Writing a paper, presenting results and data – day 3: describing data and increases and decreases

Writing a paper, presenting results and data – day 3: describing data and increases and decreases

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Adverbs and adjectives for describing increases and decreases

You can use the following words to describe increases or decreases:

Considerable / considerably (meaning ‘large’) – e.g. there was a considerable increase in…

Consistent / consistently (meaning ‘no change’) – e.g. the rate of infection was consistent across the different….

Down / downwards (meaning ‘move lower’) – e.g. Figure A shows a downward trend in the ratio of…

Gradual / gradually (meaning ‘slow rate of change’) – e.g. Table 2 shows a gradual improvement in results of….

High / highly / highest (meaning ‘large’) – e.g. The pollution levels remained high during all of the period under investigation…

Just under / Just over (meaning ‘little’) – e.g. The results showed a slight increase from 0.5 to just under 0.6….

Marked /markedly (meaning ‘a large change’) – e.g. The results from the intervention showed a marked improvement over the traditional method…

Negligible (meaning ‘very small or too small to be significant’) – e.g. Figure A shows that the difference in outcome between the methods as negligible.

Sharp / sharply (meaning ‘a large change’) – e.g. The steep curve in Figure B shows a sharp increase in the amount of….

Significant / significantly (meaning ‘a change of importance’) – e.g. The results show in Table 1 are not statistically significant… or… The results are statistically significant

Steady / steadily (meaning ‘change in a smooth way that is not unexpected’) – e.g. The data in table 2 shows a steady decrease in the amount of…

Up / upwards (meaning ‘a move higher’) – e.g. The graph shows an upward trend in the number of….

An extract of a results section is below with many useful phrases and descriptions of increases and decreases

Results: Contacts by setting

For adults, contacts made at home mostly reflected household size (S1 Fig) and were consistently below a mean of 2 contacts per day over the study period, with little change in reported contacts across each of the analysis time periods (Fig 1C). Work and other contacts followed a similar pattern to adults: staying low but steadily increasing towards the end of the Lockdown 1, increasing in August 2020, decreasing slightly, and then returning to levels similar to the Lockdown 1 during the Lockdown 2 in November, and then reducing again over Christmas and throughout Lockdown 3.

During the first lockdown, schools were closed to all except vulnerable children and the children of essential workers, and recorded children’s contact rates were very low (Fig 1B and 1C). From early June 2020 until the third week of July 2020 (when schools were closed for the summer vacation), there was a limited reopening of schools, but most parents reported that their children continued to be educated from home. Average recorded contact patterns among children remained very low during this period (Fig 1B and 1C). When schools reopened fully in September 2020, the number of contacts rapidly increased for both school-age (5 to 17) and preschool-age children (0 to 4), although the increase in contacts in the latter age group was smaller. Children’s contacts declined significantly during the “half-term” vacation at the end of October 2020 but remained high during the second national lockdown (November 2020) as schools remained open. Schools were closed for the Christmas period, remained closed during the third national lockdown, and reopened on March 8, 2021. However, preschools were the first educational setting to reopen during the relaxation of the first lockdown and were not closed during the third lockdown. The contact patterns of 0 to 4 year olds reflect this, with mean rates of contact for this age group being higher than other children during the periods when preschools were open but primary and secondary schools were closed.

This extract is taken from: Gimma A, Munday JD, Wong KLM, Coletti P, van Zandvoort K, et al. (2022) Changes in social contacts in England during the COVID-19 pandemic between March 2020 and March 2021 as measured by the CoMix survey: A repeated cross-sectional study. PLOS Medicine 19(3): e1003907. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003907

You may wish to read the whole of the results section of the above article here, where you will find many more phrases for describing the data.

Useful phrases from the extract

consistently below: remained lower than

with little change in: no significant difference

followed a similar pattern: the same as the other

staying low but steadily increasing: small amount for a period before a smooth increase

decreasing slightly: small change downwards

then returning to levels similar to: moving towards the same as the other

then reducing again: another decrease

contact rates were very low: a small amount, not many

remained very low: stayed a small amount

rapidly increased: a large and quick increase

declined significantly: an important decrease

remained high during the: stayed as a large amount

being higher than: relatively large, compared with the other

Further study for this week

Try writing up some results of a recent experiment you have made including tables of data and descriptions about what can be understood from the data. Try the short quiz below to test your understanding.

Lesson tags: describing inceases and decreases, describing results, English for scientists, writing a paper
Back to: English for Scientists