Authors face the significant challenge of presenting their results in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology (JPP) completely, yet succinctly and writing a convincing discussion section that highlights the importance of their research. The third and final in a series of editorials (Drotar, 2009a,b), this article provides guidance for authors to prepare effective results and discussion sections.
Authors also should review the JPP website ( /) and consider other relevant sources (American Psychological Association, 2001; APA Publications and Communications Board Working Group on Journal Reporting Standards, 2008; Bem, 2004; Brown, 2003; Wilkinson & The Task Force on Statistical Inference, 1999).
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For example, authors should present the sample sizes, means, and standard deviations for all dependent measures and the direction, magnitude, degrees of freedom, and exact p levels for inferential statistics Final year students often find it difficult to choose a suitable research topic for their psychology lab report, and usually attempt to make things more complicated than they need to be. Ask you supervisor for advice, but if in doubt, keep it simple, choose a memory experiment (you don't get extra marks for originality)..
In addition, JPP editorial policy requires that authors include effect sizes and confidence intervals for major findings (Cumming & Finch, 2005, 2008; Durlak, 2009; Wilkinson & the Task Force on Statistical Inference, 1999; Vacha-Haase & Thompson, 2004).
Authors should follow the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) when reporting the results of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) in JPP (Moher, Schultz, & Altman, 2001; Stinson-McGrath, & Yamoda, 2003). Guidelines have also been developed for nonrandomized designs, referred to as the Transparent Reporting of Evaluations with Nonrandomized Designs (TREND) statement (Des Jarlais, Lyles, Crepaz, & the TREND Group, 2004) (available from /asp/ ).
Finally, studies of diagnostic accuracy, including sensitivity and specificity of tests, should be reported in accord with the Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy (STARD) (Bossuyt et al. Finally, authors may also wish to consult a recent publication (APA Publications and Communications Board Working Group on Journal Reporting Standards, 2008) that contains useful guidelines for various types of manuscripts including reports of new data collection and meta-analyses. Guidance is also available for manuscripts that contain observational longitudinal research (Tooth, Ware, Bain, Purdie, & Dobson, 2005) and qualitative studies involving interviews and focus groups (Tong, Sainsbury, & Craig, 2007).
Provide an Overview and Focus Results on Primary Study Questions and HypothesesReaders and reviewers often have difficulty following authors’ presentation of their results, especially for complex data analyses You can't and shouldn't rely on others to intuitively appreciate the beauty and importance of your work, he says. Sounds simple, right? In fact, choosing what to include can be overwhelming, warns sixth-year Yale University social psychology graduate student Aaron Sackett. It is easy to get caught up in the desire to be .
For this reason, it is helpful for authors to provide an overview of the primary sections of their results and also to take readers through their findings in a step-by-step fashion.
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Readers appreciate the clarity of results that are consistent with and focused on the major questions and/or specific hypotheses that have been described in the introduction. Readers and reviewers should be able to identify which specific hypotheses were supported, which received partial support, and which were not supported.
Hypothesis-driven analyses should be presented first, prior to secondary analyses and/or more exploratory analyses (Bem, 2004).
The rationale for the choice of statistics and for relevant decisions within specific analyses should be described (e. , rationale for the order of entry of multiple variables in a regression analysis). Report Data that is Relevant to Statistical AssumptionsAuthors should provide appropriate evidence, including quantitative results where necessary, to affirm that their data fit the assumptions required by the statistical analyses that are reported. When assumptions underlying statistical tests are violated, authors may use transformations of data and/or alternative statistical methods in such situations and should describe the rationale for them.
Integrate the Text of Results with Tables and/or FiguresTables and figures provide effective, reader-friendly ways to highlight key findings (Wallgren, Wallgren, Perrson, Jorner, & Haaland, 1996).
However, authors face the challenge of describing their results in the text in a way that is not highly redundant with information presented in tables and/or figures This guide introduces you to the world of psychological report writing. As part of the specification you should have knowledge of the conventions of reporting conclusions. The next part of the guide aims to examine each section of psychological report writing in detail. In order to understand how each section unfolds, it is .
Figures are especially useful to report the results of complex statistics such as structural equation modeling and path analyses that describe interrelationships among multiple variables and constructs. Given constraints on published text in JPP, tables and figures should always be used selectively and strategically.
Describe Missing DataReviewers are very interested in understanding the nature and impact of missing data. For this reason, information concerning the total number of participants and the flow of participants through each stage of the study (e.
, in prospective studies), the frequency and/or percentages of missing data at different time points, and analytic methods used to address missing data is important to include.
A summary of cases that are missing from analyses of primary and secondary outcomes for each group, the nature of missing data (e. , missing at random or missing not at random), and, if applicable, statistical methods used to replace missing data, and/or understand the impact of missing data (Schafer & Graham, 2002) are useful for readers.
Consider Statistical Analyses that Document Clinical Significance of ResultsImproving the clinical significance of research findings remains an important but elusive goal for the field of pediatric psychology (Drotar & Lemanek, 2001) The following set of guidelines provides psychology students at Essex with the basic information for structuring and formatting reports of research in psychology. During your time here this will be an invaluable reference. You are encouraged to refer to this document each time you write a lab report. The writing of laboratory .
Editorial: how to write an effective results and discussion for the
In order to describe and document clinical significance, authors are strongly encouraged to use one of several recommended approaches including (but not limited to) the Reliable Change Index (Jacobson, Roberts, Burns, & McGlinchey, 1999; Jacobson & Truax, 1991; Ogles, Lambert, & Sawyer, 1995), normative comparisons (Kendall, Marrs-Garcia, Nath, & Sheldrick, 1999); or analyses of the functional impact of change (Kazdin, 1999, 2000). Statistical analyses of the cost effectiveness of interventions can also add to clinical significance (Gold, Russell, Siegel, & Weinstein, 1996).
Authors who report data from quality of life measures should consider analyses of responsiveness and clinical significance that are appropriate for such measures (Revicki, Hays, Cella, & Sloan, 2008; Wywrich et al. Include Supplementary Information Concerning Tables, Figures, and Other Relevant Data on the JPP WebsiteThe managing editors of JPP appreciate the increasing challenges that authors face in presenting the results of complicated study designs and data analytic procedures within the constraints of JPP policy for manuscript length. For this reason, our managing editors will work with authors to determine which tables, analyses, and figures are absolutely essential to be included in the printed text version of the article versus those that are less critical but nonetheless of interest and can be posted on the JPP website in order to save text space.
Specific guidelines for submitting supplementary material are available on the JPP website. We believe that increased use of the website to post supplementary data will not only save text space but will facilitate communication among scientists that is so important to our field and encouraged by the National Institutes of Health. Writing the Discussion SectionThe purpose of the discussion is to give readers specific guidance about what was accomplished in the study, the scientific significance, and what research needs to be done next.
The discussion section is very important to readers but extremely challenging for authors, given the need for a focused synthesis and interpretation of findings and presentation of relevant take-home messages that highlight the significance and implications of their research.
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In crafting their discussion, authors may wish to review their introduction to make sure that the points that are most relevant to their study aims, framework, and hypotheses that have been previously articulated are identified and elaborated.
A discussion section is typically organized around several key components presented in a logical sequence including synthesis and interpretation of findings, description of study limitations, and implications, including recommendations for future research and clinical care When you write a psychology paper, you are, above all, writing to convey factual knowledge that is supported Psychology writing can be very dense, with many references to previous research. Writers of psychology in order to conclude that Americans' attitudes toward gay rights have become more liberal, you would .
Moreover, in order to maximize the impact of the discussion, it is helpful to discuss the most important or significant findings first followed by secondary findings. One of the most common mistakes that authors make is to discuss each and every finding (Bem, 2004).
This strategy can result in an uninteresting and unwieldy presentation. A highly focused, lively presentation that calls the reader's attention to the most salient and interesting findings is most effective (Bem, 2004).
A related problematic strategy is to repeat findings in the discussion that have already been presented without interpreting or synthesizing them. This adds length to the manuscript, reduces reader interest, and detracts from the significance of the research. Finally, it is also problematic to introduce new findings in the discussion that have not been described in the results.
Describe the Novel Contribution of Findings Relative to Previous ResearchReaders and reviewers need to receive specific guidance from authors in order to identify and appreciate the most important new scientific contribution of the theory, methods, and/or findings of their research (Drotar, 2008; Sternberg & Gordeva, 2006).
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For example, how do the findings shed light on important theoretical or empirical issues and resolve controversies in the field? How do the findings extend knowledge of methods and theory? What is the most important new scientific contribution of the work (Sternberg & Gordeva, 2006)? What are the most important implications for clinical care and policy?Discuss Study Limitations and Relevant ImplicationsAuthors can engage their readers most effectively with a balanced presentation that emphasizes the strengths yet also critically evaluates the limitations of their research Lab reports are a critical aspect of learning to write in psychology, and comprise a large part of the Intro to Psychology lab grade at Richmond. Although they may seem overwhelming to you now, lab reports can be written efficiently and effectively if you follow a formula that optimizes clarity and concision. It's important for .
Every study has limitations that readers need to consider in interpreting their findings.
For this reason, it is advantageous for authors to address the major limitations of their research and their implications rather than leaving it to readers or reviewers to identify them. An open discussion of study limitations is not only critical to scientific integrity (Drotar, 2008) but is an effective strategy for authors: reviewers may assume that if authors do not identify key limitations of their studies they are not aware of them.
Description of study limitations should address specific implications for the validity of the inferences and conclusions that can be drawn from the findings (Campbell & Stanley, 1963). Commonly identified threats to internal validity include issues related to study design, measurement, and statistical power.
Most relevant threats to external validity include sample bias and specific characteristics of the sample that limit generalization of findings (Drotar, 2009b). Although authors’ disclosure of relevant study limitations is important, it should be selective and focus on the most salient limitations, (i. , those that pose the greatest threats to internal or external validity).
If applicable, authors may also wish to present counterarguments that temper the primary threats to validity they discuss Your report as tedious as some of the ones you might find!) Don't worry too much about the technical bits, the scary statistics and so on: just aim to get a feel for the general style in which articles are written. Pretty much any journal will do, as they all use much the same format, but the British Journal of Psychology or the .
For example, if a study was limited by a small sample but nonetheless demonstrated statistically significant findings with a robust effect size, this should be considered by reviewers. Study limitations often suggest important new research agendas that can shape the next generation of research.
For this reason, it is also very helpful for authors to inform reviewers about the limitations of their research that should be addressed in future studies and specific recommendations to accomplish this. Describe Implications of Findings for New ResearchOne of the most important features of a discussion section is the clear articulation of the implications of study findings for research that extends the scientific knowledge base of the field of pediatric psychology.
Research findings can have several kinds of implications, such as the development of theory, methods, study designs data analytic approaches, or identification of understudied and important content areas that require new research (Drotar, 2008). Providing a specific agenda for future research based on the current findings is much more helpful than general suggestions.
Reviewers also appreciate being informed about how specific research recommendations can advance the field. Describe Implications of Findings for Clinical Care and/or PolicyI encourage authors to describe the potential clinical implications of their research and/or suggestions to improve the clinical relevance of future research (Drotar & Lemanek, 2001).
Research findings may have widely varied clinical implications 10 Mar 2009 - Authors also should review the JPP website (http://www.jpepsy.oxfordjournals.org/) and consider other relevant sources (American Psychological Association, 2001; APA Publications and Communications Board Working Group on Journal Reporting Standards, 2008; Bem, 2004; Brown, 2003; Wilkinson .
For example, studies that develop a new measure or test an intervention have greater potential clinical application than a descriptive study that is not directly focused on a clinical application.
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However, authors be careful not to overstate the implications of descriptive research. As is the case with recommendations for future research, the recommendations for clinical care should be as specific as possible.
For example, in measure development studies it may be useful to inform readers about next steps in research are needed to enhance the clinical application of a measure. This is the final in the series of editorials that are intended to be helpful to authors and reviewers and improve the quality of the science in the field of pediatric psychology.
I encourage your submissions to JPP and welcome our collective opportunity to advance scientific knowledge. AcknowledgmentsThe hard work of Meggie Bonner in typing this manuscript and the helpful critique of the associate editors of Journal of Pediatric Psychology and Rick Ittenbach are gratefully acknowledged.