Structure

Quiz

In the window, you will see the Discussion section from a student's report to determine if dietary intervention with low- or high-cholesterol diets could affect cholesterol levels in middle-aged subjects.

In this discussion, each of the 4 paragraphs has a number of problems which the lecturer has commented on. They are listed in 4 summaries on the screen. Read these and decide which summary of the lecturer's comments matches which paragraph by clicking the button next to the paragraph number. Click the submit button when you have made your choices.

Discussion

Even though the study had many limitations, the results indicated that an increased intake of dietary cholesterol would be likely to increase the concentration of cholesterol in the blood whereas a reduced dietary cholesterol intake would cause a decrease in blood cholesterol concentration.

Subjects were aged ~50-60 years. This limits the report to a study of a particular age group and is not really indicative of the general population. A larger subject number with a closer male to female ratio would better highlight the results of diet cholesterol effects on blood.

Of the subjects on high cholesterol diets, subject 4 showed very little change and that was a slight drop in blood cholesterol levels over the weeks. Figure 1(a) shows he came into the study already with a high blood cholesterol level. This suggests he already may have consumed a high cholesterol diet. For him it would have been difficult to consume a higher cholesterol diet. In fact in trying to achieve a higher cholesterol level he seems to have reduced it.

The relative increases or decreases over the testing period for each individual were quite uniform from Week 0 to Week 6 and Week 6 to Week 12. However as the quantity of cholesterol actually consumed during this period was not calculated little can be said about the actual increases and decreases observed.

Comment 1

Although you have told us some of the problems in this experiment and how they could be overcome in future investigations, it would have been better to start this paragraph by focussing on the limitations rather than the subjects.

Paragraph 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Example rewrite: The small sample size and its narrow compostition (age and sex) make it impossible to generalise from the results.

Comment 2

Focussing on individual results is inappropriate for a discussion stage. You need to discuss the implications of this result in general, linking it to the problems of the study.

Paragraph 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Example rewrite: Non-compliance with the dietary regime was a major problem with this study. For example, the results of subject 4 who consumed a high cholesterol diet are suspect as his cholesterol levels actually decreased. Future studies need to monitor dietary compliance more closely.

Comment 3

You need to specify what the uniform changes were (fold changes) and the implications of these changes. Recommend ways in which the quantity of cholesterol consumed can be calculated and say something (no matter how little) about the actual increases and decreases observed.

Paragraph 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Comment 4

Well done. You have told us the results and linked them to the aim of your experiment. You have also told us that there are limitations to the study which could throw doubt on the validity of the results.

Paragraph 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Typically, the discussion section for a short report begins with a summary of the aims and the results. In this way, the writer makes a link between the aims, the results and the discussion.

Decide if the extracts from the discussion sections from students' reports on the effect of high and low cholesterol diets can begin a discussion section. Click the submit button when you have made your choices.

Extract 1

Even though the study had many limitations, the results indicated that an increased intake of dietary cholesterol would be likely to increase the concentration of cholesterol in the blood. A reduced dietary cholesterol intake would cause a decrease in blood cholesterol concentration.

Yes | No

Extract 2

Even though the study had many limitations, the results indicated that an increased intake of dietary cholesterol would be likely to increase the concentration of cholesterol in the blood. A reduced dietary cholesterol intake would cause a decrease in blood cholesterol concentration.

Yes | No

Extract 3

Even though the study had many limitations, the results indicated that an increased intake of dietary cholesterol would be likely to increase the concentration of cholesterol in the blood. A reduced dietary cholesterol intake would cause a decrease in blood cholesterol concentration.

Yes | No

This extract belongs in either the introduction, the study design or the legend.

Extract 4

Even though the study had many limitations, the results indicated that an increased intake of dietary cholesterol would be likely to increase the concentration of cholesterol in the blood. A reduced dietary cholesterol intake would cause a decrease in blood cholesterol concentration.

Yes | No

This information belongs in the legend which accompanies the graphics in the results section.

Extract 5

Even though the study had many limitations, the results indicated that an increased intake of dietary cholesterol would be likely to increase the concentration of cholesterol in the blood. A reduced dietary cholesterol intake would cause a decrease in blood cholesterol concentration.

Yes | No

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