How to Write a Discussion Section of a Research Paper
The discussion section of a research paper is dedicated to interpretation of your findings and their significance. Here, you discuss what has already been found about the problem by other researchers, and present your fresh view on the issue, taking into consideration all evidence and facts. This part of a research paper is very indicative of your progress as a student.
The discussion section can be considered the most important part of the research paper, because it demonstrates your analytical skills. A good discussion section needs a critical approach to the question, and your ability to synthesize the findings of your research. If it has revealed any gaps in the field, this is also a good section to highlight these gaps, and give your suggestions on the possible improvements.
Also, your discussion should be logically structured. There are several types of text structures, so you need to decide which one will be the most suitable, considering the type of research you are conducting.
How to Structure Your Discussion Section
We can allocate two types of structures you can use to organize the discussion section – vertical and horizontal. Vertical structure of the text is comprised of information presented in a hierarchical manner, relating to general elements and more specific ones. The topic unfolds into subtopics, subcategories and separate arguments. You have to keep in mind, that from your point of view, the argument and facts are arranged in a descending manner, taking into consideration how you intend to communicate your thoughts, speculations and conclusions. On the other hand, your reader will perceive all information in an ascending manner, from more specific elements to the general understanding of your topic.
The horizontal structure is formed by creating cohesion between your findings. This cohesion is achieved by means of language devices, such as conjunctions, references and omission of words or phrases that can be logically derived from a sentence. All facts, arguments and speculations should be presented consistently, using logical connectives and references.
Which Type of Structure is Better
There is no right or wrong, it just depends on your findings. The horizontal structure is especially relevant when you are conducting an interdisciplinary research. There is no hierarchy between independent disciplines, so you need a structure which will highlight the relations between facts that belong to different fields.
Vertical structure employs the deductive approach to research. If you start proving your thesis statement from a generalization and build your way to a conclusion by analyzing separate element of the general notion, then a vertical structure is more suitable for you discussion section.
Points to Consider
Whichever structure you decide to choose, your discussion section should have a brief summary of the importance of your findings for the field you study. You can also give your opinion on possible directions for future research, but add only those, that could not be researched in this particular paper.
If you give recommendations for further research, remember to avoid repeating your statements in the conclusion section of your research paper. There is no use in wasting space with repetitions, and it can give an impression that you were careless with your final edit of the paper.
And finally, on account of the overall research paper, avoid using first person too much. It can distract the reader from the main point of the paper – research.