effect. Ordinal scores from the PRSexDQ-SALSEX, which was also only included at the endpoint, were also compared using a Mann Whitney U test in order to investigate differences in the severity of sexual dysfunction between the two groups.

Due to the small sample size, Bonferroni-corrected spearman correlations between longitudinal changes in depressive symptoms (QIDS-SR-16) and SF were calculated based only on the retrospective BISF-W item 13 investigating retrospective changes in sexual interest, arousal, activity, satisfaction, and anxiety in order avoid inflation of the number of tests. These correlations investigated if changes in depression correlated with changes in sexual functioning.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author, [TB], upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

TB would like to thank Dr Zhana Vrangalova for the intellectual input and useful feedback on this work.

We would like to thank the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust for funding the psilocybin vs escitalopram clinical trial. We would also like to acknowledge the funders of the Center for Psychedelic Research for providing supplementary funding for staff involved in the trial.

Author information

These authors contributed equally: Tommaso Barba and Hannes Kettner.

These authors jointly supervised this work: Robin Carhart-Harris and Bruna Giribaldi.

Authors and Affiliations

Department of Medicine, Centre for Psychedelic Research, Imperial College London, London, UK

Tommaso Barba, Hannes Kettner, Caterina Radu, Joseph M. Peill, Leor Roseman, David J. Nutt, David Erritzoe, Robin Carhart-Harris & Bruna Giribaldi

Psychedelics Division, Neuroscape, Department of Neurology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, United States

Hannes Kettner & Robin Carhart-Harris

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Contributions

B.T.—formulating the research questions, conducting the data analysis, visualizing the results, interpreting the results, reviewing the literature, writing the paper. H.K.—formulating the research questions, planning and conducting the data analysis, visualizing the results, interpreting the results, reviewing the literature, writing the paper. C.R.—Writing the paper, help with literature search and figure design. J.M.P.—Providing valuable feedback and responsible of data administration of both studies. L.R.—designing and data collection in study 1 and providing feedback. D.N.—Principal Investigator of study 2 and providing feedback. D.E.—designing study 1 and 2 and providing feedback. R.C.-H.—Designing study 1 and 2, supervision of research questions, data analysis, interpretation, and writing. B.G.—Formulating the research questions, supervision of data analysis, interpretation, writing and trial coordination of study 2.

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Correspondence to Tommaso Barba .

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Dr. Carhart-Harris reports receiving consulting fees from Mindstate and Beckley Psytech. Dr. Erritzoe reports receiving consulting fees from Field Trip and Mydecine. Dr. Nutt, reports receiving consulting fees from Awakn, H. Lundbeck, and Psyched Wellness, advisory board fees from COMPASS Pathways, and lecture fees from Takeda Medical Research Foundation and owning stock in Alcarelle.Tommaso Barba reports receiving consulting fees from LivingAdamo. None of the aforementioned organizations were involved in the design, execution, interpretation, or communication of findings from present study. The other authors declare no competing interests.

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Barba, T., Kettner, H., Radu, C. et al. Psychedelics and sexual functioning: a mixed-methods study. Sci Rep 14 , 2181 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-49817-4

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Sitting idle boosts the performance of lithium metal batteries for next-generation EVs

Lithium metal batteries could double the range of electric vehicles, but current batteries degrade quickly during operation. Stanford researchers have discovered that you can improve the battery’s cycle life simply by letting it rest for several hours in the discharged state.

discussion of the findings in research

A new study presents possible solutions to a problem known to cause degradation and failure in lithium-metal batteries. (Image credit: alengo/iStock)

Next-generation electric vehicles could run on lithium metal batteries that go 500 to 700 miles on a single charge, twice the range of conventional lithium-ion batteries in EVs today.

But lithium metal technology has serious drawbacks: The battery rapidly loses its capacity to store energy after relatively few cycles of charging and discharging – highly impractical for drivers who expect rechargeable electric cars to operate for years.

Scientists have been testing a variety of new materials and techniques to improve the battery’s cycle life. Now, Stanford University researchers have discovered a low-cost solution: simply drain the battery and let it rest for several hours. This straightforward approach, described in a study published Feb. 7 in the journal Nature , restored battery capacity and boosted overall performance.

“We were looking for the easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to improve lithium metal cycling life,” said study co-lead author Wenbo Zhang, a Stanford PhD student in materials science and engineering. “We discovered that by resting the battery in the discharged state, lost capacity can be recovered and cycle life increased. These improvements can be realized just by reprogramming the battery management software, with no additional cost or changes needed for equipment, materials, or production flow.”

The results of the study could provide EV manufacturers practical insights on adapting lithium metal technology to real-world driving conditions, said senior author Yi Cui , the Fortinet Founders Professor of Materials Science and Engineering in the School of Engineering , and professor of energy science and engineering in the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability .

“Lithium metal batteries have been the subject of a lot of research,” said Cui. “Our findings can help guide future studies that will aid in the advancement of lithium metal batteries towards widespread commercial adaptation.”

discussion of the findings in research

Magnified image of a copper mesh from a lithium metal battery in the discharged state. Tiny pieces of dead lithium of various sizes and shapes are deposited on square openings in the mesh. (Image credit: Wenbo Zhang/Stanford University)

Lithium metal vs. lithium-ion technology

A conventional lithium-ion battery consists of two electrodes – a graphite anode and a lithium metal oxide cathode – separated by a liquid or solid electrolyte that shuttles lithium ions back and forth.

In a lithium metal battery, the graphite anode is replaced with electroplated lithium metal, which enables it to store twice the energy of a lithium-ion battery in the same amount of space. The lithium metal anode also weighs less than the graphite anode, which is important for EVs. Lithium metal batteries can hold at least a third more energy per pound as lithium-ion.

“A car equipped with a lithium metal battery would have twice the range of a lithium-ion vehicle of equal size – 600 miles per charge versus 300 miles, for example,” said co-lead author Philaphon Sayavong, a PhD student in chemistry. “In EVs, the goal is to keep the battery as lightweight as possible while extending the vehicle range.”

Doubling the range could eliminate range anxiety for drivers who are reluctant to purchase EVs. Unfortunately, continuous charging and discharging causes lithium metal batteries to degrade quickly, rendering them useless for routine driving. When the battery is discharged, micron-sized bits of lithium metal become isolated and get trapped in the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), a spongy matrix that forms where the anode and electrolyte meet.

“The SEI matrix is essentially decomposed electrolyte,” Zhang explained. “It surrounds isolated pieces of lithium metal stripped from the anode and prevents them from participating in any electrochemical reactions. For that reason, we consider isolated lithium dead.”

Repeated charging and discharging results in the build-up of additional dead lithium, causing the battery to rapidly lose capacity. “An EV with a state-of-the-art lithium metal battery would lose range at a much faster rate than an EV powered by a lithium-ion battery,” Zhang said.

discussion of the findings in research

A micron-size piece of isolated lithium is trapped in the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) matrix when a lithium metal battery discharges. Center images: The matrix dissolves when the battery is at rest, enabling the isolated lithium to reconnect with the anode during charging. Far right: New SEI matrix forms during the next discharge cycle. (Image credit: Wenbo Zhang/Stanford University)

Discharge and rest

In previous work, Sayavong and his colleagues discovered that the SEI matrix begins to dissolve when the battery is idle. Based on that finding, the Stanford team decided to see what would happen if the battery was allowed to rest while discharged.

“The first step was to completely discharge the battery so there is zero current running through it,” Zhang said. “Discharging strips all the metallic lithium from the anode, so all you’re left with are inactive pieces of isolated lithium surrounded by the SEI matrix.”

The next step was to let the battery sit idle.

“We found that if the battery rests in the discharged state for just one hour, some of the SEI matrix surrounding the dead lithium dissolves away,” Sayavong said. “So when you recharge the battery, the dead lithium will reconnect with the anode, because there’s less solid mass getting in the way.”

Reconnecting with the anode brings dead lithium back to life, enabling the battery to generate more energy and extend its cycle life.

“Previously, we thought that this energy loss was irreversible,” Cui said. “But our study showed that we can recover lost capacity simply by resting the discharged battery.”

Using time-lapse video microscopy, the researchers visually confirmed the disintegration of residual SEI and subsequent recovery of dead lithium during the resting phase.

Practical applications

The average American driver spends about an hour behind the wheel each day, so the idea of resting your car battery for several hours is feasible.

A typical EV may have 4,000 batteries arranged in modules controlled by a battery management system , an electronic brain that monitors and controls battery performance. In a lithium metal battery, the existing management system can be programmed to discharge an individual module completely so that it has zero capacity left.

This approach does not require expensive, new manufacturing techniques or materials, Zhang added.

“You can implement our protocol as fast as it takes you to write the battery management system code,” he said. “We believe that in certain types of lithium metal batteries, discharged-state resting alone can increase EV cycle life significantly.”

Yi Cui is also a professor of photon science at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, director of the Sustainability Accelerator in the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, and co-director of the StorageX Initiative in the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy. Other Stanford co-authors are Professor Stacey F. Bent and graduate students Xin Xiao, Solomon T. Oyakhire, Sanzeeda Baig Shuchi, Rafael A. Vilá, David T. Boyle, Sang Cheol Kim, Mun Sek Kim, Sarah E. Holmes, Yusheng Ye, and Donglin Li.

Funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy Battery Materials Research Program and Battery500 Consortium; the National Academy of Sciences Ford Foundation Fellowships; the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program; and the Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) and Knight-Hennessy Scholars programs at Stanford.

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Teen Drug and Alcohol Use Linked to Mental Health Distress

Substance use by adolescents may prove valuable in identifying the presence of underlying disorders, a new study suggests.

Matt Richtel

By Matt Richtel

Teenagers who use cannabis, alcohol and nicotine are more likely to have underlying psychiatric symptoms, and worse symptoms, than their peers who are not regularly using substances, new research has found.

The research, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics , found that such substances are linked to an array of symptoms and conditions, including anxiety, depression, hyperactivity and suicidal ideation. These findings suggest that asking adolescents about substance use may provide a powerful screening tool when looking for underlying mental health issues, researchers said.

“Universally screening for psychiatric symptoms in the context of all types of substance use is what we think might be most important,” said Brenden Tervo-Clemmens, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the paper.

“All the symptoms of mental health we examined, be it depression, suicidal thoughts, ADHD, were elevated no matter what the substance was,” he added.

Two Puff Bar vape devices, one red and one bright green, in the palm of a teenager's hand.

The Findings: Drug Use as Self-Medication

The paper found that the link between substance use and mental health existed even at low levels of drug and alcohol use. Dr. Tervo-Clemmens said that adolescents with low levels of substance use may be self-medicating and that their relatively modest substance use was not likely to be causing the underlying mental health challenges.

But the research also found that the most frequent and intensive users of the substances experienced the most severe mental health symptoms. In these instances, Dr. Tervo-Clemmens said, the adolescents may be worsening their symptoms even as they use substances to self-medicate.

Specifically, the study found that daily or near-daily use — but not weekly or monthly use — of substances was linked to a moderate increase in symptoms. Researchers described the connection as “dose dependent,” because the level of use was linked to the intensity of symptoms.

Background: Two Strong Data Sets

The strength of the study came from its use of two data sets that yielded similar findings.

One sample used survey data from 15,600 Massachusetts high school students with a median age of around 16. The second sample drew on similarly self-reported data from 17,000 respondents to the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

In both groups, the study’s authors noted, “alcohol, cannabis and nicotine use each had significant, moderate dose-dependent associations with worse psychiatric symptoms, including suicidal thoughts.”

Another key finding was that the link was present between multiple symptoms and between multiple substances. “It’s not just cannabis, it’s not just alcohol, it’s not just nicotine,” Dr. Tervo-Clemmens said. “It seems to be no matter the substance.”

What’s New: A Generational Change

Compared with prior generations, today’s adolescents are experiencing more mental health symptoms but a declining use of drugs and alcohol. Binge-drinking and cigarette smoking, in particular, have fallen sharply, affecting a smaller portion of the adolescent population.

These broad trends may support the idea that asking teenagers about substance use could be a way to screen for mental health challenges, Dr. Tervo-Clemmens said. That’s because the group of regular substance users is smaller than it once was and may be more closely linked to individuals who are self-medicating or otherwise dealing with mental health challenges.

Matt Richtel is a health and science reporter for The Times, based in Boulder, Colo. More about Matt Richtel

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February 12, 2024

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New study on decomposing microbes could help transform forensic science

by Colorado State University

forensic evidence

For the first time, researchers have identified what appears to be a network of approximately 20 microbes that universally drive the decomposition of animal flesh. The findings have significant implications for the future of forensic science, including the potential to provide crime scene investigators with a more precise way to determine a body's time of death.

"It's really cool that there are these microbes that always show up to decompose animal remains," said Colorado State University Associate Professor Jessica Metcalf, the senior author on the new work published in Nature Microbiology . "Hopefully, we're busting open this whole new area of ecological research."

Decomposition of dead biological material is one of Earth's most fundamental processes. Organic plant waste accounts for the vast majority of matter that is decomposed, a process that is relatively well understood. Comparatively little, however, is known about the ecology of vertebrate decomposition, including humans, and better understanding how humans decompose has the potential to advance forensic science .

This new study, a multi-year undertaking, involved decomposing 36 cadavers at three different forensic anthropological facilities—the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Sam Houston State University; and Colorado Mesa University. The bodies were decomposed in different climates and during all four seasons. The research team then collected skin and soil samples during the first 21 days for each decomposing body.

Metcalf and her colleagues generated a significant amount of molecular and genomic information from the samples. They then used that information to construct an overall picture of the "microbial community," or microbiome, present at each site. "Essentially," Metcalf said, "what microbes are there, how did they get there, how does that change over time and what are they doing."

Surprisingly, she said, regardless of climate or soil type, researchers found the same set of approximately 20 specialist decomposing microbes on all 36 bodies. What's more, those microbes arrived like clockwork at certain points throughout the 21-day observation period, and insects played a key role in their arrival.

"We see similar microbes arrive at similar times during decomposition, regardless of any number of outdoor variables you can think of," Metcalf said.

A future in forensics

Identifying the decomposing microbiome's consistent makeup and timing has important implications for forensic science.

Using machine learning techniques and data from the new study, as well as previous work, Metcalf and her collaborators—David Carter, professor of forensic sciences at Chaminade University of Honolulu, and Rob Knight, director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at the University of California San Diego—built a tool that can accurately predict a body's time since death, also known as the postmortem interval.

"When you're talking about investigating death scenes, there are very few types of physical evidence you can guarantee will be present at every scene," Carter said. "You never know if there will be fingerprints, or bloodstains or camera footage. But the microbes will always be there."

What's more, these microbes can be particularly useful, Carter said, under the types of conditions examined in the new study. "We're talking about outdoor death scenes," he said. "It can be difficult to gather information in those types of investigations."

The director of the National Institute of Justice, Nancy La Vigne, views the research as particularly promising. "One of the principal questions of any death investigation is 'when did this person die?'" La Vigne said. "This continuing line of ... research is showing promising results for predicting time of death of human remains, aiding in identification of the decedent, determining potential suspects and confirmation or refutation of alibis."

In addition to identifying the universal decomposers, the research team also attempted to determine where this microbial community came from. Notably, Metcalf said, they couldn't find the microbes in soil microbiome databases or catalogs of human skin and gut microbiomes. They did, however, find the universal decomposers on insects. "It seems like the insects are bringing the microbes in," Metcalf said.

Other research applications

These latest findings build on more than a decade of work by Metcalf, Carter and Knight, including an early study that involved decomposing mice on different soils in a controlled lab setting as well as a follow-up that involved decomposing four cadavers at the Sam Houston State facility. Zach Burcham, a former CSU postdoctoral student in Metcalf's lab, helped lead the latest work.

"This research was a huge collaborative effort from a diverse team of highly knowledgeable scientists—a shining example of what can be accomplished when interdisciplinary teams join forces towards a common goal," Burcham said. "This dataset is truly one of a kind, with broad-ranging impacts from microbial ecology to forensic science."

In addition to the forensic applications, Metcalf sees other opportunities to put this new information to use. "I see a lot of potential applications across agriculture and food industries ," said Metcalf, who is in CSU's Department of Animal Sciences.

Metcalf also intends to expand her research in this field, including potentially looking at the differences in the microbial ecology of small and large vertebrates. "I feel like we're opening a whole lot of avenues in basic ecology and nutrient cycling," Metcalf said.

Journal information: Nature Microbiology

Provided by Colorado State University

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8 facts about atheists.

Caucasian man cycling outdoors

Atheists make up 4% of U.S. adults, according to our 2023 National Public Opinion Reference Survey . That compares with 3% who described themselves as atheists in 2014 and 2% who did so in 2007 .

Here are some key facts about atheists in the United States and around the world, based on several Pew Research Center surveys.

This analysis draws on several Pew Research Center studies. Data on the share of atheists in the United States is from the  2023 National Public Opinion Reference Survey , as well as the Center’s  2007  and  2014 Religious Landscape Studies .

Other data on U.S. atheists comes from various waves of the American Trends Panel, collected in  September and December 2017 ,  February 2019 ,  September 2022 , and  July and August 2023 .

For data from countries other than the U.S., this analysis draws on nationally representative surveys conducted in 2019, 2022 and 2023. Read more details about our  international survey methodology and country-specific sample designs .

For the purposes of this analysis, “wealthy nations” are those that were classified as “high income” according to the  World Bank Income Classifications .

In the U.S., atheists are mostly men and are relatively young,  according to a Center survey conducted in summer 2023 . Around six-in-ten U.S. atheists are men (64%). And seven-in-ten are ages 49 or younger, compared with about half of U.S. adults overall (52%).

Atheists also are more likely than the general public to be White (77% vs. 62%) and have a college degree (48% vs. 34%). Roughly eight-in-ten atheists identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party.

Almost all U.S. atheists (98%) say religion is not too or not at all important in their lives, according to the same summer 2023 survey. An identical share say that they seldom or never pray.

At the same time, 79% of American atheists say they feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe at least several times a year. And 36% feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least that often.

U.S. atheists and religiously affiliated Americans find meaning in their lives in some of the same ways. In a 2017 survey , we asked an open-ended question about this. Like a majority of Americans, most atheists mentioned family as a source of meaning.

However, atheists (26%) were far more likely than Christians (10%) to describe their hobbies as meaningful or satisfying. Atheists were also more likely than Americans overall to describe finances and money, creative pursuits, travel, and leisure activities as meaningful. Very few atheists (4%) said they found life’s meaning in spirituality.

A map showing that western Europeans are more likely than Americans to identify as atheists.

Atheists make up a larger share of the population in many Western European countries than in the U.S.,  according to a spring 2023 Center survey that included 10 European countries. For example, nearly a quarter of French adults (23%) identify as atheists, as do 18% of adults in Sweden, 17% in the Netherlands and 12% in the United Kingdom.

Most U.S. atheists express concerns about the role religion plays in society. An overwhelming majority of atheists (94%) say that the statement “religion causes division and intolerance” describes their views a great deal or a fair amount, according to our summer 2023 survey. And 91% say the same about the statement “religion encourages superstition and illogical thinking.” Nearly three-quarters (73%) say religion does more harm than good in American society.

At the same time, 41% of atheists say religion helps society by giving people meaning and purpose in their lives, and 33% say it encourages people to treat others well.

Atheists may not believe religious teachings, but they are  quite informed about religion . In our 2019 religious knowledge survey , atheists were among the best-performing groups. On average, they answered about 18 out of 32 fact-based questions correctly, while U.S. adults overall got roughly 14 questions right. In particular, atheists were twice as likely as Americans overall to know that the U.S. Constitution says no religious test is necessary to hold public office.

Atheists were also at least as knowledgeable as Christians on Christianity-related questions. For example, roughly eight-in-ten in both groups knew that Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus.

Most Americans don’t think believing in God is necessary to be a good person, according to the summer 2023 survey. When we asked people which statement came closer to their views, 73% selected “it is possible to be moral and have good values without believing in God,” while 25% picked “it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values.”

Adults in some other wealthy countries tend to agree with this sentiment, based on responses to a similar question we asked in 2019 and 2022 . For example, nine-in-ten Swedish adults say belief in God is not necessary to be moral and have good values, while 85% in Australia, 80% in the Czech Republic and 77% in France say this.

However, fewer than one-in-ten adults in some other countries surveyed say that a person can be moral without believing in God. That includes 5% of adults in Kenya, 4% in the Philippines and 2% in Indonesia. In all three nations, more than nine-in-ten say instead that a person must believe in God to be a moral person.

About three-quarters of U.S. atheists (77%) do not believe in God or a higher power  or in a spiritual force of any kind, according to our summer 2023 survey. At the same time, 23% say they do believe in a higher power of some kind, though fewer than 1% of U.S. atheists say they believe in “God as described in the Bible.”

This shows that not all self-described atheists fit the literal definition of “atheist,” which is “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods,”  according to Merriam-Webster .

Note: This is an update of a post originally published on Nov. 5, 2015. It was last updated Dec. 6, 2019.

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Among religious ‘nones,’ atheists and agnostics know the most about religion

Why america’s ‘nones’ don’t identify with a religion, key findings about americans’ belief in god, unlike their central and eastern european neighbors, most czechs don’t believe in god, why people with no religion are projected to decline as a share of the world’s population, most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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Researchers Identify Potential Brain Injury from Long COVID: Findings from a Study

R ecent scientific findings suggest that long COVID could be operating as a type of brain injury. Evidence from a new investigation hints at the possibility of treating long COVID more effectively by adjusting both diagnostic tests and therapeutic interventions.

Within a cohort of 203 patients who had been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and its symptoms, compared to a control group of 60 individuals who had not contracted the virus, scientists identified increased levels of four specific biomarkers indicative of brain injury among those who had been infected.

Particularly notable is the continued presence of two brain injury biomarkers during the recovery phase, indicating that they persist beyond the active infection phase. These biomarkers were found in greater abundance in patients who suffered neurological consequences as a result of COVID-19.

“Our study indicates that signs of brain damage may linger in the bloodstream for some time following COVID-19, increasing especially among those who sustained neurological issues due to the virus,” explains neuroscientist Benedict Michael of the University of Liverpool.

He further mentions, “This underscores the possibility that continual inflammation and damage are occurring within the brain, which might be missed by standard blood tests for inflammation.”

The neurological complications seen with COVID-19 vary widely, including symptoms as relatively benign as headaches to those as severe as seizures, strokes, and encephalitis . The impacts of these symptoms can persist and significantly impair the quality of life.

The study’s results contribute to the understanding that the body’s immune system could be triggering abnormal responses, leading to what appears to be brain injury. Exploring these responses could pave the way for novel treatment approaches.

It’s evident through this research that COVID-19 affects the nervous system, sometimes with long-term consequences that resemble the effects of brain injury.

According to the researchers, “Both the clinical characteristics of the subjects and the elevated levels of markers indicative of brain injury suggest a pattern of both acute and long-lasting neurological harm.”

With ongoing efforts to investigate how the inflammation and other damage connected to COVID-19 can escalate into cognitive and mental health issues, the team is actively seeking out the underlying mechanisms associated with these complications.

As millions are now believed to be coping with the effects of long COVID, understanding this condition remains a significant challenge, although ongoing research aims to uncover patterns that could eventually lead to more effective interventions.

“By investigating these pathways, we hope to shed light on potential mechanisms underlying such complications,” states immunologist Leonie Taams from King’s College London.

The pivotal study is thoroughly documented in Nature Communications .

FAQs About Long COVID as a Brain Injury

What are the biomarkers of brain injury found in patients with long covid.

Four key biomarkers of brain injury were elevated in patients who had contracted COVID-19, with two persisting during the recovery phase.

Could long COVID affect the severity of neurological complications?

Yes, increased levels of brain injury biomarkers were found in patients who experienced more severe neurological issues due to COVID-19.

What does the continued presence of brain injury biomarkers imply?

It suggests possible ongoing inflammation and damage within the brain after the initial COVID-19 infection has cleared.

Could blood tests miss signs of brain injury or damage in long COVID cases?

According to the study, standard blood tests for inflammation may not always detect the ongoing brain injury indicated by the biomarkers.

Is there a potential link between the nervous system impact of COVID-19 and the immune system?

Abnormal responses by the immune system are suspected to be causing the signs of brain injury associated with long COVID.

What does the research say about the potential for long-term effects?

Researchers suggest that there is evidence of ongoing neurological injury in patients who have had COVID-19, indicating potential long-term effects on mental and cognitive health.

Are there any potential treatments being developed in response to these findings?

The study is a stepping stone toward understanding the immune system’s role in long COVID and may lead to the development of new treatments focused on the immune responses.

In conclusion, this groundbreaking study sheds light on a startling aspect of long COVID—its resemblance to brain injury and its association with persistent biomarkers indicating neurological damage. The findings emphasize the need for further research to comprehend the full scale of long COVID’s impact on the brain and for developing targeted treatments. As millions worldwide continue to deal with the aftermath of COVID-19, advancing our understanding of the neurological and cognitive complications remains a critical avenue of inquiry. These insights not only deepen our knowledge of the post-viral consequences of COVID-19 but also open the door to potential therapeutic strategies that address the unique challenges of long COVID.

Researchers Identify Potential Brain Injury from Long COVID: Findings from a Study

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Wage Growth Disparities by Gender and Race/Ethnicity among Entrants to Mid-Level Occupations in the United States: Findings from the Career Trajectories and Occupational Transitions Study

Publication info, research methodology, country, state or territory, description, other products.

The career pathways approach to workforce development emerged to help workers with lower levels of formal education advance to better paying jobs by earning in-demand postsecondary credentials. The approach involves articulated steps of education, training, and jobs within an industry sector or occupational cluster, combined with other services and employer connections to support participant success. To advance the evidence base in the career pathways field, the Descriptive & Analytical Career Pathways Project (D&A CP Project) includes three sub-studies, each addressing different evidence gaps through distinct data sources and methods.

This paper on wage growth disparities was completed as part of the Career Trajectories and Occupational Transitions (CTOT) Study. This paper presents a new analysis examining gender and racial/ethnic differences in wage growth trends among workers who take jobs in mid-level occupations that require some preparation beyond a high school degree, but less than a four-year college degree—the types of occupations that career pathways programs generally target. Women and workers of color constitute a large proportion of individuals served by career pathways programs, and past research has shown large gaps in employment outcomes by gender and race/ethnicity.

The study used panel surveys that follow individuals for decades to examine wage growth 10 years after workers entered occupations. The study finds that otherwise similar workers entering the same mid-level occupations experience large gender and racial/ethnic disparities in wage growth.

The study also finds: • Wage growth disparities widen steadily over the course of 10 years. • When individuals are grouped by race/ethnicity and gender, Black and Hispanic women experience the least wage growth of all groups. • Wage growth disparities are pervasive across occupational clusters. • Women experience less wage growth than men despite being more likely to go on to obtain additional postsecondary degrees. • Wage growth disparities cannot be explained by differences in other career-related outcomes, such as time spent not working or in advancement to higher-level occupations.

The other two sub-studies in the D&A CP Project include a Meta-Analysis Study and the Career Trajectories and Occupational Transitions (CTOT) Study.

In addition to this paper, the CTOT Study includes a full report from an analysis of career trajectories and occupational transitions; detailed appendices for healthcare, early care and education, information technology, and production/manufacturing; public use data; and a dashboard.

The D&A CP Project also produced a career pathways timeline as well as an early brief describing highlights from a scan of the research and an accompanying research and evaluation matrix.

The other two sub-studies in the D&A CP Project include a Meta-Analysis Study and Machine Learning Study.

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  1. How to Write a Discussion Section

    Step 1: Summarize your key findings Step 2: Give your interpretations Step 3: Discuss the implications Step 4: Acknowledge the limitations Step 5: Share your recommendations Discussion section example Other interesting articles Frequently asked questions about discussion sections What not to include in your discussion section

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    A successful discussion section puts your findings in context. It should include: the results of your research, a discussion of related research, and a comparison between your results and initial hypothesis. Tip: Not all journals share the same naming conventions.

  3. 8. The Discussion

    The purpose of the discussion section is to interpret and describe the significance of your findings in relation to what was already known about the research problem being investigated and to explain any new understanding or insights that emerged as a result of your research.

  4. PDF Discussion Section for Research Papers

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  5. How to Write the Discussion Section of a Research Paper

    The discussion section provides an analysis and interpretation of the findings, compares them with previous studies, identifies limitations, and suggests future directions for research. This section combines information from the preceding parts of your paper into a coherent story. By this point, the reader already knows why you did your study ...

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    The purpose of the discussion is to interpret and describe the significance of your findings in light of what was already known about the research problem being investigated, and to explain any new understanding or fresh insights about the problem after you've taken the findings into consideration.

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    How to Write a Discussion Section for a Research Paper Wordvice HJ We've talked about several useful writing tips that authors should consider while drafting or editing their research papers. In particular, we've focused on figures and legends, as well as the Introduction , Methods, and Results.

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  9. Dissertations 5: Findings, Analysis and Discussion: Home

    ... if you write a scientific dissertation, or anyway using quantitative methods, you will have some objective results that you will present in the Results chapter. You will then interpret the results in the Discussion chapter. B) More common for qualitative methods - Analysis chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic subheadings.

  10. Communicating and disseminating research findings to study participants

    The PSP focus group discussion guide contained questions to assess participants' past experiences with receiving information about research findings; identify participant preferences for receiving research findings whether negative, positive, or equivocal; gather information to improve communication of research results back to participants ...

  11. Research Findings

    Discussion: This section interprets the results and explains what they mean in relation to the research question (s) and hypotheses. It may also compare and contrast the current findings with previous research studies and explore any implications or limitations of the study.

  12. (PDF) How to Write an Effective Discussion in a Research Paper; a Guide

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  14. How to Write the Results/Findings Section in Research

    Step 1: Consult the guidelines or instructions that the target journal or publisher provides authors and read research papers it has published, especially those with similar topics, methods, or results to your study. The guidelines will generally outline specific requirements for the results or findings section, and the published articles will ...

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    Step 4: Write your findings section in a factual and objective manner. The goal is to communicate information - in some cases a great deal of complex information - as clearly, accurately and precisely as possible, so well-constructed sentences that maintain a simple structure will be far more effective than convoluted phrasing and expressions.

  16. Discussing your findings

    Your discussion should begin with a cogent, one-paragraph summary of the study's key findings, but then go beyond that to put the findings into context, says Stephen Hinshaw, PhD, chair of the psychology department at the University of California, Berkeley. "The point of a discussion, in my view, is to transcend 'just the facts,' and engage in ...

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    The discussion of findings is often considered one of the most important part of thesis project/research work in the sense that, this is where the researcher of a project topic presents the underlying findings of his research. Discussion of findings for thesis project should contain the explanation of result of your project/research work: showing how your respondents responded to the questions ...

  20. PDF CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS

    The research findings from this study show some consistency with regard to the impeders identified. Table 5.2 provide a comparison of the research findings with those of other authors. Chapter 5 Discussion of findings 110 PhD Degree in Tourism Management - Leslie, D, (2008)

  21. CHAPTER 8 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

    in a particular socialsetting, i.e. in the context of group learning. The research objective was to enquire into their perceptions of critical thinking in the context of group learning. This discussion is organised into five subsections (8.2.1 8.2.5), - drawing on the findings presented from Chapter 5 to Chapter 7.

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  24. Teen Drug and Alcohol Use Linked to Mental Health Distress

    The strength of the study came from its use of two data sets that yielded similar findings. One sample used survey data from 15,600 Massachusetts high school students with a median age of around 16.

  25. CHAPTER FIVE DISCUSSION OF THE FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND ...

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    Other research applications. These latest findings build on more than a decade of work by Metcalf, Carter and Knight, including an early study that involved decomposing mice on different soils in ...

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    This analysis draws on several Pew Research Center studies. Data on the share of atheists in the United States is from the 2023 National Public Opinion Reference Survey, as well as the Center's 2007 and 2014 Religious Landscape Studies.. Other data on U.S. atheists comes from various waves of the American Trends Panel, collected in September and December 2017, February 2019, September 2022 ...

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    The study's results contribute to the understanding that the body's immune system could be triggering abnormal responses, leading to what appears to be brain injury. Exploring these responses ...

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    The career pathways approach to workforce development emerged to help workers with lower levels of formal education advance to better paying jobs by earning in-demand postsecondary credentials. The approach involves articulated steps of education, training, and jobs within an industry sector or occupational cluster, combined with other services and employer connections to support participant ...