How To Write A Discussion Chapter In Your PhD Discussion

If you’re here, you probably got to the part in your thesis or dissertation where you have to work on the discussion chapter. Don’t worry; we’re here to help! In this article, we’ll break down the discussion chapter in simple language and give you lots of examples to make it easier to understand.”

What is the discussion chapter?

The discussion chapter plays a vital role in your thesis or dissertation.

Unlike the results chapter, which presents your analysis findings, whether they are qualitative or quantitative, this chapter is where you really dig into your results.

Here, you’ll interpret and explain your research findings, exploring their significance and implications.

In this section, you’ll connect your research findings with your research questions or hypotheses and link them back to previous studies and literature, as you did in your literature review chapter.

You’ll also assess the relevance and importance of your findings to your field of study and make a persuasive argument for the conclusions you’ve drawn from your analysis.

In essence, the discussion chapter is your opportunity to engage with and elucidate your research findings in a comprehensive and cohesive manner.

What to Incorporate in the Discussion Chapter?

Let’s start with the basics: in certain studies, the results and discussion chapters are merged into a single chapter.

Whether this applies to your work depends on the type of study you conducted, including its nature and chosen methodology, as well as the guidelines set by your university.

In essence, your discussion chapter’s primary purpose is to dissect, delve into the meaning of, and establish the significance of the data you presented in the results chapter. Here, you will infuse your results with significance by critically evaluating and interpreting them.

This process aids in addressing your research questions, achieving your research objectives, and bolstering your overall conclusions. Therefore, your discussion chapter should squarely focus on findings that are directly relevant to your research objectives and questions.

Since this chapter mirrors your results chapter, it’s imperative that you refrain from introducing any new findings.

In simpler terms, you should avoid making claims in this section if you haven’t already presented the pertinent data in the results chapter.

Hence, ensure that each discussion point you raise in this chapter corresponds to the data analysis covered in the results chapter.

Crafting the Discussion Chapter: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you’ve grasped the essence of the discussion chapter and its essential elements let’s delve into structuring this pivotal chapter. In a broad sense, you can break down this chapter into six key components, which serve as sequential steps in the chapter-writing journey.

Step 1: Reiterate Your Research Problem and Questions

When you begin writing your discussion chapter, the first thing to do is remind your reader about what your research is all about, like the main problem you’re trying to solve and what questions you’re trying to answer. This reminder is important because, after reading a bunch of stuff, your reader might forget what your research was really about or get distracted by other things.

Step 2: Sum Up The Main Discoveries

Moving ahead, it’s time to sum up the most important thing you found in your results chapter. Now, this might look different if you did qualitative or quantitative research. Qualitative research could be all about themes and connections, while quantitative research might talk about things like correlations and reasons behind everything happening.

Usually, this part doesn’t need to be long, just a paragraph or two, depending on how many research questions you had. Try to keep it short because you’ll go into more detail later on in the chapter.

Here are some examples of what you might say:

The analysed data suggest that…

The data support/oppose the defined theory that…

The detailed analysis identifies…

Remember, these are just examples. What you say here depends on the questions you were trying to answer in your research, so make sure you address them correctly.

Step 3: Interpret your results

Once you’ve started your research problem and questions and given a quick rundown of what you found, it’s time to explain your discoveries by looking at your results more closely.

But remember, only talk about what you already told them in the results part – don’t bring in new information.

From a structure point of view, it might be a good idea to organise this chapter, kind of like how you did the results one. This makes it easier for your reader to follow along and understand your points better.

Here are a few things to think about while you’re explaining your findings:

  • How do your results match up with what other studies found?
  • If your results are different from other studies, why do you think that happened?
  • What do your results add to your field of research?
  • Are there any other reasons your findings could be the way they are?

When you’re explaining your findings, make sure not to say anything that doesn’t have proof. Every idea you put out there should have something to back it up, like data or facts (and you already put that in the results chapter).

Step 4: Admit the Flaws in Your Research

Now, in the fourth step of making your discussion chapter, it’s time to fess up about the things that didn’t go so well in your study. These could be problems in any part of your study, like how big or small it was, the theories you used, how you did your analysis or even the group of people you studied.

Some folks might feel like talking about what went wrong is like shooting themselves in the foot. But that’s not true! Actually, one of the signs of doing really good research is being honest about what didn’t work out. So, saying what went wrong is actually a strong move, not a weak one.

Step 5: Offer Some Suggestions for What Comes Next

Now, after you’ve talked about your findings and owned up to what didn’t go perfectly, it’s time to think about two important things:

  • How can other students use your findings in real life? Basically, what good can come out of your research in the field or industry? Where can people put this info to use, and how would they do it?
  • What about future research? How can other researchers take what you’ve done and build on it? Maybe they can make your findings even better by dealing with the issues you mentioned earlier. While you’re at it, check if your results match up with what other studies have found, and if not, figure out why.

Final Words

By adhering to these fundamental principles, you will not only construct a well-organised discussion chapter but also contribute significantly to the ongoing discourse in your field. This, in turn, elevates the impact and relevance of your research within the broader academic community.





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