How to Write a Good Discussion Chapter of a Thesis

Updated April 17, 2017

A thesis is the final project of a postgraduate student. It will be a minimum of 10,000 words in most academic disciplines, and considerably more if the thesis is for Ph.D. level study. The Discussion section is the final chapter of the thesis. Here, the ramifications of results on further academic research and study are discussed and any trends within the findings noted. A good Discussion chapter should both draw conclusions from the results and open up further avenues for investigation.

Position your Discussion chapter correctly. It is the final chapter in your thesis, following the Results section and preceding your References section.

Discuss your findings compared to previous research. You will already have detailed such research in the Literature Review section; here, it is necessary only to discuss whether your results corroborate or challenge existing perspectives.

Focus on any anomalies in your results. Question why such anomalies occurred, if the experiment design is to blame or whether the anomalies warrant further investigation.

Contextualise your results in a societal framework. Broaden your discussion out to state what impact and relevance your results have on society and your particular academic discipline.

Draw conclusions from your findings. Note any trends or unexpected patterns that have appeared in your results. Suggest paths for further investigation that other researchers might want to follow.

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John Jackman has been freelance writing since 2009. His work has been published in the globally distributed magazine "Media & Marketing" and on several industry-leading websites, including Cream, Brand-E and EMMA. Jackman studied English literature and drama at Brunel University in London.