• How it works

How to Write a Dissertation Discussion Chapter – A Quick Guide with Examples

Published by Alvin Nicolas at August 12th, 2021 , Revised On September 20, 2023

Dissertation discussion is the chapter where you explore the relevance, significance, and meanings of your findings  – allowing you to showcase your talents in describing and analyzing the results of your study.

Here, you will be expected to demonstrate how your research findings  answer the  research questions  established or test the  hypothesis .

The arguments you assert in the dissertation analysis and discussions chapter lay the foundations of your conclusion . It is critically important to discuss the results in a precise manner.

To help you understand how to write a dissertation discussion chapter, here is the list of the main elements of this section so you stay on the right track when writing:

  • Summary: Start by providing a summary of your key research findings
  • Interpretations: What is the significance of your findings?
  • Implications: Why are your findings important to academic and scientific communities, and what purpose would they serve?
  • Limitations: When and where will your results have no implications?
  • Future Recommendations : Advice for other researchers and scientists who explore the topic further in future.

The dissertation discussion chapter should be carefully drafted to ensure that the results mentioned in your research align with your research question, aims, and objectives.

Considering the importance of this chapter for all students working on their dissertations, we have comprehensive guidelines on how to write a dissertation discussion chapter.

The discussion and  conclusion  chapters often overlap. Depending on your university, you may be asked to group these two sections in one chapter – Discussion and Conclusion.

In some cases, the results and discussion are put together under the Results and Discussion chapter. Here are some dissertation examples of working out the best structure for your dissertation.

Alternatively, you can look for the required  dissertation structure in your handbook  or consult your supervisor.

Steps of How to Write Dissertation Discussion Chapter

1. provide a summary of your findings.

Start your discussion by summarising the key findings of your research questions. Avoid repeating the information you have already stated in the previous chapters.

You will be expected to clearly express your interpretation of results to answer the research questions established initially in one or two paragraphs.

Here are some  examples of how to present the summary of your findings ;

  • “The data suggests that”,
  • “The results confirm that”,
  • “The analysis indicates that”,
  • “The research shows a relationship between”, etc.

2. Interpretations of Results

Your audience will expect you to provide meanings of the results, although they might seem obvious to you. The results and their interpretations should be linked to the research questions so the reader can understand the value your research has added to the literature.

There are many ways of interpreting the data, but your chosen approach to interpreting the data will depend on the  type of research involved . Some of the most common strategies employed include;

  • Describing how and why you ended up with unexpected findings and explaining their importance in detail
  • Relating your findings with previous studies conducted
  • Explaining your position with logical arguments when/if any alternative explanations are suggested
  • An in-depth discussion around whether or not the findings answered your research questions and successfully tested the hypothesis

Examples of how you can start your interpretation in the Discussion chapter are –

  • “Findings of this study contradict those of Allen et al. (2014) that”,
  • “Contrary to the hypothesized association,” “Confirming the hypothesis…”,
  • “The findings confirm that A is….. even though Allen et al. (2014) and Michael (2012) suggested B was …..”

3. Implications of your Study

What practical and theoretical implications will your study have for other researchers and the scientific community as a whole?

It is vital to relate your results to the knowledge in the existing literature so the readers can establish how your research will contribute to the existing data.

When thinking of the possible consequences of your findings, you should ask yourself these;

  • Are your findings in line with previous studies? What contribution did your research make to them?
  • Why are your results entirely different from other studies on the same topic?
  • Did your findings approve or contradict existing knowledge?
  • What are the practical implications of your study?

Remember that as the researcher, you should aim to let your readers know why your study will contribute to the existing literature. Possible ways of starting this particular section are;

  • “The findings show that A….. whereas Lee (2017) and John (2013) suggested that B”, “The results of this study completely contradict the claims made in theories”,
  • “These results are not in line with the theoretical perspectives”,
  • “The statistical analysis provides a new understanding of the relationship between A and B”,
  • “Future studies should take into consideration the findings of this study because”

“Improve your work’s language, structure, style, and overall quality. Get help from our experienced dissertation editors to improve the quality of your paper to First Class Standard. Click here to learn more about our Dissertation, Editing, and Improvement Services .

Looking for dissertation help?

Researchprospect to the rescue, then.

We have expert writers on our team who are skilled at helping students with dissertations across various disciplines. Guaranteeing 100% satisfaction!

quantitative dissertation

4. Recognise the Limitations of your Research

Almost every academic research has some limitations. Acknowledging them will only add to your credibility as a scientific researcher.

In addition to the possible human errors, it’s important to take into account other factors that might have influenced the results of your study, including but not limited to unexpected research obstacles, specific methodological choices , and the overall research design.

Avoid mentioning any limitations that may not be relevant to your research aim, but clearly state the limitations that may have affected your results.

For example, if you used a sample size that included a tiny population, you may not generalise your results.

Similarly, obstacles faced in collecting data from the participants can influence the findings of your study. Make a note of all such  research limitations , but explain to the reader why your results are still authentic.

  • The small sample size limited the generalisability of the results.
  • The authenticity of the findings may have been influenced by….
  • The obstacles in collecting data resulted in…
  • It is beyond the framework of this research…

5. Provide Recommendations for Future Research

The limitations of your research work directly result in future recommendations. However, it should be noted that your recommendations for future research work should include the areas that your own work could not report so other researchers can build on them.

Sometimes the recommendations are a part of the  conclusion chapter . Some examples;

  • More research is needed to be performed….

Image result for research limitations

The Purpose of Dissertation Discussion Chapter 

Remember that the discussion section of a dissertation is the heart of your research because a) it will indicate your stance on the topic of research, and b) it answers the research questions initially established in the Introduction chapter .

Every piece of information you present here will add value to the existing literature within your field of study. How you structured your findings in the preceding chapter will help you determine the best structure for your dissertation discussion section.

For example, it might be logical to structure your analysis/discussions by theme if you chose the pattern in your findings section.

But generally, discussion based on research questions is the more widely used  structure  in academia because this pattern clearly indicates how you have addressed the aim of your research.

Most UK universities require the supervisor or committee members to comment on the extent to which each research question has been answered. You will be doing them a great favour if you structure your discussion so that each research question is laid out separately.

Irrespective of whether you are  writing an essay, dissertation, or  chapter of a dissertation , all pieces of writing should start with an  introduction .

Once your readers have read through your study results, you might want to highlight the contents of the subsequent discussion as an introduction paragraph (summary of your results – as explained above).

Likewise, the discussion chapter is expected to end with a concluding paragraph – allowing you the opportunity to summarise your interpretations.

The dissertation analysis & discussion chapter is usually very long, so it will make sense to emphasise the critical points in a concluding paragraph so the reader can grasp the essential information. This will also help to make sure the reader understands your analysis.

Also Read:   Research Discussion Of Findings

Useful Tips 

Presentation of graphs, tables, and figures.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, students spent days creating graphs and charts for their  statistical analysis work . Thanks to technology, you can produce even more accurate graphs and figures today in a shorter period.

Using  Microsoft Word, STATA, SPSS, Microsoft Excel  and other statistical analysis software, we can now draw  beautiful-looking figures, tables , and graphs with just a few clicks and make them appear in our document at the desired place. But there are downsides to being too dependent on technology.

Many students make the common mistake of using colours to represent variables when really they have to print their dissertation paper final copy in black and white.

Any colours on graphs and figures will eventually be viewed in the grayscale presentation. Recognizing different shades of grey on the same chart or graph can sometimes be a little confusing.

For example, green and purple appear as pretty much the same shade of grey on a line chat, meaning your chart will become unreadable to the marker.

Another trap you may fall into is the unintentional stuffing   of the dissertation chapter with graphs and figures. Even though it is essential to show numbers and statistics, you don’t want to overwhelm your readers with too many.

It may not be necessary to have a graph/table under each sub-heading. Only you can best judge whether or not you need to have a graph/table under a particular sub-heading as the writer.

Image result for excel graphs and charts

Relating to Previous Chapters  

As a student, it can be challenging to develop your own analysis and discussion of results. One of the excellent discussion chapter requirements is to showcase your ability to relate previous research to your research results.

Avoid repeating the same information over and over. Many students fall into this trap which negatively affects the mark of their overall dissertation paper .

Concise and to-the-point information will help you effectively convey your point to the readers.

Although you must demonstrate how your findings relate to previous research, it is equally important to ensure you are not simply rewriting what has already been said in the introduction  and  literature review  chapters.

The best strategy is to use examples from previous sections to postulate an argument.

Hyperlinks are recommended to take the reader from one section to another. This is especially important for submitting electronic documents as .word or .pdf files. Hyperlinking is tedious and time-consuming, so you should allow for this in your dissertation timeline to avoid rushing in the closing stages.

Also read: How to Write the Abstract for the Dissertation.

Using Subsections and Subheadings

You might want to reflect on the structure of the discussion in your organizstion of the dissertation discussion chapter, and for that, you will need to create sub-sections.

It is essential to keep subsections to the point and as short as possible. Use a layer of subheadings if possible.

For example

Subsection 4.1 of Chapter 4- Discussion can be further divided into sections 4.1.1 and 4.2.2. After three numerical layers (4.1.1, 4.2.2, and 4.2.3), any subheadings need not appear in the contents table.

The titles of all subsections will appear on your table of contents  so choose the wordings carefully. A title too long or too short might confuse the reader. A one or two-word subheading will not give the reader enough information to understand the section.

Likewise, using a research question or long sentences in the subheading is not recommended. It might help to examine how other researchers and writers create these subheadings.

Critical Thinking

Your critical thinking skills are the crux of your dissertation discussion chapter. You will do yourself a great disservice if you fail to put the critical thinking element into the equation.

After all, this exercise aims to showcase clarity in your thoughts and arguments. Markers of the dissertation give more importance to the analysis  and discussion chapter. But you could be marked negatively if this particular chapter lacks critical thinking.

Many students struggle to distinguish between fundamental descriptive analysis and critical thinking with their opinions on the research topic.

Critical thinking is a skill developed over time, and it might be daunting for you to come to terms with the idea of critical thinking and its use in your analysis. But even if you are no expert, you must try your best.

Image result for critical thinking

“Still unsure about  how to write a dissertation discussion chapter ? Why not take advantage of our  UK-based dissertation writing service ? Your dissertation is essential to your degree, so you cannot risk failing it.

With our custom writing service , you are guaranteed to have all your dissertation paper elements put into the right place. Our expert academics can help you with your full dissertation paper or a part of it.  Click here to learn more about our dissertation services.

Duplication of Content

Another critical error students make reaffirming the point the graph/chart was supposed to make. Writing out the same information as presented in the graph defeats the whole purpose of having them in the first place.

You will be expected to form your opinions and arguments based on the findings (as presented by the graphs), so keep an eye on this mistake. Finally, avoid simply inserting a graph without any explanation whatsoever.

It should be noted that there is no correct or incorrect number of charts/figures one can use in the dissertation findings and discussion chapter. A balance must be struck.

Avoid Over Interpretation

This is a major no-no when writing a dissertation discussion. Do not make an argument that isn’t backed by your collected data.

The results and interpretations that cannot be supported should not be mentioned. Your research will be deemed unauthentic and will also be questioned by your supervisor if you do so. Results should be interpreted without any bias.

How to Write the Findings of a Dissertation.

Do not Speculate

Speculation in the  discussion chapter of your dissertation is discouraged. Your dissertation’s discussion is based on your collected data and how it relates to your research questions. Thus, speculating here will undoubtedly undermine your research’s credibility.

Also, try not to generalise your findings. If your research is based on a specific population, do not state that the same findings might apply in every case. As indicated previously, it is essential to acknowledge the limitations of your research.

On the other hand, if you think your discussion needs to address other populations as well, start your sentence like this ‘We speculate that..’ or ‘It is speculated that..’ This will keep you from getting into any trouble.

What are the elements of the Dissertation Discussion?

The list of the main elements of the discussion chapter are:

  • Implications : Why are your findings important to academic and scientific communities, and what purpose would they serve?
  • Future Recommendations: Advice for other researchers and scientists who explore the topic further in future.

What are the steps of writing a Dissertation Discussion Chapter?

  • Write a summary of the findings
  • Provide a summary of your findings
  • Interpretations of Results
  • Recognise the Limitations of your research
  • Provide Recommendations for Future Research.

Can we use graphs and charts in the Dissertation Discussion Chapter?

Yes, using graphs to aid your statistical results and enhance presentation is essential, but do not overwhelm it with a lot of graphs in multiple colours. 

You May Also Like

The list of figures and tables in dissertation help the readers find tables and figures of their interest without looking through the whole dissertation.

Not sure how to start your dissertation and get it right the first time? Here are some tips and guidelines for you to kick start your dissertation project.

This article is a step-by-step guide to how to write statement of a problem in research. The research problem will be half-solved by defining it correctly.

USEFUL LINKS

LEARNING RESOURCES

DMCA.com Protection Status

COMPANY DETAILS

Research-Prospect-Writing-Service

  • How It Works

offer

How to Write Your Thesis Discussion Section

masters dissertation discussion

The discussion section is the most critical aspect of your thesis. It is written after presenting your data in the results section. This article explains how to structure your thesis discussion section and what content is required.

What is the thesis discussion section?

The thesis discussion includes explanations and interpretations of your results in the context of your thesis question and  literature review , discusses their implications, acknowledges their limitations, and gives recommendations. In doing so, you make an argument to support your conclusion .

What should the thesis discussion section include?

  • A summary of your key findings
This analysis does not support the theory that…
  • The answer to your thesis question
These findings confirm our hypothesis that…
  • An interpretation of your findings
Our findings agree with the theory proposed by Jones (2019)…
  • The implications of your findings
The data provide new evidence of…
  • The limitations of your findings (i.e., what can’t the results tell us)
This study only included individuals living in urban areas, and the results may not be generalizable to populations in rural areas…
  • Suggestions of practical applications of your findings
X should be taken into consideration when…
  • Recommendations for further scientific investigations
Further studies are necessary to…

What should the thesis discussion section not include?

  • A restatement of all your results
  • The introduction of new results . All results in the discussion section must have been presented in the results section.
  • Speculations that can’t be supported by your data
  • Results that do not directly relate to your thesis question or hypothesis
  • Tables and figures (these are usually included in the results section)

How does the discussion overlap with other thesis sections?

The content in the thesis discussion section overlaps with the results section — the results section presents the data, and the discussion section interprets it. The structure of the discussion section differs according to the type of research ( quantitative vs. qualitative ). In qualitative research, such as in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) domain, the discussion and results from sections are often combined. In thesis studies involving quantitative research, such as in the Sciences domain, these sections are usually written separately.

The content in the thesis discussion section also overlaps with the conclusion section — the discussion section presents a detailed analysis and interpretation of the data, and the conclusion section summarizes the main findings of the discussion. The discussion and conclusion sections may also be combined into a single section in some fields of study. If you are unsure of which structure to use, ask your supervisor for guidance and check the requirements of your academic institution.

How to write a thesis discussion

The discussion section of a thesis starts with an interpretation of the results and then places the findings in the general context of the field of study.

The discussion section is the most critical section of your thesis and will probably be the hardest to write. The discussion section of a thesis starts with an interpretation of the results and then places the findings in the general context of the field of study. This section also demonstrates your ability to think critically and develop innovative solutions to problems based on your findings, resulting in a deeper understanding of the research problem.

Because it can be daunting to write the thesis discussion section in one go, first prepare a draft according to the following steps:

  • Prepare an outline that broadly states your argument and how your results support it.
  • Strengthen your argument by mapping out how your results fit into the outline.
  • Place unexpected or controversial results in context and describe what may have caused them.
  • Go back to your literature review to identify any studies that you might want to delve into in greater detail given the findings of your study.
  • Identify study limitations.
  • Briefly summarize the importance and implications of your findings.
  • Recommend any practical applications of your study findings.
  • Suggest future work that could build on your findings or address study limitations.

Once you are happy with your draft, it’s time to finalize the thesis discussion section. Use the steps below as a guideline:

  • First, restate your thesis question and hypothesis that were stated in the introduction.
  • Then, use your findings to support the answer to your thesis question.
  • Defend your answers by discussing other studies with correlating results.
  • Explain how your findings consistently fit in with the current literature and mention how they address knowledge gaps in the field.
  • Mention studies that conflict with your findings, and try to explain possible causes of these contradictions (e.g., population size, inclusion and excision criteria, differences in data collection and analysis methods).
  • Address any unexpected findings. Describe what happened and then discuss the potential causes (e.g., a skewed response rate, sampling bias, or changes in the equipment used). Because they could have been caused by a flawed sampling method or an incorrect choice of methodology, carefully check that you have adequately justified your methodological approach. In extreme cases, you may need to restructure your hypothesis or rewrite your introduction.
  • Research studies are expected to have limitations and weaknesses. Mention all of them and how they may have impacted the interpretation and validity of your findings. Some limitations could highlight areas that require further study.
  • Summarize the practical applications and theoretical implications of your findings.
  • Recommend potential areas for future research.

How do I interpret my results?

The thesis discussion section must concisely interpret the results and assign importance to them. This is achieved by:

  • Identifying relationships, patterns, and correlations in the data
  • Discussing whether the findings support your hypothesis
  • Considering alternative explanations while also justifying your chosen explanation
  • Emphasizing novel results and explaining how they fill knowledge gaps
  • Explaining unexpected results and determining their significance

How do I discuss the implications of my results?

The discussion section of your thesis explains how your findings fit in with and contribute to the existing literature. This refers back to the literature review section of your thesis. The following questions should be addressed:

  • Are your findings supported by other studies, and do they add to the body of knowledge or address a gap?
  • Do your findings disagree with other studies? If so, determine or suggest the reason(s) why.
  • Do your findings challenge or support existing theories?
  • What are the practical implications of your findings?

How do I acknowledge the limitations of my study?

It is expected that all studies will have limitations. When discussing your study limitations, don’t undermine your findings . A good discussion of the limitations will strengthen your study’s credibility.

Examples of study limitations: sample size, differences in methods used for data collection or analysis, study type (e.g., retrospective vs. prospective), inclusion/exclusion criteria of the study population, effects of confounders, researcher bias, and robustness of the data collection method.

How do I make recommendations for future research?

Recommendations should either be included in the discussion or the conclusion section of your thesis, but not in both. This could include:

  • Addressing questions related to your study that remain unanswered
  • Suggesting a logical progression of your research study using concrete ideas
  • Suggesting future work based on the study limitations you have identified
Example: Future studies using a larger sample size from multiple sites are recommended to confirm the generalizability of our findings. Example: We suggest that the participants are re-interviewed after 5 years to determine how their perception of this traumatic experience has changed.

Tips for writing the thesis discussion section

  • Use subheadings to break down the discussion into smaller sections that identify key points.
  • Maintain consistency with the introduction  and  literature review sections. Use the same point of view, tone, and terminology.
  • Be concise .
  • Be logical. Present the discussion in the same sequence as the results unless there is an unexpected or novel finding that should be emphasized first.
  • Do not use jargon, and define all technical terms and abbreviations/acronyms.
  • Cite all sources. The majority of references cited in the thesis discussion section should be recent (i.e., published within the past 10 years).
  • Avoid plagiarism .

A thesis is the most crucial document that you will write during your academic studies. For professional thesis editing and thesis proofreading services , visit Enago Thesis Editing for more information.

Editor’s pick

Get free updates.

Subscribe to our newsletter for regular insights from the research and publishing industry!

Review Checklist

Are your  key findings summarized in the thesis discussion section?

Have you  interpreted your findings in the context of your thesis question?

Have you shown how your findings fit in by  discussing differences and similarities with current literature as well as any gaps in the literature that your findings address?

Have you  explained the significance of your findings?

Have you  contemplated alternative explanations for your findings?

Have you  explained the practical and/or theoretical implications of your findings?

Have you identified and  evaluated the limitations of your study?

Have you  recommended practical actions or areas that require further studies based on your findings?

What tense is used to write the thesis discussion section? +

Use the present tense when referring to established facts. Use the past tense when referring to previous studies.

What is the difference between the discussion and conclusion sections of a thesis? +

The  discussion section is a detailed analysis and interpretation of the study results that place them in context with the associated literature. The  conclusion section is much shorter than the discussion section. It mentions the main points of the discussion section, tells the reader why your research is important, and makes recommendations based on your study findings.

What is the difference between the results and discussion sections of a thesis? +

The results section objectively reports the study findings without speculation. The discussion section interprets the findings, puts them into context, and assigns importance to them.

masters dissertation discussion

Writing the Dissertation - Guides for Success: The Results and Discussion

  • Writing the Dissertation Homepage
  • Overview and Planning
  • The Literature Review
  • The Methodology
  • The Results and Discussion
  • The Conclusion
  • The Abstract
  • The Difference
  • What to Avoid

Overview of writing the results and discussion

The results and discussion follow on from the methods or methodology chapter of the dissertation. This creates a natural transition from how you designed your study, to what your study reveals, highlighting your own contribution to the research area.

Disciplinary differences

Please note: this guide is not specific to any one discipline. The results and discussion can vary depending on the nature of the research and the expectations of the school or department, so please adapt the following advice to meet the demands of your project and department. Consult your supervisor for further guidance; you can also peruse our  Writing Across Subjects guide .

Guide contents

As part of the Writing the Dissertation series, this guide covers the most common conventions of the results and discussion chapters, giving you the necessary knowledge, tips and guidance needed to impress your markers! The sections are organised as follows:

  • The Difference  - Breaks down the distinctions between the results and discussion chapters.
  • Results  - Provides a walk-through of common characteristics of the results chapter.
  • Discussion - Provides a walk-through of how to approach writing your discussion chapter, including structure.
  • What to Avoid  - Covers a few frequent mistakes you'll want to...avoid!
  • FAQs  - Guidance on first- vs. third-person, limitations and more.
  • Checklist  - Includes a summary of key points and a self-evaluation checklist.

Training and tools

  • The Academic Skills team has recorded a Writing the Dissertation workshop series to help you with each section of a standard dissertation, including a video on writing the results and discussion   (embedded below).
  • The dissertation planner tool can help you think through the timeline for planning, research, drafting and editing.
  • iSolutions offers training and a Word template to help you digitally format and structure your dissertation.

Introduction

The results of your study are often followed by a separate chapter of discussion. This is certainly the case with scientific writing. Some dissertations, however, might incorporate both the results and discussion in one chapter. This depends on the nature of your dissertation and the conventions within your school or department. Always follow the guidelines given to you and ask your supervisor for further guidance.

As part of the Writing the Dissertation series, this guide covers the essentials of writing your results and discussion, giving you the necesary knowledge, tips and guidance needed to leave a positive impression on your markers! This guide covers the results and discussion as separate – although interrelated – chapters, as you'll see in the next two tabs. However, you can easily adapt the guidance to suit one single chapter – keep an eye out for some hints on how to do this throughout the guide.

Results or discussion - what's the difference?

To understand what the results and discussion sections are about, we need to clearly define the difference between the two.

The results should provide a clear account of the findings . This is written in a dry and direct manner, simply highlighting the findings as they appear once processed. It’s expected to have tables and graphics, where relevant, to contextualise and illustrate the data.

Rather than simply stating the findings of the study, the discussion interprets the findings  to offer a more nuanced understanding of the research. The discussion is similar to the second half of the conclusion because it’s where you consider and formulate a response to the question, ‘what do we now know that we didn’t before?’ (see our Writing the Conclusion   guide for more). The discussion achieves this by answering the research questions and responding to any hypotheses proposed. With this in mind, the discussion should be the most insightful chapter or section of your dissertation because it provides the most original insight.

Across the next two tabs of this guide, we will look at the results and discussion chapters separately in more detail.

Writing the results

The results chapter should provide a direct and factual account of the data collected without any interpretation or interrogation of the findings. As this might suggest, the results chapter can be slightly monotonous, particularly for quantitative data. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you present your results in a clear and direct manner as it provides the necessary detail for your subsequent discussion.

Note: If you’re writing your results and discussion as one chapter, then you can either:

1) write them as distinctly separate sections in the same chapter, with the discussion following on from the results, or...

2) integrate the two throughout by presenting a subset of the results and then discussing that subset in further detail.

Next, we'll explore some of the most important factors to consider when writing your results chapter.

How you structure your results chapter depends on the design and purpose of your study. Here are some possible options for structuring your results chapter (adapted from Glatthorn and Joyner, 2005):

  • Chronological – depending on the nature of the study, it might be important to present your results in order of how you collected the data, such as a pretest-posttest design.
  • Research method – if you’ve used a mixed-methods approach, you could isolate each research method and instrument employed in the study.
  • Research question and/or hypotheses – you could structure your results around your research questions and/or hypotheses, providing you have more than one. However, keep in mind that the results on their own don’t necessarily answer the questions or respond to the hypotheses in a definitive manner. You need to interpret the findings in the discussion chapter to gain a more rounded understanding.
  • Variable – you could isolate each variable in your study (where relevant) and specify how and whether the results changed.

Tables and figures

For your results, you are expected to convert your data into tables and figures, particularly when dealing with quantitative data. Making use of tables and figures is a way of contextualising your results within the study. It also helps to visually reinforce your written account of the data. However, make sure you’re only using tables and figures to supplement , rather than replace, your written account of the results (see the 'What to avoid' tab for more on this).

Figures and tables need to be numbered in order of when they appear in the dissertation, and they should be capitalised. You also need to make direct reference to them in the text, which you can do (with some variation) in one of the following ways:

Figure 1 shows…

The results of the test (see Figure 1) demonstrate…

The actual figures and tables themselves also need to be accompanied by a caption that briefly outlines what is displayed. For example:

Table 1. Variables of the regression model

Table captions normally appear above the table, whilst figures or other such graphical forms appear below, although it’s worth confirming this with your supervisor as the formatting can change depending on the school or discipline. The style guide used for writing in your subject area (e.g., Harvard, MLA, APA, OSCOLA) often dictates correct formatting of tables, graphs and figures, so have a look at your style guide for additional support.

Using quotations

If your qualitative data comes from interviews and focus groups, your data will largely consist of quotations from participants. When presenting this data, you should identify and group the most common and interesting responses and then quote two or three relevant examples to illustrate this point. Here’s a brief example from a qualitative study on the habits of online food shoppers:

Regardless of whether or not participants regularly engage in online food shopping, all but two respondents commented, in some form, on the convenience of online food shopping:

"It’s about convenience for me. I’m at work all week and the weekend doesn’t allow much time for food shopping, so knowing it can be ordered and then delivered in 24 hours is great for me” (Participant A).

"It fits around my schedule, which is important for me and my family” (Participant D).

"In the past, I’ve always gone food shopping after work, which has always been a hassle. Online food shopping, however, frees up some of my time” (Participant E).

As shown in this example, each quotation is attributed to a particular participant, although their anonymity is protected. The details used to identify participants can depend on the relevance of certain factors to the research. For instance, age or gender could be included.

Writing the discussion

The discussion chapter is where “you critically examine your own results in the light of the previous state of the subject as outlined in the background, and make judgments as to what has been learnt in your work” (Evans et al., 2014: 12). Whilst the results chapter is strictly factual, reporting on the data on a surface level, the discussion is rooted in analysis and interpretation , allowing you and your reader to delve beneath the surface.

Next, we will review some of the most important factors to consider when writing your discussion chapter.

Like the results, there is no single way to structure your discussion chapter. As always, it depends on the nature of your dissertation and whether you’re dealing with qualitative, quantitative or mixed-methods research. It’s good to be consistent with the results chapter, so you could structure your discussion chapter, where possible, in the same way as your results.

When it comes to structure, it’s particularly important that you guide your reader through the various points, subtopics or themes of your discussion. You should do this by structuring sections of your discussion, which might incorporate three or four paragraphs around the same theme or issue, in a three-part way that mirrors the typical three-part essay structure of introduction, main body and conclusion.

Cycle of introduction (topic sentence), to main body (analysis), to conclusion (takeaways). Graphic at right shows cycle repeating 3, 5, and 4 times for subtopics A, B, and C.

Figure 1: The three-part cycle that embodies a typical essay structure and reflects how you structure themes or subtopics in your discussion.

This is your topic sentence where you clearly state the focus of this paragraph/section. It’s often a fairly short, declarative statement in order to grab the reader’s attention, and it should be clearly related to your research purpose, such as responding to a research question.

This constitutes your analysis where you explore the theme or focus, outlined in the topic sentence, in further detail by interrogating why this particular theme or finding emerged and the significance of this data. This is also where you bring in the relevant secondary literature.

This is the evaluative stage of the cycle where you explicitly return back to the topic sentence and tell the reader what this means in terms of answering the relevant research question and establishing new knowledge. It could be a single sentence, or a short paragraph, and it doesn’t strictly need to appear at the end of every section or theme. Instead, some prefer to bring the main themes together towards the end of the discussion in a single paragraph or two. Either way, it’s imperative that you evaluate the significance of your discussion and tell the reader what this means.

A note on the three-part structure

This is often how you’re taught to construct a paragraph, but the themes and ideas you engage with at dissertation level are going to extend beyond the confines of a short paragraph. Therefore, this is a structure to guide how you write about particular themes or patterns in your discussion. Think of this structure like a cycle that you can engage in its smallest form to shape a paragraph; in a slightly larger form to shape a subsection of a chapter; and in its largest form to shape the entire chapter. You can 'level up' the same basic structure to accommodate a deeper breadth of thinking and critical engagement.

Using secondary literature

Your discussion chapter should return to the relevant literature (previously identified in your literature review ) in order to contextualise and deepen your reader’s understanding of the findings. This might help to strengthen your findings, or you might find contradictory evidence that serves to counter your results. In the case of the latter, it’s important that you consider why this might be and the implications for this. It’s through your incorporation of secondary literature that you can consider the question, ‘What do we now know that we didn’t before?’

Limitations

You may have included a limitations section in your methodology chapter (see our Writing the Methodology guide ), but it’s also common to have one in your discussion chapter. The difference here is that your limitations are directly associated with your results and the capacity to interpret and analyse those results.

Think of it this way: the limitations in your methodology refer to the issues identified before conducting the research, whilst the limitations in your discussion refer to the issues that emerged after conducting the research. For example, you might only be able to identify a limitation about the external validity or generalisability of your research once you have processed and analysed the data. Try not to overstress the limitations of your work – doing so can undermine the work you’ve done – and try to contextualise them, perhaps by relating them to certain limitations of other studies.

Recommendations

It’s often good to follow your limitations with some recommendations for future research. This creates a neat linearity from what didn’t work, or what could be improved, to how other researchers could address these issues in the future. This helps to reposition your limitations in a positive way by offering an action-oriented response. Try to limit the amount of recommendations you discuss – too many can bring the end of your discussion to a rather negative end as you’re ultimately focusing on what should be done, rather than what you have done. You also don’t need to repeat the recommendations in your conclusion if you’ve included them here.

What to avoid

This portion of the guide will cover some common missteps you should try to avoid in writing your results and discussion.

Over-reliance on tables and figures

It’s very common to produce visual representations of data, such as graphs and tables, and to use these representations in your results chapter. However, the use of these figures should not entirely replace your written account of the data. You don’t need to specify every detail in the data set, but you should provide some written account of what the data shows, drawing your reader’s attention to the most important elements of the data. The figures should support your account and help to contextualise your results. Simply stating, ‘look at Table 1’, without any further detail is not sufficient. Writers often try to do this as a way of saving words, but your markers will know!

Ignoring unexpected or contradictory data

Research can be a complex process with ups and downs, surprises and anomalies. Don’t be tempted to ignore any data that doesn’t meet your expectations, or that perhaps you’re struggling to explain. Failing to report on data for these, and other such reasons, is a problem because it undermines your credibility as a researcher, which inevitably undermines your research in the process. You have to do your best to provide some reason to such data. For instance, there might be some methodological reason behind a particular trend in the data.

Including raw data

You don’t need to include any raw data in your results chapter – raw data meaning unprocessed data that hasn’t undergone any calculations or other such refinement. This can overwhelm your reader and obscure the clarity of the research. You can include raw data in an appendix, providing you feel it’s necessary.

Presenting new results in the discussion

You shouldn’t be stating original findings for the first time in the discussion chapter. The findings of your study should first appear in your results before elaborating on them in the discussion.

Overstressing the significance of your research

It’s important that you clarify what your research demonstrates so you can highlight your own contribution to the research field. However, don’t overstress or inflate the significance of your results. It’s always difficult to provide definitive answers in academic research, especially with qualitative data. You should be confident and authoritative where possible, but don’t claim to reach the absolute truth when perhaps other conclusions could be reached. Where necessary, you should use hedging (see definition) to slightly soften the tone and register of your language.

Definition: Hedging refers to 'the act of expressing your attitude or ideas in tentative or cautious ways' (Singh and Lukkarila, 2017: 101). It’s mostly achieved through a number of verbs or adverbs, such as ‘suggest’ or ‘seemingly.’

Q: What’s the difference between the results and discussion?

A: The results chapter is a factual account of the data collected, whilst the discussion considers the implications of these findings by relating them to relevant literature and answering your research question(s). See the tab 'The Differences' in this guide for more detail.

Q: Should the discussion include recommendations for future research?

A: Your dissertation should include some recommendations for future research, but it can vary where it appears. Recommendations are often featured towards the end of the discussion chapter, but they also regularly appear in the conclusion chapter (see our Writing the Conclusion guide   for more). It simply depends on your dissertation and the conventions of your school or department. It’s worth consulting any specific guidance that you’ve been given, or asking your supervisor directly.

Q: Should the discussion include the limitations of the study?

A: Like the answer above, you should engage with the limitations of your study, but it might appear in the discussion of some dissertations, or the conclusion of others. Consider the narrative flow and whether it makes sense to include the limitations in your discussion chapter, or your conclusion. You should also consult any discipline-specific guidance you’ve been given, or ask your supervisor for more. Be mindful that this is slightly different to the limitations outlined in the methodology or methods chapter (see our Writing the Methodology guide vs. the 'Discussion' tab of this guide).

Q: Should the results and discussion be in the first-person or third?

A: It’s important to be consistent , so you should use whatever you’ve been using throughout your dissertation. Third-person is more commonly accepted, but certain disciplines are happy with the use of first-person. Just remember that the first-person pronoun can be a distracting, but powerful device, so use it sparingly. Consult your lecturer for discipline-specific guidance.

Q: Is there a difference between the discussion and the conclusion of a dissertation?

A: Yes, there is a difference. The discussion chapter is a detailed consideration of how your findings answer your research questions. This includes the use of secondary literature to help contextualise your discussion. Rather than considering the findings in detail, the conclusion briefly summarises and synthesises the main findings of your study before bringing the dissertation to a close. Both are similar, particularly in the way they ‘broaden out’ to consider the wider implications of the research. They are, however, their own distinct chapters, unless otherwise stated by your supervisor.

The results and discussion chapters (or chapter) constitute a large part of your dissertation as it’s here where your original contribution is foregrounded and discussed in detail. Remember, the results chapter simply reports on the data collected, whilst the discussion is where you consider your research questions and/or hypothesis in more detail by interpreting and interrogating the data. You can integrate both into a single chapter and weave the interpretation of your findings throughout the chapter, although it’s common for both the results and discussion to appear as separate chapters. Consult your supervisor for further guidance.

Here’s a final checklist for writing your results and discussion. Remember that not all of these points will be relevant for you, so make sure you cover whatever’s appropriate for your dissertation. The asterisk (*) indicates any content that might not be relevant for your dissertation. To download a copy of the checklist to save and edit, please use the Word document, below.

  • Results and discussion self-evaluation checklist

Decorative

  • << Previous: The Methodology
  • Next: The Conclusion >>
  • Last Updated: Jan 11, 2024 1:17 PM
  • URL: https://library.soton.ac.uk/writing_the_dissertation
  • Translators
  • Graphic Designers
  • Editing Services
  • Academic Editing Services
  • Admissions Editing Services
  • Admissions Essay Editing Services
  • AI Content Editing Services
  • APA Style Editing Services
  • Application Essay Editing Services
  • Book Editing Services
  • Business Editing Services
  • Capstone Paper Editing Services
  • Children's Book Editing Services
  • College Application Editing Services
  • College Essay Editing Services
  • Copy Editing Services
  • Developmental Editing Services
  • Dissertation Editing Services
  • eBook Editing Services
  • English Editing Services
  • Horror Story Editing Services
  • Legal Editing Services
  • Line Editing Services
  • Manuscript Editing Services
  • MLA Style Editing Services
  • Novel Editing Services
  • Paper Editing Services
  • Personal Statement Editing Services
  • Research Paper Editing Services
  • Résumé Editing Services
  • Scientific Editing Services
  • Short Story Editing Services
  • Statement of Purpose Editing Services
  • Substantive Editing Services
  • Thesis Editing Services

Proofreading

  • Proofreading Services
  • Admissions Essay Proofreading Services
  • Children's Book Proofreading Services
  • Legal Proofreading Services
  • Novel Proofreading Services
  • Personal Statement Proofreading Services
  • Research Proposal Proofreading Services
  • Statement of Purpose Proofreading Services

Translation

  • Translation Services

Graphic Design

  • Graphic Design Services
  • Dungeons & Dragons Design Services
  • Sticker Design Services
  • Writing Services

Solve

Please enter the email address you used for your account. Your sign in information will be sent to your email address after it has been verified.

How to Write an Effective Thesis Discussion

ScienceEditor

Writing an effective thesis discussion can be challenging because it is so open ended. The purpose of the discussion is to (1) interpret your results, (2) discuss the significance of your results, (3) place your work in the context of previous work, (4) discuss the limitations of your study, and (5) suggest next steps to advance understanding and/or to improve real-world situations. The discussion section should expand upon ideas presented in the introduction, literature review, and results, and sometimes even the materials and methods. It should convince the reader that your work was worthwhile.

General considerations

Throughout a thesis or other scholarly manuscript, the results of completed studies should be described in the past tense (e.g. "36 of 43 patients showed improvement with treatment A, while only 25 of 44 patients showed improvement with treatment B"). In contrast, present tense is used to describe ideas that currently appear to be true based on available evidence (e.g. "treatment A is more effective than treatment B for most patients"). A good thesis discussion will typically progress from discussing specific results to discussing broader concepts that currently appear to be true.

You should include citations and modifying statements as needed (e.g. "Previous work by Lee et al. (2017) found no difference in the effectiveness of treatment A compared to treatment B. However , their study was limited to patients in advanced stages of the disease."). You will also need to include suggestions for further research, which can be described in present tense (e.g. "Additional studies are needed to determine. . .") or future tense (e.g. "Future studies will determine . . .").

I will now move into more detailed suggestions for each part of the discussion. Notice the occasional use of first-person pronouns (e.g. "I suggest. . ." or "We believe. . ."), which is now generally acceptable in many fields if used sparingly. Check the specific guidelines provided by your graduate program (and target journal). Also notice the use of subheadings to break the text into shorter sections on specific topics, which is recommended for any long manuscript.

Discussion part 1: Interpret your results

Your discussion should relate directly to the research question(s) you presented in the introduction, so a good way to start the discussion is to clearly restate your research question(s) (e.g. "The current study aimed to determine whether treatment A or treatment B was better for patients with condition X.") The discussion section follows the results section, so the next obvious step is to state what you can conclude from your results (e.g. "We found that a higher percentage of patients showed improvement with treatment A than with treatment B, and therefore conclude that treatment A is more effective than treatment B for most patients with condition X").

There are two general strategies for structuring the discussion of results. The first strategy is to discuss the results in the same order as they were presented in the results section. Alternatively, you can discuss your most interesting or surprising results first. This second strategy is most effective when the results are especially novel. As with any manuscript, the goal is to keep your reader engaged.

In some fields, the thesis discussion is expected to include comments on all of the results, even minor results that may not be statistically significant (e.g. "Treatments C, D, and E produced results that were statistically indistinguishable from placebo, leading to the conclusion that they were ineffective at the concentrations tested."). Note that you should not just state the results (e.g. "Treatments C, D, and E produced results that were statistically indistinguishable from placebo"), but should also state a conclusion (e.g. "they were ineffective at the concentrations tested").

In some other fields, brief comments on minor results are typically included in the results section, and the discussion section is used to elaborate on the most noteworthy results. In some cases, it may be appropriate to write a combined "results and discussion" section, where results are presented alongside initial conclusions, and broader implications are discussed toward the end. Check the requirements for your graduate program (and target journal).

Discussion part 2: Discuss the significance of your results

Clearly explain what is gained from your research. Sometimes a study is very significant (e.g. These results are among the first to show that treatment A is more effective than treatment B for condition X."). Other times—especially for undergraduate or master's theses based on a few months of data collection—the results primarily provide information about what doesn't work (e.g. "These results indicate that treatments C, D, and E are ineffective at physiologically relevant concentrations.)

Discuss some of the possibilities that your research opens up (e.g. "These results raise the possibility that early treatment could improve daily life for patients with mild cases of condition X, and might even delay disease progression.) but do not overstate (e.g. "These results prove that early treatment will improve daily life for patients with mild cases of condition X, and will delay disease progression."). Be optimistic but realistic, whether your results are highly significant or not (e.g. "These results suggest that the solubility of molecules like C, D, and E need to be improved before they can be effective.").

Discussing the significance of your results (part 2 of this essay) is a natural extension of discussing what your results mean (part 1 in this essay), and may not require a separate section.

Discussion part 3: Place your work in the context of previous work

Put your work into a broader context. Here you should revisit some of the previously published work that was described in your introduction and literature review, and clarify how your work expands upon or challenges that work. Most importantly, you should discuss how your work advances understanding in your research field.

For a thesis based on disappointing data, your ability to effectively discuss previous work and potential future work can support the argument that you have developed the necessary skills to move forward in research. These skills are further demonstrated by many other aspects of a well-researched and well-written thesis.

In some cases, your results may reveal unexpected connections. This may require you to discuss additional bodies of work in the discussion section, which can become a second literature review section. As you may be starting to see, there are many different topics you can include in your discussion section. You need to choose your topics carefully, and cover them in sufficient but not overwhelming detail. You want your discussion to cover all essential information, remain a manageable length, and retain the reader's interest. All of the different possibilities can make writing your discussion section very challenging.

If your results contradict previous work, you need to provide some possible explanations. As a rationale scholar, it is especially important to consider all reasonable options. It could be that (1) the earlier work was flawed, incomplete, or not exactly comparable to your work, or (2) your work is flawed, incomplete, or not exactly comparable to the earlier work. You might not be able to determine the exact cause of the discrepancy, but contradictions provide an obvious way to transition into the next section.

Discussion part 4: Discuss the limitations of your study

Every study has limitations, and here you should discuss the major limitations of your research. What can't the results tell us? In what situations are the findings not relevant or well supported? There may be limitations due to your sample population, experimental techniques, data analysis, etc. Discuss these limitations honestly, but then explain why your study is useful despite these limitations. You might point out that your study included multiple different populations, different experimental techniques, alternative methods of data analysis, etc. You might also emphasize that your conclusions are limited to a subset of a larger population, and that additional work needs to be done to determine whether the same conclusions apply to a larger population. This brings us to our next point.

Discussion part 5: Suggest next steps to advance understanding and/or to improve real-world situations

Once you've placed your work into a broader context, you can imagine the future possibilities. Here you might discuss questions that remain to be answered, or questions that have been newly raised by your work. There might be specific studies that would be an obvious extension of your work, and/or exploratory studies that would shed light on promising areas for novel research. Alternatively, you might suggest ways in which your research could be applied to real-world situations to improve outcomes.

Many manuscripts and presentations end with a discussion of possible next steps. I tend to like this type of ending for discussions of basic research, such as which genes are activated in which cells. However, other people recommend always ending with conclusions, where you restate the main findings of your research in a compact form. This might involve a separate "conclusions" section or as a final paragraph in the "discussion" section. Ending with conclusions makes a lot of sense for studies that might directly impact real-world situations (e.g. Treatment A it more effective than treatment B for condition X.).

In any event, you should follow departmental recommendations, and end with a compelling and memorable message for your readers.

Related Posts

How Does a Hypothesis Differ From a Research Question?

How Does a Hypothesis Differ From a Research Question?

Delivering a Killer Dissertation the First Time Around

Delivering a Killer Dissertation the First Time Around

  • Academic Writing Advice
  • All Blog Posts
  • Writing Advice
  • Admissions Writing Advice
  • Book Writing Advice
  • Short Story Advice
  • Employment Writing Advice
  • Business Writing Advice
  • Web Content Advice
  • Article Writing Advice
  • Magazine Writing Advice
  • Grammar Advice
  • Dialect Advice
  • Editing Advice
  • Freelance Advice
  • Legal Writing Advice
  • Poetry Advice
  • Graphic Design Advice
  • Logo Design Advice
  • Translation Advice
  • Blog Reviews
  • Short Story Award Winners
  • Scholarship Winners

Need an academic editor before submitting your work?

Need an academic editor before submitting your work?

SkillsYouNeed

  • LEARNING SKILLS
  • Writing a Dissertation or Thesis
  • Results and Discussion

Search SkillsYouNeed:

Learning Skills:

  • A - Z List of Learning Skills
  • What is Learning?
  • Learning Approaches
  • Learning Styles
  • 8 Types of Learning Styles
  • Understanding Your Preferences to Aid Learning
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Decisions to Make Before Applying to University
  • Top Tips for Surviving Student Life
  • Living Online: Education and Learning
  • 8 Ways to Embrace Technology-Based Learning Approaches
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Critical Thinking and Fake News
  • Understanding and Addressing Conspiracy Theories
  • Critical Analysis
  • Study Skills
  • Exam Skills
  • How to Write a Research Proposal
  • Ethical Issues in Research
  • Dissertation: The Introduction
  • Researching and Writing a Literature Review
  • Writing your Methodology
  • Dissertation: Results and Discussion
  • Dissertation: Conclusions and Extras

Writing Your Dissertation or Thesis eBook

Writing a Dissertation or Thesis

Part of the Skills You Need Guide for Students .

  • Research Methods
  • Teaching, Coaching, Mentoring and Counselling
  • Employability Skills for Graduates

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter and start improving your life in just 5 minutes a day.

You'll get our 5 free 'One Minute Life Skills' and our weekly newsletter.

We'll never share your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Writing your Dissertation:  Results and Discussion

When writing a dissertation or thesis, the results and discussion sections can be both the most interesting as well as the most challenging sections to write.

You may choose to write these sections separately, or combine them into a single chapter, depending on your university’s guidelines and your own preferences.

There are advantages to both approaches.

Writing the results and discussion as separate sections allows you to focus first on what results you obtained and set out clearly what happened in your experiments and/or investigations without worrying about their implications.This can focus your mind on what the results actually show and help you to sort them in your head.

However, many people find it easier to combine the results with their implications as the two are closely connected.

Check your university’s requirements carefully before combining the results and discussions sections as some specify that they must be kept separate.

Results Section

The Results section should set out your key experimental results, including any statistical analysis and whether or not the results of these are significant.

You should cover any literature supporting your interpretation of significance. It does not have to include everything you did, particularly for a doctorate dissertation. However, for an undergraduate or master's thesis, you will probably find that you need to include most of your work.

You should write your results section in the past tense: you are describing what you have done in the past.

Every result included MUST have a method set out in the methods section. Check back to make sure that you have included all the relevant methods.

Conversely, every method should also have some results given so, if you choose to exclude certain experiments from the results, make sure that you remove mention of the method as well.

If you are unsure whether to include certain results, go back to your research questions and decide whether the results are relevant to them. It doesn’t matter whether they are supportive or not, it’s about relevance. If they are relevant, you should include them.

Having decided what to include, next decide what order to use. You could choose chronological, which should follow the methods, or in order from most to least important in the answering of your research questions, or by research question and/or hypothesis.

You also need to consider how best to present your results: tables, figures, graphs, or text. Try to use a variety of different methods of presentation, and consider your reader: 20 pages of dense tables are hard to understand, as are five pages of graphs, but a single table and well-chosen graph that illustrate your overall findings will make things much clearer.

Make sure that each table and figure has a number and a title. Number tables and figures in separate lists, but consecutively by the order in which you mention them in the text. If you have more than about two or three, it’s often helpful to provide lists of tables and figures alongside the table of contents at the start of your dissertation.

Summarise your results in the text, drawing on the figures and tables to illustrate your points.

The text and figures should be complementary, not repeat the same information. You should refer to every table or figure in the text. Any that you don’t feel the need to refer to can safely be moved to an appendix, or even removed.

Make sure that you including information about the size and direction of any changes, including percentage change if appropriate. Statistical tests should include details of p values or confidence intervals and limits.

While you don’t need to include all your primary evidence in this section, you should as a matter of good practice make it available in an appendix, to which you should refer at the relevant point.

For example:

Details of all the interview participants can be found in Appendix A, with transcripts of each interview in Appendix B.

You will, almost inevitably, find that you need to include some slight discussion of your results during this section. This discussion should evaluate the quality of the results and their reliability, but not stray too far into discussion of how far your results support your hypothesis and/or answer your research questions, as that is for the discussion section.

See our pages: Analysing Qualitative Data and Simple Statistical Analysis for more information on analysing your results.

Discussion Section

This section has four purposes, it should:

  • Interpret and explain your results
  • Answer your research question
  • Justify your approach
  • Critically evaluate your study

The discussion section therefore needs to review your findings in the context of the literature and the existing knowledge about the subject.

You also need to demonstrate that you understand the limitations of your research and the implications of your findings for policy and practice. This section should be written in the present tense.

The Discussion section needs to follow from your results and relate back to your literature review . Make sure that everything you discuss is covered in the results section.

Some universities require a separate section on recommendations for policy and practice and/or for future research, while others allow you to include this in your discussion, so check the guidelines carefully.

Starting the Task

Most people are likely to write this section best by preparing an outline, setting out the broad thrust of the argument, and how your results support it.

You may find techniques like mind mapping are helpful in making a first outline; check out our page: Creative Thinking for some ideas about how to think through your ideas. You should start by referring back to your research questions, discuss your results, then set them into the context of the literature, and then into broader theory.

This is likely to be one of the longest sections of your dissertation, and it’s a good idea to break it down into chunks with sub-headings to help your reader to navigate through the detail.

Fleshing Out the Detail

Once you have your outline in front of you, you can start to map out how your results fit into the outline.

This will help you to see whether your results are over-focused in one area, which is why writing up your research as you go along can be a helpful process. For each theme or area, you should discuss how the results help to answer your research question, and whether the results are consistent with your expectations and the literature.

The Importance of Understanding Differences

If your results are controversial and/or unexpected, you should set them fully in context and explain why you think that you obtained them.

Your explanations may include issues such as a non-representative sample for convenience purposes, a response rate skewed towards those with a particular experience, or your own involvement as a participant for sociological research.

You do not need to be apologetic about these, because you made a choice about them, which you should have justified in the methodology section. However, you do need to evaluate your own results against others’ findings, especially if they are different. A full understanding of the limitations of your research is part of a good discussion section.

At this stage, you may want to revisit your literature review, unless you submitted it as a separate submission earlier, and revise it to draw out those studies which have proven more relevant.

Conclude by summarising the implications of your findings in brief, and explain why they are important for researchers and in practice, and provide some suggestions for further work.

You may also wish to make some recommendations for practice. As before, this may be a separate section, or included in your discussion.

The results and discussion, including conclusion and recommendations, are probably the most substantial sections of your dissertation. Once completed, you can begin to relax slightly: you are on to the last stages of writing!

Continue to: Dissertation: Conclusion and Extras Writing your Methodology

See also: Writing a Literature Review Writing a Research Proposal Academic Referencing What Is the Importance of Using a Plagiarism Checker to Check Your Thesis?

Dissertation Genius

12 Steps to Write an Effective Discussion Chapter

November 5, 2016 by Dissertation Genius

This article gives doctoral dissertation students valuable guidance on how to go about writing their Discussion chapter. The article starts by outlining the main goals and writing approaches. Then the article explains 12 specific steps to take to write an effective discussion chapter.

Discussion Chapter: Main Goals and Writing Approaches

You should always keep in mind the main goals when writing your Discussion chapter. These include stating your interpretations, declaring your opinions, explaining the effects of your findings, and making suggestions and predictions for future research.

With the main goals mentioned, it is interesting to note how to go about writing this chapter. To do this, follow three important suggestions:

  • Answer those questions posed in the introduction (central research questions)
  • Show how the answers are supported by the results
  • Explain how the answers fit relative to the existing body of knowledge about the subject

Keep in mind that the Discussion chapter can be considered the most important part of your dissertation. Therefore, don’t be surprised if you may need more than one writing attempt for this chapter.

The 12 Steps to an Effective Discussion Chapter

To make sure your message remains crystal-clear, the Discussion chapter should be short and sweet, but it should fully state, support, elaborate, explain, and defend your conclusions. Take great care to ensure the writing is a commentary and not simply a regurgitation of results. Side (distracting) issues should not be written about because they will cloud the essence of your message. There is no perfect dissertation, but help your reader determine what the facts are and what is speculation.

Here are 12 steps to keep in mind when writing your Discussion Chapter:

  • Always try to structure your Discussion chapter from the ‘specific’ to the ‘general’: expand and transition from the narrow confines of your study to the general framework of your discipline.
  • Make a consistent effort to stick with the same general tone of the introduction. This means using the same key terms, the same tense, and the same point of view as used in your introduction.
  • Start by rewriting your research questions and re-stating your hypothesis (if any) that you previously posed in your introduction. Then declare the answers to your research questions – make sure to support these answers with the findings of your dissertation.
  • Continue by explaining how your results relate to the expectations of your study and to literature. Clearly explain why these results are acceptable and how they consistently fit in with previously published knowledge about the subject. Be sure to use relevant citations.
  • Make sure to give the proper attention for all the results relating to your research questions, this is regardless of whether or not the findings were statistically significant.
  • Don’t forget to tell your audience about the patterns, principles, and key relationships shown by each of your major findings and then put them into perspective. The sequencing of this information is important: 1) state the answer, 2) show the relevant results and 3) cite the work of credible sources. When necessary, point the audience to figures and/or graphs to ‘enhance’ your argument.
  • Make sure to defend your answers. Try to do so in two ways: by explaining the validity of your answer and by showing the shortcomings of others’ answers. You will make your point of view more convincing if you give both sides to the argument.
  • Also make sure to identify conflicting data in your work. Make a good point of discussing and evaluating any conflicting explanations of your results. This is an effective way to win over your audience and make them sympathetic to any true knowledge your study might have to offer.
  • Make sure to include a discussion of any unexpected findings. When doing this, begin with a paragraph about the finding and then describe it. Also identify potential limitations and weaknesses inherent in your study. Then comment on the importance of these limitations to the interpretation of your findings and how they may impact their validity. Do not use an apologetic tone in this section. Every study has limitations.
  • Conduct a brief summary of the principal implications of your findings (do this regardless of any statistical significance). Make sure to provide 1-2 recommendations for potential research in the future.
  • Show how the results of your study and their conclusions are significant and how they impact our understanding of the problem(s) that your dissertation examines.
  • On a final note, discuss everything this is relevant but be brief, specific, and to the point.

Contact Dissertation Genius for Any Other Inquiries or Concerns About Your Dissertation. We can help!

For any inquiries, questions, or concerns about problems you are facing with your dissertation, contact us and tell us your problem.

We will give you a free consultation and offer strategies to get you on track to receiving your PhD!

Schedule a Free Consultation

  • Email * Enter Email Confirm Email
  • What services are you interested in? Dissertation Assistance Dissertation Defense Preparation Dissertation Writing Coaching APA and Academic Editing Literature Review Assistance Concept Paper Assistance Methodology Assistance Qualitative Analysis Quantitative Analysis Statistical Power Analysis Masters Thesis Assistance
  • Yes, please.
  • No, thank you.
  • Email This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

535 Fifth Avenue, 4th Floor New York, NY 10017

Free consultation: (877) 875-7687

[email protected]

  • Testimonials

wpChatIcon

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • Dissertation

What Is a Dissertation? | Guide, Examples, & Template

Structure of a Dissertation

A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program.

Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you’ve ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating to know where to begin.

Your department likely has guidelines related to how your dissertation should be structured. When in doubt, consult with your supervisor.

You can also download our full dissertation template in the format of your choice below. The template includes a ready-made table of contents with notes on what to include in each chapter, easily adaptable to your department’s requirements.

Download Word template Download Google Docs template

  • In the US, a dissertation generally refers to the collection of research you conducted to obtain a PhD.
  • In other countries (such as the UK), a dissertation often refers to the research you conduct to obtain your bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text

Upload your document to correct all your mistakes in minutes

upload-your-document-ai-proofreader

Table of contents

Dissertation committee and prospectus process, how to write and structure a dissertation, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your dissertation, free checklist and lecture slides.

When you’ve finished your coursework, as well as any comprehensive exams or other requirements, you advance to “ABD” (All But Dissertation) status. This means you’ve completed everything except your dissertation.

Prior to starting to write, you must form your committee and write your prospectus or proposal . Your committee comprises your adviser and a few other faculty members. They can be from your own department, or, if your work is more interdisciplinary, from other departments. Your committee will guide you through the dissertation process, and ultimately decide whether you pass your dissertation defense and receive your PhD.

Your prospectus is a formal document presented to your committee, usually orally in a defense, outlining your research aims and objectives and showing why your topic is relevant . After passing your prospectus defense, you’re ready to start your research and writing.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

The structure of your dissertation depends on a variety of factors, such as your discipline, topic, and approach. Dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay , building an overall argument to support a central thesis , with chapters organized around different themes or case studies.

However, hard science and social science dissertations typically include a review of existing works, a methodology section, an analysis of your original research, and a presentation of your results , presented in different chapters.

Dissertation examples

We’ve compiled a list of dissertation examples to help you get started.

  • Example dissertation #1: Heat, Wildfire and Energy Demand: An Examination of Residential Buildings and Community Equity (a dissertation by C. A. Antonopoulos about the impact of extreme heat and wildfire on residential buildings and occupant exposure risks).
  • Example dissertation #2: Exploring Income Volatility and Financial Health Among Middle-Income Households (a dissertation by M. Addo about income volatility and declining economic security among middle-income households).
  • Example dissertation #3: The Use of Mindfulness Meditation to Increase the Efficacy of Mirror Visual Feedback for Reducing Phantom Limb Pain in Amputees (a dissertation by N. S. Mills about the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on the relationship between mirror visual feedback and the pain level in amputees with phantom limb pain).

The very first page of your document contains your dissertation title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo.

Read more about title pages

The acknowledgements section is usually optional and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you. In some cases, your acknowledgements are part of a preface.

Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces

The only proofreading tool specialized in correcting academic writing - try for free!

The academic proofreading tool has been trained on 1000s of academic texts and by native English editors. Making it the most accurate and reliable proofreading tool for students.

masters dissertation discussion

Try for free

The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150 to 300 words long. Though this may seem very short, it’s one of the most important parts of your dissertation, because it introduces your work to your audience.

Your abstract should:

  • State your main topic and the aims of your research
  • Describe your methods
  • Summarize your main results
  • State your conclusions

Read more about abstracts

The table of contents lists all of your chapters, along with corresponding subheadings and page numbers. This gives your reader an overview of your structure and helps them easily navigate your document.

Remember to include all main parts of your dissertation in your table of contents, even the appendices. It’s easy to generate a table automatically in Word if you used heading styles. Generally speaking, you only include level 2 and level 3 headings, not every subheading you included in your finished work.

Read more about tables of contents

While not usually mandatory, it’s nice to include a list of figures and tables to help guide your reader if you have used a lot of these in your dissertation. It’s easy to generate one of these in Word using the Insert Caption feature.

Read more about lists of figures and tables

Similarly, if you have used a lot of abbreviations (especially industry-specific ones) in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.

Read more about lists of abbreviations

In addition to the list of abbreviations, if you find yourself using a lot of highly specialized terms that you worry will not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary. Here, alphabetize the terms and include a brief description or definition.

Read more about glossaries

The introduction serves to set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance. It tells the reader what to expect in the rest of your dissertation. The introduction should:

  • Establish your research topic , giving the background information needed to contextualize your work
  • Narrow down the focus and define the scope of your research
  • Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
  • Clearly state your research questions and objectives
  • Outline the flow of the rest of your work

Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant. By the end, the reader should understand the what, why, and how of your research.

Read more about introductions

A formative part of your research is your literature review . This helps you gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic.

Literature reviews encompass:

  • Finding relevant sources (e.g., books and journal articles)
  • Assessing the credibility of your sources
  • Critically analyzing and evaluating each source
  • Drawing connections between them (e.g., themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps) to strengthen your overall point

A literature review is not merely a summary of existing sources. Your literature review should have a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear justification for your own research. It may aim to:

  • Address a gap in the literature or build on existing knowledge
  • Take a new theoretical or methodological approach to your topic
  • Propose a solution to an unresolved problem or advance one side of a theoretical debate

Read more about literature reviews

Theoretical framework

Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework. Here, you define and analyze the key theories, concepts, and models that frame your research.

Read more about theoretical frameworks

Your methodology chapter describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to critically assess its credibility. Your methodology section should accurately report what you did, as well as convince your reader that this was the best way to answer your research question.

A methodology section should generally include:

  • The overall research approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative ) and research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment )
  • Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
  • Any tools and materials you used (e.g., computer programs, lab equipment)
  • Your data analysis methods (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
  • An evaluation or justification of your methods

Read more about methodology sections

Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses , or themes, but avoid including any subjective or speculative interpretation here.

Your results section should:

  • Concisely state each relevant result together with relevant descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
  • Briefly state how the result relates to the question or whether the hypothesis was supported
  • Report all results that are relevant to your research questions , including any that did not meet your expectations.

Additional data (including raw numbers, full questionnaires, or interview transcripts) can be included as an appendix. You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results. Read more about results sections

Your discussion section is your opportunity to explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research question. Here, interpret your results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. Refer back to relevant source material to show how your results fit within existing research in your field.

Some guiding questions include:

  • What do your results mean?
  • Why do your results matter?
  • What limitations do the results have?

If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data.

Read more about discussion sections

Your dissertation’s conclusion should concisely answer your main research question, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your central argument and emphasizing what your research has contributed to the field.

In some disciplines, the conclusion is just a short section preceding the discussion section, but in other contexts, it is the final chapter of your work. Here, you wrap up your dissertation with a final reflection on what you found, with recommendations for future research and concluding remarks.

It’s important to leave the reader with a clear impression of why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known? Why is your research necessary for the future of your field?

Read more about conclusions

It is crucial to include a reference list or list of works cited with the full details of all the sources that you used, in order to avoid plagiarism. Be sure to choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your dissertation. Each style has strict and specific formatting requirements.

Common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA , but which style you use is often set by your department or your field.

Create APA citations Create MLA citations

Your dissertation should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents such as interview transcripts or survey questions can be added as appendices, rather than adding them to the main body.

Read more about appendices

Making sure that all of your sections are in the right place is only the first step to a well-written dissertation. Don’t forget to leave plenty of time for editing and proofreading, as grammar mistakes and sloppy spelling errors can really negatively impact your work.

Dissertations can take up to five years to write, so you will definitely want to make sure that everything is perfect before submitting. You may want to consider using a professional dissertation editing service , AI proofreader or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect prior to submitting.

After your written dissertation is approved, your committee will schedule a defense. Similarly to defending your prospectus, dissertation defenses are oral presentations of your work. You’ll present your dissertation, and your committee will ask you questions. Many departments allow family members, friends, and other people who are interested to join as well.

After your defense, your committee will meet, and then inform you whether you have passed. Keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality; most committees will have resolved any serious issues with your work with you far prior to your defense, giving you ample time to fix any problems.

As you write your dissertation, you can use this simple checklist to make sure you’ve included all the essentials.

Checklist: Dissertation

My title page includes all information required by my university.

I have included acknowledgements thanking those who helped me.

My abstract provides a concise summary of the dissertation, giving the reader a clear idea of my key results or arguments.

I have created a table of contents to help the reader navigate my dissertation. It includes all chapter titles, but excludes the title page, acknowledgements, and abstract.

My introduction leads into my topic in an engaging way and shows the relevance of my research.

My introduction clearly defines the focus of my research, stating my research questions and research objectives .

My introduction includes an overview of the dissertation’s structure (reading guide).

I have conducted a literature review in which I (1) critically engage with sources, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of existing research, (2) discuss patterns, themes, and debates in the literature, and (3) address a gap or show how my research contributes to existing research.

I have clearly outlined the theoretical framework of my research, explaining the theories and models that support my approach.

I have thoroughly described my methodology , explaining how I collected data and analyzed data.

I have concisely and objectively reported all relevant results .

I have (1) evaluated and interpreted the meaning of the results and (2) acknowledged any important limitations of the results in my discussion .

I have clearly stated the answer to my main research question in the conclusion .

I have clearly explained the implications of my conclusion, emphasizing what new insight my research has contributed.

I have provided relevant recommendations for further research or practice.

If relevant, I have included appendices with supplemental information.

I have included an in-text citation every time I use words, ideas, or information from a source.

I have listed every source in a reference list at the end of my dissertation.

I have consistently followed the rules of my chosen citation style .

I have followed all formatting guidelines provided by my university.

Congratulations!

The end is in sight—your dissertation is nearly ready to submit! Make sure it's perfectly polished with the help of a Scribbr editor.

If you’re an educator, feel free to download and adapt these slides to teach your students about structuring a dissertation.

Open Google Slides Download PowerPoint

Is this article helpful?

Other students also liked.

  • How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates
  • Dissertation Table of Contents in Word | Instructions & Examples
  • How to Choose a Dissertation Topic | 8 Steps to Follow

More interesting articles

  • Checklist: Writing a dissertation
  • Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates
  • Dissertation Binding and Printing | Options, Tips, & Comparison
  • Example of a dissertation abstract
  • Figure and Table Lists | Word Instructions, Template & Examples
  • How to Write a Discussion Section | Tips & Examples
  • How to Write a Dissertation or Thesis Proposal
  • How to Write a Results Section | Tips & Examples
  • How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Conclusion
  • How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction
  • How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples
  • How to Write Recommendations in Research | Examples & Tips
  • List of Abbreviations | Example, Template & Best Practices
  • Operationalization | A Guide with Examples, Pros & Cons
  • Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples
  • Purpose and structure of an advisory report
  • Relevance of Your Dissertation Topic | Criteria & Tips
  • Research Paper Appendix | Example & Templates
  • Shorten your abstract or summary
  • Theoretical Framework Example for a Thesis or Dissertation
  • Thesis & Dissertation Acknowledgements | Tips & Examples
  • Thesis & Dissertation Database Examples
  • Thesis & Dissertation Title Page | Free Templates & Examples
  • What is a Dissertation Preface? | Definition & Examples
  • What is a Glossary? | Definition, Templates, & Examples
  • What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips
  • What Is a Theoretical Framework? | Guide to Organizing
  • What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

What is your plagiarism score?

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, automatically generate references for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • Dissertation
  • How to Write a Discussion Section | Tips & Examples

How to Write a Discussion Section | Tips & Examples

Published on 21 August 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 25 October 2022.

Discussion section flow chart

The discussion section is where you delve into the meaning, importance, and relevance of your results .

It should focus on explaining and evaluating what you found, showing how it relates to your literature review , and making an argument in support of your overall conclusion . It should not be a second results section .

There are different ways to write this section, but you can focus your writing around these key elements:

  • Summary: A brief recap of your key results
  • Interpretations: What do your results mean?
  • Implications: Why do your results matter?
  • Limitations: What can’t your results tell us?
  • Recommendations: Avenues for further studies or analyses

Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text

Be assured that you'll submit flawless writing. Upload your document to correct all your mistakes.

upload-your-document-ai-proofreader

Table of contents

What not to include in your discussion section, step 1: summarise your key findings, step 2: give your interpretations, step 3: discuss the implications, step 4: acknowledge the limitations, step 5: share your recommendations, discussion section example.

There are a few common mistakes to avoid when writing the discussion section of your paper.

  • Don’t introduce new results: You should only discuss the data that you have already reported in your results section .
  • Don’t make inflated claims: Avoid overinterpretation and speculation that isn’t directly supported by your data.
  • Don’t undermine your research: The discussion of limitations should aim to strengthen your credibility, not emphasise weaknesses or failures.

The only proofreading tool specialized in correcting academic writing

The academic proofreading tool has been trained on 1000s of academic texts and by native English editors. Making it the most accurate and reliable proofreading tool for students.

masters dissertation discussion

Correct my document today

Start this section by reiterating your research problem  and concisely summarising your major findings. Don’t just repeat all the data you have already reported – aim for a clear statement of the overall result that directly answers your main  research question . This should be no more than one paragraph.

Many students struggle with the differences between a discussion section and a results section . The crux of the matter is that your results sections should present your results, and your discussion section should subjectively evaluate them. Try not to blend elements of these two sections, in order to keep your paper sharp.

  • The results indicate that …
  • The study demonstrates a correlation between …
  • This analysis supports the theory that …
  • The data suggest  that …

The meaning of your results may seem obvious to you, but it’s important to spell out their significance for your reader, showing exactly how they answer your research question.

The form of your interpretations will depend on the type of research, but some typical approaches to interpreting the data include:

  • Identifying correlations , patterns, and relationships among the data
  • Discussing whether the results met your expectations or supported your hypotheses
  • Contextualising your findings within previous research and theory
  • Explaining unexpected results and evaluating their significance
  • Considering possible alternative explanations and making an argument for your position

You can organise your discussion around key themes, hypotheses, or research questions, following the same structure as your results section. Alternatively, you can also begin by highlighting the most significant or unexpected results.

  • In line with the hypothesis …
  • Contrary to the hypothesised association …
  • The results contradict the claims of Smith (2007) that …
  • The results might suggest that x . However, based on the findings of similar studies, a more plausible explanation is x .

As well as giving your own interpretations, make sure to relate your results back to the scholarly work that you surveyed in the literature review . The discussion should show how your findings fit with existing knowledge, what new insights they contribute, and what consequences they have for theory or practice.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do your results support or challenge existing theories? If they support existing theories, what new information do they contribute? If they challenge existing theories, why do you think that is?
  • Are there any practical implications?

Your overall aim is to show the reader exactly what your research has contributed, and why they should care.

  • These results build on existing evidence of …
  • The results do not fit with the theory that …
  • The experiment provides a new insight into the relationship between …
  • These results should be taken into account when considering how to …
  • The data contribute a clearer understanding of …
  • While previous research has focused on  x , these results demonstrate that y .

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Even the best research has its limitations. Acknowledging these is important to demonstrate your credibility. Limitations aren’t about listing your errors, but about providing an accurate picture of what can and cannot be concluded from your study.

Limitations might be due to your overall research design, specific methodological choices , or unanticipated obstacles that emerged during your research process.

Here are a few common possibilities:

  • If your sample size was small or limited to a specific group of people, explain how generalisability is limited.
  • If you encountered problems when gathering or analysing data, explain how these influenced the results.
  • If there are potential confounding variables that you were unable to control, acknowledge the effect these may have had.

After noting the limitations, you can reiterate why the results are nonetheless valid for the purpose of answering your research question.

  • The generalisability of the results is limited by …
  • The reliability of these data is impacted by …
  • Due to the lack of data on x , the results cannot confirm …
  • The methodological choices were constrained by …
  • It is beyond the scope of this study to …

Based on the discussion of your results, you can make recommendations for practical implementation or further research. Sometimes, the recommendations are saved for the conclusion .

Suggestions for further research can lead directly from the limitations. Don’t just state that more studies should be done – give concrete ideas for how future work can build on areas that your own research was unable to address.

  • Further research is needed to establish …
  • Future studies should take into account …
  • Avenues for future research include …

Discussion section example

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. (2022, October 25). How to Write a Discussion Section | Tips & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 19 February 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/thesis-dissertation/discussion/

Is this article helpful?

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

Other students also liked, how to write a results section | tips & examples, research paper appendix | example & templates, how to write a thesis or dissertation introduction.

Master’s Dissertations – The Discussion Chapter

The Discussion Chapter

Master’s Dissertations – The Discussion Chapter. The discussion chapter in the dissertation is your opportunity to demonstrate your ability to perform critical evaluation. Critical Evaluation is a key requirement of Master’s Level study. This blog will provide some ideas for writing the discussion chapter.

Here is a short video clip on the subject.

Three Elements of a Dissertation

Here is a reminder of the three essential elements in a dissertation :

  • Demonstration of Knowledge
  • Evidence of Application of Knowledge
  • Demonstration of Critical Evaluation

Together, these three will ‘tell a story’ through the dissertation showing a logical progression. “I know this, I’ve seen it used, and I can critically evaluate it”. Such an approach will show a Master’s Level of academic study.

Often, students find it difficult to create enough content in the discussion section. Be careful with adding discussion or evaluation in other chapters (in the literature review or analysis of results). Collect all the discussion together in a single place – the Discussion Chapter.

The discussion chapter is your own work. The other sections are a capture of what others are saying on the research topic, so make sure that the discussion chapter is substantial. This is a good reason to collect all of the discussion into a single chapter.

The Dissertation Objectives

You may have some specific objectives relating to critical evaluation so remind the reader what these objectives are at the beginning of the discussion chapter.

Discussion Means Debate

Discussion means debate – a to/fro argument looking at the pro’s/cos or strengths/weaknesses of any situation. Items that need debate should have been identified in the literature review and pointers made to the discussion chapter. Therefore debate these points rather than state opinions or findings.

Discussion Parallels the Literature Review

This means that it is great if the two chapters parallel each other. Work through the Literature Review, and pick up points in turn for debate. When that is completed, work through the analysis section in sequence, picking up items for discussion.

Discussion has Implications and Recommendations

When the item has been debated, what is to be concluded? The output of any discussion may be a decision, conclusions, recommendations, or further work. It may equally be undecided, open-ended, and with no correct answer. However, the discussion needs drawing to a conclusion with suggestions for recommendations or further research.

Make sure that your discussion on each point is concluded in some manner.

Critical Evaluation and Discussion in the Master’s Dissertation

Now is your opportunity to discuss your findings. Findings from the literature review, and findings from the data collection.

  • Comment on the differences discovered in the literature review chapter. Between authors, definitions, and/or theories. Why are they different?
  • Comment on the differences between the case studies or the collected data. Examine why differences exist.
  • Comment on how the theories studied in the literature review were applied (or not) in the case studies or supported (or not) in the data collected.
  • Discuss the Research Questions
  • Evaluate the objectives
  • Discuss the overall dissertation aim

The discussion chapter, by definition, is an interconnection and debate between the various sections in the dissertation. It should include your thoughts and recommendations, and be backed up by a limited number of citations. The discussion chapter may operate in parallel to the literature review chapter. It may follow the same order of topics. It will also point out the limitations, exceptions, and exclusions from the research.

I have an updated blog looking at the Discussion, Recommendations, and Limitations sub-chapters .

Save your discussion for the discussion chapter, ensure that you cover all the issues raised in the literature review and data analysis. Realise that discussion means debate, and will result in recommendations.

AbleSim Project Management Simulations YouTube Channel

AbleSim have a YouTube channel dedicated to work with Project Management Simulations, Masters Dissertation Support and MS Project.

Subscribe to this channel here!

Project Management Training YouTube Channel

Andrew Bell has a YouTube channel dedicated to Project Management Training with over 10 hours of video arranged by 97 videos in 20 playlists.

Follow 🔔 AbleSim 🔔 on twitter @AbleSim

Join the conversation #pmsim

  • Tweets could not be loaded at this time.

Like us on Facebook

On-line Project Management Simulations | AbleSim

  • Privacy Overview
  • Strictly Necessary Cookies
  • 3rd Party Cookies

This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible.

Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful.

Strictly necessary cookies should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.

If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.

This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages.

Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website.

Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences!

DP Logo

Dissertation Services

  • Dissertation Writing Service
  • Dissertation Assistance Service
  • Dissertation Consulting Service
  • Buy Dissertation
  • Dissertation Abstract Writing Services
  • Dissertation Formatting Service
  • Buy Dissertation Methodology
  • Dissertation Case Study Service
  • Pay For Dissertation
  • Dissertation Chapter Writing Services
  • Dissertation Conclusion Services
  • Dissertation Data Analysis Services
  • Dissertation Discussion Writing Services
  • Dissertation Introduction Writing Service
  • Dissertation Outline Service
  • Online Dissertation Help
  • Write My Dissertation
  • Do My Dissertation
  • Help With Thesis Writing Service
  • Dissertation Writing England
  • Dissertation Writing Service London
  • Dissertation Writing Northern Ireland
  • Dissertation Writing Scotland
  • Dissertation Writing Wales
  • Personal Statement Writing Service

Dissertation Subjects

  • Marketing Dissertation
  • Digital Marketing Dissertation
  • Law Dissertation Help
  • Economics Dissertation
  • Accounting Dissertation
  • Business Management Dissertation
  • Nursing Dissertation
  • Psychology Dissertation
  • Social Media Marketing Dissertation
  • English Literature Dissertation Help
  • Finance Dissertation
  • History Dissertation
  • HRM Dissertation
  • IT Dissertation
  • Linguistics Dissertation Help
  • Supply Chain Management Dissertation Help
  • Health And Social Care Dissertation

Dissertation Levels

  • Buy Master Dissertation
  • MBA Dissertation Writing Service
  • Buy PhD Dissertation
  • Masters Dissertation Proposal Help
  • MBA Dissertation Proposal Help
  • PhD Data Collection Services
  • PhD Dissertation Proposal Help
  • PhD Qualitative Data Analysis Services
  • Master Thesis Help
  • PhD Thesis Writing Help
  • PhD Dissertation Editing
  • Finance Dissertation Editing
  • Digital Marketing Dissertation Editing
  • Accounting Dissertation Editing
  • Sociology Dissertation Editing
  • English Literature Dissertation Editing
  • Economics Dissertation Editing
  • Linguistics Dissertation Editing
  • Business Management Dissertation Editing
  • Psychology Dissertation Editing
  • Marketing Dissertation Editing
  • Academic Poster Designing Services
  • Dissertation PowerPoint Presentation Service
  • Dissertation Presentation Writing Services
  • Literature Review Writing Service
  • Primary Data Collection Service
  • Qualitative Data Dissertation Services
  • Research Data Collection Service
  • Secondary Data Collection Help
  • DISSERTATION SERVICES
  • DISSERTATION SUBJECTS
  • DISSERTATION LEVELS
  • Buy MBA Dissertation
  • PhD Dissertation Editing Services

Hire a Writer

Get an expert writer for your academic paper

Check Samples

Take a look at samples for quality assurance

Dissertation Topics

Free customised dissertation topics for your assistance

  • Dissertation Discussion Chapter
  • Accounting Dissertation Topics (8)
  • Banking & Finance Dissertation Topics (10)
  • Business Management Dissertation Topics (35)
  • Economic Dissertation Topics (1)
  • Education Dissertation Topics (12)
  • Engineering Dissertation Topics (9)
  • English Literature Dissertation Topics (3)
  • HRM Dissertation Topics (3)
  • Law Dissertation Topics (13)
  • Marketing Dissertation Topics (9)
  • Medical Dissertation Topics (7)
  • Nursing Dissertation Topics (10)
  • Other Topics (10)
  • Supply Chain Dissertation Topics (2)
  • Biomedical Science (1)
  • Business Management Research Topics (1)
  • Computer Science Research Topics (1)
  • Criminology Research Topics (1)
  • Economics Research Topics (1)
  • Google Scholar Research Topics (1)
  • HR Research Topics (1)
  • Law Research Topics (1)
  • Management Research Topics (1)
  • Marketing Research Topics (1)
  • MBA Research Topics (1)
  • Medical Research Topics (1)
  • How To (22)

Get a native to improve your language & writing

Enjoy quality dissertation help on any topic

Qualitative & Quantitative data analysis

Dissertation Discussion Chapter: Do’s & Don’ts To Write One In 12 Easy Steps

Date published July 11 2020 by Stella Carter

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature Review
  • Chapter 3: Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Result

You might think that the hardest part of writing the dissertation is completed, right?

  • Chapter 5: Discussion

Not really.

Discussion is the most important chapter in your dissertation. It allows students to take a fresh perspective of their dissertation results and gives them a chance to provide new and original information to the world. In short, dissertation discussion chapter example is that of a heart. This is the chapter that can either make or break your dissertation, but somehow students fail to fully explore the findings of their dissertation and give the chapter credit it deserves. This is the reason why we have compiled 12 easy steps that you can follow to write the perfect discussion for your dissertation. [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ]

How “Dissertation Proposal” Can Help You!

Our top dissertation writing experts are waiting 24/7 to assist you with your university project, from critical literature reviews to a complete masters dissertation.

Table of Contents

The do’s and don’ts of writing discussions chapter, examples 1:.

  • Incorrect: Starting by being too specific to the result.
  • https://www.scribbr.co.uk/thesis-dissertation/discussion/
  •  https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803&p=185933
  • https://dissertationgenius.com/12-steps-write-effective-discussion-chapter/
  • Correct: Going from general to specific
  • Linking findings to literature
  • Then to theory
  • Then to practice

Whether it is a masters’ thesis discussion chapter or a PhD discussion chapter. The first and the foremost thing you need to do is structure your discussion chapter properly. The discussion should follow a funnel structure. Everything should taper down to your results.

Examples 2:

  • Incorrect: Starting directly without stating research question
  • Correct: Starting by reiterating on the research question

To give the chapter coherence, re-state the research question or the hypothesis that you wished to answer or verify through this dissertation.

Examples 3:

  • Incorrect:  Tone not being consistent with the tone of dissertation
  • Correct: Narrative style and tone same as the one used throughout dissertation

Make sure that the flow of your dissertation is not deviated.

Examples 4:

  • Incorrect:  Stating the results plainly
  • Correct: Establish why your dissertation results are accurate and acceptable

Link your results to your literature review, further explain how they are consistent with previously published knowledge. Do not forget to use relevant and appropriate citations.

Examples 5:

  • Incorrect: The graph shows a perfectly linear relationship
  • Correct: The graph shows an almost perfectly linear relationship with an anomaly in the middle, due to an external factors

Examples 6:

  • Incorrect: Posting pictures and tables of your result without explaining them
  • Correct: Providing clear and detailed explanation for every aspect of your result
  • Any patterns that you noticed should be pointed out
  • Principles that were followed
  • Relationship shown in the result. Can the result be represented as a mathematical equation?
  • What was the dependent variable and what were the independent variables?
  • Which independent variables seemed to have the most influence on the result?

Get Free Customize Topics Now

Academic Level Undergraduate Masters PhD Others

captcha

Examples 7:

  • Incorrect: Leaving your answer without proving their credibility
  • Correct: Providing adequate proves for the authenticity of your answers

You can defend your answer in two possible ways.

i. By proving the validity of your results and answer

ii. By showing the flaws and shortcoming of answers that may have confliction with yours.

By giving both side of the arguments, you will have a better chance of making your point of viewmore convincing.

Examples 8:

T = T = -A, T= +A

  • Incorrect: Leaving out the unexpected findings without explaining them i.e. explaining only T= +A as it is corresponds with the result
  • Correct: Explaining both the expected T= +A and possible explanation of T= -A

The conflicting data (if any) in your dissertation results should be identified. These should then be evaluated and discussed. Just like conflicting data, unexpected findings should also be identified and discussed. The proper way to do this is by firstly stating the finding and then describing it. This is a great way to showcase your knowledge as you can also give a possible explanation of what might have caused these unexpected and faulty data.

This practice is considered as a sign of good discussion and an effective way to win over your audience.

Examples 9:

  • Incorrect: Not discussing the limitations that may have hampered the result
  • Correct: Identifying potential limitations and weaknesses

Examples 10:

  • Incorrect: Not providing recommendation for future research
  • Correct: Making sure to that you state what your results implicate. And also leave a recommendation for future researchers of how they can carry this one forward

Examples 11:

  • Incorrect: Not establishing significance of your results properly
  • Correct:  Establishing the significance of your study and your findings. Explain how your results have filled the previously present void. And its contribution in the field

Examples 12:

  • Incorrect: Elongating unnecessarily, providing information that is not relevant
  • Correct: Being brief, specific and concise

Consult Our Writers to Discuss Your Needs

View different varieties of dissertation topics and samples on multiple subjects for every educational level

Remember, never slack off in the discussion chapter as it is the highlight your dissertation. Use these  12 points to write the best discussion chapter. And share this blog with others, you never know who  might need it.

Lastly if you are facing problem and want dissertating writing help in other areas, come visit our  website. We do provide other services e.g. consultancy, dissertation proposal service, etc.

Grad Coach

How To Write The Results/Findings Chapter

For quantitative studies (dissertations & theses).

By: Derek Jansen (MBA). Expert Reviewed By: Kerryn Warren (PhD) | July 2021

So, you’ve completed your quantitative data analysis and it’s time to report on your findings. But where do you start? In this post, we’ll walk you through the results chapter (also called the findings or analysis chapter), step by step, so that you can craft this section of your dissertation or thesis with confidence. If you’re looking for information regarding the results chapter for qualitative studies, you can find that here .

The results & analysis section in a dissertation

Overview: Quantitative Results Chapter

  • What exactly the results/findings/analysis chapter is
  • What you need to include in your results chapter
  • How to structure your results chapter
  • A few tips and tricks for writing top-notch chapter

What exactly is the results chapter?

The results chapter (also referred to as the findings or analysis chapter) is one of the most important chapters of your dissertation or thesis because it shows the reader what you’ve found in terms of the quantitative data you’ve collected. It presents the data using a clear text narrative, supported by tables, graphs and charts. In doing so, it also highlights any potential issues (such as outliers or unusual findings) you’ve come across.

But how’s that different from the discussion chapter?

Well, in the results chapter, you only present your statistical findings. Only the numbers, so to speak – no more, no less. Contrasted to this, in the discussion chapter , you interpret your findings and link them to prior research (i.e. your literature review), as well as your research objectives and research questions . In other words, the results chapter presents and describes the data, while the discussion chapter interprets the data.

Let’s look at an example.

In your results chapter, you may have a plot that shows how respondents to a survey  responded: the numbers of respondents per category, for instance. You may also state whether this supports a hypothesis by using a p-value from a statistical test. But it is only in the discussion chapter where you will say why this is relevant or how it compares with the literature or the broader picture. So, in your results chapter, make sure that you don’t present anything other than the hard facts – this is not the place for subjectivity.

It’s worth mentioning that some universities prefer you to combine the results and discussion chapters. Even so, it is good practice to separate the results and discussion elements within the chapter, as this ensures your findings are fully described. Typically, though, the results and discussion chapters are split up in quantitative studies. If you’re unsure, chat with your research supervisor or chair to find out what their preference is.

The results and discussion chapter are typically split

What should you include in the results chapter?

Following your analysis, it’s likely you’ll have far more data than are necessary to include in your chapter. In all likelihood, you’ll have a mountain of SPSS or R output data, and it’s your job to decide what’s most relevant. You’ll need to cut through the noise and focus on the data that matters.

This doesn’t mean that those analyses were a waste of time – on the contrary, those analyses ensure that you have a good understanding of your dataset and how to interpret it. However, that doesn’t mean your reader or examiner needs to see the 165 histograms you created! Relevance is key.

How do I decide what’s relevant?

At this point, it can be difficult to strike a balance between what is and isn’t important. But the most important thing is to ensure your results reflect and align with the purpose of your study .  So, you need to revisit your research aims, objectives and research questions and use these as a litmus test for relevance. Make sure that you refer back to these constantly when writing up your chapter so that you stay on track.

There must be alignment between your research aims objectives and questions

As a general guide, your results chapter will typically include the following:

  • Some demographic data about your sample
  • Reliability tests (if you used measurement scales)
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Inferential statistics (if your research objectives and questions require these)
  • Hypothesis tests (again, if your research objectives and questions require these)

We’ll discuss each of these points in more detail in the next section.

Importantly, your results chapter needs to lay the foundation for your discussion chapter . This means that, in your results chapter, you need to include all the data that you will use as the basis for your interpretation in the discussion chapter.

For example, if you plan to highlight the strong relationship between Variable X and Variable Y in your discussion chapter, you need to present the respective analysis in your results chapter – perhaps a correlation or regression analysis.

Need a helping hand?

masters dissertation discussion

How do I write the results chapter?

There are multiple steps involved in writing up the results chapter for your quantitative research. The exact number of steps applicable to you will vary from study to study and will depend on the nature of the research aims, objectives and research questions . However, we’ll outline the generic steps below.

Step 1 – Revisit your research questions

The first step in writing your results chapter is to revisit your research objectives and research questions . These will be (or at least, should be!) the driving force behind your results and discussion chapters, so you need to review them and then ask yourself which statistical analyses and tests (from your mountain of data) would specifically help you address these . For each research objective and research question, list the specific piece (or pieces) of analysis that address it.

At this stage, it’s also useful to think about the key points that you want to raise in your discussion chapter and note these down so that you have a clear reminder of which data points and analyses you want to highlight in the results chapter. Again, list your points and then list the specific piece of analysis that addresses each point. 

Next, you should draw up a rough outline of how you plan to structure your chapter . Which analyses and statistical tests will you present and in what order? We’ll discuss the “standard structure” in more detail later, but it’s worth mentioning now that it’s always useful to draw up a rough outline before you start writing (this advice applies to any chapter).

Step 2 – Craft an overview introduction

As with all chapters in your dissertation or thesis, you should start your quantitative results chapter by providing a brief overview of what you’ll do in the chapter and why . For example, you’d explain that you will start by presenting demographic data to understand the representativeness of the sample, before moving onto X, Y and Z.

This section shouldn’t be lengthy – a paragraph or two maximum. Also, it’s a good idea to weave the research questions into this section so that there’s a golden thread that runs through the document.

Your chapter must have a golden thread

Step 3 – Present the sample demographic data

The first set of data that you’ll present is an overview of the sample demographics – in other words, the demographics of your respondents.

For example:

  • What age range are they?
  • How is gender distributed?
  • How is ethnicity distributed?
  • What areas do the participants live in?

The purpose of this is to assess how representative the sample is of the broader population. This is important for the sake of the generalisability of the results. If your sample is not representative of the population, you will not be able to generalise your findings. This is not necessarily the end of the world, but it is a limitation you’ll need to acknowledge.

Of course, to make this representativeness assessment, you’ll need to have a clear view of the demographics of the population. So, make sure that you design your survey to capture the correct demographic information that you will compare your sample to.

But what if I’m not interested in generalisability?

Well, even if your purpose is not necessarily to extrapolate your findings to the broader population, understanding your sample will allow you to interpret your findings appropriately, considering who responded. In other words, it will help you contextualise your findings . For example, if 80% of your sample was aged over 65, this may be a significant contextual factor to consider when interpreting the data. Therefore, it’s important to understand and present the demographic data.

Communicate the data

 Step 4 – Review composite measures and the data “shape”.

Before you undertake any statistical analysis, you’ll need to do some checks to ensure that your data are suitable for the analysis methods and techniques you plan to use. If you try to analyse data that doesn’t meet the assumptions of a specific statistical technique, your results will be largely meaningless. Therefore, you may need to show that the methods and techniques you’ll use are “allowed”.

Most commonly, there are two areas you need to pay attention to:

#1: Composite measures

The first is when you have multiple scale-based measures that combine to capture one construct – this is called a composite measure .  For example, you may have four Likert scale-based measures that (should) all measure the same thing, but in different ways. In other words, in a survey, these four scales should all receive similar ratings. This is called “ internal consistency ”.

Internal consistency is not guaranteed though (especially if you developed the measures yourself), so you need to assess the reliability of each composite measure using a test. Typically, Cronbach’s Alpha is a common test used to assess internal consistency – i.e., to show that the items you’re combining are more or less saying the same thing. A high alpha score means that your measure is internally consistent. A low alpha score means you may need to consider scrapping one or more of the measures.

#2: Data shape

The second matter that you should address early on in your results chapter is data shape. In other words, you need to assess whether the data in your set are symmetrical (i.e. normally distributed) or not, as this will directly impact what type of analyses you can use. For many common inferential tests such as T-tests or ANOVAs (we’ll discuss these a bit later), your data needs to be normally distributed. If it’s not, you’ll need to adjust your strategy and use alternative tests.

To assess the shape of the data, you’ll usually assess a variety of descriptive statistics (such as the mean, median and skewness), which is what we’ll look at next.

Descriptive statistics

Step 5 – Present the descriptive statistics

Now that you’ve laid the foundation by discussing the representativeness of your sample, as well as the reliability of your measures and the shape of your data, you can get started with the actual statistical analysis. The first step is to present the descriptive statistics for your variables.

For scaled data, this usually includes statistics such as:

  • The mean – this is simply the mathematical average of a range of numbers.
  • The median – this is the midpoint in a range of numbers when the numbers are arranged in order.
  • The mode – this is the most commonly repeated number in the data set.
  • Standard deviation – this metric indicates how dispersed a range of numbers is. In other words, how close all the numbers are to the mean (the average).
  • Skewness – this indicates how symmetrical a range of numbers is. In other words, do they tend to cluster into a smooth bell curve shape in the middle of the graph (this is called a normal or parametric distribution), or do they lean to the left or right (this is called a non-normal or non-parametric distribution).
  • Kurtosis – this metric indicates whether the data are heavily or lightly-tailed, relative to the normal distribution. In other words, how peaked or flat the distribution is.

A large table that indicates all the above for multiple variables can be a very effective way to present your data economically. You can also use colour coding to help make the data more easily digestible.

For categorical data, where you show the percentage of people who chose or fit into a category, for instance, you can either just plain describe the percentages or numbers of people who responded to something or use graphs and charts (such as bar graphs and pie charts) to present your data in this section of the chapter.

When using figures, make sure that you label them simply and clearly , so that your reader can easily understand them. There’s nothing more frustrating than a graph that’s missing axis labels! Keep in mind that although you’ll be presenting charts and graphs, your text content needs to present a clear narrative that can stand on its own. In other words, don’t rely purely on your figures and tables to convey your key points: highlight the crucial trends and values in the text. Figures and tables should complement the writing, not carry it .

Depending on your research aims, objectives and research questions, you may stop your analysis at this point (i.e. descriptive statistics). However, if your study requires inferential statistics, then it’s time to deep dive into those .

Dive into the inferential statistics

Step 6 – Present the inferential statistics

Inferential statistics are used to make generalisations about a population , whereas descriptive statistics focus purely on the sample . Inferential statistical techniques, broadly speaking, can be broken down into two groups .

First, there are those that compare measurements between groups , such as t-tests (which measure differences between two groups) and ANOVAs (which measure differences between multiple groups). Second, there are techniques that assess the relationships between variables , such as correlation analysis and regression analysis. Within each of these, some tests can be used for normally distributed (parametric) data and some tests are designed specifically for use on non-parametric data.

There are a seemingly endless number of tests that you can use to crunch your data, so it’s easy to run down a rabbit hole and end up with piles of test data. Ultimately, the most important thing is to make sure that you adopt the tests and techniques that allow you to achieve your research objectives and answer your research questions .

In this section of the results chapter, you should try to make use of figures and visual components as effectively as possible. For example, if you present a correlation table, use colour coding to highlight the significance of the correlation values, or scatterplots to visually demonstrate what the trend is. The easier you make it for your reader to digest your findings, the more effectively you’ll be able to make your arguments in the next chapter.

make it easy for your reader to understand your quantitative results

Step 7 – Test your hypotheses

If your study requires it, the next stage is hypothesis testing. A hypothesis is a statement , often indicating a difference between groups or relationship between variables, that can be supported or rejected by a statistical test. However, not all studies will involve hypotheses (again, it depends on the research objectives), so don’t feel like you “must” present and test hypotheses just because you’re undertaking quantitative research.

The basic process for hypothesis testing is as follows:

  • Specify your null hypothesis (for example, “The chemical psilocybin has no effect on time perception).
  • Specify your alternative hypothesis (e.g., “The chemical psilocybin has an effect on time perception)
  • Set your significance level (this is usually 0.05)
  • Calculate your statistics and find your p-value (e.g., p=0.01)
  • Draw your conclusions (e.g., “The chemical psilocybin does have an effect on time perception”)

Finally, if the aim of your study is to develop and test a conceptual framework , this is the time to present it, following the testing of your hypotheses. While you don’t need to develop or discuss these findings further in the results chapter, indicating whether the tests (and their p-values) support or reject the hypotheses is crucial.

Step 8 – Provide a chapter summary

To wrap up your results chapter and transition to the discussion chapter, you should provide a brief summary of the key findings . “Brief” is the keyword here – much like the chapter introduction, this shouldn’t be lengthy – a paragraph or two maximum. Highlight the findings most relevant to your research objectives and research questions, and wrap it up.

Some final thoughts, tips and tricks

Now that you’ve got the essentials down, here are a few tips and tricks to make your quantitative results chapter shine:

  • When writing your results chapter, report your findings in the past tense . You’re talking about what you’ve found in your data, not what you are currently looking for or trying to find.
  • Structure your results chapter systematically and sequentially . If you had two experiments where findings from the one generated inputs into the other, report on them in order.
  • Make your own tables and graphs rather than copying and pasting them from statistical analysis programmes like SPSS. Check out the DataIsBeautiful reddit for some inspiration.
  • Once you’re done writing, review your work to make sure that you have provided enough information to answer your research questions , but also that you didn’t include superfluous information.

If you’ve got any questions about writing up the quantitative results chapter, please leave a comment below. If you’d like 1-on-1 assistance with your quantitative analysis and discussion, check out our hands-on coaching service , or book a free consultation with a friendly coach.

masters dissertation discussion

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

You Might Also Like:

How to write the results chapter in a qualitative thesis

Thank you. I will try my best to write my results.

Lord

Awesome content 👏🏾

Tshepiso

this was great explaination

Submit a Comment Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

  • Print Friendly

Illustration

  • Dissertation & Thesis Guides
  • Basics of Dissertation & Thesis Writing
  • How to Write a Dissertation Discussion Chapter: Guide & Examples
  • Speech Topics
  • Basics of Essay Writing
  • Essay Topics
  • Other Essays
  • Main Academic Essays
  • Research Paper Topics
  • Basics of Research Paper Writing
  • Miscellaneous
  • Chicago/ Turabian
  • Data & Statistics
  • Methodology
  • Admission Writing Tips
  • Admission Advice
  • Other Guides
  • Student Life
  • Studying Tips
  • Understanding Plagiarism
  • Academic Writing Tips

Illustration

  • Essay Guides
  • Research Paper Guides
  • Formatting Guides
  • Basics of Research Process
  • Admission Guides

How to Write a Dissertation Discussion Chapter: Guide & Examples

dissertation_discussion

Table of contents

Illustration

Use our free Readability checker

Dissertation discussion section is a chapter that interprets the results obtained from research and offers an in-depth analysis of findings. In this section, students need to analyze the outcomes, evaluate their significance, and compare them to previous research. The discussion section may also explore the limitations of the study and suggest further research perspectives.

If you are stuck with your thesis or dissertation discussion chapter, you are in the right place to complete this section successfully. This article will outline our best solutions and methods on how to write the discussion of a dissertation or thesis. We also will share advanced dissertation discussion examples to help you finalize your PhD work.  Feel like academic writing gives you hassles? Remember that you can always rely on academic experts qualified in your field to get professional dissertation help online .

What Is a Dissertation Discussion?

First and foremost, students need to have a clear understanding of what dissertation discussion is. This is not the same as your results section , where you share data from your research. You are going deeper into the explanation of the existing data in your thesis or dissertation discussion section. In other words, you illustrate practical implications of your research and how the data can be used, researched further, or limited.  What will make your discussion section of a dissertation excellent:

  • clear structure
  • practical implication
  • elaboration on future work on this topic.

This section should go after research methodology and before the dissertation conclusion . It should be directly relevant to questions posed in your introduction.  The biggest mistake you can make is to rewrite your result chapter with other words and add some limitations and recommendation paragraphs. However, this is an entirely different type of writing you need to complete.

Purpose of a Dissertation Discussion Chapter

A dissertation discussion section is critical to explaining students’ findings and the application of data to real-life cases. As we mentioned before, this section will often be read right after the dissertation methods . It evaluates and elaborates on findings and helps to understand the importance of your performed thesis research.  A dissertation discussion opens a new perspective on further research on the same field or topic. It also outlines critical data to consider in subsequent studies. In a nutshell, this is the section where you explain your work to a broad audience.

Structure of a Dissertation Discussion Section

Let’s start your writing journey of this research part with a clear delineation of what it should include and then briefly discuss each component. Here are some basic things you need to consider for an excellent discussion chapter of dissertation :

  • Brief summary It does not mean copying an introduction section. However, the first few paragraphs will make an overview of your findings and topic.
  • Interpretations This is a critical component of your work — elaborate on your results and explain possible ways of using them.
  • Implication Research work is not just 100+ pages of text. Students should explain and illustrate how it could be used for solving practical problems.
  • Constraints This is where you outline your limitations. For instance, your research was done only on students, and it may have different results with elderly people.
  • Recommendations You can also define possible ways of future research on the exact topic when writing a discussion for your thesis or dissertation. Tell readers, for example, that it would be helpful to run similar research in other specific circumstances.

How to Write a Dissertation Discussion Chapter?

One of the most commonly asked questions for our experts is how to write the discussion section of a dissertation or thesis. We understand why it can be complicated to get a clear answer. Students often think that this section is similar to the result chapter and just retells it in other words. But it is not so. Let’s go through all steps to writing a discussion in a dissertation, and share our best examples from academic papers.

1. Remind Your Research Questions & Objectives

Writing the discussion chapter of a dissertation is not a big deal if you understand its aim and each component in a text structure. First of all, you need to evaluate how your results help to answer research questions you defined in the beginning. It is not about repeating the result, you did it in previous paragraphs.  However, dissertation or thesis discussion should underline how your findings help to answer the research problem. Start writing from a brief intro by recalling research questions or hypotheses . Then, show how your results answer them or support a hypothesis in your work.

2. Sum Up Key Findings

Next part of your discussion for dissertation is to provide a short summary of previous data. But do not respite the same summary paragraphs from results or introduction of a dissertation . Here researchers should be more thoughtful and go deeper into the work’s aims.  Try to explain in a few sentences what you get from running research. For instance, starters usually write the statement that “our data proves that…” or “survey results illustrate a clear correlation between a and b that is critical for proving our working hypothesis…”.  A discussion chapter of your dissertation is not just a fixation on results but a more profound summary connected to research goals and purpose. Here is an example: Summary of Findings Example

According to the data, implementing the co-orientation theory was successful and can be used for the same circumstances in the future. As we found, most participants agreed with the importance of those theses on the five fundamental reforms. It means that the results identified a successful government work in choosing the messages to communicate about examined reforms. At the same time, the situation is not so favorable with implementing the principles of two-way symmetrical communications. According to the results, people did not feel that the government had a mutual, open, and equal dialogue with the public about the reforms.

3. Interpret the Results

The most critical part of a discussion section is to explain and enact the results you’ve got. It is the most significant part of any text. Students should be clear about what to include in these paragraphs. Here is some advice to make this elaboration structured:

  • Identify correlations or patterns in the data for dissertation discussion.
  • Underline how results can answer research questions or prove your hypothesis.
  • Emphasize how your findings are connected to the previous topic studies.
  • Point out essential statements you can use in future research.
  • Evaluate the significance of your results and any unexpected data you have.
  • What others can learn from your research and how this work contributes to the field.
  • Consider any possible additional or unique explanation of your findings.
  • Go deeper with options of how results can be applied in practice.

Writing a dissertation discussion chapter can be tough, but here is a great sample to learn from. Example of Interpretations in Disssertation Discussion

Our study underlines the importance of future research on using TikTok for political communication. As discussed above, TikTok is the most commonly used social media platform for many young voters. This means that political discussion will also move to this platform. Our research and typology of political communication content can be used in the future planning of effective political campaigns. For example, we can assume that “play videos” have enormous potential to facilitate complicated topics and provide specific agenda settings. We also identified additional affordances of TikTok used for political communication, such as built-in video editors, playlists for specific topics, a green screen for news explainers, and duets for reflection on news and discussion. It means that these features make TikTok suitable for efficient political communications.

4. Discuss How Your Findings Relate to the Literature

Here we came to the implications of your findings for the dissertation discussion. In other words, this is a few sentences on how your work is connected to other studies on the same research topic or what literature gap you are going to fill with the data and research you launched. Remember to mention how your study address the limitations you have discovered while writing a literature review .  First, outline how your hypothesis relates to theories or previous works in the field. Maybe, you challenged some theories or tried to define your own. Be specific in this section. Second, define a practical implementation of your work. Maybe, it can support recommendations or change legislation.  Discussion chapter of a thesis is a place where you explain your work, make it valuable, and incorporate additional meaning for some specific data.  Example of Implications in Disssertation Discussion

As we pointed out in the literature review, there are few works on using TikTok affordances for political communications, and this topic can be expanded in the future. Government institutions have already understood the importance of this platform for efficient communication with younger audiences, and we will see more political projects on TikTok. That is why expanding research on using TikTok for political communication will be enormous in the following years. Our work is one of the first research on the role of emerging media in war communication and can be used as a practical guide for government's strategic planning in times of emergencies.

5. Mention Possible Limitations

It is pretty tricky to conduct research without limitations. You will always have some, which does not mean that your work is not good. When you write a discussion chapter in a thesis or dissertation, focus on what may influence your results and how changing independent variables can affect your data collection methods and final outcomes.  Here are some points to consider when you structure your dissertation discussion limitation part:

  • If results can change in case you change the reference group?
  • What will happen with data if it changes circumstances?
  • What could influence results?

Critical thinking and analysis can help you to outline possible limitations. It can be the age of the reference group, change of questionnaire in a survey, or specific use of data extraction equipment. Be transparent about what could affect your results.  Example of Complications

Although this study has provided critical first insights into the effects of multimodal disinformation and rebuttals, there are some limitations. First and most importantly, the effects of multimodal disinformation and rebuttals partially depend on the topic of the message. Although fact-checkers reduce credibility of disinformation in both settings, and attitudinal congruence plays a consistent role in conditioning responses to multimodal disinformation, visuals do not have the same impact on affecting the credibility of news on school shootings and refugees.

6. Provide Recommendations for Further Research

Writing a dissertation discussion also makes a connection to possible future research. So, other scientists may complete that. While elaborating on possible implementations of your study, you may also estimate future approaches in topic research.  Here are some points to consider while your discussion in thesis writing:

  • Outline questions related to your topic that you did not answer in defined study or did not outline as research questions. There are other possible gaps to research.
  • Suggest future research based on limitations. For example, if you define surveyed people’s age as a limitation, recommend running another survey for older or younger recipients.

Example of Recommendations

As we mentioned before, our study has some limitations, as the research was conducted based on data from United State citizens. However, for a better understanding of government communication practices, it would be productive to implement the same research in other countries. Some cultural differences can influence the communication strategies the government uses in times of emergency. Another possible way to examine this topic is to conduct research using a specific period of time. For future studies, it will be beneficial to expand the number of survey recipients. 

7. Conclude Your Thesis/ Dissertation Discussion

You are almost done, the last step is to provide a brief summary of a section. It is not the same as a conclusion for whole research. However, you need to briefly outline key points from the dissertation discussion.  To finalize writing the discussion section of a dissertation, go through the text and check if there is no unimportant information. Do not overload the text with relevant data you did not present in the result section. Be specific in your summary paragraphs. It is a holistic view of everything you pointed out. Provide a few sentences to systemize all you outlined in the text. Example of a Concluding Summary in a Dissertation Discussion Section

To summarize, Airbnb has expertise in communicating CSR and CSA campaigns. We defined their communication strategy about the program for Ukrainian refugees as quite successful. They applied all the principles of CSR communication best practices, used dialogic theory to engage with the public on social media, and created clear messaging on applying for the program. Airbnb examples of CSR communication can be used by other businesses to create a communication strategy for unplanned CSR campaigns. Moreover, it can be further researched how Airbnb's CSR campaign influenced the organizational reputation in the future. 

Dissertation Discussion Example

If we need to share one piece of practical advice, it would be to use thesis or dissertation discussion examples when writing your own copy. StudyCrumb provides the best samples from real students' work to help you understand the stylistic and possible structure of this part. It does not mean you need to copy and paste them into your work.  However, you can use a  dissertation discussion example for inspiration and brainstorming ideas for breaking writing blocks. Here’s a doctoral thesis discussion chapter example.

Illustration

Dissertation Discussion Writing Tips

Before reading this blog, you should already know how to write a thesis discussion. However, we would share some essential tips you need to have in mind while working on the document. 

  • Be consistent Your dissertation discussion chapter is a part of bigger research, and it should be in line with your whole work.
  • Understand your reader You are writing an academic text that will be analyzed by professionals and experts in the same field. Be sure that you are not trying to simplify your discussion.
  • Be logical Do not jump into a new line of discussion if you did not delineate it as a research question at the beginning.
  • Be clear Do not include any data that was not presented in the result section.
  • Consider word choice Use such terms as “our data indicate…” or “our data suggests…” instead of “the data proves.”
  • Use proper format Follow the formatting rules specified by a specific paper style (e.g., APA style format , MLA format , or Chicago format ) or provided by your instructor.

Bottom Line on Writing a Dissertation Discussion Chapter

At this stage, it should not be a question for you on how to write a discussion chapter in a PhD thesis or dissertation. Let’s make it clear. It is not a result section but still a place to elaborate on data and go deeper with explanations. Dissertation discussion section includes some intro, result interpretations, limitations, and recommendations for future research. Our team encourages you to use examples before starting your own piece of writing. It will help you to realize the purpose and structure of this chapter and inspire better texts! If you have other questions regarding the PhD writing process, check our blog for more insights. From detailed instruction on how to write a dissertation or guide on formatting a dissertation appendix , we’ve got you covered.

Illustration

Order dissertation discussion from our proficient writers. They will take a significant burden off of you. Instead, they will carry out high-level academic work in a short time.

FAQ About Dissertation Discussion Chapter

1. where does a discussion section go in a dissertation.

Dissertation discussion section is used to go right after the result chapter. The logic is simple — you share your data and then go to the elaboration and explanation of it. Check the sample thesis we provide to students for details on structure.

2. How long should a dissertation discussion chapter be?

It is not a surprise that dissertation discussion chapter is extremely significant for the research. Here you will go into the details of your study and interpret results to prove or not your hypothesis. It should take almost 25% of your work. 

3. What tense should I use in a dissertation discussion?

Thesis or dissertation discussion used to have some rules on using tenses. You need to use the present tense when referring to established facts and use the past tense when referring to previous studies. And check your text before submission to ensure that you did not miss something.

4. What not to include in a dissertation discussion section?

The answer is easy. Discussion section of a dissertation should not include any new findings or describe some unsupported claims. Also, do not try to feel all possible gaps with one research. It may be better to outline your ideas for future studies in recommendations.

Joe_Eckel_1_ab59a03630.jpg

Joe Eckel is an expert on Dissertations writing. He makes sure that each student gets precious insights on composing A-grade academic writing.

You may also like

Dissertation Results

IMAGES

  1. How to Write a Dissertation Discussion

    masters dissertation discussion

  2. (PDF) Masters Dissertation

    masters dissertation discussion

  3. Difference between results and discussion dissertation proposal

    masters dissertation discussion

  4. Tutors India, Sheffield

    masters dissertation discussion

  5. Masters Dissertation Posters 2016

    masters dissertation discussion

  6. Write a Dissertation Discussion Chapter in Twelve Easy Steps

    masters dissertation discussion

VIDEO

  1. How to make Dissertation? Complete Details about Dissertation / Thesis for Bachelors/ Masters Degree

  2. How to secure the dissertation topic YOU want ✍🏼💻 #dissertation #university #masters

  3. Dissertation Research

  4. How a master's or PhD dissertation gets examined

  5. writing masters dissertation

  6. Dissertation Writing 101: Why You Have To Let Go #shorts

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Discussion Section

    Table of contents. What not to include in your discussion section. Step 1: Summarize your key findings. Step 2: Give your interpretations. Step 3: Discuss the implications. Step 4: Acknowledge the limitations. Step 5: Share your recommendations. Discussion section example. Other interesting articles.

  2. How To Write A Dissertation Discussion Chapter

    Step 1: Restate your research problem and research questions. The first step in writing up your discussion chapter is to remind your reader of your research problem, as well as your research aim (s) and research questions. If you have hypotheses, you can also briefly mention these.

  3. How to Write a Dissertation Discussion Chapter

    Here are some examples of how to present the summary of your findings; "The data suggests that", "The results confirm that", "The analysis indicates that", "The research shows a relationship between", etc. 2. Interpretations of Results. Your audience will expect you to provide meanings of the results, although they might seem ...

  4. How to Write Your Thesis Discussion Section

    The content in the thesis discussion section overlaps with the results section—the results section presents the data, and the discussion section interprets it. The structure of the discussion section differs according to the type of research (quantitative vs. qualitative).In qualitative research, such as in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) domain, the discussion and results from ...

  5. Dissertation findings and discussion sections

    Since 2006, Oxbridge Essays has been the UK's leading paid essay-writing and dissertation service. We have helped 10,000s of undergraduate, Masters and PhD students to maximise their grades in essays, dissertations, model-exam answers, applications and other materials. If you would like a free chat about your project with one of our UK staff ...

  6. The Results and Discussion

    Guide contents. As part of the Writing the Dissertation series, this guide covers the most common conventions of the results and discussion chapters, giving you the necessary knowledge, tips and guidance needed to impress your markers! The sections are organised as follows: The Difference - Breaks down the distinctions between the results and discussion chapters.

  7. Researching and Writing a Masters Dissertation

    It can be helpful to think of your Masters dissertation as a series of closely interlinked essays, rather than one overwhelming paper. The size of this section will depend on the overall word count for your dissertation. However, to give you a rough idea for a 15,000-word dissertation, the discussion part will generally be about 12,000 words long.

  8. How to Write an Effective Thesis Discussion

    Writing an effective thesis discussion can be challenging because it is so open ended. The purpose of the discussion is to (1) interpret your results, (2) discuss the significance of your results, (3) place your work in the context of previous work, (4) discuss the limitations of your study, and (5) suggest next steps to advance understanding and/or to improve real-world situations. The ...

  9. Dissertation Writing: Results and Discussion

    When writing a dissertation or thesis, the results and discussion sections can be both the most interesting as well as the most challenging sections to write. ... However, for an undergraduate or master's thesis, you will probably find that you need to include most of your work. You should write your results section in the past tense: you are ...

  10. Thesis Discussion Chapter Template (Word Doc + PDF)

    What's Included: Discussion Template. This template covers all the core components required in the discussion/analysis chapter of a typical dissertation or thesis, including: The opening/overview section. Overview of key findings. Interpretation of the findings. Concluding summary. The purpose of each section is explained in plain language ...

  11. Dissertation Structure & Layout 101 (+ Examples)

    Learn how to structure your dissertation or thesis into a powerful piece of research. We show you how to layout your dissertation or thesis, step by step. ... Chapter 5: Discussion. ... Such a helpful post to help me get started with structuring my masters dissertation, thank you! Reply. Simon Le on May 10, 2023 at 4:55 pm

  12. Dissertation Discussion Chapter: How To Write It In 6 Steps (With

    Learn exactly how to write a clear and compelling discussion chapter or section for your dissertation, thesis or research project. We explain how to craft th...

  13. 12 Steps to Write an Effective Discussion Chapter

    This article gives doctoral dissertation students valuable guidance on how to go about writing their Discussion chapter. The article starts by outlining the main goals and writing approaches. Then the article explains 12 specific steps to take to write an effective discussion chapter. Discussion Chapter: Main Goals and Writing Approaches You should always keep in […]

  14. What Is a Dissertation?

    A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program. Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you've ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating ...

  15. How to Write a Discussion Section

    Table of contents. What not to include in your discussion section. Step 1: Summarise your key findings. Step 2: Give your interpretations. Step 3: Discuss the implications. Step 4: Acknowledge the limitations. Step 5: Share your recommendations. Discussion section example.

  16. Master's Dissertations

    The discussion chapter in the dissertation is your opportunity to demonstrate your ability to perform critical evaluation. Critical Evaluation is a key requirement of Master's Level study. This blog will provide some ideas for writing the discussion chapter. Here is a short video clip on the subject. Discussion Chapter in a Masters Dissertation.

  17. How to Write a Dissertation Discussion

    You still have to work on the discussion chapter. If you want to finish it as soon as possible, let me give you guidance about how you can write the final chapter of your dissertation easily and quickly. 2 WhatsApp Now Get Instant 50% Discount on Live Chat! Writing a dissertation discussion is a very difficult part of thesis so we decide to ...

  18. Dissertation Conclusion 101 (Including Examples)

    In general, a good dissertation conclusion chapter should achieve the following: Summarise the key findings of the study. Explicitly answer the research question (s) and address the research aims. Inform the reader of the study's main contributions. Discuss any limitations or weaknesses of the study.

  19. Discussing your findings

    Your discussion should begin with a cogent, one-paragraph summary of the study's key findings, but then go beyond that to put the findings into context, says Stephen Hinshaw, PhD, chair of the psychology department at the University of California, Berkeley. "The point of a discussion, in my view, is to transcend 'just the facts,' and engage in ...

  20. Dissertation Discussion Chapter: Do's & Don'ts

    Discussion is the most important chapter in your dissertation, check out dissertation discussion chapter examples it will help you to writing a dissertation. Skip to content +44-207193-7705 / +44-122392-6189. ... Whether it is a masters' thesis discussion chapter or a PhD discussion chapter. The first and the foremost thing you need to do is ...

  21. Dissertation Results/Findings Chapter (Quantitative)

    The results chapter (also referred to as the findings or analysis chapter) is one of the most important chapters of your dissertation or thesis because it shows the reader what you've found in terms of the quantitative data you've collected. It presents the data using a clear text narrative, supported by tables, graphs and charts.

  22. How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Discussion & Examples

    What Is a Dissertation Discussion? First and foremost, students need to have a clear understanding of what dissertation discussion is. This is not the same as your results section, where you share data from your research.You are going deeper into the explanation of the existing data in your thesis or dissertation discussion section.