Dissertation Discussion Chapter

What is the meaning of a dissertation discussion chapter in an academic paper? The discussion seсtion, written in active voice, provides a deep extensive analysis of the results obtained in your research.

The two main tasks you perform in your discussion is Interpret and Evaluate:

  • you interpret the results through your own visions and the vision of other scholars, making references to their papers on the topic that you study and citing mentions that explain or indicate the same or different results;
  • you evaluate the significance of your work, its benefits and disadvantages, and the validity of information gained through your research.

The research begins with your approach to it, its goal and methodology. These are already mentioned in the introduction of your paper. In the discussion, we review those factors again in the context of their relationship with the research results.

Having a certain base of knowledge about the subject you investigate, you hold specific expectations about the way the research will “behave” and what results it’s likely to bring - they are often stated as a hypothesis. Write about those expectations. The discussion chapter of dissertation must answer the question whether the results of the research match your expectations or differ from them, and you need to show how. In the case when the results differ, draw conclusions and make logical speculations about the reasons why it happened that way - from defects of the research approach to the tricky nature of the subject matter. What did you want the results to reveal that they failed to do? What is still missing? What unexpected data was obtained?

Whether the results met your individual expectations or not, they most probably meet expectations of someone else’s theories and can be explained by some piece of scholarly knowledge. Say which information in the literature is confirmed by the results of the research. Otherwise, say how the results challenge current theories and arguments, indicating unexplored or misinterpreted aspects of the subject.

Also, the most important point of the whole research is the questions you put and the goals you set before conducting it. These are not exactly the same as expectations - rather, the expectations are about achieving those goals and answering those questions. The problem statement in a paper usually represents the main question. A hypothesis tries to give an answer. The main goal is to see if it really can. Subordinate goals and questions are concerned with specific aspects and details of the research. When writing the discussion chapter of a dissertation, you need to show how these questions and goals were (or weren’t) answered and met.

You make a somewhat critical evaluation of your research: point out its weak and strong points, and how they might have reflected on the results. Interpret the meaning that these results have, what they testify to. Put the results into the context of the whole field of study that your research pertains to, making assumptions about how these results might change the bigger picture. You also can describe the future prospects of the research of this particular topic and the opportunities they may offer for scholars. You may end your discussion suggesting ways to improve the research, as well as possible further steps in the investigation of the issue under study. The research you’ve conducted has made a contribution of some kind to the academic world, and you should define the value of your work in this regard. Explain how your research enhances the study of the matter and point out the corrections you’ve made to results obtained previously by others. Don’t be vague and too general with your conclusions.

The Discussion (also called Analysis) chapter is sometimes merged with the Results. The results can be interpreted immediately as they are mentioned or be presented as raw data preceding a discussion section. If the two are written separately, a good discussion is recognized by how it differs from the text of the results section. The discussion must clearly elaborate on the meaning of the results and not just reiterate them in a bigger body of text.

Important tips to remember when writing a discussion section

  1. Include all of the results you’ve obtained into the discussion. Even if some of them seem secondary or insignificant, they actually are valuable units of scholarly study.
  2. Pay particular attention to conflicting results, devote sufficient effort and make enough space to explain them. Conflicting results do not necessarily imply that the research has gone wrong. They may be an important pointer for further study of yet unresolved questions.
  3. Put every piece and aspect of the results into a “dialogue”: explain how they relate to each other, what they verify together and what issues end up ambiguous due to the presence of varying or even opposing groups of data. It’s a part of the discussion as crucial as the correlation between results and expectations.
  4. Move upscale from your specific subject matter to the general field of study it relates to, don’t neglect one or the other, because individual building blocks and the whole construction are dependent on each other.
  5. If any of your research data is presented in graphs or tables, and these are included to the appendices, it might be convenient to put those graphs and tables into the discussion as well - at least into the results section. The proper perception of the content may be impeded by constant flipping back and forth between the appendices and the text of the paper.

APA Discussion Section Dissertation

How to write a discussion section APA style? The main requirements of the APA guide in this regard is to locate the discussion section right after the results section. The Discussion heading should be centered. Both this heading and the subheadings must be put in bold. The whole text of the paper is written in Times New Roman font, size 12, with all the margins set for 1 inch. For more specific guidelines, consult the full APA style guide, which should be available at your university library.