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How to Write a Dissertation Analysis

What is a Dissertation Analysis?

Analysis is a particular way of thinking about, and therefore writing on, a given topic. There are several different ways you can approach an analysis, though certain underlying principles may be identified. Foremost, becoming good at analysis is a matter of academic practice. It is a skill one learns through repetition and refinement.

Reflexivity

Another key step in improving your analytical thinking and writing is to cultivating an awareness of your own thinking processes. This means developing the study skills you already have and removing any habits that get in the way. One such habit, which is all too tempting, is to form an opinion before fully considering the case. This is a very natural, human thing to do; but it does not make for good analysis. Rather, you need to learn to suspend your judgement. Analytical thinking requires you somewhat to remove yourself from the topic you are analysing, to take a step back, to slow down. Often when we approach a topic we are familiar with, as is the case with the dissertation, we already possess certain assumptions and preconceptions about that topic. With analysis, however, you need to separate yourself from these preconceptions so that you can approach you subject matter with a clear, objective mind before you start. Hence analysis is inherently reflective; it involves self-scrutiny – being on guard against your own pre-judgement.

Breaking down the Data

So, at base, when we analyse something we are breaking it down and explaining it. In the analysis chapter, therefore, one is essentially taking the key data from the study and cutting them apart, regrouping and reorganising the findings in order to come up with some kind of data analysis. So, you are taking the close findings and seeking to identify all the constituent components of the whole. You want to figure out how these various parts fit together, what their interrelations are and how they operate. A good way of thinking about this is to pose the following questions: How do these various parts work together? Why do they work together this way? Once you begin to understand the relationships of the parts to each other, you will begin thinking about the causes of these relationships. Having established all the above, you should start to see what the meaning behind the data is.

How and Why?

The analysis chapter of a dissertation looks at questions of how and why. Such questions can be applied to any text which serves as the focus of study. Under the definition of “text” we may include a wide variety of objects and artefacts, including poems, music, clothing, films, sculpture, painting as well as traditional written works. analysis looks to explain how the text does what it does. We are going beyond merely looking at what a text means, and examining the nuances of how it goes about creating that meaning. This is the key component of the analysis section of a dissertation.

Structure

The structure of a good dissertation analysis chapter, generally speaking, will start with the obvious, putting forth the broader details of the case at hand. It will then progress to increasing degrees of sophistication, unearthing the less obvious aspects of the findings. This is what is known as an inductive or top-down approach. Think of this as an inverted pyramid, with each successive stratum of the pyramid representing narrower and narrower focus. Your overall objective, here, is to drive down to greater levels of complexity in your work. The more legitimate complexity you can uncover, the better the analysis is going to follow. It might help if you consider that the opposite of analytical writing is descriptive writing. Descriptive writing simply conveys what is there. It does not explain why it is there; hence it does not unveil layers of complexity.

Struggling with a Dissertation Analysis? 

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