Need to write a discussion? Here's how to do it.....
Dr. Gerard Sharpling
What do you think is meant by the
word ‘discuss’, in academic
What do you think a ‘discussion’ in
a dissertation might contain?
….is more than just having fun talking about
something interesting and ‘passing the time of
A discussion must have an academic feel to it,
and be backed up with references. Otherwise it
will sound ‘naïve’ and simplistic.
When discussing, you must do so with a
purpose in mind. A discussion is teleological
It is possible to give your own opinions, but
these should be backed up by appropriate
Make sure your discussion is not just a ‘rant’
against the world – e.g. ‘I think everyone
should be doing this or that’. Add references!
Do you have to write a separate discussion
chapter in your dissertation, or will you be
discussing as you go along? If you don’t know,
how will you find out?
A key area to establish: do you need to keep
results and discussion separate?
The structure of a discussion section is not
very predictable, and may depend on:
Type of dissertation written
Tradition in particular fields
Position within the dissertation
What has been stated previously
Some writers organise their discussion
according to their research questions.
Consider whether this might be the best
option. What are the disadvantages of this
There are no right or wrong answers, but
you will need to think about the impact on
Less integrated into field
Less connected to the real
Less concerned with
More concerned with
Less likely to discuss
More likely to discuss
MOVE 1: Background information
MOVE 2: Summarizing and reporting key
MOVE 3: Commenting on key results
MOVE 4: Stating the limitations of the study
MOVE 5: Making recommendations for future
implementation or research
In essence, it is good aim for something between
the specific and general, for example:
On the whole,
In the main,
The overall results indicate…
In the main [Generalization], we may
see from this research that there is little
certainty when predicting the
fluctuation in oil prices. This confirms
what Smith (2013) claims
[Reinforcement] in his recent study,
namely that such calculations are
impossible to arrive at reliably.
Overall, the results indicate a
strong level of satisfaction with
distributed leadership within
secondary schools in the UK. This
finding bears out the views of x
(2012), who has supported this
type of managements structure
within educational institutions.
Why do we include limitations in our
In conclusion, I am extremely sorry for my very
poor dissertation because I ran out of time and
could not consider the concept of power
distance more fully in the time allowed. I hope
it will not affect my mark?
The present dissertation has certain
limitations. In particular, the nature of this
research as small-scale and time bound meant
that a fuller consideration of power distance
lay beyond the scope of the dissertation.
Nonetheless, it is felt that the data outlined
reveals noteworthy information about workers’
attitudes to their managers.
[MOVE 2]While some researchers such as
Jones (2013) contend that UK society has
deteriorated and is effectively ‘broken’,
[MOVE 2]this research suggests the
opposite, namely that UK society is
embracing positive change. [MOVE
4]Nonetheless, it should be remembered
that this study is only small-scale, and the
results are not completely generalizable.
[MOVE 3]Yet the results still appear to
indicate a useful and noteworthy trend.
It should be noted that this study has been
primarily concerned with….
The findings of this study are restricted to..
The limitations of this study are clear…
We would like to point out that we have not…
We are unable to determine from this data….
Avoid chronological description
Pick out the key features of the data
Do not cut and paste material from
other chapters. The discussion must
Repackage the results
Add some evaluative comments