Discussion guide: Analysing and presenting data

Ready for data?

·        Preliminary analysis – at time of collection

·        Data management system

·        Data cleanup/preparation for analysis

Working with data

·        Importance of memoing/journaling

·        Keeping track of what you’re doing

·        Writing as you go

Where to start

·        Start from ‘factual’ data – demographics, context, etc. Record info/patterns.

·        Start with description, one aspect at a time. Make notes.

·        After description, compare differences based on demographics, context, etc. Record both significant and non-significant associations.

·        Ask questions of your data – who, why, what, when etc. Then ask more questions – does it make a difference if…? What data can you find to give an answer? Record the questions you ask, and the results you find (or don’t find).

·        Check answers/ideas against other data – are they supported? Check negative cases/outliers. Record verifying strategies.

·        As you ask questions and seek answers, your theory/thesis will build.

Going further

·        Go back to your substantive and theoretical literature for more inspiration.

·        Read the methodological literature for additional ideas on ways of working with your data/analysis strategies

Writing up

·        Write as you go!

·        Use headings, document map, outline view.

·        Figure out where you want to take the reader, then write to lead the reader through a logical pathway to your conclusion. Avoid a design which creates repetition. Make sure each step builds on the previous ones and doesn’t assume later knowledge.

·        If it helps, think of the dissertation as writing the story of your research project. A story builds towards a climax (the thesis you are arguing).

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