Making Sense of Data
Generating new constructions out of the data you generate on the basis of your study is unquestionably the most painfully difficult and yet the most essential element in what constitutes a credible interpretive description study. Although it is relatively easy to enumerate what constitutes fundamentally flawed logic or entirely superficial analysis, the qualities that distinguish an elegant and convincing analysis from a mediocre one are much more difficult to pinpoint. While some of what might differentiate a brilliant from merely adequate analysis can be credited to the subjective response of the eventual audience, the expert researcher is one who knows how to make sense of data in a manner that does not simply defer credibility conclusions to the whim of the ”theoretical reader,” but rather explicitly engages that reader from the outset. By this I mean that the human mind, especially when stimulated by wonderful data, can make marvelous connections and associations. The scholarly mind knows how to distinguish between the various delightful experiential “ahas” that creative intellectual work produces so that he or she can generate products that reflect a strategic synthesis of new understanding. In other words, the reader is much less interested in how it is you came to an idea than what it is that you have to say. And when the researcher makes that message meaningful and relevant, it will be received as important insight.