UWC writing for publication retreat – day 3

Today is the last day of our writing retreat. We had a short session this morning briefly going over the Method, Results, Discussion and Conclusion, before going back to our rooms to spend the last few hours writing. Coming from a more quantitative background, I’m having some difficulty writing up my qualitative responses, so looking forward to feedback (via Google Docs) from my group members.

Here are my notes from this morning.

Data interpretation and alignment

  • Go back to the journal review and decide if this journal accepts your type of paper
  • What type of data is typically presented in that journal?


  • Recognise that there’s a wide range of methods
  • Make sure your methods are aligned with the literature review
  • Explain why that method was used
  • Summarise → “this is what other people have said about this method”
  • “This is what I did” → descriptive account

Data presentation

  • Use only data that is aligned with your introduction and literature review → aim for congruency
  • Let the data speak for itself
    • It should be comprehensible on it’s own
    • It should indicate a general trend
    • Save extended interpretation for the Discussion
  • Avoid data density and overkill
    • Select appropriate data; emblematic data
    • Avoid repetition and tedious prose explaining what is already evident
  • Group data into themes or patterns
  • Think about what sort or data you have e.g. interviews, survey results, observations, and how best to present that. Present data in user friendly ways e.g. graphs and other visuals

What will you do with your data to make sure that you “surface” the message you want to convey?

How do you convince your readers that you’ve designed a rigorous study?

…we collect minds and then we can…” (Student response in an interview about groupwork, a direct translation from another language)

Qualitative studies

  • What can we do to reduce the power differential between students and lecturers, and what strategies did you put in place e.g. focus groups?
  • Be transparent about the process i.e. make issues visible so that the reader can be aware of them
  • How do you get around the problem of interpretation? What is real and what is the researcher creating connections where none exist?


Make a compelling argument. What this means and why it’s important

  • Validate and defend your findings
  • comparisons and interpretations
  • Find your niche


“This is what I did, what I found, and some things I might do next”

  • Summary and argument
  • Possible avenues for future research

Return to rewrite the Abstract and Introduction to ensure alignment

How will I align my analysis of the data to the rest of the paper?

What do you think are the best ways of presenting your data?

By Michael Rowe

I'm a lecturer in the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. I'm interested in technology, education and healthcare and look for places where these things meet.