How to Write a Discussion Chapter for a Dissertation

By now, you have probably got all or the majority of your research results so the next task is to incorporate them into a discussion chapter for your dissertation. In other words, it is time to discuss your results. This is another important chapter in a dissertation or thesis because it is where your results are put into context or given meaning. This is possibly the reason that a lot of students find it difficult to write a discussion chapter.

What is the purpose of a discussion chapter

  • It is used to interpret data and explain results;
  • It compares research material and results with other studies or research in the same field;
  • It highlights any limitations in the research work;
  • It assesses overall importance;
  • It draws attention to any questions or areas for further research.

What should readers expect to see in a discussion chapter?

  • Whether the research matches the writer’s initial aims;
  • How those aims are confirmed in the paper;
  • How the writer explains their results;
  • Whether the research is relevant to existing theories or existing research;
  • Any limitations in the research or any areas for improvement;
  • How important the research is.

What type of information should a discussion chapter include?

  • Your summary of any key results/findings;
  • How your findings match your original aims;
  • A reaffirmation of original aims;
  • A description of how your research compares to other theories or existing research;
  • The significance of your research;
  • Your explanation of any surprising results;
  • Any limitations in your research;
  • Recommendations for future research.

What type of information should your discussion chapter omit?

  • Any data not mentioned in the results chapter;
  • Less important findings:
  • Any results that do not confirm or are not directly related to your hypothesis or initial aims;
  • Usually, any diagrams and/or tables should be placed in the results chapter.

How should your information be organised?

There are a number of ways to do this:

  • One method is to address the hypothesis or your aims in the same order they appear in your dissertation’s introduction chapter.
  • An alternative method is to begin by presenting the most important findings or results with a comment on these. Then proceed down the list to the most insignificant.  
  • Yet another method is to adhere to the advice provided in the second and third sections above.