The “Meat” of Your Dissertation – The Discussion Chapter
Once you have you have your results neatly encapsulated in Chapter 4 of your dissertation, it is time to analyze them and discuss their efficacy and implications.
Here, in a nutshell, is what you must accomplish:
- You must statistically analyze your results (here’s where the math comes in!).
- You must answer the question, were the results statistically significant?
- You will answer your research question based upon the results analysis
- You will provide a comparison of your results with earlier research in the field. Do they verify earlier research; do they call into question earlier research?
- Evaluate your study – were their limitations, and, if so, how might those limitations inform future research?
- Identify nuisance factors (if any) and consider their impact on your results. You must do this, because members of your committee will probably be able to identify them anyway and will expect you to have addressed them in some way.
This chapter is the most difficult yet the most exciting!
You have poured at least a year into your dissertation work, and now you have the chance to discuss the implications of your research. It is only natural for you to be passionate and highly opinionated. What the committee wants, however, is for you to step back and evaluate your results in a purely scientific way. This may involve an objective third-party analysis, so that your emotional involvement does not become a “nuisance factor” in itself.
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