- 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”
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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….
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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Before diving into the how-to, grasping what critical discussion entails is essential. Essay writing help often emphasises the importance of this step. Critical discussion requires a deeper level of analysis where you explain a topic and evaluate and dissect its various facets.
Appendices or Appendixes are used to provide additional date related to your dissertation research project. Here we explain what is appendix in dissertation
Dissertation Methodology is the crux of dissertation project. In this article, we will provide tips for you to write an amazing dissertation methodology.
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Useful links, learning resources.
- How It Works
Dissertation Structure & Layout 101: How to structure your dissertation, thesis or research project.
By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Reviewed By: David Phair (PhD) | July 2019
So, you’ve got a decent understanding of what a dissertation is , you’ve chosen your topic and hopefully you’ve received approval for your research proposal . Awesome! Now its time to start the actual dissertation or thesis writing journey.
To craft a high-quality document, the very first thing you need to understand is dissertation structure . In this post, we’ll walk you through the generic dissertation structure and layout, step by step. We’ll start with the big picture, and then zoom into each chapter to briefly discuss the core contents. If you’re just starting out on your research journey, you should start with this post, which covers the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis .
*The Caveat *
In this post, we’ll be discussing a traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout, which is generally used for social science research across universities, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. However, some universities may have small variations on this structure (extra chapters, merged chapters, slightly different ordering, etc).
So, always check with your university if they have a prescribed structure or layout that they expect you to work with. If not, it’s safe to assume the structure we’ll discuss here is suitable. And even if they do have a prescribed structure, you’ll still get value from this post as we’ll explain the core contents of each section.
Overview: S tructuring a dissertation or thesis
- Acknowledgements page
- Abstract (or executive summary)
- Table of contents , list of figures and tables
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: Literature review
- Chapter 3: Methodology
- Chapter 4: Results
- Chapter 5: Discussion
- Chapter 6: Conclusion
- Reference list
As I mentioned, some universities will have slight variations on this structure. For example, they want an additional “personal reflection chapter”, or they might prefer the results and discussion chapter to be merged into one. Regardless, the overarching flow will always be the same, as this flow reflects the research process , which we discussed here – i.e.:
- The introduction chapter presents the core research question and aims .
- The literature review chapter assesses what the current research says about this question.
- The methodology, results and discussion chapters go about undertaking new research about this question.
- The conclusion chapter (attempts to) answer the core research question .
In other words, the dissertation structure and layout reflect the research process of asking a well-defined question(s), investigating, and then answering the question – see below.
To restate that – the structure and layout of a dissertation reflect the flow of the overall research process . This is essential to understand, as each chapter will make a lot more sense if you “get” this concept. If you’re not familiar with the research process, read this post before going further.
Right. Now that we’ve covered the big picture, let’s dive a little deeper into the details of each section and chapter. Oh and by the way, you can also grab our free dissertation/thesis template here to help speed things up.
The title page of your dissertation is the very first impression the marker will get of your work, so it pays to invest some time thinking about your title. But what makes for a good title? A strong title needs to be 3 things:
- Succinct (not overly lengthy or verbose)
- Specific (not vague or ambiguous)
- Representative of the research you’re undertaking (clearly linked to your research questions)
Typically, a good title includes mention of the following:
- The broader area of the research (i.e. the overarching topic)
- The specific focus of your research (i.e. your specific context)
- Indication of research design (e.g. quantitative , qualitative , or mixed methods ).
A quantitative investigation [research design] into the antecedents of organisational trust [broader area] in the UK retail forex trading market [specific context/area of focus].
Again, some universities may have specific requirements regarding the format and structure of the title, so it’s worth double-checking expectations with your institution (if there’s no mention in the brief or study material).
This page provides you with an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped you along your research journey. Generally, it’s optional (and won’t count towards your marks), but it is academic best practice to include this.
So, who do you say thanks to? Well, there’s no prescribed requirements, but it’s common to mention the following people:
- Your dissertation supervisor or committee.
- Any professors, lecturers or academics that helped you understand the topic or methodologies.
- Any tutors, mentors or advisors.
- Your family and friends, especially spouse (for adult learners studying part-time).
There’s no need for lengthy rambling. Just state who you’re thankful to and for what (e.g. thank you to my supervisor, John Doe, for his endless patience and attentiveness) – be sincere. In terms of length, you should keep this to a page or less.
Abstract or executive summary
The dissertation abstract (or executive summary for some degrees) serves to provide the first-time reader (and marker or moderator) with a big-picture view of your research project. It should give them an understanding of the key insights and findings from the research, without them needing to read the rest of the report – in other words, it should be able to stand alone .
For it to stand alone, your abstract should cover the following key points (at a minimum):
- Your research questions and aims – what key question(s) did your research aim to answer?
- Your methodology – how did you go about investigating the topic and finding answers to your research question(s)?
- Your findings – following your own research, what did do you discover?
- Your conclusions – based on your findings, what conclusions did you draw? What answers did you find to your research question(s)?
So, in much the same way the dissertation structure mimics the research process, your abstract or executive summary should reflect the research process, from the initial stage of asking the original question to the final stage of answering that question.
In practical terms, it’s a good idea to write this section up last , once all your core chapters are complete. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing and rewriting this section multiple times (just wasting time). For a step by step guide on how to write a strong executive summary, check out this post .
Need a helping hand?
Table of contents
This section is straightforward. You’ll typically present your table of contents (TOC) first, followed by the two lists – figures and tables. I recommend that you use Microsoft Word’s automatic table of contents generator to generate your TOC. If you’re not familiar with this functionality, the video below explains it simply:
If you find that your table of contents is overly lengthy, consider removing one level of depth. Oftentimes, this can be done without detracting from the usefulness of the TOC.
Right, now that the “admin” sections are out of the way, its time to move on to your core chapters. These chapters are the heart of your dissertation and are where you’ll earn the marks. The first chapter is the introduction chapter – as you would expect, this is the time to introduce your research…
It’s important to understand that even though you’ve provided an overview of your research in your abstract, your introduction needs to be written as if the reader has not read that (remember, the abstract is essentially a standalone document). So, your introduction chapter needs to start from the very beginning, and should address the following questions:
- What will you be investigating (in plain-language, big picture-level)?
- Why is that worth investigating? How is it important to academia or business? How is it sufficiently original?
- What are your research aims and research question(s)? Note that the research questions can sometimes be presented at the end of the literature review (next chapter).
- What is the scope of your study? In other words, what will and won’t you cover ?
- How will you approach your research? In other words, what methodology will you adopt?
- How will you structure your dissertation? What are the core chapters and what will you do in each of them?
These are just the bare basic requirements for your intro chapter. Some universities will want additional bells and whistles in the intro chapter, so be sure to carefully read your brief or consult your research supervisor.
If done right, your introduction chapter will set a clear direction for the rest of your dissertation. Specifically, it will make it clear to the reader (and marker) exactly what you’ll be investigating, why that’s important, and how you’ll be going about the investigation. Conversely, if your introduction chapter leaves a first-time reader wondering what exactly you’ll be researching, you’ve still got some work to do.
Now that you’ve set a clear direction with your introduction chapter, the next step is the literature review . In this section, you will analyse the existing research (typically academic journal articles and high-quality industry publications), with a view to understanding the following questions:
- What does the literature currently say about the topic you’re investigating?
- Is the literature lacking or well established? Is it divided or in disagreement?
- How does your research fit into the bigger picture?
- How does your research contribute something original?
- How does the methodology of previous studies help you develop your own?
Depending on the nature of your study, you may also present a conceptual framework towards the end of your literature review, which you will then test in your actual research.
Again, some universities will want you to focus on some of these areas more than others, some will have additional or fewer requirements, and so on. Therefore, as always, its important to review your brief and/or discuss with your supervisor, so that you know exactly what’s expected of your literature review chapter.
Now that you’ve investigated the current state of knowledge in your literature review chapter and are familiar with the existing key theories, models and frameworks, its time to design your own research. Enter the methodology chapter – the most “science-ey” of the chapters…
In this chapter, you need to address two critical questions:
- Exactly HOW will you carry out your research (i.e. what is your intended research design)?
- Exactly WHY have you chosen to do things this way (i.e. how do you justify your design)?
Remember, the dissertation part of your degree is first and foremost about developing and demonstrating research skills . Therefore, the markers want to see that you know which methods to use, can clearly articulate why you’ve chosen then, and know how to deploy them effectively.
Importantly, this chapter requires detail – don’t hold back on the specifics. State exactly what you’ll be doing, with who, when, for how long, etc. Moreover, for every design choice you make, make sure you justify it.
In practice, you will likely end up coming back to this chapter once you’ve undertaken all your data collection and analysis, and revise it based on changes you made during the analysis phase. This is perfectly fine. Its natural for you to add an additional analysis technique, scrap an old one, etc based on where your data lead you. Of course, I’m talking about small changes here – not a fundamental switch from qualitative to quantitative, which will likely send your supervisor in a spin!
You’ve now collected your data and undertaken your analysis, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. In this chapter, you’ll present the raw results of your analysis . For example, in the case of a quant study, you’ll present the demographic data, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics , etc.
Typically, Chapter 4 is simply a presentation and description of the data, not a discussion of the meaning of the data. In other words, it’s descriptive, rather than analytical – the meaning is discussed in Chapter 5. However, some universities will want you to combine chapters 4 and 5, so that you both present and interpret the meaning of the data at the same time. Check with your institution what their preference is.
Now that you’ve presented the data analysis results, its time to interpret and analyse them. In other words, its time to discuss what they mean, especially in relation to your research question(s).
What you discuss here will depend largely on your chosen methodology. For example, if you’ve gone the quantitative route, you might discuss the relationships between variables . If you’ve gone the qualitative route, you might discuss key themes and the meanings thereof. It all depends on what your research design choices were.
Most importantly, you need to discuss your results in relation to your research questions and aims, as well as the existing literature. What do the results tell you about your research questions? Are they aligned with the existing research or at odds? If so, why might this be? Dig deep into your findings and explain what the findings suggest, in plain English.
The final chapter – you’ve made it! Now that you’ve discussed your interpretation of the results, its time to bring it back to the beginning with the conclusion chapter . In other words, its time to (attempt to) answer your original research question s (from way back in chapter 1). Clearly state what your conclusions are in terms of your research questions. This might feel a bit repetitive, as you would have touched on this in the previous chapter, but its important to bring the discussion full circle and explicitly state your answer(s) to the research question(s).
Next, you’ll typically discuss the implications of your findings? In other words, you’ve answered your research questions – but what does this mean for the real world (or even for academia)? What should now be done differently, given the new insight you’ve generated?
Lastly, you should discuss the limitations of your research, as well as what this means for future research in the area. No study is perfect, especially not a Masters-level. Discuss the shortcomings of your research. Perhaps your methodology was limited, perhaps your sample size was small or not representative, etc, etc. Don’t be afraid to critique your work – the markers want to see that you can identify the limitations of your work. This is a strength, not a weakness. Be brutal!
This marks the end of your core chapters – woohoo! From here on out, it’s pretty smooth sailing.
The reference list is straightforward. It should contain a list of all resources cited in your dissertation, in the required format, e.g. APA , Harvard, etc.
It’s essential that you use reference management software for your dissertation. Do NOT try handle your referencing manually – its far too error prone. On a reference list of multiple pages, you’re going to make mistake. To this end, I suggest considering either Mendeley or Zotero. Both are free and provide a very straightforward interface to ensure that your referencing is 100% on point. I’ve included a simple how-to video for the Mendeley software (my personal favourite) below:
Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography, as opposed to a reference list. These two things are not the same . A bibliography is similar to a reference list, except that it also includes resources which informed your thinking but were not directly cited in your dissertation. So, double-check your brief and make sure you use the right one.
The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. This is where you’ll include any supporting data and evidence. Importantly, supporting is the keyword here.
Your appendices should provide additional “nice to know”, depth-adding information, which is not critical to the core analysis. Appendices should not be used as a way to cut down word count (see this post which covers how to reduce word count ). In other words, don’t place content that is critical to the core analysis here, just to save word count. You will not earn marks on any content in the appendices, so don’t try to play the system!
Time to recap…
And there you have it – the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows:
- Acknowledgments page
Most importantly, the core chapters should reflect the research process (asking, investigating and answering your research question). Moreover, the research question(s) should form the golden thread throughout your dissertation structure. Everything should revolve around the research questions, and as you’ve seen, they should form both the start point (i.e. introduction chapter) and the endpoint (i.e. conclusion chapter).
I hope this post has provided you with clarity about the traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below, or feel free to get in touch with us. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the Grad Coach Blog .
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.
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many thanks i found it very useful
Glad to hear that, Arun. Good luck writing your dissertation.
Such clear practical logical advice. I very much needed to read this to keep me focused in stead of fretting.. Perfect now ready to start my research!
what about scientific fields like computer or engineering thesis what is the difference in the structure? thank you very much
Thanks so much this helped me a lot!
Very helpful and accessible. What I like most is how practical the advice is along with helpful tools/ links.
Thank you so much sir.. It was really helpful..
Hi! How many words maximum should contain the abstract?
Thank you so much 😊 Find this at the right moment
You’re most welcome. Good luck with your dissertation.
best ever benefit i got on right time thank you
Many times Clarity and vision of destination of dissertation is what makes the difference between good ,average and great researchers the same way a great automobile driver is fast with clarity of address and Clear weather conditions .
I guess Great researcher = great ideas + knowledge + great and fast data collection and modeling + great writing + high clarity on all these
You have given immense clarity from start to end.
Morning. Where will I write the definitions of what I’m referring to in my report?
Thank you so much Derek, I was almost lost! Thanks a tonnnn! Have a great day!
Thanks ! so concise and valuable
This was very helpful. Clear and concise. I know exactly what to do now.
Thank you for allowing me to go through briefly. I hope to find time to continue.
Really useful to me. Thanks a thousand times
Very interesting! It will definitely set me and many more for success. highly recommended.
Thank you soo much sir, for the opportunity to express my skills
Usefull, thanks a lot. Really clear
That was incredibly useful. Thanks Grad Coach Crew!
My stress level just dropped at least 15 points after watching this. Just starting my thesis for my grad program and I feel a lot more capable now! Thanks for such a clear and helpful video, Emma and the GradCoach team!
Do we need to mention the number of words the dissertation contains in the main document?
It depends on your university’s requirements, so it would be best to check with them 🙂
Such a helpful post to help me get started with structuring my masters dissertation, thank you!
Great video; I appreciate that helpful information
It is so necessary or avital course
This blog is very informative for my research. Thank you
Doctoral students are required to fill out the National Research Council’s Survey of Earned Doctorates
wow this is an amazing gain in my life
This is so good
- What Is A Literature Review (In A Dissertation Or Thesis) - Grad Coach - […] is to write the actual literature review chapter (this is usually the second chapter in a typical dissertation or…
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How to Write Your Thesis Discussion Section
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.
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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.
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- Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates
Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates
Published on June 7, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.
A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process . It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding the specifics of your dissertation topic and showcasing its relevance to your field.
Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:
- Your anticipated title
- Your abstract
- Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review, research methods, avenues for future research, etc.)
In the final product, you can also provide a chapter outline for your readers. This is a short paragraph at the end of your introduction to inform readers about the organizational structure of your thesis or dissertation. This chapter outline is also known as a reading guide or summary outline.
Table of contents
How to outline your thesis or dissertation, dissertation and thesis outline templates, chapter outline example, sample sentences for your chapter outline, sample verbs for variation in your chapter outline, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis and dissertation outlines.
While there are some inter-institutional differences, many outlines proceed in a fairly similar fashion.
- Working Title
- “Elevator pitch” of your work (often written last).
- Introduce your area of study, sharing details about your research question, problem statement , and hypotheses . Situate your research within an existing paradigm or conceptual or theoretical framework .
- Subdivide as you see fit into main topics and sub-topics.
- Describe your research methods (e.g., your scope , population , and data collection ).
- Present your research findings and share about your data analysis methods.
- Answer the research question in a concise way.
- Interpret your findings, discuss potential limitations of your own research and speculate about future implications or related opportunities.
To help you get started, we’ve created a full thesis or dissertation template in Word or Google Docs format. It’s easy adapt it to your own requirements.
Download Word template Download Google Docs template
It can be easy to fall into a pattern of overusing the same words or sentence constructions, which can make your work monotonous and repetitive for your readers. Consider utilizing some of the alternative constructions presented below.
Example 1: Passive construction
The passive voice is a common choice for outlines and overviews because the context makes it clear who is carrying out the action (e.g., you are conducting the research ). However, overuse of the passive voice can make your text vague and imprecise.
Example 2: IS-AV construction
You can also present your information using the “IS-AV” (inanimate subject with an active verb ) construction.
A chapter is an inanimate object, so it is not capable of taking an action itself (e.g., presenting or discussing). However, the meaning of the sentence is still easily understandable, so the IS-AV construction can be a good way to add variety to your text.
Example 3: The “I” construction
Another option is to use the “I” construction, which is often recommended by style manuals (e.g., APA Style and Chicago style ). However, depending on your field of study, this construction is not always considered professional or academic. Ask your supervisor if you’re not sure.
Example 4: Mix-and-match
To truly make the most of these options, consider mixing and matching the passive voice , IS-AV construction , and “I” construction .This can help the flow of your argument and improve the readability of your text.
As you draft the chapter outline, you may also find yourself frequently repeating the same words, such as “discuss,” “present,” “prove,” or “show.” Consider branching out to add richness and nuance to your writing. Here are some examples of synonyms you can use.
If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .
The title page of your thesis or dissertation goes first, before all other content or lists that you may choose to include.
A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.
- Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)
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The purpose of the discussion section is to interpret and describe the significance of your findings in relation to what was already known about the research problem being investigated and to explain any new understanding or insights that emerged as a result of your research. The discussion will always connect to the introduction by way of the research questions or hypotheses you posed and the literature you reviewed, but the discussion does not simply repeat or rearrange the first parts of your paper; the discussion clearly explains how your study advanced the reader's understanding of the research problem from where you left them at the end of your review of prior research.
Annesley, Thomas M. “The Discussion Section: Your Closing Argument.” Clinical Chemistry 56 (November 2010): 1671-1674.
Importance of a Good Discussion
The discussion section is often considered the most important part of your research paper because it:
- Most effectively demonstrates your ability as a researcher to think critically about an issue, to develop creative solutions to problems based upon a logical synthesis of the findings, and to formulate a deeper, more profound understanding of the research problem under investigation;
- Presents the underlying meaning of your research, notes possible implications in other areas of study, and explores possible improvements that can be made in order to further develop the concerns of your research;
- Highlights the importance of your study and how it can contribute to understanding the research problem within the field of study;
- Presents how the findings from your study revealed and helped fill gaps in the literature that had not been previously exposed or adequately described; and,
- Engages the reader in thinking critically about issues based on an evidence-based interpretation of findings; it is not governed strictly by objective reporting of information.
Annesley Thomas M. “The Discussion Section: Your Closing Argument.” Clinical Chemistry 56 (November 2010): 1671-1674; Bitchener, John and Helen Basturkmen. “Perceptions of the Difficulties of Postgraduate L2 Thesis Students Writing the Discussion Section.” Journal of English for Academic Purposes 5 (January 2006): 4-18; Kretchmer, Paul. Fourteen Steps to Writing an Effective Discussion Section. San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008.
Structure and Writing Style
I. General Rules
These are the general rules you should adopt when composing your discussion of the results :
- Do not be verbose or repetitive; be concise and make your points clearly
- Avoid the use of jargon or undefined technical language
- Follow a logical stream of thought; in general, interpret and discuss the significance of your findings in the same sequence you described them in your results section [a notable exception is to begin by highlighting an unexpected result or a finding that can grab the reader's attention]
- Use the present verb tense, especially for established facts; however, refer to specific works or prior studies in the past tense
- If needed, use subheadings to help organize your discussion or to categorize your interpretations into themes
II. The Content
The content of the discussion section of your paper most often includes :
- Explanation of results : Comment on whether or not the results were expected for each set of findings; go into greater depth to explain findings that were unexpected or especially profound. If appropriate, note any unusual or unanticipated patterns or trends that emerged from your results and explain their meaning in relation to the research problem.
- References to previous research : Either compare your results with the findings from other studies or use the studies to support a claim. This can include re-visiting key sources already cited in your literature review section, or, save them to cite later in the discussion section if they are more important to compare with your results instead of being a part of the general literature review of prior research used to provide context and background information. Note that you can make this decision to highlight specific studies after you have begun writing the discussion section.
- Deduction : A claim for how the results can be applied more generally. For example, describing lessons learned, proposing recommendations that can help improve a situation, or highlighting best practices.
- Hypothesis : A more general claim or possible conclusion arising from the results [which may be proved or disproved in subsequent research]. This can be framed as new research questions that emerged as a consequence of your analysis.
III. Organization and Structure
Keep the following sequential points in mind as you organize and write the discussion section of your paper:
- Think of your discussion as an inverted pyramid. Organize the discussion from the general to the specific, linking your findings to the literature, then to theory, then to practice [if appropriate].
- Use the same key terms, narrative style, and verb tense [present] that you used when describing the research problem in your introduction.
- Begin by briefly re-stating the research problem you were investigating and answer all of the research questions underpinning the problem that you posed in the introduction.
- Describe the patterns, principles, and relationships shown by each major findings and place them in proper perspective. The sequence of this information is important; first state the answer, then the relevant results, then cite the work of others. If appropriate, refer the reader to a figure or table to help enhance the interpretation of the data [either within the text or as an appendix].
- Regardless of where it's mentioned, a good discussion section includes analysis of any unexpected findings. This part of the discussion should begin with a description of the unanticipated finding, followed by a brief interpretation as to why you believe it appeared and, if necessary, its possible significance in relation to the overall study. If more than one unexpected finding emerged during the study, describe each of them in the order they appeared as you gathered or analyzed the data. As noted, the exception to discussing findings in the same order you described them in the results section would be to begin by highlighting the implications of a particularly unexpected or significant finding that emerged from the study, followed by a discussion of the remaining findings.
- Before concluding the discussion, identify potential limitations and weaknesses if you do not plan to do so in the conclusion of the paper. Comment on their relative importance in relation to your overall interpretation of the results and, if necessary, note how they may affect the validity of your findings. Avoid using an apologetic tone; however, be honest and self-critical [e.g., in retrospect, had you included a particular question in a survey instrument, additional data could have been revealed].
- The discussion section should end with a concise summary of the principal implications of the findings regardless of their significance. Give a brief explanation about why you believe the findings and conclusions of your study are important and how they support broader knowledge or understanding of the research problem. This can be followed by any recommendations for further research. However, do not offer recommendations which could have been easily addressed within the study. This would demonstrate to the reader that you have inadequately examined and interpreted the data.
IV. Overall Objectives
The objectives of your discussion section should include the following: I. Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings
Briefly reiterate the research problem or problems you are investigating and the methods you used to investigate them, then move quickly to describe the major findings of the study. You should write a direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results, usually in one paragraph.
II. Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important
No one has thought as long and hard about your study as you have. Systematically explain the underlying meaning of your findings and state why you believe they are significant. After reading the discussion section, you want the reader to think critically about the results and why they are important. You don’t want to force the reader to go through the paper multiple times to figure out what it all means. If applicable, begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most significant or unanticipated finding first, then systematically review each finding. Otherwise, follow the general order you reported the findings presented in the results section.
III. Relate the Findings to Similar Studies
No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for your research. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps to support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your study differs from other research about the topic. Note that any significant or unanticipated finding is often because there was no prior research to indicate the finding could occur. If there is prior research to indicate this, you need to explain why it was significant or unanticipated. IV. Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings
It is important to remember that the purpose of research in the social sciences is to discover and not to prove . When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations for the study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. This is especially important when describing the discovery of significant or unanticipated findings.
V. Acknowledge the Study’s Limitations
It is far better for you to identify and acknowledge your study’s limitations than to have them pointed out by your professor! Note any unanswered questions or issues your study could not address and describe the generalizability of your results to other situations. If a limitation is applicable to the method chosen to gather information, then describe in detail the problems you encountered and why. VI. Make Suggestions for Further Research
You may choose to conclude the discussion section by making suggestions for further research [as opposed to offering suggestions in the conclusion of your paper]. Although your study can offer important insights about the research problem, this is where you can address other questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or highlight hidden issues that were revealed as a result of conducting your research. You should frame your suggestions by linking the need for further research to the limitations of your study [e.g., in future studies, the survey instrument should include more questions that ask..."] or linking to critical issues revealed from the data that were not considered initially in your research.
NOTE: Besides the literature review section, the preponderance of references to sources is usually found in the discussion section . A few historical references may be helpful for perspective, but most of the references should be relatively recent and included to aid in the interpretation of your results, to support the significance of a finding, and/or to place a finding within a particular context. If a study that you cited does not support your findings, don't ignore it--clearly explain why your research findings differ from theirs.
V. Problems to Avoid
- Do not waste time restating your results . Should you need to remind the reader of a finding to be discussed, use "bridge sentences" that relate the result to the interpretation. An example would be: “In the case of determining available housing to single women with children in rural areas of Texas, the findings suggest that access to good schools is important...," then move on to further explaining this finding and its implications.
- As noted, recommendations for further research can be included in either the discussion or conclusion of your paper, but do not repeat your recommendations in the both sections. Think about the overall narrative flow of your paper to determine where best to locate this information. However, if your findings raise a lot of new questions or issues, consider including suggestions for further research in the discussion section.
- Do not introduce new results in the discussion section. Be wary of mistaking the reiteration of a specific finding for an interpretation because it may confuse the reader. The description of findings [results section] and the interpretation of their significance [discussion section] should be distinct parts of your paper. If you choose to combine the results section and the discussion section into a single narrative, you must be clear in how you report the information discovered and your own interpretation of each finding. This approach is not recommended if you lack experience writing college-level research papers.
- Use of the first person pronoun is generally acceptable. Using first person singular pronouns can help emphasize a point or illustrate a contrasting finding. However, keep in mind that too much use of the first person can actually distract the reader from the main points [i.e., I know you're telling me this--just tell me!].
Analyzing vs. Summarizing. Department of English Writing Guide. George Mason University; Discussion. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Hess, Dean R. "How to Write an Effective Discussion." Respiratory Care 49 (October 2004); Kretchmer, Paul. Fourteen Steps to Writing to Writing an Effective Discussion Section. San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008; The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Sauaia, A. et al. "The Anatomy of an Article: The Discussion Section: "How Does the Article I Read Today Change What I Will Recommend to my Patients Tomorrow?” The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 74 (June 2013): 1599-1602; Research Limitations & Future Research . Lund Research Ltd., 2012; Summary: Using it Wisely. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Schafer, Mickey S. Writing the Discussion. Writing in Psychology course syllabus. University of Florida; Yellin, Linda L. A Sociology Writer's Guide . Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2009.
Don’t Over-Interpret the Results!
Interpretation is a subjective exercise. As such, you should always approach the selection and interpretation of your findings introspectively and to think critically about the possibility of judgmental biases unintentionally entering into discussions about the significance of your work. With this in mind, be careful that you do not read more into the findings than can be supported by the evidence you have gathered. Remember that the data are the data: nothing more, nothing less.
MacCoun, Robert J. "Biases in the Interpretation and Use of Research Results." Annual Review of Psychology 49 (February 1998): 259-287.
Another Writing Tip
Don't Write Two Results Sections!
One of the most common mistakes that you can make when discussing the results of your study is to present a superficial interpretation of the findings that more or less re-states the results section of your paper. Obviously, you must refer to your results when discussing them, but focus on the interpretation of those results and their significance in relation to the research problem, not the data itself.
Azar, Beth. "Discussing Your Findings." American Psychological Association gradPSYCH Magazine (January 2006).
Yet Another Writing Tip
Avoid Unwarranted Speculation!
The discussion section should remain focused on the findings of your study. For example, if the purpose of your research was to measure the impact of foreign aid on increasing access to education among disadvantaged children in Bangladesh, it would not be appropriate to speculate about how your findings might apply to populations in other countries without drawing from existing studies to support your claim or if analysis of other countries was not a part of your original research design. If you feel compelled to speculate, do so in the form of describing possible implications or explaining possible impacts. Be certain that you clearly identify your comments as speculation or as a suggestion for where further research is needed. Sometimes your professor will encourage you to expand your discussion of the results in this way, while others don’t care what your opinion is beyond your effort to interpret the data in relation to the research problem.
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Dissertations 5: findings, analysis and discussion: home.
The time has come to show and discuss the findings of your research. How to structure this part of your dissertation?
Dissertations can have different structures, as you can see in the dissertation structure guide.
Dissertations organised by sections
Many dissertations are organised by sections. In this case, we suggest three options. Note that, if within your course you have been instructed to use a specific structure, you should do that. Also note that sometimes there is considerable freedom on the structure, so you can come up with other structures too.
A) More common for scientific dissertations and quantitative methods:
- Results chapter
- Discussion chapter
- Literature review
if you write a scientific dissertation, or anyway using quantitative methods, you will have some objective results that you will present in the Results chapter. You will then interpret the results in the Discussion chapter.
B) More common for qualitative methods
- Analysis chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic subheadings.
- Discussion chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic subheadings.
- Case study of Company X (fashion brand) environmental strategies
- Successful elements
- Lessons learnt
- Criticisms of Company X environmental strategies
- Possible alternatives
C) More common for qualitative methods
- Analysis and discussion chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic titles.
- Case study of Company X (fashion brand) environmental strategies
If your dissertation uses qualitative methods, it is harder to identify and report objective data. Instead, it may be more productive and meaningful to present the findings in the same sections where you also analyse, and possibly discuss, them. You will probably have different sections dealing with different themes. The different themes can be subheadings of the Analysis and Discussion (together or separate) chapter(s).
If the structure of your dissertation is thematic , you will have several chapters analysing and discussing the issues raised by your research. The chapters will have descriptive/thematic titles.
- Background on the conflict in Yemen (2004-present day)
- Classification of the conflict in international law
- International law violations
- Options for enforcement of international law
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- Last Updated: Aug 4, 2023 2:17 PM
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Writing a compelling integrated discussion: a guide for integrated discussions in article-based theses and dissertations
- Krystina B. Lewis , Ian D. Graham , Laura Boland and Dawn Stacey
Article-based theses and dissertations are increasingly being used in nursing and the health sciences as an alternate format to the traditional five-chapter monograph. A unique chapter in the article-based thesis is the integrated discussion, which differs in breadth and depth as compared to the discussion for a traditional thesis monograph or journal article. For many students and faculty, the integrated discussion is a challenging chapter to write, with minimal or no published guidance available. In this article, we offer a four-step approach with templates for planning and writing an integrated discussion. We also share several lessons learned with examples from published theses and dissertations. Writing an integrated discussion can be facilitated and written more efficiently by developing a clear and detailed outline of the chapter and broad discussion points prior to drafting the text, to achieve a higher-level synthesis, analysis, and interpretation of the overall significance of the thesis findings.
An increasing number of university graduate programs in nursing and the health sciences offer the option of writing an article-based thesis or dissertation as an alternate format to the traditional five-chapter monograph ( De Jong, Moser, & Hall, 2005 ; Graves et al., 2018 ; Robinson & Dracup, 2008 ; Smaldone, Heitkemper, Jackman, Joanne Woo, & Kelson, 2019 ). This format has gained traction internationally to facilitate the earlier and more frequent publication of graduate student research for the timelier advancement of knowledge and impact on clinical practice ( Evans, Amaro, Herbert, Blossom, & Roberts, 2018 ; Maynard, Vaughn, Sarteschi, & Berglund, 2012 ; Smaldone et al., 2019 ). An article-based thesis, also known as the manuscript option, thesis-by manuscript, integrated thesis, or PhD by published works, typically includes one or more articles suitable for publication in peer-reviewed journals and bounded together with an introduction chapter and integrated discussion chapter ( Baggs, 2011 ). The integrated discussion is a unique chapter in an article-based thesis. Integrated (2020) is defined as “ many different parts [that] are closely connected and work successfully together ” (“Integrated,” 2020). The general purpose of the integrated discussion chapter is to provide an overall synthesis and demonstrate high level abstraction, analysis, and interpretation of the thesis findings. It is an opportunity to showcase the thesis’ findings, the student’s reflections about the findings, and its implications ( Smith, 2015 ).
Requirements and expectations for the integrated discussion chapter vary by institution and department. Supervising faculty within individual institutions may also have differing approaches and expectations. We found no general rules or expectations in the literature for writing an integrated discussion. An inquiry of select institutional guidance documents in various international jurisdictions revealed that academic institutions provide few details about this chapter. Descriptions focus more on the overall contribution of the integrated discussion chapter to the thesis, rather than guidance on how to write it ( Table 1 ).
Examples of institutional guidelines for the integrated discussion chapter in an article-based thesis.
Writing a compelling integrated discussion can be challenging, and there is a scarcity of resources, instructions, or published guidance for students and supervising faculty on this subject. Existing guidance is focused primarily on writing discussions for a single journal article or a traditional thesis monograph. Yet, the integrated discussion chapter differs in breadth and depth. In journal articles, a discussion usually consists of a statement of the main findings, interpretation of the results in the context of the broader literature, strengths and limitations of the study, and implications for potential users of the findings (clinicians, administrators, policy makers, and others), the discipline, and future research ( Makar, Foltz, Lendner, & Vaccaro, 2018 ). The discussion section of the traditional monograph thesis has a similar format to that of a journal article as it discusses a single study but is often more detailed. In comparison, the integrated discussion chapter of the article-based thesis provides students with a space in which to weave the results and discussion points from the individual articles comprising the thesis, elaborate on the logic and linkages between them, and convincingly argue for the unified, coherent, and original nature of their findings and contributions to the field-at-large. Smith (2015) refers to this as the golden thread. Grant (2011) refers to it as the logic of connectivity . Ultimately, it is about how the student links the key ideas from the individual papers and articulates the connectedness between them, so as to make readers understand the thesis’ broader meaning which make it accessible to a larger audience ( Smith, 2015 ).
The educational value of conceptualizing and writing an integrated discussion can be best classified at the highest level of Bloom’s revised taxonomy of educational objectives, to Create — formerly known as Synthesis in Bloom’s original taxonomy — whereby parts are combined in novel ways to produce a coherent whole and to formulate new points of view ( Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001 ; Bloom, 1956 ). According to the taxonomy, the integrated discussion represents the pinnacle of cognitive tasks and processes by requiring higher-order thinking and critical reflections expected of graduate level students. Hence, the integrated discussion chapter provides the graduate student an opportunity to synthesize, integrate, and raise the discussion to a higher level of abstraction; allowing them to demonstrate the coherence between all articles reported in the thesis. It is often in the integrated discussion where thesis advisory committee members and examiners can assess the student’s depth of theoretical and applied knowledge of the subject matter, capacity for critical inquiry, and judge the overall value of the student’s conclusions and contributions to the substantive area of study ( Gould, 2016 ). Specifically in nursing, this higher-level thinking can be articulated by discussing how the knowledge generated advances nursing practice, education and research, and how it contributes to the delivery of high quality health care, and improved health and health system outcomes ( Institute of Medicine [US] Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, 2011 ). Yet, with little guidance available on how to think about and write an integrated discussion, graduate students may miss the opportunity to engage in this higher-order thinking and critical reflections.
In this paper, we offer a practical four-step approach with templates for writing an integrated discussion for article-based theses. KBL initially developed the steps and templates as she conceptualized and wrote her integrated discussion for her PhD dissertation. The steps and templates were refined as a result of (a) her own integrated discussion writing process; (b) discussion with her thesis supervisor and thesis advisory committee members; and, (c) feedback from several graduate students who have used it successfully. As recent doctoral graduates and faculty supervisors, we are sharing this approach and our lessons learned with examples from published theses and dissertations.
Writing an integrated discussion chapter
Step 1: outlining the integrated discussion chapter.
To begin, we propose drafting an outline for the integrated discussion chapter with six major sections ( Table 2 ). First, provide an opening paragraph introducing the information to be presented in the chapter. Second, present a summary of the overall purpose of the thesis as a unified piece of work and a brief summary of each individual article prepared for publication. Each article summary should include the study aim, study design, and key results. Keep in mind that by the time supervisors, thesis advisory committee members, and examiners read the integrated discussion chapter, they have probably just finished reading the previous chapters and articles, so there is no need to repeat information in detail. Rather, the purpose of this section is to refresh the readers’ focus and to begin demonstrating how the articles logically link to each other. Third, outline the main points of the integrated discussion as clearly and concisely as possible (see Step 2 and 3 for more details). Fourth, discuss the strengths and limitations of the thesis, as a whole, if applicable. Typically, strengths and limitations are only presented at the individual article level, but if there are broader strengths or limitations that apply to the thesis, they can be discussed in this chapter. Fifth, discuss the implications of the thesis for the specific discipline (e.g., nursing, medicine, population health, epidemiology, rehabilitation) in terms of the findings’ applicability to practice, education, leadership, and/or policy. Sixth, describe implications for future research. Finally, this chapter should end with a strong, clear, and logical conclusion summarizing the entire work across all elements of the thesis. The conclusions should clearly state the original contribution(s) to the advancement of knowledge and overall significance for the field at-large.
Suggested structure for an integrated discussion.
a Approximate length based on 12-point type font, double spacing, left-justified, 1-inch margins, and format for 8 ½ × 11 paper.
Step 2. Mapping individual articles’ findings to inform the integrated discussion
The next step is to draft the main integrated discussion points. Using Template I, capture the main discussion points from each individual article ( Table 3 ). If there is only one article in the thesis, these can be generated from the literature review, guiding theoretical framework, and/or chosen methodology. This exercise is intended to facilitate the student’s thinking about how to build convincing overarching discussion points and explore the key messages they want readers to come away with after reading the thesis.
Template I to summarize individual article discussion points to identify overarching discussion points.
a If there is only one article in the thesis, additional discussion points/contributions/implications can come from the literature review, guiding theoretical framework, and/or chosen methodology. b Whether these implications are included in the individual article or not, this explicitly offers a starting point to think of the implications arising from individual articles.
The last row in this template is reserved for listing the actual and potential disciplinary implications arising from each article, which may address any of the following domains: practice, education, leadership, policy and/or research. Depending on journal requirements, these implications may be directly discussed in the individual articles. If not, this section offers the student a starting point for thinking about the disciplinary implications arising from their thesis as a whole.
Completing Template I as individual articles are finalized, and sharing it with a faculty supervisor or thesis advisory committee can facilitate discussion about the evolving integrated discussion points. It can also facilitate requisite critical thinking and reflection necessary for linking findings across the individual articles.
Step 3. Drafting the main integrated discussion points
Consider the discussion points and disciplinary implications across all individual articles of the thesis to identify commonalities or differences;
Draft main integrated discussion points, logically connecting the individual articles;
Identify findings from, ideally, two individual articles that support (or refute) the proposed main integrated discussion points (aiming for evidence from two articles helps achieve a higher level integrated discussion); and
Identify and classify theoretical and empirical literature relevant to the main integrated discussion points. Select regional, national, and international empirical studies, theoretical works, clinical practice guidelines, technical reports, and/or policy documents; highlight what the thesis adds to the field (of knowledge) and how it will enhance understanding of the subject.
Template II to build the main integrated discussion points from the individual articles and summarize implications.
a If there is only one article in the thesis, the supporting contributions/arguments can come from the literature review, guiding theoretical framework, and/or chosen methodology. b Broader literature can include empirical studies, theoretical works, practice guidelines, technical reports, and/or policy documents. c List the disciplinary implications identified across all articles. This explicitly offers a starting point to think of the disciplinary implications arising across the individual articles’ findings and discussion points.
This exercise is intended to help organize the content of the integrated discussion early in the writing process. We recommend sharing the evolving Templates I and II with the faculty supervisor or thesis advisory committee and use it as a tool for discussion before writing the integrated discussion chapter. As supervisors (DS, IDG), we also initiate Template I in discussion with our graduate students – often using a blank piece of paper. This reflective exercise may save time in the long run, as it facilitates staying focused on the key points and avoids repeating elements of the discussions within the individual papers. The more detailed the completed templates, the more content is available to transform into text.
Step 4. Writing the integrated discussion chapter
The final step is to turn the planned outline (Step 1) and the drafted main integrated discussion points (Step 3) into narrative prose. To remain focused, start by adding subheadings from the outline and lower level subheadings for each of the main integrated discussion points. A compelling integrated discussion is often preceded by multiple revisions. It should not be written when rushing to meet the thesis submission deadline as writing this chapter requires considerable reflection and introspection. For these reasons, we remind students that the integrated discussion is the last chapter their examiners will read, and it will leave a lasting impression. Getting this chapter right allows the student to demonstrate their mastery of the totality of their thesis work and sets the stage for the examination. In our experience, when an integrated discussion is well-written, the examiners’ comments indicate that the integrated discussion chapter tied all elements of the thesis together and helped them understand the thesis in its entirety.
When applying this approach for writing our own integrated discussions, or when guiding graduate students through the process, we have learned several lessons. To exemplify these lessons, we offer examples of published theses and dissertations in nursing and other health professions.
Lesson 1. Use stepwise approach with templates to plan and structure the chapter
Using the attached templates and proposed stepwise approach to structure the writing process reduces the inclination to simply repeat the discussion points found in the individual articles. The templates may also help graduate students overcome procrastination resulting from not knowing where to start with the integrated discussion. Further, Templates I and II may be used to guide discussions between graduate student and faculty supervisor, allowing for progress to be monitored prior to writing. Another advantage to doing this early is that some supervisors are less familiar with the article-based thesis format and may have little experience guiding their students in writing the integrated discussion. As such, using the template to walk through this process may be helpful for both parties.
Lesson 2. Think ahead
Avoid delaying until all the individual thesis articles are written before thinking about the integrated discussion. We recommend filling out the templates as individual articles are completed. When analyzing the results for individual articles and thinking about the discussion sections for these, we often identified relevant discussion points that were too broad for the articles. Keeping a log of discussions with faculty supervisors and thesis advisory committee members throughout the thesis writing process, and keeping record of personal reflections that were beyond the scope of individual articles, may help gather ideas early. For example, when first considering her integrated discussion, Hoefel (2019) chose the Walker and Avant (2011) theory testing approach to validate the decisional needs concept and test the main hypothesis of the Ottawa Decision Support Framework ( O’Connor et al., 1998 ). For her thesis, Hoefel (2019) wrote two articles based upon this framework. Her first was a systematic review article on decisional needs of people making health decisions and the second was a sub-analysis of a systematic review on patient decision aids. Hence, evidence from these articles contributed to the higher level discussion about validating the concepts and testing the hypotheses in the framework.
Lesson 3. Dedicate sufficient time
Dedicating sufficient time to writing the integrated discussion is important. For many students, the integrated discussion is a challenging chapter to write. It calls for a different style of writing than that which is required for individual research study articles. It requires conveying abstract and conceptual ideas to generate broader insights. Prior to developing and using these templates, our experience with many students has been that it can take many months of re-writing the integrated discussion chapter for it to adequately reflect the breadth and depth of the student’s thesis work and its vital contribution to the field. We have found that our stepwise approach involves more careful planning and conceptualizing of the integrated discussion prior to drafting the chapter, and therefore results in a more efficient writing and editing process.
Lesson 4. Consider theoretical and methodological implications
Theoretical and methodological implications may be considered as integrated discussion points. A student may choose to closely examine their selected theoretical perspective in light of their thesis findings. For example, in Lewis’ (2018) integrated discussion, she provided a discourse on the use of complementary theoretical frameworks across individual studies: the Ottawa Decision Support Framework ( O’Connor et al., 1998 ) and Normalization Process Theory ( May et al., 2009 ). This provided a link between intervention development and implementation planning, proposing a novel theory-informed approach for the development of decision support interventions ( Lewis, 2018 ). Likewise, methodological implications may be discussed in cases where a student’s thesis advances methods, or to discuss the influence of chosen methodology on key findings where similar research questions are answered using distinct study designs. Wu’s (2014) integrated discussion focused on the methods used for conducting a survey for data collection. He used a set of reminders, with the last reminder being a courier package and return envelope. He then discussed how testing this reminder strategy in his thesis study contributed to survey design methods.
Lesson 5. An integrated discussion is feasible with one article
In cases where there is only one article comprising an article-based thesis, key findings from a more detailed literature review, a theoretical framework guiding the entire research project, or chosen methodology can provide the additional linkages to build the main integrated discussion points. For instance, in her Master of Nursing thesis integrated discussion, Demery Varin (2018) compared and contrasted her secondary analysis findings on the predictors of nurses’ research use in long-term care settings (as reported in one published article) with her review of the literature on the individual and contextual factors to nurses’ research use in all settings.
Lesson 6. Integrated discussions are publishable
The integrated discussion (or elements of it) may be publishable in its own right. When written well, the integrated discussion often results in an important academic contribution to the body of knowledge. Some graduate students have used the integrated discussion as the basis for a commentary paper or an updated theoretical framework paper. In her integrated discussion chapter of her doctoral thesis, Jull (2014) described the development of a collaborative framework for community-research partnerships co-produced by First Nations, Inuit, and Metis women’s community members and researchers. This framework was based on her findings and experience conducting the studies comprising her thesis. Jull et al. (2018) subsequently published a paper based on her integrated discussion.
Lesson 7. Integrated discussions can lay the foundation for subsequent research
Many students who are completing a Master’s or PhD thesis also intend to pursue further research. A well thought out and articulated integrated discussion can inform subsequent research projects, grant proposals, or programs of research. For example, Boland (2018) drew from her PhD integrated discussion to identify evidence-practice gaps and potential solutions in pediatric shared decision-making, which she used to underpin a successful Canadian Institutes of Health Research post-doctoral fellowship and guide the establishment of her research program.
In this paper, we propose an approach to writing an integrated discussion chapter for an article-based thesis. Our advice provided in this paper is intended to position graduate students to adequately plan and produce a unified, coherent, and higher-level synthesis of the articles comprising their thesis. Challenges in writing an integrated discussion include avoiding repetition of discussion points already included within the individual articles comprising the thesis and achieving a higher-level discussion to integrate findings across the individual articles. Writing an integrated discussion can be facilitated by developing a clear and detailed outline of the chapter and, in particular, by identifying broader, more overarching points of discussion, than those presented within the individual articles. We encourage graduate students, faculty supervisors and thesis advisory committees to use the templates provided and share their experiences.
The authors wish to thank the graduate students who have used this approach, reported that it was useful, and offered feedback to improve it. The authors also wish to thank the reviewers. Their critical read and constructive comments strengthened this manuscript.
Research funding: The authors received no financial support for the authorship and publication of this manuscript. IDG is a recipient of a CIHR Foundation Grant (FDN# 143237). DS holds a University Research Chair in Knowledge Translation to Patients at the University of Ottawa.
Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.
Competing interest: Authors state no conflict of interest.
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Journal and Issue
Articles in the same issue.
- LEARNING SKILLS
- Writing a Dissertation or Thesis
- Results and Discussion
- 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
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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.
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.
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.
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 & Thesis Guides
- Basics of Dissertation & Thesis Writing
- How to Write a Dissertation Discussion Chapter: Guide & Examples
How to Write a Dissertation Discussion Chapter: Guide & Examples
Table of contents
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.
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.
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.
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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
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 ]
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Table of Contents
The do’s and don’ts of writing discussions chapter, examples 1:.
- Incorrect: Starting by being too specific to the result.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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?
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- 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.
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.
- Incorrect: Not discussing the limitations that may have hampered the result
- Correct: Identifying potential limitations and weaknesses
- 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
- 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
- Incorrect: Elongating unnecessarily, providing information that is not relevant
- Correct: Being brief, specific and concise
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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.
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How to Write a Discussion Section for a Research Paper
We’ve talked about several useful writing tips that authors should consider while drafting or editing their research papers. In particular, we’ve focused on figures and legends , as well as the Introduction , Methods , and Results . Now that we’ve addressed the more technical portions of your journal manuscript, let’s turn to the analytical segments of your research article. In this article, we’ll provide tips on how to write a strong Discussion section that best portrays the significance of your research contributions.
What is the Discussion section of a research paper?
In a nutshell, your Discussion fulfills the promise you made to readers in your Introduction . At the beginning of your paper, you tell us why we should care about your research. You then guide us through a series of intricate images and graphs that capture all the relevant data you collected during your research. We may be dazzled and impressed at first, but none of that matters if you deliver an anti-climactic conclusion in the Discussion section!
Are you feeling pressured? Don’t worry. To be honest, you will edit the Discussion section of your manuscript numerous times. After all, in as little as one to two paragraphs ( Nature ‘s suggestion based on their 3,000-word main body text limit), you have to explain how your research moves us from point A (issues you raise in the Introduction) to point B (our new understanding of these matters). You must also recommend how we might get to point C (i.e., identify what you think is the next direction for research in this field). That’s a lot to say in two paragraphs!
So, how do you do that? Let’s take a closer look.
What should I include in the Discussion section?
As we stated above, the goal of your Discussion section is to answer the questions you raise in your Introduction by using the results you collected during your research . The content you include in the Discussions segment should include the following information:
- Remind us why we should be interested in this research project.
- Describe the nature of the knowledge gap you were trying to fill using the results of your study.
- Don’t repeat your Introduction. Instead, focus on why this particular study was needed to fill the gap you noticed and why that gap needed filling in the first place.
- Mainly, you want to remind us of how your research will increase our knowledge base and inspire others to conduct further research.
- Clearly tell us what that piece of missing knowledge was.
- Answer each of the questions you asked in your Introduction and explain how your results support those conclusions.
- Make sure to factor in all results relevant to the questions (even if those results were not statistically significant).
- Focus on the significance of the most noteworthy results.
- If conflicting inferences can be drawn from your results, evaluate the merits of all of them.
- Don’t rehash what you said earlier in the Results section. Rather, discuss your findings in the context of answering your hypothesis. Instead of making statements like “[The first result] was this…,” say, “[The first result] suggests [conclusion].”
- Do your conclusions line up with existing literature?
- Discuss whether your findings agree with current knowledge and expectations.
- Keep in mind good persuasive argument skills, such as explaining the strengths of your arguments and highlighting the weaknesses of contrary opinions.
- If you discovered something unexpected, offer reasons. If your conclusions aren’t aligned with current literature, explain.
- Address any limitations of your study and how relevant they are to interpreting your results and validating your findings.
- Make sure to acknowledge any weaknesses in your conclusions and suggest room for further research concerning that aspect of your analysis.
- Make sure your suggestions aren’t ones that should have been conducted during your research! Doing so might raise questions about your initial research design and protocols.
- Similarly, maintain a critical but unapologetic tone. You want to instill confidence in your readers that you have thoroughly examined your results and have objectively assessed them in a way that would benefit the scientific community’s desire to expand our knowledge base.
- Recommend next steps.
- Your suggestions should inspire other researchers to conduct follow-up studies to build upon the knowledge you have shared with them.
- Keep the list short (no more than two).
How to Write the Discussion Section
The above list of what to include in the Discussion section gives an overall idea of what you need to focus on throughout the section. Below are some tips and general suggestions about the technical aspects of writing and organization that you might find useful as you draft or revise the contents we’ve outlined above.
Technical writing elements
- Embrace active voice because it eliminates the awkward phrasing and wordiness that accompanies passive voice.
- Use the present tense, which should also be employed in the Introduction.
- Sprinkle with first person pronouns if needed, but generally, avoid it. We want to focus on your findings.
- Maintain an objective and analytical tone.
Discussion section organization
- Keep the same flow across the Results, Methods, and Discussion sections.
- We develop a rhythm as we read and parallel structures facilitate our comprehension. When you organize information the same way in each of these related parts of your journal manuscript, we can quickly see how a certain result was interpreted and quickly verify the particular methods used to produce that result.
- Notice how using parallel structure will eliminate extra narration in the Discussion part since we can anticipate the flow of your ideas based on what we read in the Results segment. Reducing wordiness is important when you only have a few paragraphs to devote to the Discussion section!
- Within each subpart of a Discussion, the information should flow as follows: (A) conclusion first, (B) relevant results and how they relate to that conclusion and (C) relevant literature.
- End with a concise summary explaining the big-picture impact of your study on our understanding of the subject matter. At the beginning of your Discussion section, you stated why this particular study was needed to fill the gap you noticed and why that gap needed filling in the first place. Now, it is time to end with “how your research filled that gap.”
Discussion Part 1: Summarizing Key Findings
Begin the Discussion section by restating your statement of the problem and briefly summarizing the major results. Do not simply repeat your findings. Rather, try to create a concise statement of the main results that directly answer the central research question that you stated in the Introduction section . This content should not be longer than one paragraph in length.
Many researchers struggle with understanding the precise differences between a Discussion section and a Results section . The most important thing to remember here is that your Discussion section should subjectively evaluate the findings presented in the Results section, and in relatively the same order. Keep these sections distinct by making sure that you do not repeat the findings without providing an interpretation.
Phrase examples: Summarizing the results
- The findings indicate that …
- These results suggest a correlation between A and B …
- The data present here suggest that …
- An interpretation of the findings reveals a connection between…
Discussion Part 2: Interpreting the Findings
What do the results mean? It may seem obvious to you, but simply looking at the figures in the Results section will not necessarily convey to readers the importance of the findings in answering your research questions.
The exact structure of interpretations depends on the type of research being conducted. Here are some common approaches to interpreting data:
- Identifying correlations and relationships in the findings
- Explaining whether the results confirm or undermine your research hypothesis
- Giving the findings context within the history of similar research studies
- Discussing unexpected results and analyzing their significance to your study or general research
- Offering alternative explanations and arguing for your position
Organize the Discussion section around key arguments, themes, hypotheses, or research questions or problems. Again, make sure to follow the same order as you did in the Results section.
Discussion Part 3: Discussing the Implications
In addition to providing your own interpretations, show how your results fit into the wider scholarly literature you surveyed in the literature review section. This section is called the implications of the study . Show where and how these results fit into existing knowledge, what additional insights they contribute, and any possible consequences that might arise from this knowledge, both in the specific research topic and in the wider scientific domain.
Questions to ask yourself when dealing with potential implications:
- Do your findings fall in line with existing theories, or do they challenge these theories or findings? What new information do they contribute to the literature, if any? How exactly do these findings impact or conflict with existing theories or models?
- What are the practical implications on actual subjects or demographics?
- What are the methodological implications for similar studies conducted either in the past or future?
Your purpose in giving the implications is to spell out exactly what your study has contributed and why researchers and other readers should be interested.
Phrase examples: Discussing the implications of the research
- These results confirm the existing evidence in X studies…
- The results are not in line with the foregoing theory that…
- This experiment provides new insights into the connection between…
- These findings present a more nuanced understanding of…
- While previous studies have focused on X, these results demonstrate that Y.
Step 4: Acknowledging the limitations
All research has study limitations of one sort or another. Acknowledging limitations in methodology or approach helps strengthen your credibility as a researcher. Study limitations are not simply a list of mistakes made in the study. Rather, limitations help provide a more detailed picture of what can or cannot be concluded from your findings. In essence, they help temper and qualify the study implications you listed previously.
Study limitations can relate to research design, specific methodological or material choices, or unexpected issues that emerged while you conducted the research. Mention only those limitations directly relate to your research questions, and explain what impact these limitations had on how your study was conducted and the validity of any interpretations.
Possible types of study limitations:
- Insufficient sample size for statistical measurements
- Lack of previous research studies on the topic
- Methods/instruments/techniques used to collect the data
- Limited access to data
- Time constraints in properly preparing and executing the study
After discussing the study limitations, you can also stress that your results are still valid. Give some specific reasons why the limitations do not necessarily handicap your study or narrow its scope.
Phrase examples: Limitations sentence beginners
- “There may be some possible limitations in this study.”
- “The findings of this study have to be seen in light of some limitations.”
- “The first limitation is the…The second limitation concerns the…”
- “The empirical results reported herein should be considered in the light of some limitations.”
- “This research, however, is subject to several limitations.”
- “The primary limitation to the generalization of these results is…”
- “Nonetheless, these results must be interpreted with caution and a number of limitations should be borne in mind.”
Discussion Part 5: Giving Recommendations for Further Research
Based on your interpretation and discussion of the findings, your recommendations can include practical changes to the study or specific further research to be conducted to clarify the research questions. Recommendations are often listed in a separate Conclusion section , but often this is just the final paragraph of the Discussion section.
Suggestions for further research often stem directly from the limitations outlined. Rather than simply stating that “further research should be conducted,” provide concrete specifics for how future can help answer questions that your research could not.
Phrase examples: Recommendation sentence beginners
- Further research is needed to establish …
- There is abundant space for further progress in analyzing…
- A further study with more focus on X should be done to investigate…
- Further studies of X that account for these variables must be undertaken.
Consider Receiving Professional Language Editing
As you edit or draft your research manuscript, we hope that you implement these guidelines to produce a more effective Discussion section. And after completing your draft, don’t forget to submit your work to a professional proofreading and English editing service like Wordvice, including our manuscript editing service for paper editing , cover letter editing , SOP editing , and personal statement proofreading services. Language editors not only proofread and correct errors in grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and formatting but also improve terms and revise phrases so they read more naturally. Wordvice is an industry leader in providing high-quality revision for all types of academic documents.
For additional information about how to write a strong research paper, make sure to check out our full research writing series !
Wordvice Writing Resources
- How to Write a Research Paper Introduction
- Which Verb Tenses to Use in a Research Paper
- How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper
- How to Write a Research Paper Title
- Useful Phrases for Academic Writing
- Common Transition Terms in Academic Papers
- Active and Passive Voice in Research Papers
- 100+ Verbs That Will Make Your Research Writing Amazing
- Tips for Paraphrasing in Research Papers
Additional Academic Resources
- Guide for Authors. (Elsevier)
- How to Write the Results Section of a Research Paper. (Bates College)
- Structure of a Research Paper. (University of Minnesota Biomedical Library)
- How to Choose a Target Journal (Springer)
- How to Write Figures and Tables (UNC Writing Center)
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.
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Discussion Essay – Your Ultimate Guide
Are you stuck or do not know how to write a discussion essay? You may have issues with finding a topic or getting the right structure for the essay. This guide will highlight these points to make your job easier. Writing a discussion essay can be simple if you follow some rules. You must have a deep understanding of the matter, structure, and the right format. Read on to learn the discussion essay structure, format, and more.
What Is A Discussion Essay?
Discussion essays are common types of assignments that require students to present both sides of one argument. It is also called an argument essay. It outlines all the reasons for as well as against the issue. The essay is concluded by stating your opinion on the matter.
So the most acceptable discussion essay definition is one that offers two arguments. To write this essay, you must first develop a good topic that is explorable. While searching for a topic, be sure to find one that interests you and then narrow it down.
How To Write A Discussion Essay
Writing a discussion essay requires the organization of your thoughts before starting. Clear your mind and then organize your thoughts logically. The next step is to brainstorm for your topic. Before picking one, do some research so you can get a clear understanding of the topic.
After brainstorming, you need to gather the sources, and you should have enough to work with. One source could be considered as an opinion, but more sources make your work look more formal. It also simplifies the bibliography when you write it later on.
Create your outline to contain all the basic ideas you plan to discuss in the body of the essay. When you create one, you can analyze the viability of the topic. Put all your ideas on paper and sort out the best ones for your outline.
You may not need to write the essay immediately. Start with a draft. This draft depicts how you want the paper to look. Be sure to add all the crucial sections, such as the thesis statement. Other things to consider include a captivating introduction, an impressive conclusion, and a detailed body. Be sure to proofread the essay when you are done — writing it as a draft makes it easier to avoid mistakes.
Don't forget to create a submission copy or a secondary copy. On submission, decide on which paper to submit. So check the format, readability, and spelling. Now that you know how to start a discussion essay let's consider the right structure for this type of essay.
Structure Of Discussion Essay
All essays vary in length and even subject, but the structure is the same. Such essays have different components which they share in common. The thesis statements and general statements must be parts of this essay. It should also contain the main body for examining the argument for and arguments against. Write these parts in one or more paragraphs each.
The essay conclusion should contain a summary of all the main points you presented. It should also be based on the main points you think are important in the essay. Also, the conclusion may contain your personal opinion on the chosen topic. It should be based on any preceding evidence.
Writing Tips For Discussion Essays
- Start your essay with general statements
- Provide a clear position
- Be sure to define words where necessary
- Have a clear thesis statement
- Provide your opinion on the issue
- Offer a recommendation that relates to the main points in the essay
Writing this type of essay may be challenging if you haven’t done it before. Search online for a discussion essay example to guide you. If you still have issues, then you can get expert writing help from a professional for the best grades.
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- 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.
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
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.
Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.
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 .
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 …
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