Barbara P
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How To Write A Discussion For A Research Paper | Examples & Tips

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Published on: Jan 19, 2024

Last updated on: Jan 18, 2024

how to write a discussion for a research paper

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Ever find yourself stuck when trying to write the discussion part of your research paper? Don't worry, it happens to a lot of people. 

The discussion section is super important in your research paper. It's where you explain what your results mean. But turning all that data into a clear and meaningful story? That's not easy.

Guess what? MyPerfectWords.com has come up with a solution. 

This blog is your guide to writing an outstanding discussion section. We'll guide you step by step with useful tips to make sure your research stands out.

So, let’s get started!

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What Exactly is a Discussion Section in the Research Paper?

In a research paper, the discussion section is where you explain what your results really mean. It's like answering the questions, "So what?" and "What's the big picture?" 

The discussion section is your chance to help your readers understand why your findings are important and how they fit into the larger context. It's more than just summarizing; it's about making your research understandable and meaningful to others.

Importance of the Discussion Section

The discussion section isn't just a formality; it's the heart of your research paper. This is where your findings transform from data into knowledge. 

Let's break down why it's so crucial:

  • Interpretation of Results: The discussion is where you get to tell readers what your results really mean. You go into the details, helping them understand the story behind the numbers or findings.
  • Connecting the Dots: You connect different parts of your research, showing how they relate. This helps your readers see the bigger picture.
  • Relevance to the Big Picture: You get to highlight why your research matters. How does it contribute to the broader understanding of the topic? This is your time to make your research significant.
  • Addressing Limitations: In the discussion, you can acknowledge any limitations in your study and discuss how they might impact your results.
  • Suggestions for Further Research: The discussion is where you suggest areas for future exploration. It's like passing the baton to the next researcher, indicating where more work could be done.

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How to Write the Discussion Section of a Research Paper?

The Discussion section in a research paper plays a vital role in interpreting findings and formulating a conclusion. Given below are the main components of the discussion section:

  • Quick Summary: A brief recap of your main findings.
  • Interpretation: Significance and meaning of your results in relation to your research question.
  • Literature Review: Connecting your findings with previous research or similar studies.
  • Limitations: Discussing any study limitations, addressing potential concerns.
  • Implications: Broader implications of your findings, considering practical and theoretical aspects.
  • Alternative Explanations: Evaluating alternative interpretations, demonstrating a comprehensive analysis.
  • Connecting to Hypotheses: Summarizing how your result section aligns or diverges from your initial hypotheses.

Now let’s explore the steps to write an effective discussion section that will effectively communicate the significance of your research:

Step 1: Get Started with a Quick Summary

Start by quickly telling your readers the main things you found in your research. Don't explain them in detail just yet; just give a simple overview. 

This helps your readers get the big picture before diving into the details.

Example:

For instance, you conducted a study on the effects of exercise on mood. Your concise summary might look like this:

"In our research, we looked at how exercise influences mood. We found that people who exercised regularly reported feeling happier overall. This is a quick snapshot of what we discovered, and we'll explore the details in the next steps."

Step 2: Interpret Your Results

In the next step, talk about what your findings really mean. Share why the information you gathered is important. Connect each result to the questions you were trying to answer and the goals you set for your research.

Example: 

You did research on whether plants grow better with different types of light. Here's how you interpret the results:

"Now, let's figure out what our findings mean. We looked at how different kinds of light affect plant growth. What we found is that plants actually grow better with sunlight compared to artificial light. This is important because it tells us what kind of light is best for plants to thrive. Let's dig into these details to understand more."

Step 3: Relate to Existing Literature

In this step, link up your discoveries with what other researchers have already figured out. 

Share if your results are similar to or different from what's been found before. This helps give more background to your study and shows you know what other scientists have been up to.

Example:

You conducted a study on the impact of technology use on sleep patterns. Here’s how you can relate it to the existing knowledge or research:

"Now, let's see how our results connect with what other researchers have found. Our study suggests that increased screen time before bed might be linked to disrupted sleep patterns. This lines up with earlier research that hinted at a similar connection. So, our study adds more evidence to the idea that too much screen time before bedtime could affect how well we sleep."

Step 4: Address Limitations Honestly

Every study has its limitations. Acknowledge them openly in your discussion. This not only shows transparency but also helps readers interpret your results more accurately.

Example:

Let's consider a study on the effects of a new teaching method on student performance. You can address the limitations of the research like this:

"One thing we couldn't control was the diverse learning styles of our participants. Different students respond differently to teaching methods, and our study might not capture all those variations. Additionally, our research was conducted over a short period, so we can't say how well the new method works in the long run.“

Step 5: Discuss the Implications

Explore the implications of your findings. How do they contribute to the field? What real-world applications or changes might they suggest?

Dig into why your discoveries are important. How do they help the subject you studied? 

This step is like looking at the bigger picture and asking, "So, what can we do with this information?"

Example:

Consider the example of a study on the impact of a new app on improving language learning; here’s how you can discuss your implications:

"Let's think about what our findings really mean. Our research shows that using the language learning app significantly boosts vocabulary retention. This has cool implications for education—schools could consider incorporating more technology to help students learn languages more effectively. Imagine students having fun with an app and learning better at the same time. It's like opening a door to new and improved ways of teaching!

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Step 6: Consider Alternative Explanations

After discussing the implications, challenge yourself by exploring alternative explanations for your results. 

Discuss different perspectives and show that you've considered multiple angles.

Example:

Consider the example of a study on the impact of a new study technique on exam performance. This is how you consider alternative explanations:

"Let's not stop at what we discovered—what if there are other reasons for the better exam scores? Could it be that students who tried the new study technique were also more motivated? Or maybe there was a change in the overall teaching approach?”

Step 7: Connect to Your Hypotheses or Research Questions

For the last step, revisit your initial hypotheses or research questions. Explain whether your results support what you thought might happen or if they surprised you. 

Example:

For instance, in a study about the impact of a new teaching method on student engagement, you can connect hypotheses like this:

"Let's think about our starting point—our questions about student engagement with the new teaching method. Our key findings show a significant increase in participation. This not only supports our initial hypothesis but also highlights the positive impact of incorporating interactive elements into the classroom.”

Examples of Good Discussion for a Research Paper

Learning from well-crafted discussions can significantly enhance your own writing. Given below are some examples to help you understand how to write your own.

Mistakes to Avoid in Your Research Paper's Discussion 

Writing the discussion section of your research paper can be tricky. To make sure you're on the right track, be mindful of these common mistakes:


  • Overstating or Overinterpreting Results


Avoid making your findings sound more groundbreaking than they are. Stick to what your data actually shows, and don't exaggerate.


  • Neglecting Alternative Explanations 


Failing to consider other possible explanations for your results can weaken your discussion. Always explore alternative perspectives to present a well-rounded view.


  • Ignoring Limitations 


Don't sweep limitations under the rug. Acknowledge them openly and discuss how they might affect the validity or generalizability of your results.


  • Being Overly Technical or Jargon-laden


Remember that your audience may not be experts in your specific field. Avoid using overly technical language or excessive jargon that could alienate your readers.


  • Disregarding the 'So What' Factor


Always explain the significance of your findings. Don't leave your readers wondering why your research matters or how it contributes to the broader understanding of the subject.


  • Rushing the Conclusion


The conclusion section of your discussion is critical. Don't rush it. Summarize the key points and leave your readers with a strong understanding of the significance of your research.

So, there you have it—writing a discussion and conclusion section isn't easy, but avoiding some common mistakes can make it much smoother. 

Remember to keep it real with your results, think about what else could explain things, and don't forget about any limits in your study.

But if you're feeling stuck, MyPerfectWords.com is here for you. 

Our team of experts knows their way around discussions. Whether you need some guidance or want someone to handle the writing for you, we've got your back.

Don't let discussion writing stress you out. Check out how the best essay writing service can make your academic life easier.

Barbara P

WRITTEN BY

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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