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How to Present Numerical Data in Scientific Text

A scientific paper should be objective although it is a struggle in part as there are various subjective terms. For instance, “red” colour can be “pink” for one, and “hot” can be “warm” for another. However, numbers have the same meaning to most people, therefore, they are well suited for scientific text. Here are the ways to present numerical data in the scientific text.

You can incorporate numerical data in three ways: inserting it into the text body, tabular representation and graphical representation. The choice of methods entirely depends upon information and its complexity. The best method would be one that helps readers understand your arguments without struggling with interpreting data. Note that a numerical presentation describes data in digits, so you do not need to explain in words.

When to incorporate numbers in data

When there is a comparison between two values, it is better to put numerical data in the textual body. For instance, 12% of European 9 to 16-years-old children get upset by harmful things on the internet. However, 9% of children do not get bothered by harmful things.

A numerical comparison between three values or more often causes bewilderment among readers if you include it in the text. Therefore, a tabular representation will be a good job.  For instance, 34% people stated that the internet use honed digital skills, 30% said that it could but to some extent, and 36% reported that the internet use did not help with learning digital skills. This information can be clearly expressed in a table within a text.

The internet use to promote digital skills

True 34%
A bit true 30%
Not true 36%

When to form tables

Tabular representation becomes essential when data is lengthy and rich that can muddle readers to understand if it is inserted in textual information and when you are comparing two different values such as absolute and relative frequency of acne among 16-years-old adolescents. Tables are required to form when accurate digits are essential for argument and graphs will fail to do so.

When to use graphs

The graphical presentation is the best source to communicate with numerics when you have to show trends in data. Graphs can also be used instead of tables manifesting small data. There are several types of graphs that you can use to present data.

  • Bar charts – These graphs are used to display data that can be categorised as nominal and ordinal. The main purpose of bar charts to present the sequence from the highest to the lowest category. These charts can also be used when you have to show positive and negative values of a category.
  • Histogram – Histograms are used to present a continuous category that may have a large number of values such as age. For example, instead of drawing an individual bar for age between 15 and 64, you will club the data in continuous age-groups such as 15-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, and 55-64.
  • Pie charts –  Pie charts manifest percentage data by dividing it into various categories. These charts are used to describe information that can be grouped into small categories.
  • Scatter plots – Scatter plots are used to describe a relationship between two variables. This type of presentation is possible in quantitative data only. For example, the relationship between age and height.
  • Line graphs – Line graphs are used to display patterns and trends in data over time. These graphs can be drawn to show over time changes in one variable, for example, the rise in annual unemployment rates, or comparing changes for the same period between two or more variables, for example, per month consoles sale in the US and the UK.

So start playing the number game like a pro and make your research readable and presentable!


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