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Structuring your Discussion

In your Discussion, you give an in-depth analysis of how your study differs from or adds to existing research, and what the implications of this are. You’ll want to cover these sections:

Summary of your study aim and findings

In the first few sentences of your Discussion, you’ll typically recap what your study was about and what you found. Summarize your key findings, but don’t restate results in detail - that’s what the Results section is for. Find a few example summaries here.

Comparison of your study to existing literature

Next, explain how your results compare to those of other studies that you cited in your work. Do they contradict them, or offer a new perspective or approach? Were there unexpected findings? If there are differences, explain where these may come from; think of the methodology (instruments, participants, conditions, etc.) or analysis (scoring method, statistics, etc.). Find a few examples of such comparisons here.

Strengths or limitations of your study

Strengths or limitations will often relate to your study design and methods. Think of your sample size or instrument limitations. Find examples here.

The implications of your study

Next, what do your results or findings mean? Are there practical implications or theoretical insights? Your study might, for example:

  • bridge a gap in the field
  • raise a new question
  • disprove prior studies
  • introduce or verify a method or model
  • provide practical implications

Future research

There’s always more to explore! Briefly discuss what future research could focus on. Perhaps you’ve found a new relationship, effect, or method that should be investigated? These examples might help.

Useful phrases for your Discussion

FAQs about writing a Discussion

Discussion examples with explanations