Unit 7 Results

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should:

  • understand the purpose of result sections
  • understand how to use figures to present results
  • know the importance of grouping data
  • know how to use approximation
  • be able to create and use visuals (graphs, tables and images) to show data

Activity 1: Purpose of the results section

Read this and answer the questions below.

The result section addresses the question what and describes what you made (the product) or what you found (results: data). Products could be software, hardware or artefacts. Data could be identified through surveys or experiments. In the results section the product and/or data are described. In the discussion section the results are interpreted. Results and discussion sections may be combined. Sometimes this combined section is called Findings. However, the sequence tends to remain the same within the combined section with descriptions preceding interpretations. When reporting results, it is important to report the important results first.

To introduce what you created or what you discovered.

software, hardware and artefacts

No. In general, we describe the results in the results section. Any interpretation is usually placed in the discussion section.

No. We always describe results before interpreting them.

Activity 2: Figures


Results sections often incorporate visuals, which are labelled Figures in research documents.


Result sections frequently contain visuals. Commonly used visuals include graphs, tables, charts, diagrams, images and screenshots. Each figure is labelled with a number and a given a title, e.g. Fig. 1 Screenshot of input interface. Each visual is given a number and a title. The title for tables is generally above the table. This is because we usually read tables starting from the top. The title for figures is generally below the figure. This is because figures are often graphs. When we read graphs, we usually check the horizontal axis (x axis) to understand what the graph means. Therefore, we read graphs from the bottom and so the title is below. In Microsoft Word, you can use "insert caption" to add titles for tables and figures. Each visual must be referred to in the text. This is easy to do if each figure and table has a number. Three common ways of referring readers to visuals are given below:

  • Fig. 1 shows the XXXXX .
  • As shown in Fig. 1, XXXXX .
  • XXXXX (See Table. 1).

Answer the questions below.

Figure. This is sometimes abbreviated to Fig.

Yes. The first figure is Fig. 1, the second is Fig. 2 and so on.

Yes. Each figure should be labelled with a descriptive title. This is usually referred to as a caption. In general the caption of a figure is placed below the figure.

Yes. Every figure should be mentioned in the text.

Activity 3: Grouping quantitative data


Research studies often produce large quantities of data. Consider a project that generates a results table of 200,000 cells. This table contains all the results of the project. But, the table is too large to include in a graduation thesis. There are also too many data points. Readers will find it difficult to understand (and probably stop reading). It is not necessary to report all results. It is, however, necessary to report all the important results. To make your results easy to understand, try to group similar datapoints together into datasets. For example, from the 200,000 datapoints, we could create four groups: high values, low values, mean values and special cases. It is much easier to write up and much easier for the reader to understand.

Answer the questions below.

high values, low values, mean values and special cases

It is easier to describe patterns in the data using groups. This, in turn, makes it easier for the readers to understand the results.

All the important results.

Activity 4: Approximation


Quantitative or numerical data is often reported. To help readers understand more quickly, approximations are frequently used to describe data. For example, a result of 102/987 is achieved in a simulation. This is approximately 100/1000 which can be simplified to an easier to understand fraction of approximately 1/10. There are six different ways to write this, which are given below.

  • Exactly 102/987
  • Approximately one in ten
  • Around one out of ten
  • about 10%
  • Just over 1/10
  • Slightly more than a tenth

In a sentence both the exact and approximate figures can be given. This is achieved by stating the approximate number first and placing the exact number in brackets, e.g.:

  • Approximately one in a ten (102/987) trials were XXXXX .

Answer the questions below.

To make it easier for the reader to understand

The exact number may be placed in brackets, e.g. about ninety (88.89) .

approximately one in six, etc.

Activity 5: Preparation for reading

Work in pairs or small groups. Discuss the following:

When two wrestlers fight. What is the chance that the one wearing red beats the one wearing blue? Are the odds even (50%/50%) or is there higher chance that red wins or a higher chance that blue wins?

Wrestler wearing red shorts

Activity 6: Reading comprehension

Read this extract from a results section to find out whether wearing red or blues affects the chance of winning.

We found that for all four competitions, there is a consistent and statistically significant pattern in which contestants wearing red win more fights (χ2 = 4.19, d.f.=1, p= 0.041; Fig. 1a). This result is remarkably consistent across rounds in each competition, with 16 of 21 rounds having more red than blue winners, and only four rounds having more blue winners (sign test, p=0.012). The effect is the same across the weight classes in each sport: 19 of 29 classes had more red winners, with only six classes having more blue winners (sign test, p=0.015).

Hill, R. A., & Barton, R.A. (2005, May 19). Red enhances human performance in contests. Nature, 435, p. 293.

Read the first sentence.

Activity 7: Understanding the paragraph

Read the extract in Activity 3 to answer the following questions.

Results of statistical tests

Chi squared (χ2) is a statistical test of association. It can be used to determine whether two variables are related.

Fig. 1a refers to a Figure. In research papers, figures are usually graphs, charts, tables or images.

The past tense of find, found, is used to show completion. Past tense is usually used for completed or finished actions or states.

The present simple tense of be, is, is used to show an unchanging situation, i.e. a general truth. For example, the pattern was there yesterday, continues to be there today and will continue to be there tomorrow.

Activity 8: Advice on approximation

Read the advice written by Andrew Morrall of Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Approximation means describing numbers or statistics by using a fraction that is similar to the exact number; e.g. using 'about one-third' instead of 34.76%, or an easy-to-remember number such as 'just under one million' instead of '997,652'. There are a number of reasons for doing this. Firstly, it is easier for people to understand and remember. Secondly, the numbers or statistics may be more detailed than necessary.

  1. Don't use fractions where the denominator (the number under the line) is greater than 5 - many people do not know that 1/6 = 16% or that  7/8 = 87.5%
  2. Don't forget the hyphen in fractions; e.g. 'one-third' (but not after 'a'; e.g. use 'a third')
  3. Don't forget to add an 's' on the end of fractions starting with two or greater; e.g. 'two-thirds', 'three-quarters'
  4. Most fractions can be followed by the preposition 'of '; e.g. 'Three-quarters of the staff were satisfied with working conditions.'
  5. Most fractions are followed by a plural noun; e.g. 'half of the books', except uncountable nouns
  6. In strictly correct grammar use 'fewer than' for countable nouns and 'less than' for uncountable nouns
  7. It is more natural to use 'a' instead of 'one' in front of fractions; e.g. 'a third of ...'
  8. In front of 'half ' you do not need to use 'a' or 'one-'; e.g. 'Half of the staff were satisfied with their working relationships.'
  9. Do not use a number at the start of a sentence, because it's bad style. Use words; e.g. 'One hundred of the staff were satisfied with working conditions.'
  10. Be careful of the spelling of 'several' - it's not 'serveral'
  11. Remember that 'only' and 'just' often have a negative meanings, so use them only if you want to show that something is bad; e.g. 'Only 1% of our staff were satisfied with working conditions.'
21% about a fifth of   2 a small number of
28% just over a quarter of 3 a few
33.3333% a third of 7 several
49% just under a half of 9 fewer than ten
65% about two-thirds of 115 over a hundred
74% almost three-quarters of 1,043 over a thousand
92% most of 749,982 about three-quarters of a million
98.5% almost all 1,256,890,534 over 1.2 billion

Activity 9: Approximation practice

Work in pairs. Correct the errors in the following sentences.

  1. One sixth of the class of students arrived on time.
  2. Regarding the improved functionality, just 19% of the users said that they were satisfied.
  3. Opportunities to receive feedback were important to serveral users.
  4. Two-fifth of respondents are satisfied with the user interface.
  5. Less than 30 responses were received.
  6. Three quarters of the test subjects did not understand the final part.
  7. Only one-quarter of the test subjects completed the task successfully.
  8. The population of Aizu-wakamatsu is 124,062.
  9. 106 people submitted the responses.

The tips below refer to the advice in Activity 8.

  1. See Tip 1
  2. See Tip 11
  3. See Tip 10
  4. See Tip 3
  5. See Tip 6
  6. See Tip 2
  7. See Tip 7
  8. The number is not an approximation. How about "approximately 120,000"?
  9. See Tip 9


Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Are results described or interpreted in the results section?
  2. Are results described or interpreted in the discussion section?
  3. Why are visuals used?
  4. Why are approximations used?
  5. Why do we number tables and figures?
  6. What is the usual position for titles of tables and figures?
  7. Did you start writing your results? If not, when will you start?

If you do not, make sure that you do before your next class.