Precautions in interpretation

One should always remember that even if the data are properly collected and analysed, wrong interpretation would lead to inaccurate conclusions. It is, therefore, absolutely essential that the task of interpretation be accomplished with patience in an impartial manner and also in correct perspective.

Researcher must pay attention to the following points for correct interpretation:

  • At the outset, researcher must invariably satisfy himself that (a) the data are appropriate, trustworthy and adequate for drawing inferences; (b) the data reflect good homogeneity; and that (c) proper analysis has been done through statistical methods.
  • The researcher must remain cautious about the errors that can possibly arise in the process of interpreting results. Errors can arise due to false generalization and/or due to wrong interpretation of statistical measures, such as the application of findings beyond the range of observations, identification of correlation with causation and the like. Another major pitfall is the tendency to affirm that definite relationships exist on the basis of confirmation of particular hypotheses. In fact, the positive test results accepting the hypothesis must be interpreted as ―being in accord‖ with the hypothesis, rather than as ―confirming the validity of the hypothesis‖. The researcher must remain vigilant about all such things so that false generalization may not take place. He should be well equipped with and must know the correct use of statistical measures for drawing inferences concerning his study.
  • He must always keep in view that the task of interpretation is very much intertwined with analysis and cannot be distinctly separated. As such he must take the task of interpretation as a special aspect of analysis and accordingly must take all those precautions that one usually observes while going through the process of analysis viz., precautions concerning the reliability
    of data, computational checks, validation and comparison of results.
  • He must never lose sight of the fact that his task is not only to make sensitive observations of relevant occurrences, but also to identify and disengage the factors that are initially hidden to the eye. This will enable him to do his job of interpretation on proper lines. Broad generalisation should be avoided as most research is not amenable to it because the coverage may be restricted to a particular time, a particular area and particular conditions. Such restrictions, if any, must invariably be specified and the results must be framed within their limits.
  • The researcher must remember that ―ideally in the course of a research study, there should be constant interaction between initial hypothesis, empirical observation and theoretical conceptions. It is exactly in this area of interaction between theoretical orientation and empirical observation that opportunities for originality and creativity lie.‖ He must pay special attention to this aspect while engaged in the task of interpretation.
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