How to write a discussion chapter?

Discussion Chapter Burger
The discussion chapter burger

It never ceases to amaze me how often students underestimate the importance of a good, solid discussion/conclusion chapter. As part of your dissertation or PhD the final chapter is worth its weight in gold, it brings together all the disparate elements of your thesis, allowing the researcher to finish with a flourish!

The discussion chapter is often a misunderstood or an under-appreciated part of a dissertation. In a lot of cases where I have supervised my undergraduate and postgraduate students, many of them see this final chapter as a chore, an obstacle that needs to be overcome, a hurdle in the way of greatness. This kind of mindset and mentality leads many students to rush the discussion chapter without really giving this chapter the time and effort it deserves.

Think of your dissertation as a burger,it has two buns, packed with meat, salad, mayo etc. However what if the bottom bun was soggy? This takes away from the taste of the burger, but crucially makes the experience of eating the burger a lot less wholesome :(. Your research chapter can either be a soggy bun or a lightly toasted, crispy bun, you decide!

The final chapter is your chance to bring together all your ideas in one cohesive manner. bear in mind that on many occasions (nearly all), the person marking your dissertation will check your aims, objectives and then skim to the final discussion chapter.  Hence the research chapter is pretty crucial in helping you make a good first impression.

So how should this section be structured, well in my view something like the following is normally helpful:

  • Introduction
  • Overview of findings
  • Contribution to knowledge
  • Limitations
  • Areas for further research
  • Recommendations
  • Conclusion

The above is a rough skeleton of the key points that you must cover to comprehensively round up your thesis. Your overview of findings must link to your objectives, clearly highlight in this section what were your objectives and how you met those objectives. Don’t be scared of writing down your limitations, it shows that you have been meticulous in your research and you have identified how you could have made it better. Finish with your recommendations, what were the key findings that you think will make a difference? Don’t be shy, shout your contribution from the rooftops!

In closing a good discussion chapter should be well discussed, researched and should read well. Do not rush in a misguided attempt to reach the finish line.

Good luck!

Find out more about the author Dr Abdul Jabbar by clicking here.

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