Researchers are often too enthusiastic writing about their findings that they do not realize that without making their key findings relevant to the real world, they may not be able to catch the attention of the reader; the reader is interested in the findings but not enthusiastic about them so he needs explanation.
Plainly narrating findings in the discussion section and stating, “these findings have made significant progression in the field” may not be adequate. The reader wants to know “how” that is true, and he wants to get the assurance that the author is not overpromising about his key findings.
Importance of Discussion Section
The discussion section of a research is normally written when the researcher is already tired of writing too many sections. Yet, he cannot take the discussion section easy because it is all about his contribution in his field of research. Simply putting the facts and findings in the research section will not emphasize the value of the research being discussed so the writer has to show how this research is different and incremental as compared to the earlier researches.
Avoid Extra Details
The researcher needs to make an impression at the start of discussion section and this impression cannot be made through long wordy paragraphs. It is normally recommended to start the discussion section with one paragraph summary of results without giving overwhelming details in this paragraph. After that, the writer should add more paragraphs, each discussing and elaborating key findings and putting them into the context.
Include Implications of the Study
It is not enough to mention results in paragraph form in the discussion section. The author should also mention what are the implications of these findings. He has to make it interesting and relatable for the reader. How do these affect or influence the existing research and how can these findings be used for the betterment in the subject area. However, if the author feels like discussing every finding in a comprehensive manner, then it will become difficult for him to put every finding in perspective therefore, it is necessary to decide first which key findings should be discussed in detail and which should be briefly mentioned. It is better to emphasize on the positive size of the research findings and not to elaborate the negative implications; however, exaggeration about the key findings should also be avoided. If the study is based on relational conclusions then the researcher should not use language that implies that there is causality in the variables of research.
“Data, Data, Data”… Even Sherlock Holmes admitted the fact.
So, whatever implications are made in the discussion section, these should be supported by data. The discussion section should include the factor of humility by adding the limitations of the research work. However, it would be a mistake if the researcher starts the discussion section with limitations rather than the implications. Similarly, the researcher should not make strong claims about weak results. There is a huge challenge that every researcher faces while writing his discussion section, especially the challenge of sticking to the hypothesis and originally mentioned the scope of the study.
Make it Easy for the Reader
Randomly ordered data and facts won’t make sense. It is not easy for the researcher to easily communicate complex results to the readers so following a step-by-step and organized method is recommended. Sometimes there is some data in the research, which supports key findings, but it is not the focus of the research rather serves as peripheral. The researcher should report this data only briefly and the main discussion should be about the data that is relevant to the statistical assumptions. If the underlying assumptions of the research are violated then the researcher should rationally define and explain how that happened and why it is acceptable.
Importance of Tables and Figures
The researcher should realize the importance of correctly referring to tables and figures in the result section, or else the discussion section will be hard to understand. Tables and figures are effective only as long as they are properly referenced else they lose their relevance in the discussion section. Besides the discussion on available data, the researcher also has to discuss the missing data, however briefly he does that. Particularly the impact of missing data should be discussed so that the reviewers have a complete idea of its influence on research. If the researcher only focuses on how his research supports or negated the previous researches, then this won’t be enough. He has to prove the novelty of his research and this can be best done in the discussion section.
“Devil is in the details”…never forget.
Keep it brief but Comprehensive
A lengthy discussion section is not recommended. Keeping the discussion clear and concise is recommended, but it should not be too concise that it leaves many questions in the minds of reviewers. There should be enough commentary on all the results that reading the section is self-explanatory and the reviewers only ask a couple of questions which arise in their minds. The researcher should use one tense (past or present) and follow it throughout the discussion rather than changing the tense again and again. Similarly, he should not forget to re-estate the hypothesis in the beginning, and probably at the end too, of the discussion section.
Use of Language
In the discussion section, the researcher should avoid being verbose or repetitive. Use of jargons might confuse the readers so it should be avoided. The author should not forget to compare his results with the previous results and how they are similar or different in different aspects. At the end, the author should re-assure that his section is well-organized, properly referenced with tables and figures and clear in terms of meaning and implications.
1. Azar, B. (2006). Discussing your Findings. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2006/01/findings.aspx
2. Drotar, D. (2009). Editorial: How to Write an Effective Results and Discussion for the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 34(4), 339-343. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsp014
3. Research Guides: The Discussion. (2008). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/discussion
4. San Francisco Edit. (n.d.). Fourteen Steps to Writing an Effective Discussion Section. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.sfedit.net/discussion.pdf
Anna Winters, Anurag Tewari MD & A. P Singh MD (APtizer)
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How to Cite this Article: Winters A, Tewari A, Singh AP (April 2016). How to Write the Discussion Section of a Research Article.Retrieved on (Month/Date/Year) from http://www.pub4sure.com/blog/tips-on-research-article/write-discussion-research-article/
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