Dissertation Analysis

How to analyse your dissertation

*Your dissertation analysis section is the single most important part of your dissertation. It will decide whether you get a First, Second, or Third class degree. Without analysis your work is likely to fail.

Some universities expect there to be separate chapters that deal specifically with the presentation of data and its analysis. However, whether or not this is the case where you are studying be under no illusions – analysis is the most important part of your work. Moreover, it is expected to be ever present throughout the entirety of your work and not just in ‘analysis chapters’. Indeed, as shown above, the literature review that receives the best mark is the one that analyses how the existing literature is directly relevant to the dissertation being written.

Another word for analysis is ‘explanation’. Throughout your work you need to explain why that which you have written, noted, recorded or commented upon is important. When you are writing you need to think ‘is the relevance of this sentence or fact clear to the reader?’ – if it is not then you are not adding sufficient analysis.

To use two examples: It is not enough, for example, in an economics dissertation to just state that ‘p= -1’, or to note in a medical dissertation that ‘the half-life of citalopram is 24-48 hours’. Both examples may well be true but they mean little by themselves. The dissertation must explain why these facts or opinions are relevant and how they add understanding to that which you are writing. Such examples are likely to elicit a response from the marker of ‘so what’ and will accordingly receive a low grade for analysis.

In contrast, the dissertation sentence that states the following will receive a higher grade because the importance of the fact has been explained and directly linked to wider questions being explored within the dissertation.

The half life of citalopram is 24-28 hours and therefore it is important to ensure that the patient takes the medicine on a daily basis so that he does not suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

However, it is possible for such a sentence to get an even higher grade if the analysis offered is linked directly to academic opinion. Thus the sentence that reads as follows will receive the highest grade. This is because the fact is referenced, its importance to the dissertation is clearly stated, and the analysis offered is grounded in existing academic opinion.

The half life of citalopram is 24-48 hours (Weitzel, 2006), and therefore it is important to ensure, as Sargeant (2010) notes, that the patient takes their medicine on a daily basis so that they do not suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

Thus, whether you are using qualitative or quantitative analysis (see the methodology writing guide) the best grades are awarded for analysis that links academic opinions to each other as well as to your thesis.


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