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Report Writing
The Structure of Scientific Report

Examples of results sections

An excerpt from the results section of a chemistry report

When samples of hydrolysed and unhydrolysed BSA were analysed by ascending paper chromatography, the appearance and separation of the two samples were quite different. The unhydrolysed BSA had very little colour and appeared to remain on the origin (Fig. 1, lane 7). In its hydrolysed form, however, the BSA sample separated into a number of spots which were bright pink or purple (Fig. 1, lane 8).

description but no explanation

Notice that there is no direct reference to figures but to the results themselves.

Read and compare these excerpts from the results sections of two biology reports written about the same experiment.

Example A Example B
On observation of each strain of E. Coli, it was apparent that all treatments used a deterring effect on the growth of E. Coli colonies but some treatments were more effective on particular strains than others (see Figure 1.)


E. Coli strain 1 (EC 1) tended to be the most sensitive as it produced no colonies on any of the treated plates (see Figure 1) E. Coli strains 2 and 3 (EC 2 and EC 3) tended to have an intermediate sensitivity to antibiotic treatments. EC 2 was more resilient towards the Chloramphenicol treatment, and EC 3 was more resilient towards the streptomycin treatment. Although colonies were detected on each treatment type, the average number of colonies per plate was significantly lower than that of the control plates. No colonies were detected on the combination treatment (see Figure 1). E. Coli strain 4 (EC 4) tended to be the least sensitive overall, as it produced colonies on all treatment plates, even though it was more sensitive to the individual treatments, compared to EC 2 and EC 3 (see Figure 1)…..
The following observations were made as a result of experiments conducted by Casey Hospital with respect to four types of E.Coli bacterial strains.

The graph illustrates that 5mg./ml. of Chloramphenicol stopped the growth of two strains of E. Coli; EC 1 and EC 3. It also illustrates that the 5 mg/ml of Chloramphenicol had little to no effect on the EC 2 strain of E. Coli and had a minimal effect on EC 4 strain of E. Coli as the colony sizes were near maximum of the standard result. This shows that 5 mg/ml Chloramphenicol is an effective antibiotic against EC 1 and EC 2 strains of E. Coli.


…..The main point of Figure 4 is that a combination of 5 mg/ml of Chloramphenicol and 5 mg/ml Streptomycin can effectively reduce the numbers of EC 4 colonies, compared to only one of the antibiotics being present at any one time shown in Figure 2 and 3 respectively.


In these results it has shown that the Casey Hospital should use both 5 mg/ml of Chloramphenicol plus 5 mg/ml of Streptomycin in targeting the four strains of E. Coli. Due to EC 4 having resistance to both antibiotics there is need for experimentation in finding an antibiotic which EC 4 is not resistant to.

Robinson, S., Russell, W., Skillen, J. & Trivett, N., Biology 104, University of Wollongong

Which do you think is the better example of a properly written results section?

Example A is an example from a well written results section; it uses relevant material and focuses on the results and not the Figures.

Example B is an example from a poorly written results section. It includes material which does not belong to the results section such as interpretation and discussion; it focuses on the Figures representing the results, rather than the results themselves and it does not introduce and refer to the Figures correctly. Click here to see an annotated version of example B.

An excerpt from the results section of a psychology report

General and specific knowledge scores were analysed separately by 2 (Instruction Condition) x 2 (Test Phases) ANOVAs with repeated measures on the second factor. The results for general knowledge question scores indicated there was no difference between the instructional groups, F(1,20) = 2.65, MSe = 288.82. (The .05 level of significance is used throughout this report.) The test phases main effect indicated a significant difference, F(1,20) = 11.77, MSe = 180.10, demonstrating an improvement over the two instructional phases. There was no significant interaction, F(1,20) = 0.87, MSe = 180.10. The results for specific question scores indicated there was a significant difference between the instructional conditions in the expected direction, F(1,20) = 7.06, MSe = 203.87, with the isolated-interacting elements instruction group performing at a superior level. The test phases main effect was also significant, F(1,20) = 9.50, MSe = 147.53, demonstrating an improvement over time. There was no significant interaction, F(1,20) = 2.67, MSe = 147.53. In this excerpt, details about the statistical tests undertaken and the results of these tests.

Note the use of the past tense when reporting results.

The hypotheses have been outlined in the introduction and may have been reiterated at the beginning of the results section. Here the result is reported only, not explained. Reference is, however, made to the hypothesis.

An excerpt from the Results & Discussion section of an Education report that used qualitative research methodology.

NOTE: the results and discussion sections have been merged in this report. You should seek information from your lecturers and tutors about whether this is appropriate in your discipline.

The first research question was "How do students benefit from analysing model texts?"This involved analysing classroom discourse to determine whether there was a shift from the archetypal classroom discourse of Teacher Initiation, Pupil Response, Teacher Feedback identified by Sinclair and Coulthard (Stubb 1983: 29) to students taking on the role of primary knowers.

The first teaching stage of the project focussed on identifying the schematic staging of an exposition genre and how cohesion is achieved in expositions. The initial analysis of the model text was very teacher directed.
The transcript of this segment of the lesson (see Appendix C) shows that most of the input came from the teacher with the pattern of classroom talk being:

  teacher question
  student response
  teacher confirmation

For example when analysing the analytical exposition for schematic structure, one exchange was as follows:

T      Now, we’ve been talking about causes. What happens now in the very short paragraph?
S1    Effects?
T      Mmm. Now the writer starts to talk about effects. So we’ve got a second Thesis.
SS     Yeah.
T       Which is?
S1     These three.
S2     The whole thing
S3     These three events
T       So the second Thesis is the whole sentence. "These three events planted the seeds of a great change in society, and the effects of this change are being felt at all levels ... " (Appendix C: Analysis of Analytical Exposition)

The above exchanges correspond to the pattern identified by Sinclair and Coulthard as characteristic of teacher-pupil talk with the underlying exchange structure of Teacher Initiation, Pupil Response, and Teacher Feedback. This exchange structure allows the teacher to retain the conversational initiative (Stubbs 1983: 29). In the above exchange the teacher was the primary "knower" of information and her questions prompted and guided the students onto the next stage.
Restates the research question

Outlining how this research question is to be assessed (reference to previous research).

The reader is referred to an appendix to view the whole data
Discussion/ analysis of results

A data excerpt included to support discussion/ highlight point being made

Further discussion of the data.

excerpt from Woodward-Kron, R. (1994) The role of writing checklists in the teaching-learning cycle: Developing English for further study students as writers and text analysts. M.A. (TESOL) thesis. University of Technology, Sydney.


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