Tackling the Findings and Discussion Chapters of Your Dissertation

As far as dissertation chapters go, the Findings and Discussion chapters are the key areas that most doctoral candidates look forward to. In these two sections, the results of the research are discussed, confirming or negating the writer’s original assumptions.

In a short research (if there is such a thing), it may be possible that these two sections can be combined as one. But most of the time, two separate chapters are required.

The following are some hints to help create them.

Organize things first in an outline

Because the dissertation often has a huge amount of data, it can be difficult to determine what needs to be included. This can be resolved by first outlining your Findings and Discussion. This helps by (i) ensuring these two sections systematically answer the research questions; and (ii) guaranteeing that interesting discoveries are not left out.

It may take months, and sometimes even years, to write your paper, so there is a big possibility you lose track of where you are in your dissertation or forget findings that really stood out. The outline helps remedy this.

Have a good Introduction and Summary per section

As both the Findings and Discussion chapters will probably be very long, you will need a clear intro and ending for both. The short introduction will give an overview of what the reader is about to see, while the ending will highlight the key points to recall before your reader moves on to the next section.

Use subheadings

With so much to absorb, a person can easily lose track of what is happening in the dissertation. Ensure that your Findings and Discussion sections have subheadings to break up the ideas into manageable portions.

The reader will greatly appreciate this as the paper will be more organized, making it easier to return to key points as needed. And for you, the writer, subheadings will keep you focused on what to write.

Presenting qualitative data

Qualitative data is often much longer than quantitative data as it involves multiple pages of transcripts and survey responses. This makes it challenging to include in the Findings chapter. So before writing, figure out what are the important insights and comments you need to include (the outline can help here). And when presenting them, find ways to insert such quotes into your analysis to give emphasis.

Presenting quantitative data

Although quantitative data has the advantage of being presented in illustrated tables, you must also consider what the reader needs to see in your chapters without being overwhelmed. Also, ensure that any graph or table shown is properly explained (e.g. connect it to the analysis), not simply described. Furthermore, confirm with your advisor whether colored graphs are allowed; if not, you will need to use greyscale.

Use links so you don’t repeat

One final tip is to use links when referencing something that was explained in an earlier section. This lessens the need to repeat yourself every time you refer to particular terms, studies, or findings.

Summary

As two very extensive chapters, your Findings and Discussion need to be organized in bite-sized pieces that only include necessary information. So do consider the helpful tips above so that writing these sections becomes easier for you.

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