Writing the discussion section

The purpose of the discussion is to state your interpretations and opinions, explain the implications of your findings, and suggest future research.

It should answer the questions asked in the Introduction, explain how the results support the answers and, how the answers fit in with existing knowledge on the topic.

Please keep the discussion short. The discussion is a commentary, and not a reiteration of the results.

Usually the discussion has the following parts:
  1. It should state the main findings of the study in one or two sentences.
  2. The discussion should consider the methods, and address possible shortcomings. Defend your answers, if necessary, by explaining both why your answer is satisfactory and why others are not. Only by giving both sides to the argument can you make your explanation convincing.
  3. Identify potential weaknesses, and comment the relative importance of these to your interpretation of the results and how they may affect the validity of the findings. When identifying limits and weaknesses, avoid using an apologetic tone.
  4. Support the answers with the results. State why they are acceptable and how they are consistent with previously published knowledge on the topic.
  5. Discuss any unexpected findings. When discussing an unexpected finding, begin the paragraph with the finding and then describe it.
  6. Explain how the results and conclusions of this study are important and how they influence our knowledge or understanding of the problem being examined.
  7. Provide no more than two recommendations for further research. Do not offer suggestions which could have been done within the study, as this shows there has been inadequate examination and interpretation of the data.
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