If you have conducted things like interviews or observations, you are likely to have transcripts that encompass pages and pages of work.
Putting this all together cohesively within one chapter can be particularly challenging. This is true for two reasons. First, it is always difficult to determine what you are going to cut and/or include. Secondly, unlike quantitative data, it can often be difficult to represent qualitative data through figures and tables, so condensing the information into a visual representation is simply not possible. As a writer, it is important to address both these challenges.
When considering how to present your qualitative data, it may be helpful to begin with the initial outline you have created (and the one described above). Within each of your subsections, you are going to have themes or headings that represent impactful talking points that you want to focus on.
Once you have these headings, it might be helpful to go back to your data and highlight specific lines that can/might be used as examples in your writing. If you have used multiple different instruments to collect data (e.g. interviews and observations), you are going to want to ensure that you are using both examples within each section (if possible). This is so that you can demonstrate to more well-rounded perspective of the points you are trying to make. Once you have identified some key examples for each section, you might still have to do some further cutting/editing.
Once you have your examples firmly selected for each subsection, you want to ensure that you are including enough information. This way, the reader will understand the context and circumstances around what you are trying to ‘prove’. You must set up the examples you have chosen in a clear and coherent way.
Students often make the mistake of including quotations without any other information. It is important that you embed your quotes/examples within your own thoughts. Usually this means writing about the example both before and after. So you might say something like, “One of the main topics that my participants highlighted was the need for more teachers in elementary schools. This was a focal point for 7 of my 12 participants, and examples of their responses included: [insert example] by participant 3 and [insert example] by participant 9. The reoccurring focus by participants on the need for more teachers demonstrates [insert critical thought here]. By embedding your examples in the context, you are essentially highlighting to the reader what you want them to remember.
Aside from determining what to include, the presentation of such data is also essential. Participants, when speaking in an interview might not do so in a linear way. Instead they might jump from one thought to another and might go off topic here and there.
It is your job to present the reader with information on your theme/heading without including all the extra information. So the quotes need to be paired down to incorporate enough information for the reader to be able to understand, while removing the excess.
Finding this balance can be challenging. You have likely worked with the data for a long time and so it might make sense to you. Try to see your writing through the eyes of someone else, which should help you write more clearly.
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How to Write an Analysis/Discussion Chapter for your Dissertation
In writing your dissertations’ discussion, make sure to write an introduction explaining the chapter. As you present your analyses, make sure to reference it with your literature review as most of your sources will be coming from there. Follow the structure you used in writing your literature review when writing your analysis dissertations. If they do not have any reference to literature, acknowledge it and just link it accordingly to its appropriate conclusion. When writing your analyses, avoid jargons and terms that are unfamiliar to your readers. Keep it as simple as possible to make it more comprehensive to your readers.
Understand that your dissertation analysis chapter is going to be the foundation in which you will draw your conclusions from.
Tips on How to Write a Data Analysis
Remember to include only data that is actually relevant to your dissertations to keep your paper focused and coherent. The present of data that is immaterial to your study will only confuse your readers and affect your conclusions negatively.
The methods you will use have to be appropriate to the data you will use and the purpose of your dissertation. The point is to let your readers know that these methods serve a purpose and are not just randomly selected.
Collect relevant statistical data. From this information, you will be able to draw conclusions that are not yet manifest in the data you currently have. As equally important as your quantitative data is your qualitative work. Instead of statistical findings, you will be able to derive a deeper, transferable knowledge from your qualitative data.
The common perception is that data will speak for itself but this is wrong. Every data has to be analyzed so it will serve its purpose of answering the question you presented in your abstract and introduction. Remember to be transparent and present both strengths and weaknesses to your dissertation while writing analysis.
Your knowledge about creating charts, graphs, and diagrams can be quite helpful in presenting your analyses particularly if you introduced a pretty large number of data. With these visual aids, it will be easier for your readers to understand your findings.
For other data that is relevant but does not necessarily have to be included in your main dissertation, you can include it in your appendices so your readers can look into it.
Structure and Writing Style of an Analysis
When writing dissertations, avoid being verbose and repetitive and, instead, be concise and to the point. Avoid using jargons and keep it simple. Maintain a logical stream of thought and write in past tense for facts and prior studies. Using subheadings can help organize your analyses and keep it easier to digest for your readers.
Additionally, avoid restating results and lead them to interpretations instead. The analysis chapter is not going to be a summary of results but analyses of these results, so keep it that way.
Recommendations can be included in your dissertation discussion chapter, or you can include that in the conclusion – it is up to your discretion. Recommendations urge your readers to conduct further research to fill in some gaps in your research or just to simply further the study of this subject matter. Do not introduce new results in your discussion and everything has to be sourced from your primary and secondary sources.
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Your analysis/discussion chapter consists of the data you have gathered as well as the analyses of these data in a comprehensive and easiest way possible.
A good analysis chapter should include an overview of the dissertations with the purpose of the study, how the research was conducted, description of the data gathered, the tools used to gather these data and information, and all the hypotheses introduced in your dissertation.