7.8 Discussion

This section follows the results with the centered title “Discussion” in bold text. A discussion elaborates on the main findings and notes the implications for future research.

Discussion questions to consider:

  • Did this section provide an overall summary of the study?
  • Was the study situated within the relevant literature?
  • Were all the key findings described?
  • Are the main findings related back to the literature?
  • Are there any alternative explanations for the findings?
  • Is the importance of the study evident?
  • Are limitations of this study introduced?
  • Were suggestions provided for ways to improve this research?

Results are generally discussed as they pertain to the research questions or hypotheses posed in the introduction. In this case, each finding is discussed in some detail as you note whether the result is in accord with the original hypothesis (and thus lends further support to the area of research you are building on) or you might speculate why you did not find what you expected. For example:

Results indicated that monetary reward had no significant effect on pain endurance. . . Money may have become less salient in the context of the social modeling manipulation. On the post-experimental questionnaire, most individuals reported self-esteem or competitiveness as their motivation for participating, rather than the money. (Symbaluk et al., 1997, p. 266)

Finally, note any limitations of the present study and how you might improve upon this research. Perhaps you used a small sample and now you would like to replicate the study with a larger group, or a different group, to see if the findings hold true. The discussion ends with a conclusion to your report that briefly sums up the study and its importance. (The present study makes it clear that. . . This study has shown that . . .Future research is needed to . . . )

Discussion Checklist

❏ Follows the results section

❏ Begins with the heading “Discussion,” centered in bold text

❏ Page numbering continues from the previous section

❏ Double-spaced

❏ Indented new paragraphs

❏ Main findings are described

❏ Findings are situated in the relevant literature

❏ Implications for future research are noted


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Navigating an Undergraduate Degree in the Social Sciences Copyright © 2019 by Diane Symbaluk, Robyn Hall, and Geneve Champoux is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.