This blog discusses 5 helpful questions to consider when writing a discussion section. To give you an opportunity to practice proofreading, we have left a few spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in the text. See if you can spot them! If you spot the errors correctly, you will be entitled to a 10% discount.
In drafting a manuscript, thesis, or dissertation, the discussion section is usually one of the last to be written. Notwithstanding, it is arguably the most important section in a manuscript. Due to its relevance, it is usually the most challenging to write, as it requires top-level expertise. According to the American Association of Plant Biologists, when readers skip sections to read the discussion section, they easily understand the results and their implications. As a result, editors at Best Edit & Proof, in providing editing services to their clients, ensure that the discussion section appeals to journals and dissertation committees, without ignoring the reader’s ability to understand the paper’s message. Thus, this blog seeks to lay bare 5 helpful considerations to make when writing a sound discussion section.
1 – How well do you understand the objective of your study?
Before setting out to conduct a study, researchers design and plan a study with objective(s) in mind. This objective informs how the study is conducted. For example, no researcher would just commence by administering questionnaires or setting up laboratory equipment without an objective. It also informs the questions and necessary procedures to undertake. To write a well-conveyed discussion section in academic papers, the author must review and ascertain whether the conducted study addressed that objective. It takes understanding of the objective to assess the achievement of the objective clearly. Based on the assessment, the author finds the direction of his discussion. The comprehension of this objective is critical to crafting a focused discussion section in scholarly writing.
2 – What message is conveyed by your results?
The data from the study are evidence to portray the achievement of the objective. Since the data presented in tables, graphs, and charts may not out-rightly convey a message to the reader, the author bears the responsibility to accurately and lucidly interpret the data presented in the results section. In certain instances, authors regurgitate previously reported results in the discussion section. For example, “As observed in Table 2, 70% and 20% of females and males, respectively, sought medical attention a few hours after experiencing pain”. In discussing findings in the discussion section, they should be described in context with their implications. Thus, from the cited example, the author must indicate that if 70% of females seek medical attention promptly, they more likely will detect underlying pathological conditions at an early stage than males.
3 – How do your findings compare to findings in literature?
In a well-written discussion section, the author compares his/her findings with those of other studies reported in literature. This aspect is different from a literature review in the sense that the author has data at hand to compare, as against the general overview made about a study’s objective prior to the investigation. In comparing, the author is able to pronounce the authenticity of his/her results, especially when similar procedures were used in other studies. Any differences in findings can be explained using the different peculiarities between the author’s study and others. If this consideration is carefully made and implemented, the author may likely find evidence-based explanations for his/her findings. Even for novel findings, an author may still find relevant literature that formed the rudiments of the present study to discuss the progress, contribution, and novel dimension of the study.
4 – Why should your findings matter?
After discussing the results, the author, as part of his goal, must propose the impact of the study’s findings on the problem that informed the idea of the study. The reader will be better served if the author describes a roadmap for solving the problem based on the findings. Depending on the nature of the problem, an author may propose solutions to affect policy, behavioral change, or conventional practice. Only after making this contribution will a discussion section expose readers to the specific and general impacts of a study.
5 – In what light should your findings be viewed?
In academic research, authors usually use definite frameworks to examine study problems. Therefore, authors must discuss studies’ strengths and limitations, as well as the scope to which any conclusions made would apply. This is good practice that informs future studies that may seek to enlarge the scope, displace limitations, and maximize strengths.
Research is meaningless without a great discussion; therefore, make these considerations when writing the discussion section. Consult Best Edit & Proof’s doctorally qualified editors and proofreaders for help with writing a discussion section that suits best publication practice. The editing service goes beyond the check for compliance to grammar, syntax, and writing rules. It rather extends to the check for the general coherence of the arguments made in an academic paper.
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