Part Two

Further Exercises in Making
Headings More Informative
The Results Section


Task 1 :
See how much you remember from Part One about writing effective headings for your contents page by answering  the true or false questions.



Just as in all the other sections, the Results section needs clear, informative headings. A reader of the contents page should be able to ascertain the major findings just by looking at your headings. Headings in the Results section should do two things:

  1. summarise the section
  2. convey a sense of what the results mean in terms of the overall project


Task 2:
test3  Look back at the three sample Biology Contents Pages. This time, focus on the Results section.


Text 1:  Bacterial Growth and Diversity on Children’s Toys: Is it Significant Enough to Cause Disease?
Text 2: Assessing the Efficiency of Mouth Washes Against Streptococci Mutans
Text 3: Investigating the Regulation Heat Shock Response in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

What do you notice about the contents pages in these dissertations?

Click here for a suggested answer


Text 3, since it has specific titles is already more informative than texts 1 & 2. However, the headings in Text 3 could be further improved.



Task 3


Here are two headings reporting a finding. Look at the difference between them:

1. A graph of changes in the viscosity of Olive Oil with temperature
2. As the temperature of Olive Oil increases its viscosity decreases.

Which heading conveys more information?

Click here for a suggested answer


Let’s see how it does this by answering the questions below.

  1. Is there a verb in either heading? Click here for a suggested answer

  2. What is the function of the verb? Click here for a suggested answer

  3. By putting a verb in, how has it improved the heading? Click here for a suggested answer


Look back at the improved headings from the Introduction section of Text 2. Notice that most (but not all) have a verb which explains the action taken. This pinpoints what happened in the research.


1.1 The microbial species found in the oral cavity varies between individuals.
1.2 A limited number of bacterial species contribute to dental caries.
1.3 Streptococci mutans: A primary cause of dental caries. (no verb)
1.4 Mouthwashes are helpful in controlling the activity of oral bacteria.
1.5 Different mouthwashes contain a variety of anti-bacterial agents.
1.6 Comparing the bactericidal (and bacteristatic) properties of a variety of mouthwashes on Streptococci mutans.


Task 4

Let’s go back to the headings in Text 3 (Heat Shock Response). The student has attempted to provide clear headings but they are still rather vague. Some of them can be improved by rewording them into a sentence. The exercise below gives you practice in choosing the most effective verb. Before you start, read the box below.



Top tip from Dr Curran! 
Only put results in the Results section. Look at the headings from Text 3:

3.1 Background to the β-Galactosidase Enzyme Assay
3.2 Background to the Bio-Rad Protein Assay

These are not results. These are explanations of the assays used to generate the results. They could be omitted completely but if absolutely necessary to include, they  should be a short sentence in the Materials and methods section.

Also, see 3.3:
Albumin Standard Curve

This, Dr Curran suggests, should be in the Appendix rather than the Results section.

Gap Fill Exercise.



Look at headings 3.3 to 3.7.

3.4 Normal Heat Shock
3.5 Heat Shock 0.1M
3.6 Heat Shock 0.5M
3.7 Gel Electrophoresis To Confirm HIS4 Gene Amplification

All, except 3.7, are too vague. They do not tell us what the results convey or what the numbers refer to. Look at the suggested alternative headings in the
exercise below. Each is missing a verb. Fill in the gap with a suitable verb. You will need to reread the sections in order to do this. (There may be more than one possibility).


You have seen from this tutorial that a good heading is informative and is often a full sentence summarising the section. Do make sure your Discussion section follows the same advice. Don’t forget that you should start writing your contents page before you write the dissertation but that it will need to change to reflect the contents in your sections. Keep reviewing it, remember it needs to tell a story and you should end up with a very effective final page. Good luck!