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FAQs about writing a Discussion

Can I reuse part of my Introduction or Literature section in my Discussion?

While you should be careful not to repeat exact sentences, you’ll certainly refer back to information given in your Introduction and Literature review. You can use phrases such as ‘As explained in the Introduction, …’ and ‘While the studies reviewed in the Literature section showed that …’. Do make sure to rephrase information. In many cases, you can also use fewer words, as the reader already knows the details.

Can I introduce new information in my Discussion?

Don’t introduce new data, results, or arguments in your Discussion - make sure you give all of these in the earlier sections of your paper. But your Discussion is the right place to introduce interpretations and insights that are based on your findings - and new to the reader. It’s the first place where you take a step back and make sense of the bigger picture; sharing new ideas on your study design, future research, and practical implications, for example.

What are examples of study limitations?

Study limitations most often have to do with your study design and methodology, but can also relate to events or circumstances that arose during the study. 

These are common limitations:

  • Small sample size, limiting the generalizability of the findings
  • Sampling limitations, meaning your results are limited to a certain (sub)population
  • Confounding variables that haven’t been controlled for
  • Lack of longitudinal measurement, with data only showing short-term effects
  • Inappropriate instruments or techniques used for data collection

How should I discuss the limitations of my study?

You may feel tempted to show the reader you’re aware of gaps or flaws. But be careful not to undermine your authority by apologizing or showing doubt. Make it clear that you’re aware of the study limitations, but explain why your findings are still valid. Also think of ways in which future studies, either by yourself or other researchers, could tackle these limitations.

Read examples of limitation discussions from real papers.

Find phrases to use in Writefull’s Sentence Palette.

How should I discuss the strengths of my study?

You can use phrases like ‘This study was the first to have explored…’, ‘This work introduced a new algorithm for…’, and ‘The study design carefully controlled for…’. Be confident but stay neutral; you do not want to overstate the importance of your findings.

Read examples of limitation discussions from real papers.

Find phrases to use in Writefull’s Sentence Palette.

Structuring your Discussion

Useful phrases for your Discussion

Discussion examples with explanations