As an APA writing coach, I have worked with many doctoral candidates (PhD., Ed.D., and DBA) on their chapter four. Regardless if it’s quantitative or qualitative, this chapter presented a lot of concerns for them, primarily with analyzing the data and how it needs to be presented on the page. This is a quick look at some of these problems and how those hurdles can be overcome.
Quantitative Analysis – Results
For anyone that’s good with math, especially statistics, quantitative is simple and rather straight forward. But not everyone is steeped in statistical knowledge. So, for those of us who don’t fully understand statistics, chapter four ends up being more difficult than our initial impression. Fortunately, there’s not a lot of writing for this chapter. Plus, it’s very specific and mechanical.
Writing Tip:Remember to use straightforward language. Many of the phrases and words used will be repetitive, such as “for the hypothesis” and “the results were significant.”
There’s also the part of learning a new software that may have a steep learning curve and require some knowledge of coding. Here is a list of some resources to help you along the way:
Data is presented in tables. Lots of tables. The APA Style Guide is very specific on the presentation of data, so get very familiar with the titles, descriptions, headings, and how the data is supposed to appear.
The results are presented according to the research question or hypothesis. They state the research question or hypothesis and the results. Analysis of the data can be very complex, yet the writing of it is very straight forward. Your observations describe the statistical analyses of the data collected.
The focus here is on significance or the lack of it. Describe only these or the anomalies in the data. You’ll also need to reflect on whether the analysis supports the hypotheses or not. That’s it.
Qualitative Analysis – Findings
For those of you who have chosen to forego statistical analyses, qualitative study designs tend to be much more lengthy than quantitative, which is necessary when you want to provide a “rich amount of data.” And, the key to a well-informed chapter four begins with how you’re going to organize your findings.
Writing Tip:The organization of your findings should represent a narrative that came about in response to answering the research questions. This should be compelling enough to help your reader understand and make sense of their meaning.
Everyone has a different process for collecting data and analyzing it. Follow the path that makes you most comfortable. Organizing a path is what everyone should have in common—assembling your notes, interviews, transcripts, etc.
For a qualitative study, you should have notes on all of the data, how it was collected and possible themes. These notes will help you see the themes as they emerge. As themes become more defined, you can narrow them down into a paragraph, then a sentence. These can be boiled down even further, if necessary; however, your advisor will be able to instruct you on clarity and analysis.
Writing Tip:Rely on your institution’s dissertation template when organizing your writing. If your advisor wants it in a unique manner, then work with them closely to understand and fulfill their request.
The writing of your chapter four is the best time for analysis, especially while you focus on answering the research questions. Putting your nascent thoughts on the page is incredibly important. It’s never perfect, but it’s a good start. The editing process will help you refine and organize the data, so the themes become more defined as each one is flushed out.
If you’ve conducted interviews, you need to use direct quotes to support the themes. Limit your block quotes and capitalize upon the short, often terse, single sentence that offer key insights and coincide with your own analysis. These sentences will stand out—be much more poignant than the others. Sometimes, this is relegated to only one participant. That’s okay. One is enough.
Writing Tip:Reach out to your advisor once you’ve developed a strong draft. Providing your own analysis prior seeking advice shows that you’ve spent a lot of time with the data.
You should expect to put in a lot of hours when writing your chapter four. It’s been my experience that it takes as long as writing your chapter two. That means a minimum of 50 to 60 hours of transcribing, coding, thinking, and writing. It also includes correspondence with your advisor, who should be engaged with you during this process.
I have helped many Ph.D. and Ed.D. candidates get through their chapter four. It’s an exciting time, because their thesis is almost completed. Graduation is in sight. So, if you’re having problems with your chapter four, send me an email and let’s talk about how I can help.
Writer. Editor. Project manager. Researcher. Collaborator. Graduate of the Spalding University Masters in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Fiction. Theory junkie. Avid reader. University of Iowa (BA '97).
Michael's unique ability is to understand and write to the audience for any business application or ghostwriting project. It's his passion for writing that keeps him learning more-and-more every year. He is a member of the Association of Writing Professionals, and fully versed in Associated Press (AP) and American Psychological Association (APA) writing guides.