References and Appendices
Introduction and Descriptive StatisticsThe first thing to do within the results section is re-state the hypothesis, this is not always done but it does help clarify what the results are about.The next step is to report the descriptive statistics that relate to the hypothesis.You may wish to do this within the text or refer to tables or graphs. What descriptive statistics you report depends on the nature of your data. You may wish to provide means and standard deviations or you may wish to provide medians and semi-interquartile ranges.However it is important to report both measures of central tendency (such as means or medians) and measures of spread (standard deviations or semi-interquartile ranges), as these two types of statistics provide different information.
Tables and GraphsAll tables and graphs must be given clear titles and referred to in the text. An example graph is given here. This graph is titled clearly and its legends are clear and comprehensive. It is important that the graph's and table's titles should be fully explanatory. For example for the example given the title:
A graph of means
provides too little information, compared to the actual title
Also graphs should show both the measures of central tendency and measures of spread. The example graph shows how measures of spread can be put on a graph. Notice that the bars extend above and below each column. They extend for one standard deviation. So if the mean for Condition 1 is 14.6 and the standard deviation is 1.2, the bar will extend from the top of the column to 15.8 (as above)and below to 13.4.
As regards tables, there is a temptation to use the tables that are produced by Minitab or other statistical software. Do not do this, these tables are often unclear to those who have not done the analysis, with unusual abbreviations which are not always explained. It is better to produce your own tables using your word-processor or by hand. Tables also must be clearly titled and what the figures on the table mean must be clear from the table.
Common ErrorsThe first point to make about this section is that it must be written in continuous prose. The mistake many students make is that they provide tables or graphs of means and do not provide text that explains the figures.The tables and graphs are there to complement the text, not to replace it.
One further problem students have is with how much information they need to put in this section. Students often provide too much information, for example graphs of participant's individual scores. It you are looking at only one effect then only one graph and also perhaps a table are necessary.
One of the major sins against format that students commit is including "Raw Data" in the results section. Raw data is the individual scores for each participant. This information should be put in an appendix (see the section on Appendices)