The discussion section should discuss the conclusions and implications of your findings in 5-6 paragraphs (~800 words or ~20-30% of the manuscript text). The discussion section is the heart of the manuscript. Be sure to clearly state the main study conclusions, interpret their meaning, and answer all research questions presented in the Background.

Beginning

The beginning paragraphs should provide both the primary and secondary findings of your study. Emphasize how these findings advance knowledge in the field. What did you find and why is it important?

  • This study has shown that …
  • The research has also shown that …
  • The first question in this study sought to determine …
  • The second major finding was that …
  • The third question in this research was …
  • An initial objective of the project was to identify …
  • The most obvious finding to emerge from this study is that …
  • The relevance of X is clearly supported by the current findings.
  • One of the more significant findings to emerge from this study is that …

Middle

The middle paragraph(s) should compare your findings to other relevant studies in the literature background. Ensure that you address what other researchers found and why your results better, different, or confirmatory.

  • Several reports have shown that …
  • As mentioned in the literature review, …
  • Prior studies that have noted the importance of …
  • Very little was found in the literature on the question of …
  • Contrary to expectations, this study did not find a significant difference between ….
  • This finding is consistent with that of Smith (2000) who …
  • Comparison of the findings with those of other studies confirms …

End

The last paragraph should discuss the limitations of the study and options for future research. This section should conclude with a discussion on the statistical and clinical implications of your study. Be sure to link the stated study conclusions with the goals stated in the Introduction. Include information on what research should be pursued next.

  • This study set out to …
  • However, with a small sample size, caution must be applied, as the findings might not be …
  • Notwithstanding these limitations, the study suggests that …
  • There are still many unanswered questions about …
  • Further work is required to establish the viability of…
  • The study contributes to our understanding of …
  • A natural progression of this work is to analyze …
  • These results add to the rapidly expanding field of …

References

  1. The EQUATOR Network. Reporting guidelines for main study types. Published 2020. Accessed August 5, 2020. https://www.equator-network.org/reporting-guidelines/
  2. Cals JWL, Kotz D. Effective writing and publishing scientific papers, part VI: discussion. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 2013;66(10):1064. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2013.04.017
  3. Vintzileos AM, Ananth CV. How to write and publish an original research article. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2010;202(4):344.e1-344.e6. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2009.06.038
  4. Branson RD. Anatomy of a Research Paper. RESPIRATORY CARE. 2004;49(10):7.