Tips to write a good discussion section

How to write a discussion section

The discussion chapter is where readers can get a deeper understanding of the meaning and importance of your research. The discussion chapter should be highly focussed on the evaluation of what is found and how the chapter relates to the literature review and the research questions. It is critical to come up with an argument that supports your conclusion. You can find several ways and styles to write a discussion section, but your discussion can be focused on four key elements; Interpretations, Implications, Limitations, and Recommendations. These elements are often found to be overlapping in both the discussion and the conclusion while some dissertations might include the two in a single section. If you are looking at how to write a discussion section, consult a supervisor.

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Summarise:
The first step of how to write a discussion section is the summary. The summary of the report should start with the reiteration of your research problem while making a concise version of all your major findings for better clarity to both yourself and the readers. The aim of this is to build up a clear statement that directly aligns with your main research question. It should not have more than one paragraph.

Interpretations:
While the results you obtain might seem obvious to you, but it is always wise to write them down clearly for the sake of the readers. This allows the readers to exactly see how you were able to find the answers to the research questions. The interpretation will depend on the type of research, but here are some typical approaches for interpretation.

  1. Finding relations and patterns within the data set.
  2. The discussion on how the results met your expectations.
  3. Referencing results with previous theories and research.
  4. Explaining and evaluating anomalies in results.
  5. Looking for other possible explanations to argue for your view.

Your discussion can be organised around key themes or theories and research questions. For those of you who are looking to learn how to write a discussion section, it is encouraged that you highlight the most unexpected or significant results.

Discussing the implications: Now that we are done with the first two steps of how to write a discussion section, we move to the next section of discussing the implications of your report. While you are presenting your interpretations, always make sure that you can relate your answers with previous studies that you referenced in the literature review. It should reflect how your results fit with the existing theories, while also contributing new insights. Try to answer these three questions.

  1. Do the results align with previous studies? If yes, what do they add to it?
  2. Are your results different from previous studies? If so, why?
  3. Do your results align with the existing theories?
  4. What are the practical implications?

Professionals believe that the ultimate aim is to inform the reader what value your research adds.

Acknowledging the limitations:
So, you are learning how to write a discussion section and while learning you hit a roadblock. It happens to even the best of us. Research is not so very different. Acknowledging the limitations is key in demonstrating your credibility. Limitations often provide the full information of what can and what cannot be achieved within the scope of the project. This can be caused by both methodological choices and unexpected obstacles. Only try to include the limitations that are relevant to the study and evaluate the impact they can have on the research. While collecting or analyzing data, if you face any problem, try to explain how these snags helped to shape the results. If there are compounding limitations affecting your results, make sure you acknowledge the effects they might have on the study. It is recommended that you acknowledge the limitations, and you should always reiterate why your results are valid for your research.

Recommendations:
It is very much important that you make recommendations to implement. Recommendations can also be moved to the conclusion section of your report. Limitations can be used to provide suggestions that can help to further the research. Make sure not just to state that more thorough studies should be conducted, provide pointers and ideas on how others can build on your study.

What to leave out:
Now that you have learned how to write a discussion section, students commit some common mistakes while presenting their report, which is stated below:

  1. Refrain from introducing new results that don’t align with the research question.
  2. You should not make any untested or inflated claims to avoid speculations and over-interpretation.
  3. Never undermine your research.

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