Chapter 5: Interpretation of the Findings

Goal of the Interpretation of the Findings section:
Situating Your Results in Context of What is Already Known 

Up until now, your role in dissertation writing has been to describe, explain, frame, and analyze what others have done. While your critical analysis was imperative in chapter 2 you never shared your personal opinion. In Chapter 4 you objectively presented the results of your study with no comment on what the results may mean. However, in this section of chapter 5, you get to comment directly about the results of your study. The Interpretation of the Findings section is a critical section—and in my opinion—the most fun to write. Very few people read dissertations from cover to cover, but this is a section that will likely be read more than any other.

Writing the Interpretations of the Findings,

Remember the gaps you worked to carefully to frame back in chapter 2?  Now its time to situate your study results in with the current literature. What insight does your study bring? How does your study confirm, disconfirm, or extend the knowledge of what’s in the literature?

Preparing to write Interpretations of the Findings.

  • Make a list of the major findings of the study; per research question (or data source depending on how you want to discuss the findings) from chapter 4
  • Review the gaps you described in chapter 2

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Writing the Implications Section: Explaining How Your Study Contributes to Positive Social Change

Before writing the implications section of chapter 5, I suggest you go back and read your significance section from chapter 1. [Learn more about what should be in a significance section.] When you were proposing your study, what potential did you think the data may provide? Now that you have your data, has your perspective changed? You should touch on these themes in the implications section. It is also a good time to review your study alignment. Step back, remember the problem you set out to address. The problem aligned to the purpose, which led to your research questions then methodology. It is in the implication section that you finally share what your study means for society. You finally get to answer the question, “Who Cares?” in relation to your study results. This really is the fun part!

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As should be your habit by now, go to the dissertation checklist. Scroll down to chapter 5 and find the Implications heading. Now, write a topic sentence for this section that aligns with what is required. Here is an example of what that might look like.

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