Discussion - From a Research Project to a Journal Article - Conference Proposals and Article Types

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

From a Research Project to a Journal Article
Conference Proposals and Article Types

Researchers use the discussion section to interpret the meaning of the outcomes. The discussion guides readers to understand the study and its significance to the field (Hess, 2004). Researchers critically analyze, compare, and discuss their results based on the stated problem, research questions/hypotheses, and methods. The discussion section also is a place where writers revisit the literature review. They compare the outcomes of their study with those from previous published studies to justify their study’s outcomes, limitations, and conflicts with other studies. Before drawing conclusions, writers need to discuss and evaluate their study’s agreement with, contradictions of, and/or relevance to extant knowledge in the field (Maloy, 2001). After establishing this, writers can then move to a discussion of their study’s contribution to scientific knowledge, the implications for practice, and possible directions for future research (Booth, Columb, & Williams, 2008). A well written discussion provides an effective completion to a scientific manuscript paper, because it ascribes meaning to the outcomes in the study (Annesley, 2010h).

The discussion section needs to be carefully structured, because it is frequently the weakest component of the manuscript (Skelton & Edwards, 2000). A common error in the discussion section is to use “rhetoric”, overstate findings, and generate assertions that go beyond what is supported by the data (Docherty & Smith, 1999; Hess, 2004). Conversely, some authors “undersell” their work and fail to make the contributions clear.

Writers of quantitative research can improve the discussion section of their manuscripts by using the following questions as a guide:

Did the author/researcher:

· State the study’s major findings?

· Explain the meaning and importance of the findings?

· Relate the findings to those of similar studies?

· Consider alternative explanations of the findings?

· State the relevance of the findings?

· Acknowledge the study’s limitations?

· Make suggestions for further research? (Hess, 2004, p. 1239).