Background 1

In your results section you will present your findings in tables and figures and comment on them briefly in a summary. You can make more extensive comments in the discussion section. Raw data collected during the experiment should be placed in the Appendix.

Getting the correct balance in terms of writing the results and the discussion sections of a report is both difficult and important. It is difficult because getting the correct balance is not always obvious and requires both some experience and a fairly complete understanding of the specific experiment. Part of the aim of this module is to expose you to some of this experience. It is important because the results and discussion sections are the heart of the report and are central to obtaining the maximum benefit (for both reader and writer) from the experience. Creating an appropriate balance means compromising between two extremes.

Examples of these extremes include:

1. A results section that contains only tables and figures. The problem here is that such a presentation tells the reader nothing about why the results are presented in this way or order. Your reports must not challenge the reader in this way - it is your responsibility to explain your presentation, to tell a reasonable story.
2. A results section that contains long explanations of the significance of the results. Detailed discussion of significance is best placed in the discussion because too much writing in the middle of tables and figures distracts the reader from the presentation of the results themselves. This type of distraction is very annoying to the reader. Again, it is your responsibility to make the reading of the report enjoyable and to avoid annoying readers, as far as possible.

A compromise:

3. A results section that contains brief interpretations of the results. All terms should be defined/explained on their first use in the report, so that your results make sense to the reader. Your tables and figures should be accompanied by short statements which interpret the significance of the results. What do the results mean in light of the aim of the experiment? What are the major trends indicated by the results? The written text should complement the tables and figures and form a cohesive ‘story’ in which one piece of information is linked with the next.

David describes the requirements for presenting and commenting on the results (30s):

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