Discussion and Conclusions

Your Discussion and Conclusions sections should answer the question: What do your results mean?

In other words, the majority of the Discussion and Conclusions sections should be an interpretation of your results. You should:

  • Discuss your conclusions in order of most to least important.
  • Compare your results with those from other studies: Are they consistent? If not, discuss possible reasons for the difference.
  • Mention any inconclusive results and explain them as best you can. You may suggest additional experiments needed to clarify your results.
  • Briefly describe the limitations of your study to show reviewers and readers that you have considered your experiment’s weaknesses. Many researchers are hesitant to do this as they feel it highlights the weaknesses in their research to the editor and reviewer. However doing this actually makes a positive impression of your paper as it makes it clear that you have an in depth understanding of your topic and can think objectively of your research.
  • Discuss what your results may mean for researchers in the same field as you, researchers in other fields, and the general public. How could your findings be applied?
  • State how your results extend the findings of previous studies.
  • If your findings are preliminary, suggest future studies that need to be carried out.
  • At the end of your Discussion and Conclusions sections, state your main conclusions once again.