Effective Guide to Write a Discussion & Conclusion

How to write a discussion and conclusion section of a paper? This is often one of the most confusing aspects, as students can’t distinguish between the two sections.

Though the conclusion and discussion overlap in ideas, they are separate sections. But it’s worth noting that the discussion always comes before the conclusion. This article discusses practical tips for writing a clear and well-organized conclusion and discussion and what to avoid including in these sections.

Discussion Vs. Conclusion: Know the Difference

Students often struggle to write a proper discussion and conclusion as they both talk about the results of an experiment. Whether to restate the key findings or interpret the results is a common confusion.

Here are the general differences between a discussion and a conclusion.

The discussion explains the key findings of the paper, along with their interpretations. The discussion section explores the importance, meaning, and relevance of the findings. Describe the significance of the result and why it matters while mentioning the limitations of your findings. Also, define the potential solutions, and then list the why, how, and what for your suggestions and further analyses.

A conclusion is a summary of the points mentioned in the discussion or the entire piece of work. This section summarizes the hypothesis, main points, and major research findings. You could also highlight the major limitations of the research and explain how your result contributes to the existing literature. You’re also free to provide further future recommendations.

What Makes an Effective Discussion?

When beginning to write the discussion section of your paper, you’ve already done the groundwork. You’ve established the goal of your study and given a thorough explanation of the methodology. The discussion educates readers on the study’s broader implications in light of the results. Regardless of the journal you’re submitting to, the goal of the discussion section is to conclude what your study’s results actually mean.

A strong discussion section takes the context of your findings into account and includes the following:

  • Your research results,
  • Discussion of relevant research, and
  • Comparison of your initial hypothesis and research findings.
person holding on red pen while writing on book
Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

How to Write a Discussion and Conclusion?

Let’s look at some essential pointers to help write an effective discussion and conclusion section. Writing both these sections can be a little challenging as they require you to convey the core meaning of the research. But the following tips will make writing these sections easier.

The Discussion Section:

Interpreting your results is the primary objective of the discussion section. The paper’s discussion section should appear before the conclusion and follow the methods and results section. It should place your results within the framework of the literature review and directly address the questions you raised in your introduction. Include the following information in the discussion to make it more effective.

  • The main findings of your research
  • The significance of those findings
  • How these findings compare to previous research
  • The key limitations of your research findings
  • An account of any unexpected, surprising, or ambiguous results
  • Recommendations for additional research

Information NOT to include in your discussion:

  • New data or findings not previously reported in the paper
  • Unwarranted assumption
  • Other tangential problems
  • Conclusions not backed up by proper data

The Conclusion Section:

Many writers confuse the information that should go into the discussion and conclusion sections. To simplify the process, think of your conclusion as a recap of what you have said up to this point in the paper. The conclusion is a quick review of the entire report and includes the following:

  • Reiterate your initial hypothesis or research question
  • Summarize your key results
  • Explain how your study adds to the existing literature
  • Address the limitations of your study, if any
  • Provide the recommendations or future course of the research

Your conclusion must NOT do the following

  • Introduce new arguments or data
  • Leave out the research question
  • Fail to mention the key findings

The Bottom Line

The discussion section always precedes the conclusion. The discussion interprets the main findings of the research and why they are important. And the conclusion restates the thesis and summarizes the main findings while providing directions for future research.

If you struggle with how to write a discussion and conclusion for your paper, this article can help clarify the confusion.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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