What is Reporting Research Findings

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Published Date:07-07-2017
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Reporting Research Findings 44 Reporting Research Findings 27 Very often, you will have to write reports, which are documents containing factual and objective information that you have collected through research. Analytical research reports, which are written after having gathered important information from primary research resources such as surveys or experiments, rather than published documents, present original data that you collect and analyse. Learning to write them well, especially the Results and Discussion section, sometimes called Findings or simply Results, is an important skill you will need to learn. This chapter suggests ways to write the Results and Discussion section of analytical reports in effective and convincing ways. To accomplish this, you will need to do the following: ● Use text and visual aids properly ● Interpret results ● Use headings and sub-headings ● Use language of reporting appropriately ● Refer to fi gures correctly 4.1 Use Text and Visual Aids Properly In the Results section, you are expected to present the data in words with the help of tables, charts and graphs to make your data clear and easy to understand. However, you should remember that you write a report; you do not draw a report. The text is primary. The graphics support the text. Figure 1 shows, on the left, an inappropriate reporting of results merely with a heading and a chart and, on the right, the appropriate way of reporting fi ndings, that is, using text (a paragraph or more) and drawing the reader’s attention to a fi gure that makes the description clearer. Note that the chart is located after the text which explains it. 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 27 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 27 7/12/09 10:36:39 AM 7/12/09 10:36:39 AM ✗ Letting a visual do the reporting ✓ Reporting a survey fi nding using a paragraph (or two) and referring to a visual aid that helps to show the fi nding clearly. 2.1. Extent of knowledge of CPR 2.1. Extent of knowledge of CPR As can be seen from Figure 2, only 21% of the respondents reported knowing how to administer CPR. 21% 21% 28 79% 79% Yes No Yes No Figure 2: Percentage of respondents who Figure 2: Percentage of respondents who know how to do CPR know how to do CPR This is a surprising fi nding considering the many opportunities offered to the public to learn emergency procedures. This fi nding may also be deemed worrying given that government efforts to train the public to be ready for emergencies are central to the concept of total defense. Figure 1: Inappropriate and appropriate ways of reporting fi ndings Note that simple fi ndings usually do not need a visual aid, nor do you need a visual aid for every fi nding. Visual aids are usually used to make complex fi ndings explained in the text easier to grasp. However, there are simple but crucial fi ndings and visuals are sometimes created to give these facts more impact or emphasis, as above. Remember that in the Results section you need to be objective. That is, you need to report your fi ndings without any biased comment or slant. An example of biased reporting is as follows: The survey shows that an overwhelming percentage of the respondents — 83% — feel that punishing cyberbullies is not necessary, a disappointing fi nding. You will notice that the words in bold betray the writer’s feelings and attitude towards the subject under discussion. Such comments should be avoided. 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 28 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 28 7/12/09 10:36:40 AM 7/12/09 10:36:40 AM Reporting Research FindingsReporting Research Findings 4.2 Interpret Results Reporting data involves more than just presenting it. Often, you need to interpret or analyse the data, that is, say what it means, especially in relation to your research question. For example, if your research objective was to determine how successful the community centres (CCs) are in attracting young people, you would have to present what you had found out about the response of young people to programmes organised for them in the CCs and say what this could mean vis-à-vis your research question, for example, “How successful are government efforts in promoting the community centres to young people?” A complete reporting could look like this: A large proportion of the respondents — 74% — reported that the programmes organised in the CCs do not meet their needs, mainly because the programmes are not attractive enough result/fi nding. This does not augur well for government efforts to promote the CCs as a focal point for young people interpretation. 29 Table 1 shows the difference between reporting and interpreting data. Table 1: Reporting and interpreting data Reporting data Interpreting data Only 26% reported knowing how to perform This fi nding shows how unprepared emergency procedures like mouth-to-mouth Singaporeans are in emergencies and resuscitation. illustrates that perhaps efforts to provide emergency training for Singaporeans need to be stepped up. The majority of the respondents (75%) said The fi nding indicates that the frequency of that they had to wait for more than half an bus service 151 in the morning peak hours is hour before being able to board bus service inadequate. 151 in the morning, between 7.00 and 8.30am. 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 29 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 29 7/12/09 10:36:41 AM 7/12/09 10:36:41 AM You should remember that you write a report; you do not draw a report. The text is primary. The graphics support the text. 4.3 Use Headings and Subheadings The section in which you present and interpret fi ndings can go over several pages in some reports. In this case, you will need to use subheadings to indicate clearly what the fi ndings are. For instance, if your survey is on people’s experience with recycling, and your survey had questions related to their practice of recycling, you might divide your Results section according to what the survey found, using headings like these: 2. Results and Discussion 2.1 Frequency of recycling 2.2 Reasons for not recycling 2.3 Ways to improve recycling 30 4.3.1 Choose appropriate type of headings There are two types of headings: talking and topic headings. Talking headings present a certain point of view whilst topic headings list only the topic to be discussed. You may want to use a combination of both in your report, as the following example illustrates: 2.2 Reasons for not recycling Topic heading 2.2.1 Inconvenient location of recycling bins Talking headings 2.2.2 Inadequate encouragement to recycle 4.3.2 Keep your headings parallel Remember also to keep headings of the same level under the same section parallel. In the example above, the headings for 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 (all second-level headings under the Results and Discussion section) are parallel in that they are all noun phrases; they are also of the same type, i.e. topic headings. Similarly, the headings at 2.2.1 and 2.2.2 (third-level headings under the section Reasons for not recycling) are parallel grammatically and are both talking headings. 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 30 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 30 7/12/09 10:36:41 AM 7/12/09 10:36:41 AM Reporting Research FindingsReporting Research Findings 4.3.3 Number your sections consistently In numbering the sections of your report, you can choose either the decimal system or the alphanumeric system but you must be consistent and not mix them. The decimal system uses numbers with increasing decimal places for lower level information. The alphanumeric system is a combination of the roman numerals and the alphabet. The table below illustrates the two numbering systems. Table 2: The decimal and alphanumeric numbering systems Decimal system Alphanumeric system 2. Results and Discussion A. Results and Discussion 2.1 Frequency of recycling i) Frequency of recycling 2.2 Reasons for not recycling ii) Reasons for not recycling 31 2.2.1 Inconvenient location of a) Inconvenient location of recycling bins recycling bins 2.2.2 Inadequate encouragement b) Inadequate encouragement to to recycle recycle 2.3 Ways to improve recycling iii) Ways to improve recycling 4.4 Use Language of Reporting Appropriately Very often, when student writers report on information obtained from primary research, they do not use the appropriate forms of expression. Table 3 shows some examples of inappropriate and appropriate language of reporting. Table 3: Inappropriate and appropriate ways of reporting data Inappropriate Appropriate From the survey, 40% of The survey shows that 40% of the ✗✓ the respondents feel... respondents feel... (It is not from the survey that the respondents feel or think a certain way.) The study tells us that not many From the study, not many people... ✓ ✗ people...From the study, we can see that not many people... From interviews with students, it can From interviews with students, they do ✗✓ be seen that/it was found that they do not benefi t from... not benefi t from... Through my dealings with employees, Through my dealings with employees, ✗✓ I fi nd that they are concerned mostly they are concerned mostly with... with... (The subject following through my dealings My dealings with employees show that with employees should be I not they.) ✓ they are concerned mostly with... 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 31 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 31 7/12/09 10:36:41 AM 7/12/09 10:36:41 AM Here are four possibilities of structurally appropriate reporting: ● The survey source shows that fi nding ● It can be seen writer’s voice/comment from the survey source that fi nding ● From the survey source, it was found that fi nding ● The majority fi nding, as can be seen from the responses to a question about... source Another common error occurs when presenting what the respondents say or feel. Avoid saying this: According to the respondents, they say that... (Redundant writing) ✗ The better version is: According to the respondents, the decision whether to recycle or not depends on the ✓ availability of recycling resources such as bins and the encouragement to recycle. 32 You can also use this: The respondents say that... ✓ 4.5 Refer to Figures Correctly If you place any fi gure or table in the Results section of your report, you should number it and give it a concise, accurate title. Then you need to draw the reader’s attention to it in your text so as to integrate the illustration more effectively into your report. This is another area where incorrect structures are often used. Students often write this: Referring to Figure 1, only 15% of the respondents... (Who is referring to Figure 1?) ✗ The correct version is: Referring to Figure 1, we can see that only 15% of the respondents... (It is you and the ✓ reader(s) who are referring to the fi gure.) You can also use these: Figure 1 shows that only 15% of the respondents... ✓ As Figure 1 shows, only 15% of the respondents... ✓ As can be seen in Figure 1, only 15% of the respondents... ✓ 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 32 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 32 7/12/09 10:36:41 AM 7/12/09 10:36:41 AM Reporting Research FindingsReporting Research Findings Conclusion After putting a lot of effort into gathering information, you will want your report to contain factually accurate information that is objectively reported and conveyed in accurate or appropriate language. The key to writing an effective Results and Discussion section in a report is to ensure that your reader is able to access data easily and understand what the information means to your research. To achieve the former, use headings, text and fi gures effectively. Additionally, ensure that the language you use refl ects your voice, the source of the fi nding and the actual fi nding. Further reading 33 Anderson, P.V. (2003). Technical communication – A reader-centered approach (5th ed). Boston: Heinle. McMurrey, D.A. (2002). Power tools for technical communication. Fort Worth: Harcourt College Publishers. Wesiman, H. (1996). Basic technical reporting. New Jersey, Englewood Woods: Prentice Hall. Chapter contributed by Peggie CHAN 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 33 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 33 7/12/09 10:36:41 AM 7/12/09 10:36:41 AM34 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 34 27-34_CUC_SL.indd 34 7/12/09 10:36:42 AM 7/12/09 10:36:42 AM Reporting Research Findings

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