DISCUSSION: Background 1

The discussion section is probably the most difficult and challenging to write because you have to think carefully about

In this way you relate your own results to the store of scientific knowledge. In a short report, your discussion section will also include your conclusion(s) and you can therefore use other headings such as 'Discussion and Conclusion', or simply 'Conclusion(s)'. It is also acceptable to use the heading 'Interpretation'. Pay careful attention to the following points when writing your discussion:

  1. The discussion can start with a summary of the aims and the results (write about x-fold or % changes rather than just repeating the results). You should try to explain the results, but only within the context of the study - integrating swags of theory into the discussion is not necessary and leads to rambling reports.
  2. The protocols and, if necessary, the assays must be criticised. It is crucial to suggest how the protocols/study design/assays could be improved.
  3. The validity and accuracy of the data should be discussed. Any problems with data collection should lead to cautious interpretations of the results. Important data should not be omitted. If any data has been omitted, then this should be noted and discussed, although only in general terms.
  4. The discussion must focus on implications and criticisms of the study as a whole rather than on the idiosyncrasies of individual results.
  5. Definitive conclusions cannot be drawn without calculation of statistical differences (not usually required at 2nd year undergraduate level). You need to be circumspect about your conclusions - this indicates that you have thought about the validity of the results.