Interpreting Results

In the Data Analysis, the results for each question in the survey were discussed along with the appropriate statistical analysis and an illustration in the form of a table or chart. As part of the interpretation of the results, you need to go back to the findings previously discussed and interpret them in light of the subproblems you posed as part of your research question. This subproblem interpretation is based on the results of each research item. Whereas in the data analysis you only identify the results without editorializing or commenting on them, now we are ready to draw conclusions about the data.

As part of the interpretation, you will want to place your results in the context of your literature review. That is to say, to what extent do you have an explanation why other researchers might have reached different conclusions, or even what the implications are of your data pointing to similar results. Since your literature review drove the development of your hypotheses, it is logical that you would discuss whether hypotheses tested positive or negative as part of your interpretation.

In more commercial research reports, the data analysis and their interpretation are usually presented together; in more academic reports they are separated into two chapters (four and five), with the first one discussing only the direct conclusions based on presentations of numbers, percentages and other hard data, and the second one interpreting the work presented in Chapter four. However, because they are so closely related, it is a good idea to prepare and write these two chapters in parallel, even for academic reports.