Scientific data

Presenting data

Tables

When collecting data the best way to display it is to construct a table. This helps to organise your data collection:

  • the variables go in the column headings - eg 'distance along quadrat' and 'number of species in quadrat'
  • the units must also be placed in the column headings and should not appear elsewhere in the table - here (m) is for metres (along the quadrat) and there are no units for the number of species
Distance along quadrat (m)Number of species in quadrat
59
107
152
203

Charts

Charts are a way to display data after it has been collected.

Discrete data can only have certain values and are shown using a bar chart. This can help to show any patterns.

Chart shows 0 is the most common blood group at over 45% of the population. Nexy is A, at around 40%. Third is B with just under 10%, and finally, under 5% of the population have the blood group ABBlood groups can only be A, B, AB or O. They cannot be halfway between these values, so surveys into blood groups give discrete data which is presented in a bar chart

A pie chart shows a category compared with the whole. For example, the percentage of each gas in the atmosphere can be shown using a pie chart.

Pie chart showing blood composition: 55% is plasma, and 45% is red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets that float within the plasma.Pie chart to show the percentage of different components of the blood

Graphs

Continuous data can take any value in a given range. It includes time, mass and length. Continuous data should be presented on a line graph. Line graphs are particularly useful in helping to spot any trends or patterns in the data.

A graph with rate of photosynthesis on the y axis and carbon dioxide concentration on the x axis.  The plotted line rise steeply and then levels off to horizonal.  During the steep part carobn dioxide is the limiting factor.  During the horizontal part another factor has become limiting.A line graph to show how the rate of photosynthesis changes with temperature