Presenting research data and key findings in an organized, visually attractive, and meaningful manner is a key part of a good research paper. This is particularly important in instances where complex data and information, which cannot be easily communicated through text alone, need to be presented engagingly. The best way to do this is through the use of tables and figures. They help to organize and summarize large amounts of data and present it in an easy-to-understand way.
Tables are used to present numerical data, while figures are used to display non-numerical data, such as graphs, charts, and diagrams. There are different types of tables and figures, and choosing the appropriate format is essential to present the data effectively. This article provides some insights on how to present research data and findings using tables and figures.
How to present research data in tables?
When complex data and statistical findings are too unwieldy or difficult to present either in text form or as figures, they can be presented through tables. Tables are best used where exact numerical values need to be analyzed and shared. It also aids in the comparison and contrast of various features or values among the different units. This allows swift and easy identification of patterns in the datasets. While presenting tables in a research paper, it is essential to incorporate certain core elements to ensure that readers are able to draw inferences and conclusions easily and quickly.
- Title of the table: The title should be concise and clear and communicate the purpose of the table. Tables must be referenced in the text through table numbers. Both the table number and the title are ideally mentioned just above the table.
- Body of the table: A crucial element in preparing the body of a table is to ensure uniformity in terms of units of measurement and the accurate use of decimal places. It is also important to format the table and ensure equal spacing between rows and columns.
- Keep it simple and accurate: It is important to ensure that only relevant information is presented in the table. One needs to be cautious not to populate tables with unnecessary information or design elements. Using plain fonts, in italics or bold, and the use of color or border styles help make the table visually appealing. Rows and columns must be labeled clearly and accurately to ensure that there is no ambiguity in analyzing the data presented.
How to present research data in figures?
Figures are a powerful tool for visually presenting research data and key study findings. Figures are usually used to communicate trends or relationships and general patterns emerging from datasets. They are also used to present research data and complex information in a simpler form. Figures can take various forms like graphs, pie charts, scatter plots, line diagrams, drawings, maps, and photos. Early career researchers need to know how best to present figures in their research papers. The following are some core elements that should be incorporated.
- Title: Every figure must have a title that is clear and concise and must summarize the main point of the data being presented. It should be placed just below the figure. The numbering of the figures should be sequential and must correspond to the reference provided in the text.
- Type of figure: The type of figure to be used is usually dictated by the kind of information to be conveyed. Researchers need to decide which type of figure will enable readers to understand the information being shared easily. For example, scatter plots can be used to show relationships between two variables, pie charts can be used to illustrate relative proportions, and graphs can be used for the quantitative relationship between variables.
- Use of Images: When using figures, care should be taken to ensure that images are of a high resolution – sharp and clear.
- Labeling: Ensuring that all parts of the figures and the axes are labeled accurately is crucial if readers are to glean important details quickly. Use standard font sizes and styles. Experts also suggest the inclusion of scale bars in maps.
Tips for Effectively Presenting Research Data through Tables and Figures
When presenting research data through tables or figures, it’s important to ensure that it is adding value to the text and not merely repeating values. This means taking care of certain vital aspects to ensure that the presentation is uniform, clear, and easy to read. Here are some tips to help you achieve that:
- Make sure that tables or figures add value to the text
- Ensure uniformity in numbering of tables, figures, and values both in the text and in the visual presentation
- Cite the source if tables and figures are used from a different source
- Use appropriate scales when creating tables and figures
- Use logarithmic scales if the data covers a wide range
- Use linear scales if the data is relatively small
- Check publication or style guide instructions of the target journal regarding the presentation of research data and findings, image resolution, presentation style, formatting, and so on
- Remember, tables and figures are only tools to convey information – using too many of them can overwhelm readers
In summary, presenting research data through tables and figures can be an effective way to convey information. However, it’s important to follow these tips to ensure that the presentation is clear and easy to read. By taking care of these vital aspects, researchers can effectively communicate their findings to their intended audience.
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