When reading and evaluating scientific journal articles, it is very common you will come across the terms “outcome, output and result” and although they may seem similar, these terms in science have distinct meanings. As nouns, the difference between outcome and result is that:
Outcome is intended or unintended information, event, object, product, or state of being produced as a result or consequence of a plan, process, accident, effort or other similar action or occurrence. An outcome can also occur because it is what someone intends to achieve, but it can also occur because of other unforeseen factors or events that are out of someone’s control.
While result is an intended product, object, output or event that is produced as a consequence or effect of an organized or oderly process, plan, effort, or well-thought out decision. The conclusion or end to which any course or condition of things leads, or which is obtained by any process or operation. A result occurs because it is what one wants or is working to achieve.
How do you distinguish between the outcome measures and the results/conclusion?
Outcome measures is simply measuring, and the results is the specific numerical results. For example: Studies about consumption of bananas in correlation with height and BMI.
Outcome measures: Measures included participants height, weight and BMI
Results: Participants that consumed bananas had an average 1% increase in height (CI 95%)
The different sections in a research paper
Results section simply presents the data, or what was found. This section is presented with enough detail for someone unfamiliar with scientific papers to still understand them. Additionally, this section does not contain any discussion as that is in the following section.
Discussion section tries to explain “what the results mean” and how they relate to the literature. It unrolls the main results and explains their meanings. Sometimes you will find new questions and perspectives, or the most interesting points described in detail for the entire field. Defining the possible answers, writing down the “why, how and what for”, and suggestions for study improvement.
Conclusion is a summary of the discussion or the entire paper. This section would simply restate the main points in a concise and impactful manner for the readers to remember. In addition, possible further direction can be mentioned here but it is essential to remember that no new information is presented in this section.
What is the difference between research outcome and research impact?
The difference between research outcome and research impact is as simple as the difference between result and effect, conclusion and influence.
To elaborate, research outcome is the end result of conducting research on a particular topic. It may be a list of statistics as one ends up with after conducting a survey or it could be a conclusion, such as phonics is the best method for teaching reading based on research that collected pre- and post-1966 reading test results.
The research impact, in the example above, could be that the effect on the education system of the reading research’s resulting conclusion is that school districts around the country decide to replace the “new” teaching methodologies for teaching reading in elementary school with phonics.
I understand how this can all get so confusing for anyone just starting out and studying sciences which is why I decided to write this article to help provide some information and understanding. If you found this article clear and helpful then please share a like!