In your findings chapter(s) you will be presenting the data and telling the readers what it all means. Here are some general points about your findings chapter then I will explain how a findings paragraph is structured.
- Your findings should provide sufficient evidence from your data to support the conclusions you have made. The evidence takes the form of quotations from interviews and/or excerpts from observations or documentary evidence.
- To make sure your research is ethically sound you have to make sure you have confidence in your findings and include counter-evidence (evidence that contradicts your primary finding) and not report something that does not have sufficient evidence to back it up.
- Your findings should be related back to your conceptual framework.
- Your findings should be in response to the problem presented (as defined by the research questions) and should be the “solution” or “answer” to those questions.
- Be selective by focusing on data that enables you to answer your research questions. Don’t just offer raw data.
- Qualitative research presents “best examples” of raw data to demonstrate an analytic point, not simply to display data.
- Numbers (descriptive statistics) help your reader understand how prevalent or typical a finding is. Numbers are helpful and should not be avoided simply because this is a qualitative dissertation. For example, if 18 out of 20 respondents shared a particular view then tell the reader this.
The paragraphs in a findings chapter can be divided in to three parts.
The first sentences in a findings paragraph have three main functions. First comes the transition sentence from the previous paragraph or subheading. It then states the ‘thesis’ for the coming paragraph. After this there may be additional sentences referring to context or literature which support the ‘thesis’. After this it is time to set up the supporting quotation(s) that is about to follow, this includes naming the participant and describing the context or question that was asked.
Choosing your quotations is an important part of the process of writing up the chapter. Select one or two of the best, most vivid and enlightening quotations that are relevant to your thesis sentence. Make sure that you indent any quotations that are more than forty words long. Alternatively, you may wish to choose shorter quotes that do not require indenting.
Don’t ever end your paragraph at the quotation! There should be at least one sentence afterwards. Use these sentences to stress the importance of the quote showing how it supports your ‘thesis’ statement. Then set up the next paragraph.
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