Interpreting Data, Making Valid Conclusions and Using Strong Reasoning

Fully Interpreted Data

Explain the significance of your data. Interpretation is the heart of the analytical report. You might, for example, interpret the training information data this way:

Our customer service staff in India frequently works with people with heavy Southeastern and New England accents, consequently they the customer service staff has a difficult time communicating with clients and clients have a challenging time deciphering what the customer service staff is expressing.  This means that training focused on becoming familiar with accents should be our first requirement in a training program. Despite its effectiveness in other companies, the training we are reviewing may not meet our needs.

By saying “This means … ” you engage in analysis- not simple information gathering. Simply listing your findings is not enough. Spell out the meaning.

Valid Conclusions and Recommendations

A useful conclusion may appeal secondarily to emotion (“You will love this translation company”), but it always appeals primarily to reason (“This translation company will best serve our needs”). When analyzing a controversial topic, try to remain impartial.

Say you work as a Certified Dallas Translation Service and have been asked to study this question: Is the Government of Peru likely to build or expand shipping ports near Lima? Do justice to this topic by making sure your data are complete, your interpretations are not biased by prior opinion, and your conclusions and recommendation are based on the facts.

When you do reach definite conclusions, state them with assurance and authority. Avoid noncommittal statements (“It would seem that . . . “or “It looks as if … “). Be direct (“Without improved and ongoing random testing of NYC translation services workers, risk for errors and poor translations is extremely high”). If, on the other hand, your analysis does not yield a definite conclusion, do not force a simplistic one on your material.

Clear and Careful Reasoning

Report writing is not simply a mechanical process of collecting and recording information. If it were, machines could be programmed for the job. Each step of your analysis requires decisions about what to record, what to exclude, and where to go next. Like a skilled Portuguese translator in Washington, D.C, you should evaluate your data (Is this reliable and important?), interpret your evidence (What does it mean?), and make recommendations based on your conclusions (What action is needed?), you might have to adjust your original plan. You cannot know what you will find until you have searched. Remain flexible enough to revise your plan in the light of new evidence.

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