The time has come to show and discuss the findings of your research. How to structure this part of your dissertation?
Dissertations can have different structures, as you can see in the section Structure of this dissertation guide.
Dissertations organised by sections
Many dissertations are organised by sections. In this case, we suggest three options. Note that, if within your course you have been instructed to use a specific structure, you should do that. Also note that sometimes there is considerable freedom on the structure, so you can come up with other structures too.
A) More common for scientific dissertations and quantitative methods:
- Results chapter
- Discussion chapter
if you write a scientific dissertation, or anyway using quantitative methods, you will have some objective results that you will present in the Results chapter. You will then interpret the results in the Discussion chapter.
B) More common for qualitative methods
- Analysis chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic subheadings.
- Discussion chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic subheadings.
C) More common for qualitative methods
- Analysis and discussion chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic titles.
If your dissertation uses qualitative methods, it is harder to identify and report objective data. Instead, it may be more productive and meaningful to present the findings in the same sections where you also analyse, and possibly discuss, them. You will probably have different sections dealing with different themes. The different themes can be subheadings of the Analysis and Discussion (together or separate) chapter(s).
If the structure of your dissertation is thematic, you will have several chapters analysing and discussing the issues raised by your research. The chapters will have descriptive/thematic titles.
Use a dedicated Results chapter especially if undertaking a scientific dissertation and/or you are using quantitative research.
In this chapter you describe what your research has discovered. Follow some tips for an effective Results chapter:
Quantitative analysis techniques
Raw numerical data need to be processed and analysed to make them meaningful. Quantitative analysis techniques include tables, graphs and statistics (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2015, p496).
Establish patterns and relationships
The way you present your data will help identify patterns and relationships in your research. These can be (depending on the field/subject) (Cottrell, 2014, p173):
In qualitative research, meanings are derived from words and images - not numbers, as in quantitative research. Words and images can have multiple meanings, and need to be interpreted with care (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2015, p568). For more information about qualitative data see the section on Methodology.
How to undertake qualitative data analysis:
Approaches to analysing qualitative data
Qualitative data analysis can take place using specific methods such as (there are many more, depending on your field!) thematic analysis, content analysis, grounded theory, narrative analysis, discourse analysis (see link below). The most generic approach to qualitative data analysis is thematic analysis, whose purpose is to identify patterns in qualitative data (interviews, observations, documents etc.) (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2015, p579).
Discussion in section-based dissertations
As with all other chapters, the discussion chapter differ according to the discipline and structure of your dissertation. If the dissertation is organised by sections, the discussion chapter(s) could contain the following should do the following:
To be added
Discussion in thematic dissertations
Guidance on the discussion within thematic dissertations is provide in the Structure page.