For many authors the Discussion is the hardest part of the manuscript. The Discussion is considered the heart of the paper, as it allows researchers to highlight the importance of their research.

Numerous scientific authors ruin manuscripts that contain fantastic data by  ending their paper with a poor Discussion.  

The purpose of the Discussion is to impact your readers by (1) presenting your interpretations and opinions, (2) explaining the implications of your findings, and (3) making suggestions for future research. A poor Discussion that contains unnecessary or redundant information will only obscure the significance of you research.

Because in the Discussion authors are expected to clearly establish complex relationships between complex ideas, authors who speak English as a second language are encouraged to seek the help of an Expert Academic Editor.

The ideal content of the Discussion should address the following issues: (1) provide a simple answer to the questions posed in the Introduction, (2) explain how the results support the answers and, (3) explain how those answers fit in with existing knowledge on the topic.

When explaining how your results support the research answer, care must be taken to provide a commentary and not a reiteration of the results. When explaining how your research answers fit in with current knowledge on the topic, you should follow the pattern: your results- the literature- theoretical considerations.

To present a clear message the Discussion should be kept as short as possible. Remember that in this section you are only commenting on your results and the results from others:

The statement “Survival in TMp1 strain was 20.4%, while others have reported 30% survival in RTM2 strain [12], 36.3% in Rag3 stain[13], and 45.2% in FlorT1 strain [14]” can be SUMMARIZED as “In our study percent of survival in TMp1 strain was lower than in other strains [12-14]”.

If there are discrepancies between your findings and those of others you may need to defend your answers. To accomplish this you need to explain why your answers are satisfactory and why others’ are not. Alternatively, you may need to explain why BOTH your answers and the answers of others are satisfactory. Only by presenting both sides of the argument can you make your explanation convincing

In some cases you may need to discuss conflicting results and/or unexpected findings. Including these issues in your manuscript is a sign of a good un-biased discussion. When discussing an unexpected finding or a conflicting result, begin the paragraph stating the finding and then describe it.

If necessary, state potential limitations and weaknesses or your study; comment on their relative importance and explain why these limitations do not undermine the validity or significance of your findings.

Finish the Discussion by concisely (2-3 sentences) declaring: (1) the answer to the research question, (2) the significance of your findings in the context of the current knowledge, (3) one or two recommendations for further research.

Statements such as “Our results provide novel information on the mechanism of degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons” are a poor declaration of the significance of research. What is the novelty of the information?

Statements such as “Our results provide significant information for further research on the transformation of petroleum hydrocarbons” is a poor recommendation for further research. What would that research be?


How to write the discussion for an outstanding academic paper?

A collection of scientific papers with an excellent Discussion.

You can use manuscripts as models to write: (1) hypothesis-testing papers, (2) descriptive papers, (3) methodological papers.

Additional Resources “How to write a scientific Paper” - Workshop. On-line

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