Data Analysis and Interpretation: How to write your statistical report

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Data Analysis and Interpretation: How to write your statistical report

Formatting for your report and word count

Reports should be typed in at least point 12 font using a standard legible font style such as Calibri, Times New Roman, Arial or similar. A size 10 font may be used for tables. Number the pages of your report and use 1.5 spacing.

Word count (excludes title page, reference list and appendices): No more than 3,500 words

Please note that anything over the word limit will incur a penalty by loss of marks. Please state the word count at the end of your assignment – these will be checked.

Writing your report

An important part of the process of science is the communication of results to the wider scientific community in a more or less standard format. You need to learn this format, and how to write up the results of your studies within it.

These general guidelines aim to assist you in developing your report writing skills.

Your report should follow the general plan of a research paper in a Public Health journal. It should give the rationale for your research, methods, results and implications of your findings. These descriptions and explanations must be full, precise and concise. This is to allow efficient communication of your research findings and to allow other researchers to repeat your study. Therefore, you have to squeeze a lot of information into a short report which is nevertheless easy to read.

Sections of the report

Your report should consist of sections with the following headings, which should always be presented in this order:

  1. Introduction
  2. Methods
  3. Results
  4. Discussion
  5. References
  6. Appendices

This is a format that is customary in most Biomedical/health/public health journals.

Please click this link for a simple template:

Background Reading and References

You will be expected to refer to articles and/or books which you have read, to provide some basis for the theories, predictions or explanations related to your hypotheses - analyses. All the background information citations that you used should be set out in the Reference List.

Sections of the Report in more detail 


  • Start with a general statement of the problem you are investigating
  • Outline any explanations and theories associated with the problem
  • Briefly describe any previous relevant research - only research that can provide a basis or background to your investigation
  • How does this background material identify gaps in knowledge that lead to your research questions? (HINT: Choose variables for your analyses that are linked in some way to the problem you are outlining in the introduction.)
  • Refer back to this information when you come to the discussion section of the report

End the introduction by describing the overall aim of the analyses for example ‘the aim was to investigate risk factors for cardiovascular disease’ or ‘the aim was to examine factors associated with quality of life in adult men.’

Introduction should NOT include:

  • Details of the statistical test(s) you will be using – this should be in the methods section.
  • A very detailed description of your methodology or design – this will come later.
  • Details about participants and the questionnaire – unless specific to the rationale in some way.


  1. Study Design
  2. Data Collection
  3. Data Analysis
  4. Sample Size

Study Design and data collection

You are conducting a secondary analysis of existing data previously gathered for another study. The survey collected data about general lifestyle behaviours, health outcomes and sociodemographic variables from a sample of adults in the UK.

Data Analysis

Structure this section with headings for each of the assignment instructions.

In this section you will state your hypotheses that address each of the assignment questions. Then describe the methods of analysis. Make sure you cover the points listed below as appropriate.

  • What are the variables? Describe how you checked data and how you created new variables if you did so.
  • How were the variables analysed?
  • What measures of central tendency and dispersion?
  • What other descriptive statistics were used – frequencies, proportions, etc.?
  • What statistical test did you use with what variables?
  • What assumptions had to be met in order to use the stated tests. What did you do if assumptions were not met.

Sample Size

Report one sample size calculation for one of your chosen analyses.


Participants/Sample characteristics (step 2)

  • Who are the sample?
  • How many participants were tested?
  • How many men? How many women?
  • What was their age?
  • Any other socio-demographics you can report that gives a picture of the sample?

Hypotheses (step 3 a-c)

  • Answer the assignment instructions set out in step 3 a-c using the appropriate statistical tests
  • Use appropriate Tables and Figures (Graphs) to present your findings.
  • Do NOT state that the data were collated and entered into SPSS; this is assumed by the reader.

The main result(s) and your conclusion(s) should be summarised in the main report, but the SPSS output must be included in an Appendix NOT in the main report. The Results section must NOT contain details of calculations or computer printouts.

Leave all comments on your results to the Discussion section. If you have a number of research questions, you can structure the Results section to deal with each in turn - research question by research question.

Figures (graphs) and tables

Figures such as graphs and histograms can display and summarise your results in a way which is easy to understand - they should be accompanied by a verbal description or comment; however, they are not always very precise. So you may decide to show a Table of the numerical data instead of a Figure.

Figures and Tables need a title and are numbered.

You can produce graphs using Excel or SPSS. But do NOT simply copy and paste whichever Tables and Graphs that appear in the SPSS output – create your own.


  • Discussion and Interpretation of Findings
  • Strengths and Limitations
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendations

Discussion and Interpretation of Findings

  • First line of the discussion should answer the research question
  • Following paragraphs should discuss the results
  • What do they mean?
  • What is their importance?
  • Provide your critical reflection upon both the results and the processes of data collection
  • How well did the study meet the research question?
  • Do not reiterate what is in the results
  • How do my results sit with the general body of knowledge?
  • Are the results in agreement or disagreement?
  • Why might that be?
  • What have other people done?

Strengths and Limitations

  • Honestly judge the limitations of the data and analyses.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Reference List

You will have done some background reading on the topic of your research question. You need to list all the sources mentioned in the report, in enough detail to allow others to find them.

You may also use the ‘Cite Them Right’ website to guide the format. I am looking for Harvard referencing that is consistently presented and allows the reader to find your sources. Referencing WILL BE CHECKED!


Appendices need to be numbered (in a logical order) and labelled (descriptive title for each appendix). 3500

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