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Research Process Guide

Step 10: Interpreting Results

This is the final step in the data analysis process. You are continuing to take chunks of data that share similarities and to analyze themes in several cycles to reduce codes and decide on themes across the data sets. This technique is called Constant Comparative Analysis (CCA).

  1. Once the chunks of data with similarities or related codes have gone through several iterations of CCA, they are then clustered together with labels representing THEMES.
  2. Then you are to define the parameters of the themes, such as, what they mean, what is included, and what is excluded as well as examples from data to illustrate the themes in your code book. You should have approximately 5-7 themes when you have completed CCA.
  3. Next, you interpret the meaning of each theme and try to answer the research questions. Once again, there is a very good chance that you have discovered themes that are beyond the scope of your initial inquiry. That is the beauty of inductive approaches.
Tip: Themes should not be labeled with one word, but rather several words in a phrase in order to be as specific as possible. For example, instead of labeling one theme as “communication,” something like “Administrative communication with faculty” gives the reader a better understanding of what exactly this theme encompasses. This is also important as you create your code book, as it will turn into what codes fall under what themes. Defining codes and then themes is essential to the validity of the study.