What Goes In The Discussion Section Of A Research Paper

"The moral here is to try to find a balance where you set a tone that indeed celebrates interesting findings without too many leaps, while at the same time reporting limitations without being unnecessarily negative," says David.

Indeed, every discussion should include a "humility" section that addresses the study's limitations, write Cone and Foster.

This article gives doctoral dissertation students valuable guidance on how to go about writing their Discussion chapter.

The article starts by outlining the main goals and writing approaches.

"If your study was not a true experiment, replace verbs that imply causation with words and phrases such as 'correlated with,' 'was associated with' and 'related to,'" write John Cone, Ph D, and Sharon Foster, Ph D, in a forthcoming revision of "Dissertations and Theses from Start to Finish" (APA, 2006).

Steven David, Ph D, who successfully defended his dissertation in clinical geropsychology at the University of Southern California last May, found this point to be particularly difficult.

"It is easy to get caught up in the desire to be extremely comprehensive and to bring up every potential issue, flaw, future direction and tangentially related concept," says Sackett.

"However, this will make your dissertation seem like it has raised more questions than it answers." Limit your discussion to a handful of the most important points, as Sackett did on the advice of his adviser.

Yet, arguably the most difficult part of writing your dissertation awaits: your discussion, the place where you sew up the various threads of your research into a cohesive narrative.

This is not the time to hurry through just because the end is in sight, say experts and students alike.

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