What Goes In a Discussion Section of a Research Paper?
June 15, 2021
The research paper discussion is a section within the assignment where you describe and interpret the findings of your study and the significance they have on what is already known through prior research. You highlight any new insights or understanding that resulted from the research study.
This article shows you how to write a discussion section of a research paper in five simple steps. But first, let us know more about the importance and content of a discussion section of research paper. The following points explain what you need to make sure you include in the discussion section.
What Goes in the Discussion Section of a Research Paper?
A discussion section of lab report is one type of assignment we can use to demonstrate what is in the discussion section of a research paper. There are six important points you should make as you write this section of the assignment:
- You need to reiterate the research problem and the major findings.
Briefly point out the research problem or problems your study addresses. You should state the method or approach you used to address the research problem and then move to describe the major finding of the study. Write clearly and concisely. Make direct statements and keep this section to one paragraph.
- You need to explain the meaning and importance of these findings.
You need to assume that the reader is learning about your research for the first time and may not have thought about its importance to the field. You need to explain the significance of your work to what is already known and what it could mean for future studies in the area. You don’t want your reader to have to go through your research paper several times before coming to the same realization as you. You can convince the reader of the importance in this paragraph.
- You need to relate your research study findings to prior research work.
No matter how unique your research study may seem, it will likely be connected to prior research. You should know this from the literature review you conducted and included in the research study. Make connections to establish your credibility by comparing and contrasting your approach, methods, questions, and results to whatever has come before.
- You need to consider different explanations of your research findings.
When you conduct any research study your main goal is to discover. You are not out to prove something (although many students believe they must prove their thesis statement to be successful). No matter what your theories are going into the research project, you should keep in mind that your discoveries should encourage further research. Consider different explanations of the findings even when they don’t fit your hypothesis.
- You need to acknowledge that there are limitations to your study.
All research studies will have limitations and you must identify and acknowledge them before they are discovered and pointed out by others. State any questions or issues that you could not address and provide an explanation of how these limitations may have affected your research study results.
- You need to make suggestions for the work that will follow your own.
The last paragraph of the discussion section should make suggestions for further research. Some people decide to make recommendations in the conclusion section, but it’s perfectly acceptable to include a few sentences in the discussion that point to more work that needs to be done to address questions that have gone unanswered.
How Long Should a Discussion Section Be?
The exact length of this section varies from one assignment to the next. A good rule of thumb is that the section should not exceed the number of words or pages of the other sections combined (e.g., introduction, methods, and results). You should also try to write the discussion within 6 to 8 paragraphs addressing each of the points listed above.
How to Write Discussion Section in Five Simple Steps
Unlike other sections in a research paper, the discussion section is where you will go into the meaning and importance of your study’s results and discuss how it relates to other studies about your topic. An important part of learning how to write the discussion section of a research paper is taking into consideration your research questions and literature review. Here are five steps to follow when writing a discussion section:
- Summarize the Key Research Findings
This chapter should begin with a few sentences that reiterate the research problem and questions followed by a concise summary of the key research findings. You should not repeat all the information you have already stated in prior sections. Make a clear statement the addresses the primary research question you sought to address and the overall result of the study. For example, “The study demonstrates that…” “The results indicate a correlation between…” “The analysis suggests that…” These statements are clear and concise, and they will keep you on track with the goal of this section.
- Give Your Interpretations of the Findings
Next, you need to point out the meaning of the results and their significance to the reader even if it seems obvious to you. Your interpretations will be shaped by the kind of research you conducted (qualitative approach or quantitative approach). You can find more information on this in an article discussing research methods. But there are some typical approaches you can include in your interpretation, including identifying patterns in data, discussing whether your findings support your thesis, and explaining unexpected results.
- Describe the Implications of the Findings
In addition to giving your research interpretations, you need to relate the results to the work you found when going through the literature review you included in your study. Answer questions like “How do your findings relate to prior knowledge?” “How can new perspectives contribute to what is already known?” and “What are the consequences and how can they be applied to the field’s theory or practice?” You will have to ask yourself several questions to provide an adequate discussion of the implications, so make a list of questions and write two or three sentence answers to each one.
- Acknowledge the Limitations of the Study
Every research study has some limitations. It is important to acknowledge what these are. At the college and graduate levels, you have access to numerous resources at the library and available through interlibrary loans. But you may still be limited because of time and data. It’s important to state your limitations to give your study credibility. Another researcher needs to know that although your findings are sound, there may be differences in results if other factors are considered.
- Give Recommendations for More Research
The last paragraph of the discussion section is where you make recommendations for further study. If you recall what we said earlier in this how to write discussion section of scientific paper article, all research is built upon prior research. You can make recommendations about how your findings can be applied to future studies or how they can be applied to current theories and practices. You can state this with sentences that begin with “Future research should take XYZ into account…” or “Further studies are required to establish…”
Following the steps above will ensure you know how to write discussion section of scientific paper that should earn you a high score. It may also give you the acknowledgment and respect of your peers who may use your work as a foundation for future studies.
Further Help with a Discussion Section
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