Structure

In a short report, the results are essentially presented in tables, graphs, histograms or gels. These graphics are accompanied by legends which describe the experimental conditions under which used the results are obtained. Any written general summary of the results should be used to begin the discussion section as it will form the basis for drawing conclusions.

The main problems students have with the results section in a short report are:

  • how to group the data appropriately;
  • how to present the data visually to show the results.

It should be possible for the reader to look at the graph and/ or table and instantly get a 'feel' for the results. In other words, the reader should not have to do any 'mental arithmetic' to appreciate the significance of the trends.

Your results section provides information to answer the following question:

What did you find (your actual results)?

Your results section usually has two main stages:

Stage 1

State the title for a table (place legend under title).

Table 1. Demographic characteristics of study participants.

Stage 2

Present the table.

or

Stage 1

Present a figure.

Stage 2

State the title for the figure (place legend under title).

Figure 1. Cholesterol Concentration of subjects on a High Cholesterol Diet.

It is common practice to display your results in the form of a table or figure. Tables are a means of presenting information accurately and concisely, while figures (graphs) can efficiently illustrate trends and comparisons.

Tables are very useful for presenting precise quantities in a highly organised and economical way. The reader will scrutinise your tables for the accurate, detailed information on which you have based your discussion and conclusion.

However, you should be careful not to be over-precise - usually, it is not necessary to give three significant figures when presenting quantities, two or even one is sufficient depending on the experiment. When you are averaging results, you will need to quote errors in your table.

Tables (especially those that contain many cells) are not very useful for showing trends and comparisons. For these purposes, figures are more appropriate.

Tables consist of data organised into columns and rows. Tables should be:

Click on the table characteristics for more explanation.

  • clearly presented
  • clearly numbered
  • clearly titled
  • easily interpreted

Read the background information to the study and the information in Table 1 below. Then decide which subjects' results you will need to exclude. Click either In to include or Out to exclude. Click the Submit button to get your feedback.

Background to the study:

The nitrogen from proteins cannot be stored and so must be excreted. If you ate a lot of protein (the largest supply of dietary nitrogen), the nitrogen would be excreted in your urine. The major nitrogen containing metabolites in urine are urea, ammonia, creatinine and uric acid. This experiment aimed to investigate the way in which the quantities of urea, ammonia, uric acid and creatinine excreted in urine vary when the intake of dietary protein is varied.

Each subject in the study was placed on either a high-or low-protein diet for 72 hours. During the last 24 of those hours, the subject collected all of his or her urine.

Table 1 : Background information on Subjects

Diet

Subject

Sex

Notes

Select for study?

High Protein

A

 

Did not eat any meat or dairy products

in | out

Low Protein

B

 

Had lots to drink

in | out

High Protein

C

 

Netball Player

in | out

Low Protein

D

 

Vegitarian

in | out

High Protein

E

 

Went to a nightclub during the 72h study

in | out

Low Protein

F

 

Came top of the class last semester

in | out

High Protein

G

 

Mother teaches gymnastics

in | out

Low Protein

H

 

Forgot to collect urine during last 6h of the study

in | out

High Protein

I

 

Body builder

in | out

Low Protein

J

 

Ususally likes meat but abstained for this study

in | out

High Protein

K

 

Rows competitively

in | out

Low Protein

L

 

Liked the low protien diet

in | out

High Protein

M

 

Drinks 8 cups of tea a day

in | out

Low Protein

N

 

Usually doesn't eat much meat anyway

in | out

High Protein

O

 

Lives in a family of vegitarians

in | out

Low Protein

P

 

Catches the train to Uni

in | out

» Screen 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Next: Tables & figures