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How to Write a Discussion Section | Tips & Examples

Published on August 21, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 18, 2023.

Discussion section flow chart

The discussion section is where you delve into the meaning, importance, and relevance of your results .

It should focus on explaining and evaluating what you found, showing how it relates to your literature review and paper or dissertation topic , and making an argument in support of your overall conclusion. It should not be a second results section.

There are different ways to write this section, but you can focus your writing around these key elements:

  • Summary : A brief recap of your key results
  • Interpretations: What do your results mean?
  • Implications: Why do your results matter?
  • Limitations: What can’t your results tell us?
  • Recommendations: Avenues for further studies or analyses

Table of contents

What not to include in your discussion section, step 1: summarize your key findings, step 2: give your interpretations, step 3: discuss the implications, step 4: acknowledge the limitations, step 5: share your recommendations, discussion section example, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about discussion sections.

There are a few common mistakes to avoid when writing the discussion section of your paper.

  • Don’t introduce new results: You should only discuss the data that you have already reported in your results section .
  • Don’t make inflated claims: Avoid overinterpretation and speculation that isn’t directly supported by your data.
  • Don’t undermine your research: The discussion of limitations should aim to strengthen your credibility, not emphasize weaknesses or failures.

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sample discussion for research paper

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Start this section by reiterating your research problem and concisely summarizing your major findings. To speed up the process you can use a summarizer to quickly get an overview of all important findings. Don’t just repeat all the data you have already reported—aim for a clear statement of the overall result that directly answers your main research question . This should be no more than one paragraph.

Many students struggle with the differences between a discussion section and a results section . The crux of the matter is that your results sections should present your results, and your discussion section should subjectively evaluate them. Try not to blend elements of these two sections, in order to keep your paper sharp.

  • The results indicate that…
  • The study demonstrates a correlation between…
  • This analysis supports the theory that…
  • The data suggest that…

The meaning of your results may seem obvious to you, but it’s important to spell out their significance for your reader, showing exactly how they answer your research question.

The form of your interpretations will depend on the type of research, but some typical approaches to interpreting the data include:

  • Identifying correlations , patterns, and relationships among the data
  • Discussing whether the results met your expectations or supported your hypotheses
  • Contextualizing your findings within previous research and theory
  • Explaining unexpected results and evaluating their significance
  • Considering possible alternative explanations and making an argument for your position

You can organize your discussion around key themes, hypotheses, or research questions, following the same structure as your results section. Alternatively, you can also begin by highlighting the most significant or unexpected results.

  • In line with the hypothesis…
  • Contrary to the hypothesized association…
  • The results contradict the claims of Smith (2022) that…
  • The results might suggest that x . However, based on the findings of similar studies, a more plausible explanation is y .

As well as giving your own interpretations, make sure to relate your results back to the scholarly work that you surveyed in the literature review . The discussion should show how your findings fit with existing knowledge, what new insights they contribute, and what consequences they have for theory or practice.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do your results support or challenge existing theories? If they support existing theories, what new information do they contribute? If they challenge existing theories, why do you think that is?
  • Are there any practical implications?

Your overall aim is to show the reader exactly what your research has contributed, and why they should care.

  • These results build on existing evidence of…
  • The results do not fit with the theory that…
  • The experiment provides a new insight into the relationship between…
  • These results should be taken into account when considering how to…
  • The data contribute a clearer understanding of…
  • While previous research has focused on  x , these results demonstrate that y .

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sample discussion for research paper

Even the best research has its limitations. Acknowledging these is important to demonstrate your credibility. Limitations aren’t about listing your errors, but about providing an accurate picture of what can and cannot be concluded from your study.

Limitations might be due to your overall research design, specific methodological choices , or unanticipated obstacles that emerged during your research process.

Here are a few common possibilities:

  • If your sample size was small or limited to a specific group of people, explain how generalizability is limited.
  • If you encountered problems when gathering or analyzing data, explain how these influenced the results.
  • If there are potential confounding variables that you were unable to control, acknowledge the effect these may have had.

After noting the limitations, you can reiterate why the results are nonetheless valid for the purpose of answering your research question.

  • The generalizability of the results is limited by…
  • The reliability of these data is impacted by…
  • Due to the lack of data on x , the results cannot confirm…
  • The methodological choices were constrained by…
  • It is beyond the scope of this study to…

Based on the discussion of your results, you can make recommendations for practical implementation or further research. Sometimes, the recommendations are saved for the conclusion .

Suggestions for further research can lead directly from the limitations. Don’t just state that more studies should be done—give concrete ideas for how future work can build on areas that your own research was unable to address.

  • Further research is needed to establish…
  • Future studies should take into account…
  • Avenues for future research include…

Discussion section example

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In the discussion , you explore the meaning and relevance of your research results , explaining how they fit with existing research and theory. Discuss:

  • Your  interpretations : what do the results tell us?
  • The  implications : why do the results matter?
  • The  limitation s : what can’t the results tell us?

The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.

In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.

In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.

The conclusion is more shorter and more general: it concisely answers your main research question and makes recommendations based on your overall findings.

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Is this article helpful?

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

Other students also liked, how to write a literature review | guide, examples, & templates, what is a research methodology | steps & tips, how to write a results section | tips & examples.

The article and answers are beneficial Shona. Thank you! Just a query that would be appropriate in the Discussion section - can we use percentage directly to discuss a topic? For example, 90% mentioned a topic or just mentioned the majority of the participants mentioned on the topic. Thanks

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)

You can use a percentage if this accurately reflects the number of respondents that mentioned the topic. However, if you're dealing with a small number of participants, it might be clearer to simply state the actual number, for example: "18 out of the 20 interviewees mentioned this topic." Don't use percentages as approximations – if you haven't calculated the precise number, it's better to use a phrase like "the majority of".

I hope that helps!

Hello Shona,

Many thanx for your article. It helps me much. But still confused concerning literary works such as analysing Novels. Do we need to do the discussion part in phd theses?! Or only Analysis and that's it?

Thanks again

The thesis structure outlined in this category is applicable to empirical research in the (social) sciences. Theses in literature (and other humanities disciplines) don't follow this structure, as they generally don't involve systematic data collection and there are no separate "results" to report.

You can think of a literature thesis as more like an extended essay : it aims to build a clear, focused argument through close reading and analysis of the novels or other texts. Like an essay, there are no set rules in structuring it – apart from the introduction and conclusion, the other chapters are entirely up to you. One common approach is to focus each chapter on a different text, author, or theme.

I hope that answers your question!

Hi, thanks for all the help, recently came across this page and it's amazing. i have a question regarding the discussion section, how would you go about comparing your data collected to other alike studies if there is little to no research that is the same as yours? (so no one has collected the same data as me for me to compare mine with)

It's fine if there are no studies exactly the same as yours – most research aims to address a gap and contribute something unique. You might still want to mention studies that explored questions related to yours, that collected similar data from different populations, or that looked at different aspects of the same topic; alternatively, you might discuss how well your data fits with theories or models on the topic.

Keep in mind that there is no universal formula for the discussion – your aim is just to explain your findings as thoroughly and convincingly as possible. But it's rare that absolutely no research has been done on your topic, and your explanation will be more convincing if you can show how your findings relate to existing knowledge.

Hope that helps!

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An example of a Discussion section to a Research Report

sample discussion for research paper

You can use this document when you are making the self-assessment about Thesis writing. You can also use it when you want to learn more about writing this part of your thesis.

It gives an example for writing a discussion section for a research report content wise (answer the following questions: What was found in previous research? What was the gap or weakness in the previous study? What methodology was used? What were the results? How does the present work fit in the 'research map' of this field?) and by use of language (use the past simple to refer to findings in this work).

Click on the download to view the document.

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How to Write a Discussion Section for a Research Paper

sample discussion for research paper

We’ve talked about several useful writing tips that authors should consider while drafting or editing their research papers. In particular, we’ve focused on  figures and legends , as well as the Introduction ,  Methods , and  Results . Now that we’ve addressed the more technical portions of your journal manuscript, let’s turn to the analytical segments of your research article. In this article, we’ll provide tips on how to write a strong Discussion section that best portrays the significance of your research contributions.

What is the Discussion section of a research paper?

In a nutshell,  your Discussion fulfills the promise you made to readers in your Introduction . At the beginning of your paper, you tell us why we should care about your research. You then guide us through a series of intricate images and graphs that capture all the relevant data you collected during your research. We may be dazzled and impressed at first, but none of that matters if you deliver an anti-climactic conclusion in the Discussion section!

Are you feeling pressured? Don’t worry. To be honest, you will edit the Discussion section of your manuscript numerous times. After all, in as little as one to two paragraphs ( Nature ‘s suggestion  based on their 3,000-word main body text limit), you have to explain how your research moves us from point A (issues you raise in the Introduction) to point B (our new understanding of these matters). You must also recommend how we might get to point C (i.e., identify what you think is the next direction for research in this field). That’s a lot to say in two paragraphs!

So, how do you do that? Let’s take a closer look.

What should I include in the Discussion section?

As we stated above, the goal of your Discussion section is to  answer the questions you raise in your Introduction by using the results you collected during your research . The content you include in the Discussions segment should include the following information:

  • Remind us why we should be interested in this research project.
  • Describe the nature of the knowledge gap you were trying to fill using the results of your study.
  • Don’t repeat your Introduction. Instead, focus on why  this  particular study was needed to fill the gap you noticed and why that gap needed filling in the first place.
  • Mainly, you want to remind us of how your research will increase our knowledge base and inspire others to conduct further research.
  • Clearly tell us what that piece of missing knowledge was.
  • Answer each of the questions you asked in your Introduction and explain how your results support those conclusions.
  • Make sure to factor in all results relevant to the questions (even if those results were not statistically significant).
  • Focus on the significance of the most noteworthy results.
  • If conflicting inferences can be drawn from your results, evaluate the merits of all of them.
  • Don’t rehash what you said earlier in the Results section. Rather, discuss your findings in the context of answering your hypothesis. Instead of making statements like “[The first result] was this…,” say, “[The first result] suggests [conclusion].”
  • Do your conclusions line up with existing literature?
  • Discuss whether your findings agree with current knowledge and expectations.
  • Keep in mind good persuasive argument skills, such as explaining the strengths of your arguments and highlighting the weaknesses of contrary opinions.
  • If you discovered something unexpected, offer reasons. If your conclusions aren’t aligned with current literature, explain.
  • Address any limitations of your study and how relevant they are to interpreting your results and validating your findings.
  • Make sure to acknowledge any weaknesses in your conclusions and suggest room for further research concerning that aspect of your analysis.
  • Make sure your suggestions aren’t ones that should have been conducted during your research! Doing so might raise questions about your initial research design and protocols.
  • Similarly, maintain a critical but unapologetic tone. You want to instill confidence in your readers that you have thoroughly examined your results and have objectively assessed them in a way that would benefit the scientific community’s desire to expand our knowledge base.
  • Recommend next steps.
  • Your suggestions should inspire other researchers to conduct follow-up studies to build upon the knowledge you have shared with them.
  • Keep the list short (no more than two).

How to Write the Discussion Section

The above list of what to include in the Discussion section gives an overall idea of what you need to focus on throughout the section. Below are some tips and general suggestions about the technical aspects of writing and organization that you might find useful as you draft or revise the contents we’ve outlined above.

Technical writing elements

  • Embrace active voice because it eliminates the awkward phrasing and wordiness that accompanies passive voice.
  • Use the present tense, which should also be employed in the Introduction.
  • Sprinkle with first person pronouns if needed, but generally, avoid it. We want to focus on your findings.
  • Maintain an objective and analytical tone.

Discussion section organization

  • Keep the same flow across the Results, Methods, and Discussion sections.
  • We develop a rhythm as we read and parallel structures facilitate our comprehension. When you organize information the same way in each of these related parts of your journal manuscript, we can quickly see how a certain result was interpreted and quickly verify the particular methods used to produce that result.
  • Notice how using parallel structure will eliminate extra narration in the Discussion part since we can anticipate the flow of your ideas based on what we read in the Results segment. Reducing wordiness is important when you only have a few paragraphs to devote to the Discussion section!
  • Within each subpart of a Discussion, the information should flow as follows: (A) conclusion first, (B) relevant results and how they relate to that conclusion and (C) relevant literature.
  • End with a concise summary explaining the big-picture impact of your study on our understanding of the subject matter. At the beginning of your Discussion section, you stated why  this  particular study was needed to fill the gap you noticed and why that gap needed filling in the first place. Now, it is time to end with “how your research filled that gap.”

Discussion Part 1: Summarizing Key Findings

Begin the Discussion section by restating your  statement of the problem  and briefly summarizing the major results. Do not simply repeat your findings. Rather, try to create a concise statement of the main results that directly answer the central research question that you stated in the Introduction section . This content should not be longer than one paragraph in length.

Many researchers struggle with understanding the precise differences between a Discussion section and a Results section . The most important thing to remember here is that your Discussion section should subjectively evaluate the findings presented in the Results section, and in relatively the same order. Keep these sections distinct by making sure that you do not repeat the findings without providing an interpretation.

Phrase examples: Summarizing the results

  • The findings indicate that …
  • These results suggest a correlation between A and B …
  • The data present here suggest that …
  • An interpretation of the findings reveals a connection between…

Discussion Part 2: Interpreting the Findings

What do the results mean? It may seem obvious to you, but simply looking at the figures in the Results section will not necessarily convey to readers the importance of the findings in answering your research questions.

The exact structure of interpretations depends on the type of research being conducted. Here are some common approaches to interpreting data:

  • Identifying correlations and relationships in the findings
  • Explaining whether the results confirm or undermine your research hypothesis
  • Giving the findings context within the history of similar research studies
  • Discussing unexpected results and analyzing their significance to your study or general research
  • Offering alternative explanations and arguing for your position

Organize the Discussion section around key arguments, themes, hypotheses, or research questions or problems. Again, make sure to follow the same order as you did in the Results section.

Discussion Part 3: Discussing the Implications

In addition to providing your own interpretations, show how your results fit into the wider scholarly literature you surveyed in the  literature review section. This section is called the implications of the study . Show where and how these results fit into existing knowledge, what additional insights they contribute, and any possible consequences that might arise from this knowledge, both in the specific research topic and in the wider scientific domain.

Questions to ask yourself when dealing with potential implications:

  • Do your findings fall in line with existing theories, or do they challenge these theories or findings? What new information do they contribute to the literature, if any? How exactly do these findings impact or conflict with existing theories or models?
  • What are the practical implications on actual subjects or demographics?
  • What are the methodological implications for similar studies conducted either in the past or future?

Your purpose in giving the implications is to spell out exactly what your study has contributed and why researchers and other readers should be interested.

Phrase examples: Discussing the implications of the research

  • These results confirm the existing evidence in X studies…
  • The results are not in line with the foregoing theory that…
  • This experiment provides new insights into the connection between…
  • These findings present a more nuanced understanding of…
  • While previous studies have focused on X, these results demonstrate that Y.

Step 4: Acknowledging the limitations

All research has study limitations of one sort or another. Acknowledging limitations in methodology or approach helps strengthen your credibility as a researcher. Study limitations are not simply a list of mistakes made in the study. Rather, limitations help provide a more detailed picture of what can or cannot be concluded from your findings. In essence, they help temper and qualify the study implications you listed previously.

Study limitations can relate to research design, specific methodological or material choices, or unexpected issues that emerged while you conducted the research. Mention only those limitations directly relate to your research questions, and explain what impact these limitations had on how your study was conducted and the validity of any interpretations.

Possible types of study limitations:

  • Insufficient sample size for statistical measurements
  • Lack of previous research studies on the topic
  • Methods/instruments/techniques used to collect the data
  • Limited access to data
  • Time constraints in properly preparing and executing the study

After discussing the study limitations, you can also stress that your results are still valid. Give some specific reasons why the limitations do not necessarily handicap your study or narrow its scope.

Phrase examples: Limitations sentence beginners

  • “There may be some possible limitations in this study.”
  • “The findings of this study have to be seen in light of some limitations.”
  •  “The first limitation is the…The second limitation concerns the…”
  •  “The empirical results reported herein should be considered in the light of some limitations.”
  • “This research, however, is subject to several limitations.”
  • “The primary limitation to the generalization of these results is…”
  • “Nonetheless, these results must be interpreted with caution and a number of limitations should be borne in mind.”

Discussion Part 5: Giving Recommendations for Further Research

Based on your interpretation and discussion of the findings, your recommendations can include practical changes to the study or specific further research to be conducted to clarify the research questions. Recommendations are often listed in a separate Conclusion section , but often this is just the final paragraph of the Discussion section.

Suggestions for further research often stem directly from the limitations outlined. Rather than simply stating that “further research should be conducted,” provide concrete specifics for how future can help answer questions that your research could not.

Phrase examples: Recommendation sentence beginners

  • Further research is needed to establish …
  • There is abundant space for further progress in analyzing…
  • A further study with more focus on X should be done to investigate…
  • Further studies of X that account for these variables must be undertaken.

Consider Receiving Professional Language Editing

As you edit or draft your research manuscript, we hope that you implement these guidelines to produce a more effective Discussion section. And after completing your draft, don’t forget to submit your work to a professional proofreading and English editing service like Wordvice, including our manuscript editing service for  paper editing , cover letter editing , SOP editing , and personal statement proofreading services. Language editors not only proofread and correct errors in grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and formatting but also improve terms and revise phrases so they read more naturally. Wordvice is an industry leader in providing high-quality revision for all types of academic documents.

For additional information about how to write a strong research paper, make sure to check out our full  research writing series !

Wordvice Writing Resources

  • How to Write a Research Paper Introduction 
  • Which Verb Tenses to Use in a Research Paper
  • How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Research Paper Title
  • Useful Phrases for Academic Writing
  • Common Transition Terms in Academic Papers
  • Active and Passive Voice in Research Papers
  • 100+ Verbs That Will Make Your Research Writing Amazing
  • Tips for Paraphrasing in Research Papers

Additional Academic Resources

  •   Guide for Authors.  (Elsevier)
  •  How to Write the Results Section of a Research Paper.  (Bates College)
  •   Structure of a Research Paper.  (University of Minnesota Biomedical Library)
  •   How to Choose a Target Journal  (Springer)
  •   How to Write Figures and Tables  (UNC Writing Center)

Tutlance Learn

Discussion section of a research paper

discussion section of a research paper

When writing a research paper, this is one of the most important part of a research paper.

The discussion section of a research paper is where you interpret the data and present your conclusions. In this section, you should discuss how your results relate to the hypotheses you proposed and what they mean for future research. You should also point out any limitations of your study and suggest ways that the findings could be further developed. Finally, you should briefly summarize the main points of your paper.

In many research papers, the discussion and conclusion sections usually overlap. However, it is still important to keep them separate so that your paper is organized and easy to follow.

  • How to write a thesis statement for a research paper

Literature review in research paper

Parts of a research paper, how to write preface for project report, content analysis, research paper format.

What is the discussion section of a research paper?

The discussion section of a research paper is the section where the author discusses the findings of the study and how they relate to the existing body of knowledge on the topic.

The purpose of the discussion section is to interpret the findings of your study, and to explain how they relate to the existing body of scientific knowledge. This is a critical part of any research paper, as it helps to illustrate the significance of your work, and how it may impact future research. Additionally, the discussion section can highlight potential limitations of your study, and offer suggestions for future research.

When writing the discussion section of a research paper, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • The discussion section should be concise and focus on the key points of your study.
  • Be sure to interpret your findings in light of the existing body of knowledge.
  • Offer suggestions for future research.
  • Discuss the potential limitations of your study.
  • Remain objective and unbiased in your discussion.
  • Use clear and concise language.
  • Make sure your arguments are logically sound.
  • Cite your sources appropriately.

How to write the discussion section of a research paper

Writing a discussion part of any research paper is not easy. It is the place where you need to show your understanding of the subject and present your arguments. The following tips will help you write a strong discussion section:

Summarize your key findings:

Start the discussion section by summarizing your main findings in a few sentences. This will help remind the reader of what you found and how it relates to your argument.

Evaluate your findings:

After you’ve summarize your findings, it’s important to evaluate how strong they are. Were your results significant? Do they support your argument? Are there any potential problems with your data or methods? These are the types of questions you should answer in this section.

Contextualize your findings:

After you’ve evaluated your findings, it’s important to put them in context. What do your results mean? How do they compare to what other scholars have found? How does your research contribute to the existing conversation on this topic? These are the types of questions you should answer in this section. Give your interpretation of what the findings mean. What do they suggest about the subject? Are there any implications for future research? Keep your writing clear and concise. Avoid over-explaining or going into too much detail. The goal is to help the reader understand your findings, not to teach them about the subject.

Show how your findings fit with what is already known about the topic. If there are differences, explain why they may exist.

Implications of your findings:

Finally, you’ll want to discuss the implications of your findings. What do they mean for your argument? For future research on this topic? For the world more broadly? What are the implications of your findings? What questions still need to be answered? These are the types of questions you should answer in this section.

Acknowledge the limitations:

Every study has limitations. Be honest about the limitations of your study and highlight any areas that need further research. Be critical and acknowledge the limitations of your study and highlight any areas that need further research. suggest ways in which future research could build on your findings.

In a research paper, limitations are usually found in the methodology section. However, it is also important to mention them in the discussion section as well. By acknowledging the limitations of your study, you show that you are aware of the potential for error and that you took steps to minimize it. This makes your research more credible.

To help illustrate the points made in this section, let’s look at a few examples.

Example 1: In a study on the effects of climate change on plant growth, the authors found that plants grown in warmer temperatures produced less biomass.

The results of this study suggest that climate change may have a negative effect on plant growth. However, there are some limitations to this study. First, the study was conducted in a controlled environment, so it is not clear if the results would be the same in the wild. Second, the study only looked at one aspect of plant growth (biomass production), so it is not clear if other aspects of plant growth would be affected by climate change. Third, the study did not take into account the effects of precipitation, which is also likely to play a role in plant growth.

Despite these limitations, the results of this study provide valuable insight into the potential effects of climate change on plant growth.

Example 2: In a study on the effectiveness of a new reading program, the authors found that students who used the program improved their reading scores.

The results of this study suggest that the reading program is effective. However, there are some limitations to this study. First, the sample size was small, so it is possible that the results are not representative of the population as a whole. Second, the study only looked at one measure of reading achievement (scores on a standardized test), so it is not clear if the program would have the same effect on other measures of reading achievement. Third, the study did not compare the students who used the program to a control group, so it is not clear if the improvement in reading scores was due to the program or to natural variation.

Despite these limitations, the results of this study provide valuable insight into the potential effectiveness of the reading program.

State your recommendations:

If appropriate, make recommendations for future research or practice. Recommendations could be based on your findings or on the limitations of your study.

Use the phrases to make recommendations:

  • This study suggests that…
  • Future research should…
  • Further studies are needed to…
  • This study has limitations that future research could address.
  • The findings of this study have implications for…
  • These findings suggest that policy makers should…

End with a strong conclusion:

End the discussion section with a brief conclusion that summarizes your findings and their significance. What are the implications of your findings? What questions still need to be answered? Leave the reader with a clear understanding of what you found and why it matters.

Your discussion section should be a critical evaluation of your findings, not just a summary. Remember to be clear, concise, and professional.

What to avoid in research paper discussion section

Here are 3 key items that you should avoid including when writing the discussion section of your research paper:

  • Do not introduce new data or results : The discussion section is not the place to introduce new data.
  • Avoid overstating your case : it is important to be honest and objective in your interpretation of the data. Do not try to force the data to fit your argument; instead, be willing to accept that it may not support your case.
  • Avoid undermining your research : Be confident in your findings and avoid making statements that could undermine your study. For example, avoid phrases such as “this may not be generalizable” or “more research is needed.” These statements make it sound like you are unsure of your results.

What goes in the discussion section of a research paper?

The discussion section of a research paper is where you analyze your findings and interpret them. This section should be a critical evaluation of your findings, not just a summary. Remember to be clear, concise, and professional.

In the discussion section, you should:

  • Introduce your findings and state the purpose of the study
  • Discuss the results of the study
  • Interpret the results of the study
  • Discuss the limitations of the study
  • Make recommendations for future research or practice
  • Summarize your findings and their significance

Discussion section of a research paper example

Discussion template for research paper

The discussion section of a research paper includes 3 parts: an introductory paragraph, intermediate paragraphs and a conclusion paragraph . The introductory paragraph should provide a brief overview of the previous research that has been conducted on the topic. The intermediate paragraphs should present the findings of your study and how they compare or contrast with the findings of previous studies. The conclusion paragraph should summarize the main points of the discussion section and suggest possible future directions for research.

1. Start with a strong introduction. 2. Present your findings in a clear and concise manner. 3. Analyze your findings and offer your interpretation. 4. Summarize your discussion and offer concluding thoughts.

The discussion section is where you analyze your results and put them into context. You should discuss how your results compare to other studies, what they mean for the field of research, and how they can be applied to real-world problems. You should also highlight any weaknesses or limitations of your study so that future researchers can build on your work. Finally, you should suggest future directions for research based on your findings.

A discussion in research is section where the author discusses the results of the study and how it can be improved.


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Research paper title page, data analysis section of a research paper.

  • How to write the results section of a research paper + examples

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How to Write a Discussion Section: Writing Guide

how to write a discussion section

Table of contents

The discussion section of a research paper is where the author analyzes and explains the importance of the study's results. It presents the conclusions drawn from the study, compares them to previous research, and addresses any potential limitations or weaknesses. The discussion section should also suggest areas for future research.

Everything is not that complicated if you know where to find the required information. We’ll tell you everything there is to know about writing your discussion. Our easy guide covers all important bits, including research questions and your research results. Do you know how all enumerated events are connected? Well, you will after reading this guide we’ve prepared for you!

What Is in the Discussion Section of a Research Paper

The discussion section of a research paper can be viewed as something similar to the conclusion of your paper. But not literal, of course. It’s an ultimate section where you can talk about the findings of your study. Think about these questions when writing:

  • Did you answer all of the promised research questions?
  • Did you mention why your work matters?
  • What are your findings, and why should anyone even care?
  • Does your study have a literature review?

So, answer your questions, provide proof, and don’t forget about your promises from the introduction. 

How to Write a Discussion Section in 5 Steps

How to write the discussion section of a research paper is something everyone googles eventually. It's just life. But why not make everything easier? In brief, this section we’re talking about must include all following parts:

  • Answers for research questions
  • Literature review
  • Results of the work
  • Limitations of one’s study
  • Overall conclusion

Indeed, all those parts may confuse anyone. So by looking at our guide, you'll save yourself some hassle.  P.S. All our steps are easy and explained in detail! But if you are looking for the most efficient solution, consider using professional help. Leave your “ write my research paper for me ” order at StudyCrumb and get a customized study tailored to your requirements.

Step 1. Start Strong: Discussion Section of a Research Paper

First and foremost, how to start the discussion section of a research paper? Here’s what you should definitely consider before settling down to start writing:

  • All essays or papers must begin strong. All readers will not wait for any writer to get to the point. We advise summarizing the paper's main findings.
  • Moreover, you should relate both discussion and literature review to what you have discovered. Mentioning that would be a plus too.
  • Make sure that an introduction or start per se is clear and concise. Word count might be needed for school. But any paper should be understandable and not too diluted.

Step 2. Answer the Questions in Your Discussion Section of a Research Paper

Writing the discussion section of a research paper also involves mentioning your questions. Remember that in your introduction, you have promised your readers to answer certain questions. Well, now it’s a perfect time to finally give the awaited answer. You need to explain all possible correlations between your findings, research questions, and literature proposed. You already had hypotheses. So were they correct, or maybe you want to propose certain corrections? Section’s main goal is to avoid open ends. It’s not a story or a fairytale with an intriguing ending. If you have several questions, you must answer them. As simple as that.

Step 3. Relate Your Results in a Discussion Section

Writing a discussion section of a research paper also requires any writer to explain their results. You will undoubtedly include an impactful literature review. However, your readers should not just try and struggle with understanding what are some specific relationships behind previous studies and your results.  Your results should sound something like: “This guy in their paper discovered that apples are green. Nevertheless, I have proven via experimentation and research that apples are actually red.” Please, don’t take these results directly. It’s just an initial hypothesis. But what you should definitely remember is any practical implications of your study. Why does it matter and how can anyone use it? That’s the most crucial question.

Step 4. Describe the Limitations in Your Discussion Section

Discussion section of a research paper isn’t limitless. What does that mean? Essentially, it means that you also have to discuss any limitations of your study. Maybe you had some methodological inconsistencies. Possibly, there are no particular theories or not enough information for you to be entirely confident in one’s conclusions.  You might say that an available source of literature you have studied does not focus on one’s issue. That’s why one’s main limitation is theoretical. However, keep in mind that your limitations must possess a certain degree of relevancy. You can just say that you haven’t found enough books. Your information must be truthful to research.

Step 5. Conclude Your Discussion Section With Recommendations

Your last step when you write a discussion section in a paper is its conclusion, like in any other academic work. Writer’s conclusion must be as strong as their starting point of the overall work. Check out our brief list of things to know about the conclusion in research paper :

  • It must present its scientific relevance and importance of your work.
  • It should include different implications of your research.
  • It should not, however, discuss anything new or things that you have not mentioned before.
  • Leave no open questions and carefully complete the work without them.

Discussion Section of a Research Paper Example

All the best example discussion sections of a research paper will be written according to our brief guide. Don’t forget that you need to state your findings and underline the importance of your work. An undoubtedly big part of one’s discussion will definitely be answering and explaining the research questions. In other words, you’ll already have all the knowledge you have so carefully gathered. Our last step for you is to recollect and wrap up your paper. But we’re sure you’ll succeed!

How to Write a Discussion Section: Final Thoughts

Today we have covered how to write a discussion section. That was quite a brief journey, wasn’t it? Just to remind you to focus on these things:

  • Importance of your study.
  • Summary of the information you have gathered.
  • Main findings and conclusions.
  • Answers to all research questions without an open end.
  • Correlation between literature review and your results.

But, wait, this guide is not the only thing we can do. Looking for how to write an abstract for a research paper  for example? We have such a blog and much more on our platform.

Our academic writing service is just a click away. We are proud to say that our writers are professionals in their fields. Buy a research paper and our experts can provide prompt solutions without compromising the quality.

Discussion Section of a Research Paper: Frequently Asked Questions

1. how long should the discussion section of a research paper be.

Our discussion section of a research paper should not be longer than other sections. So try to keep it short but as informative as possible. It usually contains around 6-7 paragraphs in length. It is enough to briefly summarize all the important data and not to drag it.

2. What's the difference between the discussion and the results?

The difference between discussion and results is very simple and easy to understand. The results only report your main findings. You stated what you have found and how you have done that. In contrast, one’s discussion mentions your findings and explains how they relate to other literature, research questions, and one’s hypothesis. Therefore, it is not only a report but an efficient as well as proper explanation.

3. What's the difference between a discussion and a conclusion?

The difference between discussion and conclusion is also quite easy. Conclusion is a brief summary of all the findings and results. Still, our favorite discussion section interprets and explains your main results. It is an important but more lengthy and wordy part. Besides, it uses extra literature for references.

4. What is the purpose of the discussion section?

The primary purpose of a discussion section is to interpret and describe all your interesting findings. Therefore, you should state what you have learned, whether your hypothesis was correct and how your results can be explained using other sources. If this section is clear to readers, our congratulations as you have succeeded.


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