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Writing the discussion section of a research paper

Pinterest In our latest blog, we provide guidance on how to address the challenge of crafting a suitable Discussion section in scientific writing. Researchers often say that constructing the Discussion section is the hardest part of the paper-writing process. That done, you must also consider taking your audience to point C by discussing the implications of the findings for clinicians and policymakers as well as their limitations.

At point D, you finally suggest future research directions and potential clinical applications. In the first paragraph of your Discussion, briefly recap the latest understanding in the field and emphasise the novel aspects of your study. Do not repeat in detail information previously presented in the Introduction and Results sections. In particular, avoid simply repeating the numerical values presented in the latter. Instead, offer readers a brief summary of the research problem and state your contributions to the body of knowledge.

Next, aim to interpret the strengths and weaknesses of your principal findings. While it is important to relate the presented findings to those of other relevant studies, however, refrain from overly citing previous work.

  1. However, better instructional materials and adequate pay are rarely even distantly related to the topic of the paper!
  2. Moreover, the future tense can be used to make recommendations for further research or provide future avenues.
  3. After identifying the problem, state the main reason that this study was needed.
  4. Reducing wordiness is important when you only have a few paragraphs to devote to the Discussion section!

This is not a literature review and only those papers that are directly relevant to your results — either because they support your findings or because they contradict them — should be mentioned.

For example, which potential clinical applications might your findings point to?

How to Write a Strong Discussion in Scientific Manuscripts

Leave readers to make up their own minds on meaning: Next, delineate the limitations of your findings and suggest future research directions. Are your findings generalisable to other geographical regions or cultural contexts?

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Are your methods able to be repeated in future experiments? Finally, use the last paragraph of this section to draw overall conclusions and summarise. The tone in your Discussion Setting a balanced tone in your Discussion is one of the greatest challenges for researchers, and this has led to some debate about the extent to which this section should be structured [1]. And not all statistically significant findings have clinical relevance.

In quantitative research, therefore, a central aim of discussions is to reinterpret the significant as relevant—and that requires subjective interpretation of data. Further, to ensure a balanced tone, our recommendation would be to seek out the Discussion sections in your target journal and aim to provide a similar structure and style.

Grammar pointers The Discussion section is the opportunity for you to explain to your audience the merits of your study and its unique contribution.

The best advice is not to pass up that opportunity by using unclear language, vague terms and overly speculative conclusions. As with the rest of the paper, aim for grammatical accuracy as well as a consistent set of terms and specific terminology. Your readers will not thank you for suddenly introducing a new abbreviation or concept at this late stage of proceedings.

Modern academic writing also prefers the active voice. According to Sanli and colleagues, the length of the Discussion section should not exceed the sum of other sections Introduction, Materials and Methods, and Resultsand it should be completed within 6—7 paragraphs.

What’s the purpose of the Discussion section?

This is sage advice for scientific papers that comprise 4000—5000 words. Further, a combination of tenses is acceptable.

Tips for writing a good Discussion section

For example, prefer the past tense to summarise the findings, whereas the present tense may seem more appropriate when interpreting the results or describing the significance of the findings. Indeed, a mixture of tenses might even be found in the same sentence in Discussions. Moreover, the future tense can be used to make recommendations for further research or provide future avenues.

In essence, taking the time to generate a well-crafted Discussion benefits not only the quality of your publication but also the wider scientific community. By clearly placing your findings in context, you ensure that their contribution and implications are considered fully.

References [1] Docherty, M. The case for structuring the discussion of scientific papers: Much the same as that for structuring abstracts.

BMJ, 318 71931224. The function of the discussion section in academic medical writing. BMJ, 320 72441269-1270. How to write an effective discussion. Respiratory Care, 49 101238-1241. How to write a discussion section?

Turkish Journal of Urology, 39 Suppl 120. Want us to review your paper?

Academic Phrases for Writing Results & Discussion Sections of a Research Paper

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