The discussion section in your thesis or dissertation includes the analysis of your data and findings. The aim of this section is to throw light on how your study moved to fill the research gap observed by you and what limitations you found during your own research. You will use relevant literature to compare your research outcomes with the previous authors’ findings. Here are the steps to organise all different elements of this section into a well-compiled and comprehensible discussion chapter.
Start with the research gap First few statements of the discussion section should be written with a purpose to remind the readers about the importance of your study. You will state the main problem that should be relevant or connected with what you mentioned in the introduction part. However, you should not iterate in the same way you followed in the introduction section. You will also explain how answering research questions will take current knowledge a step ahead. Understand it with a below example in which a problem and the significance has been discussed.
The current clinical mainstays for cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, surgical resection, and radiotherapy can cause systemic toxicity, significant trauma, and functional disruption of tissue, especially if repetitive treatment becomes necessary due to tumor recurrence. Hence there is significant clinical interest in alternative treatment strategies, for example, photodynamic therapy (PDT) which can effectively eradicate tumors and can be safely repeated if needed.
Provide critical analysis of your findings Here you will state the strategies, models and hypotheses that you used to find the answer to a research question. The focus of this section is to elucidate your findings explicitly that will help readers imbibe your contribution towards existing knowledge. Do not recapitulate what you mentioned in the results section. Once you have stated all details of your findings, you will explicate how your findings are relevant with current studies. You will produce an eloquent comparative report between studies. Compare the results you have obtained and how they are different (or similar) from the previous researches considering their data collection methods, sample selected, etc. Below is an excerpt taken from a research paper that states an approach and results.
Discuss the limitations of your study Do not forget to include the limitations of your study. Were there any factors that showed different results when included and excluded? What was the impact of sample size on your findings? How did limitations affect your analytical process? Did limitations affect your ability to generalise your findings? You have to discuss all these points to cover the scope of your study.
Discuss follow-up studies Write what follow up studies hinge on your findings. Consider directions for future studies that can be facilitated by your findings and can further provide significance to your study in future. Do not forget that suggesting future studies is an essential part of the discussion section.