Guidelines for effective discussion sections in scientific reports.
Questions to address:
How to address them:
1. What do your observations mean?
a)Suggestthe theoretical implications of your results.
• Suggestpractical applications of your results?
• Extendyour findings to other situations or other species.
• Givethe big picture: do your findings help us understand a
2. What conclusions can you draw?
c) Summarizethe most important findings at the beginning.
3. How do your results fit into a broader context?
b)For eachmajor result:
• Describethe patterns, principles, relationships results show.
• Explainhow your results relate to expectations and to literature
cited in your Introduction. Do they agree, contradict, or are they
exceptions to the rule?
• Explainplausibly any agreements, contradictions, or exceptions.
• Describewhat additional research might resolve contradictions
or explain exceptions
d) Preparing the reference section.
There are a variety of styles used by journals for referencing information. Citations in the text may be referred to by number or by author name. In the reference section the citations are then arranged numerically or alphabetically.
Whichever system you utilize, the reference itself must include the following:
· all of the authors listed on the publication (or on the chapter if citing a book)
· the title of the paper (or chapter if citing a book)
· the name of the journal (or book)
· editors if a book is cited
· volume number
· complete pagination (first and last page of the work cited)
· year of publication
Exercise 4. Read the tips and complete the table identifying the section they belong to.
1. Move from specific to general:your finding(s) -->literature, theory, practice.
2. Don't ignore or bury the major issue.Did the study achieve the goal (resolve the
problem, answer the question, support the hypothesis) presented in the Introduction?
3. Make explanations complete.
Give evidence for each conclusion.
Discuss possible reasons for expected and unexpected findings.
4. What to avoid:
Don'tignore deviations in your data.
Avoidspeculation that cannot be tested in the foreseeable future.
1. Provide enough detail for replication. For a journal article, include, for example, genus,
species, strain of organisms; their source, living conditions, and care; and sources
(manufacturer, location) of chemicals and apparatus.
2. Order procedures chronologically or by type of procedure (subheaded) and chronologically within type.
3. Use past tense to describe what you did.
4. Quantify when possible: concentrations, measurements, amounts (all metric); times (24-hour clock); temperatures (centigrade).
What to avoid:
1. Don't include details of common statistical procedures.
2. Don't mix results with procedures.
1. Move from general to specific: problem in real world/research literature ⇒ your experiment.
2. Engage your reader: answer the questions, "What did you do?" "Why should I care?"
3. Make clear the links between problem and solution, question asked and research design, prior
research and your experiment.
4. Be selective, not exhaustive, in choosing studies to cite and amount of detail to include. (In general, the
more relevant an article is to your study, the more space it deserves and the later in the Introduction it
Exercise 1. Skim the text and find out the main types of visuals used during the presentation.