The discussions in a research paper aims at interpreting and evaluating the results of the collected data. Sometimes students get confused between the results and discussions. You should not mix both as discussions follow results and it aims at exploring results in detail. In results section you should be more specific and summarize the findings of the data collected. While discussions in a research attempt at dealing with the details about those results. After you are done with writing the results you can now draw inferences and conclusions from the results.
Combining results and discussion section
Some researchers combine the results and discussions section with two sub-sections: 1) results, and 2) discussions section. Especially if you find that the results section is brief practically its better to combine both sections in one. When you combine both sections keep in mind that both results and discussions should be separated in a way that one can clearly understands. In lengthy theses and dissertations the results section is written separately while discussion is done separately.
Prove or reject hypothesis
The main aim of writing a discussion is to clearly identify whether your hypothesis is proved write or wrong. Although not all studies have a hypothesis so it does not mean that discussion section is just for hypothesis. Discussion section of the research analyzes all the results that have been obtained through your research. Your research can be a descriptive research in which you do not have a hypothesis. In descriptive research you can write about the significance of your study in the discussions.
The discussions of the results should be supported by other reviews of the literature. This will enable your to support and increase the validity of your findings. The work of other researchers might support or contradict with the findings you obtained through your research. Provide supportive or contrary statements from other works but also explain why it supports or contradicts.
The discussion section should not be a mere repetition of the results. The results have already been presented in some way in the previous section so the discussion should take the next step of exploring them. Also do not repeat one point in several paragraphs. Once you explore one of the point from the results and supported it with another researcher’s work you are done with it. Now you should start writing about another point and its explanation. You should present your points in paragraphs in sequential manner. Its always better to follow the results sequence in the discussions. If you do not follow the sequence that you followed in the results the readers will get confused.
Problems or limitations of research
In case your hypothesis was proved wrong address the reasons for this. If you encountered any problems during research, any limitations you should explain it. This is very important as it will help other researchers to replicate this study with caution. In fields like sociology and psychology where the respondents are human beings sometimes the researcher face problem of getting full participation support from them. Even in the field of medical science when the subjects are human being and the aim is to know about some disease (past or present history of the disease) the subjects might not be comfortable to participate. In the discussions section you should tell the readers about any limitation that you faced during this study.
Most significant section
The discussion section is the most significant section of your research paper. As it help the readers know all the details about the findings of the study. The main aim of an academic writing is to provide the outcomes of the study you cannot skip a single result from exploring it. There is no need to write lengthy details on each point but write as much as the readers can grasp the idea.
The language of the discussion section should be clear, simple and effective. It should be as complex as is the requirement of the topic under study. It should be as simple as the target readers can understand. You want to share your thoughts with the readers in easily comprehensible format but sometimes the topic needs technical details so do not skip those details.
First and last paragraph
The first paragraph of the discussion section should deal with overall idea about the approval or rejection of hypothesis. The last paragraph of the discussion should be about the overall importance of your study. You can write few sentences or a long paragraph about the significance of the study. You should also write about the limitation of the study in the last paragraph. Writing about the limitations of the study gives a good idea about your objectivity in research. It should be presented in a logical and reasonable way. Do not get tempted by adding unnecessary details to this paragraph. You can also provide ideas about what further studies should be conducted around this topic. This will be very helpful for other readers and researchers.
The above image will give you a guideline as how to write the discussions section of your research paper. Though there is a conclusion section at the end of the manuscript but the last paragraph of the discussion section should also summarize the conclusion of the research, any limitations if there or any problems encountered during the research.
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th Ed. American Psychological Association. Washington D.C. 2010. Pp- 35-36.
- Sanli O., Erdum S., and Teflik T. “How to Write a Discussion Section”. Turkish Journal of Urology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4548568/. Retrieved on 2019/2/12.