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The Anatomy of Chapter IV of a Dissertation. Dr. Sharon A. McDade GSEHD, GWU. Overview of Chapter IV. Typically entitled “Presentation of the Data” The least read chapter in the dissertation The set up for Chapter V

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The anatomy of chapter iv of a dissertation

The Anatomy of Chapter IV of a Dissertation

Dr. Sharon A. McDade


Overview of chapter iv
Overview of Chapter IV

  • Typically entitled “Presentation of the Data”

  • The least read chapter in the dissertation

  • The set up for Chapter V

  • Easiest to write for most students because it is a straightforward summary of all of the collected data


Purposes of chapter iv
Purposes of Chapter IV

  • Present the full data related to the research sub questions, hypotheses

  • Organize that data so reader can understand it

  • Relate data to research questions

  • Set up data for analysis in Chapter V where the data is given context and meaning


Comparison of chapters iv v iv v

The Chi-Square test was significant . . .

This & that happened in the case study story . . .

The interviews brought up themes of A, B, and C . . .

So, what does that mean?

What does that mean? How does it relate to the theory, literature?

How do those themes relate to each other, the theory, literature?

Comparison of Chapters IV & V IV V


Types of organizational patterns
Types of Organizational Patterns

  • Quantitative Data Presentation

  • Qualitative Data Presentation

    • Interviews

    • Case Studies

  • Mixed Methods Data Presentation

  • History Data Presentation


Quantitative organization
Quantitative Organization

  • Introduction/set up of chapter

  • Response rate

  • Demographics

  • Data typically organized by research questions or concepts

  • Usually contained in only one chapter


Qualitative organization
Qualitative Organization

  • Intro/set up for chapter

  • Response rate (typically detailed in III)

  • Demographics (information about the subjects/sites)

  • By research question, subject/site, themes

  • May require more than one chapter for full presentation


Mixed methods organization
Mixed Methods Organization

  • Intro/Set up for chapter

  • By data collection source

    • Response rate

    • Demographics

    • Instrument organization

  • May require more than one chapter if qualitative portion is extensive


History organization
History Organization

  • Emphasis on “telling the story”

  • Usually organized into more than one data presentation chapter

  • Organization by chronology, themes, issues, individuals – organization dictated by major research question

  • Data, findings, and analysis usually presented simultaneously


Introduction set up for chapter
Introduction/Set Up for Chapter

  • Brief – 1 or 2 paragraphs

  • Restate overall purpose of study

  • State organization of chapter (organizational statement)


Response rate
Response Rate

  • Could be addressed in III or IV

  • How many responded – raw numbers, percentages, by categories

  • What is the bottom line of the number of people/cases in this data set?

  • If information is complicated, summarize in a table

  • Design issue—what did you do about the members of the sample who did not respond?



  • Break down response rate by categories (individual, institutional categories, etc.)

  • Compare to the sample you contacted, to the population

  • Use numbers and percentages

  • Summarize in tables

  • Bottom line – who/what are in the data set and how does this compare to the demographics of the population?

  • Design issue – based on the representativeness of the data set, with what vigor can you argue generalizability?


Think in terms of tables figures
Think in Terms of Tables, Figures

  • Think of ways to summarize data into tables and figures

  • Some readers read text, others read tables/figures

  • A picture is worth a thousand words

  • Think of tables that achieve multiple purposes


Data consolidation tables
Data Consolidation--Tables

  • 1 table per page, each on own page

  • Insert table on first page after first reference to the table

  • APA format for tables

  • Relationship of tables to text

  • Use of bars, lines, dividers and white space, portrait/landscape orientation

  • “Borrowed tables” need permission


Data consolidation figures
Data Consolidation -- Figures

  • 1 figure per page, each on own page

  • Insert figure on first page after first reference to figure

  • APA format for headings for figures

  • Portrait/landscape orientation

  • Relationship of figures to text

  • “Borrowed figures” need permission


Qualitative data consolidation
Qualitative Data Consolidation

  • Whenever possible transfer qualitative data into “counts” or other quantitative data in tables

  • Summary of qualitative data – in format easier for reader to scan

  • Follow other tips for tables


Strategies for completion
Strategies for Completion

  • Figure out how you are going to present the data when you write Chapter III. Explain the data presentation schema there –- then just follow the scheme already laid out.

  • Organize your data according to how you will present it.

  • Write up data as you go along


Traps to avoid
Traps to Avoid

  • Data “ARE” (plural)

  • Don’t explain in text everything that is in a table and vice versa

  • Don’t become rote in presentation – vary sentence structure, paragraph structure BUT make certain you present data in similar format for each research question

  • Be concise, focused, and brief

  • Use the term “significant” correctly and judiciously


Most typical feedback from committee
Most Typical Feedback from Committee

  • The data are not clear yet

  • Too much explanation/too little explanation

  • Too much analysis (belongs in V)

  • Lots of good info here, but jumbled – organize, outline, use subheadings

  • Can you capture that in a table, figure?

  • Can you take that idea to another level of detail?


It helps if you
It Helps If You . . .

  • Have a writing group to look over your work to see if it is organized and makes sense

  • Learned APA in coursework so you know how to handle the hierarchy of headings

  • Learned APA for tables, figures

  • During your proposal writing you looked at dissertations with your type of data to see models for presentation

  • Documented in Chapter III how you would present your data so you can simply execute that organization now