Structure

The discussion section is probably the most difficult and challenging to write because you have to think carefully about the specific results you obtained in your experiment, relate them to the aim, interpret them and generalise from them. In this way you relate your own results to the store of scientific knowledge. Finding the balance between what to put in the results section and what to put in the discussion can also be a problem for student writers. Remember to put explanations of the significance of your results in the discussion NOT in the results. Your discussion section should also include your conclusion.

Pay careful attention to the following points when writing your discussion:

  1. The discussion can start with a summary of the aims and the results. You need to relate your findings to the aims/ hypotheses of your study.
  2. You should try to explain what the results mean.
  3. The validity and accuracy of your results should be discussed. Any problems with your results should lead to cautious intrepretations. Important data should not be omitted. If any data has been omitted, then this should be noted and discussed, although only in general terms.
  4. You need to relate your findings and the conclusions from your findings to those of other researchers and/or to expected standards or theory.
  5. The protocols and, if necessary, the assays must be criticised. It is crucial to suggest how the protocols/study design/assays could be improved.
  6. The discussion must focus on implications and criticisms of the study as a whole rather than on the idiosyncrasies of individual results.
  7. You need to be circumspect about your conclusions - this indicates that you have thought about the validity of the results.

If possible, suggest further experiments that could be done.

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