To present the results and make them meaningful to the reader.

  • Statement of results: the results are presented in a format that is accessible to the reader (e.g. in a graph, table, diagram or written text).  Notice that raw data is usually put in an appendix, if it is included at all. Generally, only key findings or results are included. 
  • Explanatory text: all graphs, tables, diagrams and figures should be accompanied by text that guides the reader’s attention to significant results.  The text makes the results meaningful by pointing out the most important results, simplifying the results (e.g. “nearly half” instead of “48.9%”), highlighting significant trends or relationships (e.g. “the rate of oxygenation decreases as the temperature decreases”), and perhaps commenting on whether certain results were expected or unexpected.

The text includes too much detail that simply repeats data presented in graphs, tables, etc. without making the results meaningful.

Solution: remember that tables etc. are used to present a lot of information efficiently, but that your job is to direct the reader’s attention to significant parts of this information.

There are two basic ways of organizing the results:

  1. Two separate sections: Presenting all the results in a single section; then providing a discussion / analysis of the major results in a separate section: the Discussion or the Analysis section.

  2. Presenting some of the results or findings and then discussing them, presenting another set of results and findings followed by a discussion s of that set, and so on until all key results 

The method of organization you use will depend on the quantity and type of results you obtain from your research. You should look for a method of presentation that makes the information and ideas you are presenting as clear as possible to the reader.

Below is part of the results section from “Strategies of failure diagnosis in computer-controlled manufacturing systems: empirical analysis and implications for the design of adaptive decision support systems.” 

Task: read through the part of the results section below and try to find the purpose of each sentence.  Here are some ideas to help you: explanation, reference to a figure, statement of results, making the results meaningful, comparison.

Strategies of failure diagnosis in computer-controlled manufacturing systems: empirical analysis and implications for the design of adaptive decision support systems
Konradt, U. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies (1995) 43, 503-521

SUMMARY (adapted from the abstract)
Objective of the study: to investigate strategies in failure diagnosis at cutting-machine-tools with a verbal knowledge acquisition technique.

Method: semi-structured interviews with mechanical and electrical maintenance technicians; protocol analysis was performed on the data. Analysis of strategies was performed according to technicians’ experience, familiarity with the problem and the problem complexity. The technicians were categorized by level of experience.


Figure 2 shows that the most frequent diagnosis strategies were “Historical information” (29% of the 182 observed strategies), “Least effort” (11.5%), “Reconstruction” (9.8%) and “Sensory check” (8.7%) (See Appendix.). Strategies such as “Historical information”, which check available information about the failure history, and “Least effort” are two low cost technical checks which shorten the time needed for diagnosis activities (see Appendix). Strategies such as “Split half”, leading to a binary reduction of the problem space, and “Information uncertainty” play only a minor role in real-life failure diagnosis of machine tools (1.1%,  Figure 2).

Historical information (29.0)rainbow.gif
Least effort (11.5)
Reconstruction (9.8)
Sensory checks (8.7)
Systematic narrowing (6.6)
Signal tracing (6.0)
Conditional probability (5.5)
Frequency (4.9)
Exclusion (3.3)
Manuals (3.3)
Pattern of symptoms (2.7)
Topographical search (2.2)
Diagnosis software (1.6)
Split half (1.1)
Information uncertainty (1.1)
Miscellaneous (2.7)

Figure 2: Frequencies of failure diagnosis strategies (n=182)

Figure2 shows
Reference to a figure. Notice that the present tense is used (“shows”). Usually references to figures, tables etc. are put in parenthesis rather than in the main body of the sentence because they are of secondary importance to the results themselves.  

the most frequentdiagnosis strategies were
The writer is pointing out the significance of three of the results (i.e. that they were the most frequent diagnosis strategies). Notice that the writers refers to the figure containing the information (“Figure 2 shows”), and that detailed percentages are de-emphasized by being included only in parentheses. In fact, this detailed information does not need to be included in the text since it appears in the figure. For more detailed information, the reader is referred to the appendix: “(See Appendix.).” Notice that this reference is in parentheses too as it is not part of the main body of the sentence.

are twolow-cost technical checks which
The writer is summarizing the benefits of two of the strategies in order to indicate why they were most frequently used. Although this is in fact discussion, it is helpful for the reader to have this information while looking at the results. A detailed discussion of the results appears in the Discussion section of the same article. 

playonly a minor role
The writer is pointing out the least frequent strategies. In this case, the low frequency of these strategies is of interest (see the Discussion section of the same article) and therefore the reader’s attention is directed to them.  

References to the figure and to the appendix are generally put in parentheses, e.g. “(See Appendix.)” because this information is of secondary importance.  Of primary importance are the results themselves, so the sentences focus on them. Look at the following two sentences.  Which one is more effective? Remember the purpose of the text in a results section. Click on them to find out.

a) Table 1 shows the results from the laboratory experiment.

b) The results from the laboratory experiment indicate that the reaction proceeds faster in the presence of this metal (see Table 1).

a) Table 1 shows the results from the laboratory experiment.”
The point of this sentence is just to tell the reader to look at Table 1. It does not make the results in Table 1 meaningful because it does not comment on them.  

b)The results from the laboratory experiment indicate that the reaction proceeds faster in the presence of this metal ( Table 1)”.
This sentence is more effective than a) because it makes the results in the table meaningful by pointing out a relationship between the speed of the reaction and the presence of the metal. Notice that the reference to the table is de-emphasized by being put in parentheses because it is of only secondary importance.

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