Chapter 5: Bridging the Gap between the P-Value and Your Field

When you are writing chapter 4 or the statistical results section of the manuscript the objective to rehash your findings. Statistics narratives are designed to be filled with test parameters and p-values. You typically find tables and figures in a chapter centered around the results. A good chapter 4, will answer the research questions from a statistical perspective. But it’s always good to remember that the deep discussions are had in Chapter 5. You will never see results in a discussion section of a manuscript. Your task in the discussion ‘text’ is connect the results to your knowledge of the field. Does it make sense , for instance, that a statistically significant number of participants strongly disagreed to a Likert scale? What does your literature suggest or were you expecting to see something else? And if so , why? Your discussion piece is the point at which one thinks about the research question, its results, and ties everything together. There should be no pressure to draw conclusions in the result section. Simply state the answers in chapter 4 and break things further in the discussion.

Suppose you analyzed an ANOVA. Your chapter 4 will cover the F statistics, degrees of freedom, and the corresponding p-value. The narrative pertaining to your ANOVA will establish whether there was a difference amongst the groups within your independent variable. Chapter 4 will tell the reader whether the test had findings (statistical significance). The verbiage in Chapter 4 are things like ‘greater than’, ‘less than’, ‘increase’, ‘higher’, ‘lower’, etc. Magnitude and direction is the focus of graphs and charts in Chapter 4. Strength of associations are mentioned in the results chapter. The overall objective to convey that something quantifiable has happened to the data. Your job is to translate that to chapter 5.

Chapter 5 applies the statistics t the real world. Ask yourself whether the results agree with your previous research. Is it normal to have post time points higher than the pre phase of the project? Is it unusual that women have a higher mean difference than their male counterparts? Your internal dialog will be something like’ well no this contradicts what I was expecting’. And if your results are the opposite of the expectations, it may be due to the limitations of the data. Maybe something influenced the way people responded to the Likert scale. Or perhaps, the participants are not a true representation of the data. Chapter 5 explains what you see in chapter 4.

It helps to remember that at the end of the day, you will present this paper to others. You should know what the statistics shows in terms of the research. What do all the numbers represent in terms of your research. It is your story to tell…

-Moore to follow Amy

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