Section 5.9 of the Capella Quantitative Research Plan (RP) is your opportunity to explain the details of your proposed data analysis to your reviewers. A well-constructed Section 5.9 can save you a headache later in the dissertation process. A detailed, methodical data analysis plan establishes a clear, cohesive understanding with your committee from the early planning stages of your dissertation and helps to avoid curve balls when you are developing your results chapter.
Section 5.9 will begin with a re-stating of your research questions and the associated hypotheses. This is key because your hypotheses will need to align with the planned analyses. Much like a lack of alignment between research problem and purpose, or purpose and research questions, lacking alignment between hypotheses and analyses can bring your progress to a grinding halt.
Next, you will address the types of data you will analyze, and how you will organize, manage, and prepare the data. In the types of data section you should address the variables that are measured and their level of measurement. Although the next sections can appear to overlap, there are key differences between them. Organization should cover downloading the data and moving it over to your statistical analysis software. If you collected paper and pen data from participants, you will have to address entering the data into either your statistical analysis software (e.g., SPSS) or some other electronic spreadsheet file (e.g., Excel). If you have to merge any data files or remove any identifying information, you will address this in the data management and processing section. In this section you can also discuss screening for outliers and cases missing significant amounts of data. In the data preparation section, discuss any recoding, reverse scoring, transformations, or composite scoring you will conduct. You can also discuss any reliability testing you will complete for the scores you calculate. Finally, discuss any assumption testing you must conduct related to your statistical analyses.
Part E of Section 5.9 requires you to complete a table outlining the analysis for each research question, any descriptive statistics you will report with the research question (means and standard deviations for continuous variables, and frequencies and percentages for categorical variables), what type of test will be used to address the hypotheses, and what kind of post hoc testing (if any) you will conduct if results are significant. It is key that you correctly complete the table, because it is a second check for alignment. Lastly, in Part F you will describe your data storage plans. Specify how you will store any hard copies of data (paper) and any electronic copies of data. Close the section by indicating how long you will store data and how you will destroy data at the end of the storage period.
If you find yourself still in a bind and struggling with your RP, you can always connect with one of our experienced mentors at Statistics Solutions to help you tackle this milestone in your doctoral journey!
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