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.

Common Analytical Research Problems

Language translators may be asked to become involved in a number of phases of analytical research project.  While most frequently, translation works will only be asked to complete the translation of questionnaires, they could also take on more substantial roles.  In this blog post, we review the types of research problems that you could be trying to solve.

The objective of an analytical report is to reveal the method that you used to reach your conclusions. The method you use is determined by your topic area, your intentions, and your audience’s requirements. Listed below are some common analytical problems:

“Can Method A Be Applied to Solve Problem B?”
Research can be used to solve real world problems. Imagine that you are Seattle translation services and that your client is worried about the results of emotional stress on employees in their distribution facility in Portugal. Your client may ask you to investigate the claim that transcendental meditation has therapeutic benefits-with an eye toward a TM program for employees. You would design your analysis to answer this question: “Does TM have therapeutic benefits?”  The analysis would follow a questions-answers-conclusions structure. Because the report might lead to action, you would probably include recommendations based on your conclusions.

“Is X or Y Better for a Specific Purpose?
Analysis is essential in comparisons of machines, processes, business locations, computer systems, or the like. Assume, for example, you manage a ski lodge and you need to answer this question: Which of the two most popular types of ski binding is best for our rental skis? In a comparative analysis of the Salamon 555 and the Americana bindings, you might assess the strengths and weaknesses of each in a point-by-point comparison: toe release, heel release, ease of adjustment, friction, weight, and cost.

Or you might use an item-by item comparison, discussing all the features of the first binding, and then all the features of the next. The comparative analysis follows a questions-answers-conclusions structure and is designed to help the reader make a choice.

“Why Does X Happen?”
The problem-solving analysis is designed to answer questions like this: Why do New York City translation services businesses have a high failure rate? (See the sample report later in this chapter.) This kind of analysis follows a variation of the questions-answers-conclusions structure: namely, problem-causes-solution.

Such an analysis has the following steps:
l. identifying the problem
2. examining possible and probable causes and isolating definite ones
3. proposing solutions

An analysis of why some executives refuse to have computers at their desks would follow the same structure. Another kind of problem-solving analysis is done to predict an effect:
“What are the consequences of putting production workers on a four-day work week?” Here, the structure is proposed action-probable effects-conclusions and recommendations.

“Is X Practical in a Given Situation?”
The feasibility analysis assesses the practicality of an idea or plan: Will the consumers of Hicksville support a microcomputer store? In a variation of the question-answers-conclusions structure, a feasibility analysis uses reasons for-reasons against, with both sides supported by evidence. Businesses often use this kind of analysis.

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