How To Report Descriptive Statistics In Dissertation?

descriptive statistics in dissertation

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How To Report Descriptive Statistics In Dissertation?

If you are here, then you have most probably overcome the colossal task that is doing your dissertation research, either primary or secondary, depending on which avenue you chose. Now you are faced with the task of analyzing your data and writing up the results section of your dissertation. If this is the position in which you currently are, then you have come to the right place. Let’s discuss all ways in which you can report the descriptive statistics in your data. Read on to find out everything that you need to know about this.

Writing Up Your Quantitative Results

Understanding The Basics Of Your Research

In order to write up your quantitative results correctly, you should recall several basic things about your own research. You need to recall what you have assessed or what your main variables are. Also, you need to determine if your variables were categorical or continuous. It is important to remember that outlining your research in this way helps you to write up your results section in the easiest way possible.

Outlining Descriptive And Frequencies Statistics

Before you report any analyses, which aimed to test your hypotheses, you need to report the descriptive and/or frequencies statistics. These statistics will summarize your data set, either by focusing on specific groups or on the whole sample. In order to report descriptive or frequencies statistics, you should outline all variables that you have used in your research and note whether those variables are continuous or categorical. For all the continuous variables, you are using descriptive statistics and reporting the measures of central tendency (mean) and measures of variability or spread (standard deviation). For all the categorical variables, you are using frequencies statistics and reporting the number (or frequency) of participants per category and associated percentages.

Reporting The Results Of A Correlation Analysis

Let us now focus on how you should report the results of particular statistical tests. There is correlation, which you use when you want to establish if one or more (continuous, independent) variables relate to another (continuous, dependent) variable. The first step is to report whether your variables are normally distributed. You will do this by looking at a histogram that describes your data. If your histogram has a bell-shaped curve, your data is normally distributed and you need to rely on a Pearson correlation analysis. You need to report the obtained r value (correlation coefficient) and p value (which needs to be lower than .05 in order to establish significance).

Also note that positive correlation occurs when higher levels of one variable correlate with higher levels of another variable. Negative correlation, however, occurs when higher levels of one variable correlate with lower levels of another variable. If your data is skewed rather than normally distributed then you need to rely on a Spearman correlation analysis.

Reporting The Results Of A Regression

Regression analysis is slightly more complex to report because you need to report whether all assumptions for the analysis have been met (this is especially likely if you are doing your graduate dissertation). All of this may sound quite complex. But in reality, it is not: you just need to look at the output of your results to note the Tolerance and VIF values, Durbin-Watson value, and the scatter plot.

Reporting The Results Of A Chi-Square Analysis

When reporting your results, you should first make a table. Then you need to report the results of a chi-square test, by noting the Pearson chi-square value, degrees of freedom, and significance value. You can see all these in your output.

Finally, you need to report the strength of the association, for which you need to look at the Phi and Cramer’s V values. When each of your variables has only two categories, as in the present example, Phi and Cramer’s V values are identical and it doesn’t matter which one you will report. However, when one of your variables has more than two categories, it is better to report the Cramer’s V value. You report these values by indicating the actual value and the associated significance level.

Reporting The Results Of A T-Test Analysis

Now let’s turn to how you would report the results of a t-test. This test assesses whether there are significant differences between two groups of participants, where your independent variable is categorical (e.g., gender) and your dependent variable is continuous (e.g., determination to read the book, as assessed on a 1-10 scale).

Writing Up Your Qualitative Results

Understanding The Basics Of Your Research

Reporting qualitative results is much easier than reporting quantitative results, especially since you don’t have to deal with any statistics. That’s why this section is much shorter. Before reporting the results of your qualitative research, you need to recall what type of research you have conducted. The most common types of qualitative research are interviews, observations, and focus groups – and your research is likely to fall into one of these types. All three types of research are reported in a similar manner. Still, it may be useful if we focus on each of them separately.

Reporting The Results Of Interviews

If you have used semi-structured interviews, then your qualitative data was analyzed by conducting a thematic analysis. Thus, your task was to transcribe interviews, read through them, assign codes to particular quotes, and group codes to form themes. When reporting the results, you should organize your text in subsections. Each section should refer to one theme. Then, within each section, you need to discuss the subthemes that you discovered in your data. It is also good practice to make a table that lists all your themes, subthemes, and associated quotes.

Reporting The Results Of Observations

If your research has relied on observations, then your task was to observe a particular behavior in a particular setting. When reporting the results, you first need to categorize your observations. Accordingly, you will want to report each theme separately. You do this by outlining your observation first (this can be a conversation or a behavior that you observed), and then commenting upon it.

Reporting The Results Of Focus Groups

Focus groups are similar to interviews, except that they are conducted with a group of people rather than with one individual at a time. Accordingly, the analysis of data obtained through a focus group is similar to the analysis of interview data. You may find it useful to read the above section on reporting the results of interviews. Once you complete the results section of your dissertation, you will likely feel like you’ve accomplished something comparable to a marathon. And it feels great, doesn’t it?

As we have seen, writing up qualitative results is easier than writing quantitative results. Yet, even reporting statistics is not that hard, especially if you have a good guide to help you. Hopefully, this guide has reduced your worries and increased your confidence that you can write up the results section of your dissertation without too many difficulties.


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