RESULTS: Summary

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:

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.

Content and Structure

Your results section provides information to answer the following question:

What did you find? (your actual results).

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. However, you also have to use language to give your table a title. Please note that we usually use the term 'figure' rather than 'graph'.

Your results section usually has two main stages :

Stage 1: State the title for a table. Table 1. Demographic characteristics of study participants.
Stage 2: Present the table.
Mean ± SEM Range
Age (years) 53.0 ± 1.1 49 - 58
Body Mass Index (kg/m2) 26.0 ± 1.1 21 -32

OR

Stage 1: Present a figure.
Effect of high and low cholesterol on blood
Stage 2: State the title for a figure. Figures 1 and 2. Effect of high- (n=3) and low- (n=4)-cholesterol diets on blood cholesterol concentration.

Tables

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

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.

Example Table

Table 1. Demographic characteristics of study participants.

Mean ± SEM Range
Age (years) 53.0 ± 1.1 49 - 58
Body Mass Index (kg/m2) 26.0 ± 1.1 21 -32

Figures

Figures may be diagrams, graphs, photographs, etc.

Figures should be

Example Figure

hich cholesterol diet

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

You have now reached the end of the Results section.

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