Data Analysis and Reporting
Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape
of a camel?
By the mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.
Methinks it is like a weasel.
It is backed like a weasel.
Or like a whale?
Very like a whale.
, Act III, Scene ii
, like cloud formations, can be made to appear to support
any number of conjectures. The fertile mind of the analyst can
“see” conclusions to the data that may be more the creation of
the imagination than an objective reading of the information
generated by the research. This gives pause to the researcher
or analyst, because it implies that, while there may be an ul-
timate truth, the analyst’s personal agenda, perceptual incli-
nations, experience, and even personality can influence the
interpretation of the research study’s results. Nevertheless, we
must use all the means at our disposal to arrive at the most
objective, concise, but also thorough analysis possible of the
data generated by the research. However, the same observa-
tion of objective data may be subject to multiple interpretations. Consider the following
An American shoe company sent three researchers to a Pacific island to see if the company
could sell its shoes there. Upon returning they made a presentation to management. The first
researcher summed up the findings this way. “The people there don’t wear shoes. There is no
market.” The second researcher said: “The people there don’t wear shoes. There is a tremendous
market!” The third researcher reported: “The people there don’t wear shoes. However, they have
bad feet and could benefit from wearing shoes. We would need to redesign our shoes, however,
because they have smaller feet. We would have to educate the people about the benefits of
wearing shoes. We would need to gain the tribal chief’s cooperation. The people don’t have any
money, but they grow great pineapples. I’ve estimated the sales potential over a three-year period
and all of our costs including selling the pineapples to a European supermarket chain, and con-