Results Worksheet


The standard lab report will typically have 8 sections:

 

1. Title

2. Abstract

3. Introduction

4. Experimental

5. Results  (A PDF form is not available for this section.)*

6. Discussion

7. Conclusion

8. References

 

*Because of the tables and graphs, the Results section is best written with word processing and spread-sheet programs.  A PDF form is not practical.


I. General Idea

 

This handout is intended to help you write the Results section.  In scholarly research, the Results section would include a mix of written descriptions, tables, and graphs.  For our chemistry laboratory reports, we will focus on presenting our data in tables and graphs.


II. Tables

A. Why make a table?

A table summarizes a long list of experimental data and/or calculated results so that the reader can glance at the table and easily see the information in an easy to understand fashion. In the following examples, notice how the presentation of data is much clearer and easier to understand in the tabulated form (table format) rather than listed in a long sentence.

 

Example of the Sentence Form (list format):

The conductivity values for CaCl2, NaCl, AlCl3, HC2H3O2, HCl, H3PO4, H3BO3, distilled water, tap water, CH3OH, and C2H6O2 are 20,000 mS, 14,000 mS, 27,000 mS, 1000 mS, 23,000 mS, 25,000 mS, 1200 mS, 18 mS, 103 mS, 303 mS, and 18 mS, respectively.

 

 

When you look at the above sentence, it is not immediately obvious which compound goes with which conductivity value?  What is the conductivity of HCl? 

 

Now look at the same information in a table.

 

Compound

Conductivity (mS)

CaCl2

20,000

NaCl

14,000

AlCl3

27,000

HC2H3O2

1000

HCl

23,000

H3PO4

25,000

H3BO3

1200

distilled water

18

tap water

103

CH3OH

303

C2H6O2

18

Table 1: Conductivities of sample compounds

 

Simply glance at this table and you can easily find out what the conductivity of HCl is.  It is immediately obvious which conductivity value goes with which compound.  In most word processing and spread-sheet programs it is also possible to automatically sort the data.  For example, in this table, the information could be arranged alphabetically, by compound, or numerically, by conductivity.  How you arrange this information will depend on what patterns you want to emphasize.  The table below has the same data as the table above, but sorted by conductivity.

 

Compound

Conductivity (mS)

distilled water

18

C2H6O2

18

tap water

103

CH3OH

303

HC2H3O2

1000

H3BO3

1200

NaCl

14,000

CaCl2

20,000

HCl

23,000

H3PO4

25,000

AlCl3

27,000

Table 1: Sample compounds arranged by Conductivity

 

 

B. How to design a table

If you do not know how to make a table in a word processing or spread-sheet program, click here for suggestions and help: Results-Addendum.

 

The design of the table:

1)    Each column should have a heading in the top cell. In the example below (Table 2) these headings are: Student, Height (m), Mass (kg), and Body Mass Index (kg/m2).

2)    Headings should be in bold.

3)    Very Important! Units of measurements or calculations should be listed in the heading.  

4)    Below the table, there should be a caption. The caption should identify the table by its number and also include a brief descriptive title. 

      E.g. Table 2: Heights, masses, and body mass indices of Chemistry 1210 lab.

 

C. Example of a proper table with caption

Let’s say I measured 5 students’ heights and weights to calculate their body mass indices (BMI = (mass in kg)/(height in m)2).  A useful way to display all of this information is in a table. 

 

Student

Height (m)

Mass (kg)

Body mass index (kg/m2)

Mergatroid

1.90

71

20

Samantha

1.65

60

23

Fred

1.70

70

24

Adam

1.68

75

27

Chloe

1.75

90

29

Table 2: Heights, masses and body mass indices

of five students in Chemistry 1210 lab class.

 

In this example I have sorted the information by "Body mass Index."


III. Graphs

 

A. Why make a graph?

A graph shows visually how one variable depends on another.  This visual representation is useful to deduce a trend.  It answers questions like: “How does Chloe's weight vary with time?”  “Has Mergatroid been losing weight, gaining weight, staying steady, or yo-yo dieting?”

 

B. How to design a graph

If you are unsure about how to make a graph in your spreadsheet program, click here for suggestions and help: Results-Addendum.

 

Figure 1: Variation of the mass of Chloe (square boxes)

and Mergatroid (triangles) over twelve months.

 

The basic design of a graph:

1)    The independent variable should be on the x-axis (horizontal).  The dependent variable should be on the y-axis (vertical).  If you are unsure about which is the dependent variable and which is the dependent variable, click here: Dependent vs. Independent Variables

2)    The axes of the graph should be labeled with their units of measurement. [E.g. Month number and Mass (kg)]

3)    If there is more than one trend line on the graph, (Chloe AND Mergatroid in the above example) the figure caption must clearly indicate which data corresponds to which trend line.  In the example above, the caption clearly states that Chloe has square data points and Mergatroid has triangular data points.

4)    Like tables, all graphs should have a caption which clearly indicates what is shown in the graph.  E.g. "Figure 1: Variation of the mass of Chloe (square boxes) and Mergatroid (triangles) over twelve months."

 

C. Example of the process – from data to graph.

 

Student

Height (m)

Mass (kg)

Body mass index (kg/m2)

Mergatroid

1.90

71

20

Samantha

1.65

60

23

Fred

1.70

70

24

Adam

1.68

75

27

Chloe

1.75

90

29

Table 2: Heights, masses and body mass indices

of five dieting students in Chemistry 1210 lab class.

 

Let’s say that our 5 students are all dieting and when you look at the above table (Table 2) you become concerned that Mergatroid is getting too skinny and Chloe is getting too heavy.  So, you devise an experiment in which you track the weights of Mergatroid and Chloe every month over a twelve month period to see if they are gaining weight, losing weight, or hovering at about the same weight. 

 

A data table corresponding to this experiment would be:

 

Month Number

Mergatroid’s mass (kg)

Chloe’s mass (kg)

1

71

90

2

72

85

3

73

80

4

72

75

5

73

82

6

71

88

7

70

93

8

73

86

9

72

82

10

73

88

11

71

92

12

70

95

Table 2: Masses of Mergatroid and Chloe during a twelve month period.  

Each person is weighed at one month intervals.

 

While this is a perfectly acceptable table, it is hard to discern trends in the masses of Mergatroid and Chloe.  Are they gaining?  Losing?  Yo-yo-ing?  A graph would make such trends much more obvious.  You could then see the variation of weight as a function of time.  Here is what a proper graph and figure caption would look like for this data:

 

Figure 1: Variation of the mass of Chloe (square boxes)

and Mergatroid (triangles) over twelve months.

 

Notice:

-When looking at this graph you can immediately see that Mergatroid’s weight is relatively constant and that Chloe seems to lose significant weight for a few months but then gains it all back plus some.  These trends are easy to discern.

-When you make a graph you don’t always have to start the axes at 0.  The y-axis above starts at 60kg, since nothing is happening below that mass.  Start the axes at a value that includes all the data but doesn’t result in a large amount of empty space on the graph. 

-If the graph had no caption, it would be useless. The reader would have no idea what the graph meant beyond some idea that some unknown masses varies with time.  But what masses?

-Similarly, if the axes were not labeled, the graph would be useless.  Without labels we don't know which variable is which.  We also don't know what units are being used.  Are they kilograms, pounds, days, weeks, months, years, etc?


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