Discussion in section-based dissertations
As with all other chapters, the discussion chapter differ according to the discipline and structure of your dissertation. If the dissertation is organised by sections, the discussion chapter(s) could contain the following :
- If using a research question: state explicitly how your research answers the research question. Present arguments and demonstrate your main argument.
- If using an hypothesis: state explicitly if your findings support or not your research hypothesis.
- Critically analyse the findings by linking them to the background research.
- Are the findings consistent with existing research, theories, established practices?
- Do they present anything unusual?
- Do the findings shed new light on the subject? Assess the importance of your study and how it’s filled a gap in your field. Identify possible implications of your findings for your area and other areas of study.
- Present a critique of your research in terms of methodology, limitations etc. If the hypothesis was not supported, consider reasons why this was the case (Cottrell, 2014, p192).
To some extent, the discussion chapter ties together and elaborates on all the preceding sections of your dissertation:
- It can be structured according to the objectives you laid out in the introduction.
- It answers the research question presented in the introduction, or discusses whether the hypothesis, introduced in the introduction or methodology, was supported.
- It discusses the findings and results, which were described in the results/findings section.
- It interprets and explains the findings, comparing and contrasting them with the literature presented in the literature review.
- It discusses the limitations of the methods and strength if your approach.