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How to Write a Discussion in a Research Paper

Writing a research paper incurs planning, thought, and interpretation. If the paper is not formatted correctly, readers can easily lose interest in what they are reading. If only the facts were presented without an actual conclusion, what was the point of the research paper?

People want a result borne from the information they are reading. And to provide this conclusion, the facts and figures mentioned in the research paper need to be broken logically.
Anyone can write a discussion or write an essay on any debatable topic online, but without the right components, or a good structure, included, it will be difficult to get their main point across on the paper.

What is the discussion section of a research paper?

Oftentimes, the discussion section is confused with the conclusion. At the end of the research paper, you do need to present your final result. However, before that, you need to provide an explanation that reaches that conclusion. Simply noting down your findings in the discussion part of a research paper isn’t enough. You cannot say that this research has “shown promising results” and expect the reader to be satisfied with that conclusion.

Whoever reads a research paper would want to know how you reached your conclusion. Because without a verifiable, logical path to the conclusion, this paper may be interpreted as a bias of personal opinion. As such, discussion in a research paper is a vital component required in the structure of your findings.

What goes in a discussion section of a research paper?

When writing the research paper discussion section, your main focus should be on evaluating your research. The paper should include your discoveries to support the argument you are trying to make. In summary, you have to present the meaning behind your research. To make this comprehensive, you need to include the following sections in the discussion:

  1. The most important points of your research that relate to your conclusion
  2. Your interpretation of these points – Why they are important and what they mean
  3. How do your results compare against existing knowledge on the subject?
  4. What are the limitations behind these results, and what’s hindering them?
  5. Any additional research you have done that was out of the ordinary or inconclusive

By including all of these, you can ensure that you leave nothing unsaid about your research. You will be able to present your conclusion without anybody finding fault in the work that you have done. However, there are also certain elements you should avoid including in the research paper as well:

  1. Don’t bring in new facts or figures which you didn’t include in the previous sections of your research paper.
  2. Don’t diverge from the main point of the paper and go off on a rant
  3. Don’t hypothesize about what may have taken place. Only use facts that are verifiable.

How to start a discussion in a research paper

To present your discussion section clearly, a structure is necessary. We will be breaking down the structure in a section further below, but let’s begin with the introduction. The initial sentence of the discussion section should start with your findings. Give a brief summary of the main points and importance of your research.

In the first paragraph, you can repeat the problem that the research is based around and then include the most important findings. You can then move on to providing answers to the questions which you would have included at the beginning of your research paper.

Our research suggests that video game usage and online gaming among college students negatively affect college performance and GPA. It can also lead to violations of drugs and alcohol inside the campus.

How to write the discussion section of a research paper

What is the purpose of discussion in the research paper? To provide a path for the reader to come to the same understanding as you have. You are giving them all the necessary information to gather the final conclusion. Presenting this information the right way is important. So, here are a few tips on how to write a discussion in a research paper.

  1. Only emphasize the main points – When you write a discussion, lengthy paragraphs with too many details can be overwhelming to the reader. At this point, your goal should be to summarize while only bringing up what is relevant.
  2. Don’t randomly add in facts and figures – There should be a logical path leading to your conclusion. If you bring in complex new numbers or randomly place data in sentences, it can become confusing. Make sure you only use the facts and figures you have already mentioned in the same paper.
  3. Summarizing shouldn’t mean excluding details – At the end of the discussion, the reader should ideally be able to move on without questions. If you’re too concise, there may be many areas that were relevant but left unopened.
  4. Always keep the facts grounded – It is better to try and emphasize as much of the positive side as possible. However, the main points should not be exaggerated to highlight the positive. Ensure that any negative implications (if it affects the results) are also included.

How to structure a discussion in a research paper

A well-structured, step-by-step discussion can easily communicate complex results to the reader. As long as your discussion is able to accomplish this, any structure will work. But, if you’re looking for a structure for writing a discussion section in research papers, here’s how you can do it.

  • Summarize the main findings

As mentioned earlier, keep it brief and to the point. Simply repeat the problem and only highlight the most important findings.

  • Provide your own analysis

After doing the research, you understand the meaning behind it all. However, the reader hasn’t gone through this journey themself. Try to provide your analysis with that in mind and point out even what seems obvious.

  • Compare your research against similar materials

Comparing your results against existing results can show what your research has achieved. Is your research providing any new information? Are your findings completely different from the previous studies? You are giving the reader a reason to take interest in your research.

  • Include the constraints

Studies aren’t always perfect. There may be some limitations in your research. What you need to remember is that these constraints are on the study itself. You are simply providing the facts to give the reader a more comprehensive understanding. However, you don’t have to end the discussion with these constraints. You can still show how these results are still justified for the problem at hand.

  • Reiterate the research problem

As this is the main point, you are trying to drive, restating the question may be necessary. It will remind the reader about the problem the paper is discussing.

How long should the discussion section of a research paper be?

The length of the discussion section will vary depending on the paper you are writing. You need to ensure it fits within the word count allowed for the paper. So, when deciding on what to write in the discussion of the research paper, take some time to figure out what is necessary. In general, you could aim for anywhere between 1000 – 1500 words. Try not to make this section too long, though, as the reader may become disinterested.

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