The Discussion

The Discussion is the main section which develops the argument in the thesis. It can either have a chapter of its own, or it can be in one chapter with the Results, or sometimes it is combined with the Conclusion.

It needs to connect back to the aims (and hypothesis) in the Introduction and shift the reader from the specific information reported in Results and Methods to a more general view of how the findings should be interpreted. It is a collection of arguments about the relevance, usefulness and possibilities or limitations of your results or findings.

The purpose of the Discussion section is to persuade the reader that the research findings have some significance through some or all of the following elements:

  • restatement of the main purpose and aims
  • explanation for both expected and unexpected findings
  • discussion of any limitations in the study
  • comparison of thesis findings with published research (agreement/disagreement).
  • claims (based on findings) - ranging from confident to cautious

 

EXTRACT FROM THESIS MARKING CRITERIA FOR DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

To achieve a credit or higher grade you will notice that the Discussion puts great emphasis on substantiation and interpretation, i.e. argument.

 

Criteria/ Grade Credit 65-74% Distinction 75-84% High Distinction 85% +

Discussion/

Conclusion

__ / 25%

Substantiates research/design claims with references; compares and explains (un) expected results with published results; suggests further work related to topic

Clearly interprets results; links to a theoretical understanding from the literature; anticipates criticism; identifies limitations to study and how they might be resolved

Uses results to critically interpret the theory/research supporting the study; explains how results advance the field; reveals an original understanding of own work