How to do your research project

Displaying data

when you've finished this page, you will be able to...

If you've generated your own data, you'll need to describe this data pictorially for your readers, using graphs, tables and charts. Whatever way you chose to present your results, your aim must be to display your data clearly and accurately.

Different graphs can be used to display different types of data. There are lots of different graphs, but the most commonly used are described below:

Only display data that you plan to discuss further. Also, only graphically display data if this will make it clearer: you don't need a bar graph to compare two values that only differ by a tiny amount.

How you choose to display your data will depend on the type of data you've generated and on the conventions of your subject. However, there are a few 'universal truths' that you should remember, whatever you choose.

When displaying data:

For more information on displaying your data, take a look at Engage in Research: Presenting your data.

Activity: displaying results - 10 minutes

How you choose to display your results will depend on the type of data you've generated. There are, however, some questions you should keep in mind when displaying your data in a table, graph or chart.

The questions below will help you to make sure that you only display data that's worth displaying, and that your graphs, tables and charts look great.

1. Each time you draw a graph, table or chart, use the questions in the check list below to evaluate your displayed data:

Data display questions... tick
Do I really need a graphical representation of this data?  
Does my graph, table or chart make the data clearer?  
Is my graph,table or chart visually pleasing?  
Is it easy to interpret? (Have you labeled the axes, used a clear scale and given it a title?)  
Is this the best way of displaying these results, or would a different kind of graph, chart or table be better?  
Have I explained and discussed the results I have displayed?  
Have I displayed my data honestly - are my graphs etc. a true representation of the data, or could they be misleading?  

You can also use these questions before you attempt to graphically display your data, to make sure you get it right first time.

Recommended Further Reading

Now your data is displayed, it's time to interpret it...

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