What is a Results Section?
The results section is where the findings of a lab report are presented. It is one of the most important parts of a lab report and usually begins with a short summary of the findings, which are called textual elements. It further includes charts, figures, photos, and tables depending upon the type of experiment. These are called the non-textual elements.
The entire results section is factual, concise, and in the past tense. It doesn’t include the analysis of the result, which is usually a part of the “Discussion” section. The results section focuses on presenting the most relevant data from the findings and avoiding the unnecessary details. This provides clarity to the readers and helps in maintaining a logical flow.
Let’s understand in detail what forms a part of a lab report’s results section written post an experiment.
What to Include in the Results Section of a Lab Report
One can organize this section based on chronology (following the methodology used for the experiment) or the importance of data in proving (or negating) the hypothesis (most important to least important). An ideal results section of a lab report would begin with an introduction that states the research problem or the hypothesis. This provides context about the results to the readers. This is followed by a summary of the findings where the actual results are displayed in a combination of textual and non-textual elements.
One can present the results section using either of two approaches: stating the results together or breaking them into a series of short individual explanations. The latter approach provides readers a better understanding because of its logical flow.
Lengthy pieces of texts can create confusion among the readers. Non-textual elements such as tables and figures are often more effective and hence should be used wherever possible. Let’s learn how to incorporate these elements in a results section.
One of the best ways to represent an experiment’s findings is in the form of tables. Here are certain norms that are always followed when these non-textual elements are a part of the results section:
- Tables should be self-explanatory; they should stand on their own so that the reader doesn’t need to read through the entire lab report to exactly understand what they are about.
- All tables should be numbered consecutively (Table 1, Table 2, and so on), should have a clear heading/title, and a caption that explains what is being presented; table columns should also be clearly labeled.
- All abbreviations present in tables should be defined in the captions.
- Tables can be cited directly as a part of the running text (for example: Table 2 represents the countries that are threatened by UNESCO) or in parenthesis at the end of a sentence (for example: Most countries faced severe discrimination by the UNESCO [see Table 2]).
- In citations, the word table is never abbreviated.
Through figures, complex text is made simpler to the readers. The figures could be in the form of a bar graph, a map, or even a pie chart. Similar to tables, figures also have certain rules of presentation:
- All figures should have a clear title, a legend, and should be numbered consecutively (Figure 1, Figure 2, and so on). Figure legends should contain symbols, lines, colors, abbreviations, error, and scale bars as well as other components that need to be defined and described. They should support the figure entirely.
- In the case of graphs, both the axes should be correctly labeled.
- Figures are cited either as a part of a sentence or in parentheses at the end of a sentence.
Best Practices while Writing the Results Section
Here are certain pointers that need to be kept in mind when one is writing the results section of a lab report:
- Do not interpret or analyze the data.
- Do not include unnecessary information; stick with what is relevant to the lab experiment.
- Be as specific as possible by avoiding the use of vague phrases.
- Do not repeat the information.
- Do not mislabel non-textual elements; be aware of the difference between these elements and follow the norms of representation correctly.
- Do not ignore the negative results of the experiment. They can expand the scope of the “Discussion” section, help in changing research design, and save resources.
Using these tips will make the results section effective for readers and help them correlate what the lab report is about.
The results section is a crucial part of any lab report because it answers the “what” of the experiment. It should always be logically arranged and clear; it should never be a collection of just numbers and tables. This section also sets readers up for the upcoming discussion section. Hence, it should be made effective using the discussed guidelines.