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:
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
Texts 1 and 2 simply say 'Results' on their contents page. This tells us almost nothing - all research papers have results but what were they? Text 3 does give headings.
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.
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.
Yes, in 2
It explains an action
It makes it a fully descriptive statement
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.
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!
3.1 Background to the β-Galactosidase Enzyme 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:
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).