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May 29, 2014

How to Discuss the Results of an Inventory or Measure

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

In some psychology classes, students take an inventory or measure (such as a personality inventory) and then are asked to report their results and write about their reactions in a paper. This post addresses how to report and discuss these results and provide citations where appropriate.

Citation of the Inventory

First, let’s address citation of the inventory or measure. In APA Style, citations should be to recoverable materials, which include the inventory itself. Thus, when you first mention the name of an inventory or measure, provide an author–date citation in the text and a corresponding entry in the reference list. Here is an example:

In text:

I took the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R; Costa & McCrae, 1992). The NEO-PI-R is a 240-item measure of the Big Five personality traits of Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism.

Reference list:

Costa, P. T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI–R) and the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.


Reporting and Discussion of Results  Notepad

To report and discuss the results, simply make statements in the first person about what the results were and what you thought of them. Or you might use a table or figure to display the results and then discuss them in the text.

Do not cite the results themselves. An author–date citation would take the reader nowhere, because the results are unique to you and not recoverable material. A personal communication citation is also not appropriate. The results are in a sense the “data” of your study of yourself, and it’s circuitous logic to cite your own data in the paper in which they are first reported. (It's similarly true that you should also not provide a citation when reporting data from interviews with research participants for the first time—although provisos of confidentiality come into play when other people are involved, as discussed further in the link.)

Even if you made the results retrievable (e.g., by posting them on a website or including them in an appendix), you still would not cite them, although you can make the reader aware of where to find them (by saying, e.g., “For full results, see the Appendix”).

Here’s an example of how results can be reported and discussed in text:

My scores were categorized as high on the personality factors of Conscientiousness and Neuroticism. These results surprised me because although I think of myself as an orderly and self-disciplined person, I had not realized until seeing the results of this inventory how I become particularly exacting when under stressful conditions. These results have helped me understand my personality better.

Conclusion

When discussing the results of an inventory or measure you took, understand when to include citations (to recoverable materials) and when not to include citations (when discussing your data or giving personal responses, even if the data are about you). If you have further questions on this topic, please leave a comment. 

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