Thesis writing requires a systematic approach where the student conveys the whole research process and its outcome. ‘Discussion’ part in the thesis is where the reader is made to understand and make sense of the research.
In the ‘Discussion’ section you interpret and explain your results within your thesis. This contrasts with the results chapter, where you merely present and describe the analysis findings (whether qualitative or quantitative). In the discussion, you elaborate on and evaluate your research findings, and discuss the significance and implications of your results.
Structuring the ‘Discussion’ section
- Link with Introduction – 3 to 4 sections are between Introduction and Discussion. A paragraph connecting both is required at the start. Better to restate the research question
- Divide and Conquer – The thesis will have results in multiple sections like relevant demographics, results for primary and secondary objectives and analytical statistics. Divide them into specific sections accordingly and write the discussion part for each section by
- Stating the result
- Comparing with relevant studies – comparison to be specific with results above
- Interpretation from the comparison
- Ask the following questions, and writing their answers in the same paragraph for each result section will facilitate the further understanding
- Can the discussed result be false or inadequate?
- Why is it false? (lost to follow-up, protocol deviation, lower statistical power of the study etc.)
- What meaning does this outcome convey?
- If the results are contradictory to the research hypothesis or other study results, make sure to elaborate and interpret it in context to your study.
Whenever you are comparing and referencing other studies use recent studies (within 10 years is better). Make sure the results they have reported are similar and relevant to your results. Do not compare Apples with Oranges.
Avoid using the absolute terms such as “These results prove that…”, rather make use of terms such as “suggest” or “indicate”, where you could say, “These results suggest that…” or “These results indicate…”. It is highly unlikely that a dissertation or thesis will scientifically prove something. Emphasize the positive, don’t Exaggerate.
Revisit the result section and make sure all the result sections are discussed. Leave nothing behind.
“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” This saying certainly holds true if you consider the importance of the title and abstract; however, for a thesis there should also be a saying, “You don’t get a second chance to make a final impression.” The Discussion is your opportunity to make a good final impression.
Make it the best.
- Welch HG. Preparing manuscripts for submission to medical journals: The paper trail. Eff Clin Prac. 1999;2:131–7.
- Şanlı Ö, Erdem S, Tefik T. How to write a discussion section? Turk J Urol. 2013 Sep;39(Suppl 1):20-4. doi: 10.5152/tud.2013.049. PMID: 26328131; PMCID: PMC4548568.
- Annesley TM. The discussion section: your closing argument. Clin Chem. 2010 Nov;56(11):1671-4. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2010.155358. Epub 2010 Sep 10. PMID: 20833779.
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