After collecting and presenting data in a research paper, the next step is to explain what those findings mean and why they matter. This is done in the discussion section. Writing this part well is essential because it helps readers understand the significance of the research.

This guide will explain how to write a clear and impactful discussion for your research paper.

What is the Discussion Section of a Research Paper?

The discussion is one of the final sections of research paper writing, following the presentation of the results. It explains the deeper meaning and implications of these results, moving beyond the raw data to provide readers with an understanding of the research’s significance.

What is the Purpose of a Discussion Section?

The core purpose of the discussion section is multifaceted. Primarily, it offers an interpretation of the results in the context of the research question and previously published studies.

It also allows for an acknowledgment of the study’s limitations, a discourse on the implications of the findings, and recommendations for future research.

How long Should the Section of a Research Paper Be?

The length of the discussion section can vary based on the complexity of the research, the volume of results, and the publication guidelines.

A general guideline is that your “Discussion” section should not exceed the combined length of the other sections. Aim to keep it concise, spanning about 6-7 paragraphs. Typically, discussions range from 1100 to 2200 words in length.

How to Write the Discussion Section

Crafting a well-rounded Discussion section is pivotal for any research paper. It’s where you contextualize your findings, relate them to existing knowledge, and provide a deeper insight into their significance. Here’s a guide on approaching this essential section:

Summarizing Key Findings

In the discussion section of a research paper, a vital initial step is to circle back to the core outcomes of the study. This entails presenting a concise summary of the primary results you’ve uncovered through your investigative efforts.

Not only does this re-acquaint readers with the fundamental data points, but it also ensures they have a clear reference point for the ensuing analysis.

After laying down these foundational findings, you pave the way for an enriched interpretation. This research summary acts as a cornerstone, enabling readers to grasp the essence of your study quickly.

Furthermore, by offering a distilled recap, you’re setting the tone and trajectory for the deeper discussions, evaluations, and implications that follow.

Interpreting the Findings

The discussion section transforms raw data into significant insights, bridging the gap between observed patterns and their broader implications. One of the core tasks during this interpretation is to link your findings with the existing body of literature.

Doing so lets you decide if your results resonate with previous research or if they chart a new course, shedding light on previously unexplored areas of the subject matter.

However, every research endeavor might present unexpected outcomes — results that weren’t initially hypothesized or predicted. These open avenues for fresh discussions and can sometimes be the most enlightening part of the research.

It’s a balancing act, requiring researchers to meld their empirical observations with critical thinking, ensuring every result, expected or not, is framed within the larger academic narrative.

Discussing the Implications

Unveiling research results isn’t just about stating the facts or patterns observed; it’s about unveiling their broader significance in academic and practical contexts. Such contributions can reshape how we understand certain phenomena, challenge existing beliefs, or even set the stage for new theoretical frameworks.

These revelations can also influence how professionals in the field approach their work, enriching practices and prompting more informed decision-making.

In addition to theoretical or professional impacts, many research findings bear tangible real-world implications. Reflecting on these broader implications is an exercise in speculation.

It’s about mapping your findings beyond the pages of your research paper and considering how they might influence policy, practice, and perception.

Acknowledging the limitations

By openly recognizing limitations, researchers demonstrate a depth of understanding and a commitment to authenticity. Addressing the boundaries acknowledges that research is a dynamic process, constantly informed and refined by various factors.

Whether these limitations arise from the confines of the chosen methodology, the demographics of the sample size, or unforeseen challenges during the study, pinpointing them provides readers with a holistic view of the research’s context.

Moreover, acknowledging limitations does more than just ground the research; it paves the way for future investigations.

By laying out the areas where the study might have fallen short or where complexities arose, researchers invite subsequent scholars to delve deeper, build upon the existing work, or even reframe their research methodologies to address these constraints.

Giving Recommendations for Further Research

While providing answers, every study often raises new questions or uncovers areas that need further exploration. By recommending directions for future investigations, a researcher acknowledges the expansive nature of knowledge and situates their work within this larger, ongoing academic discourse.

These recommendations connect the current study to potential future explorations. They can inspire new methodologies, lead to the validation or refutation of findings, or even open up new inquiry areas. By pointing forward, the researcher ensures that the journey of knowledge, driven by curiosity and collaboration, marches on.

Example of a Research Paper Discussion Section

Title: The Impact of Patient-Centered Communication Training on Nurse-Patient Interactions in Acute Care Settings


Our findings reaffirm the importance of effective nurse-patient communication in acute care settings. Prior literature emphasized its role in enhancing patient outcomes, and our study elucidates the specific benefits of structured, patient-centered communication training for nursing professionals.

The observed increase in patient satisfaction scores post-training, averaging a 15% enhancement, aligns with Smith et al.'s (2019) investigation on communication's role in patient contentment. Our results further showcase a decline in patient anxiety levels, suggesting that effective communication addresses informational needs and emotional and psychological concerns.

Interestingly, while our hypotheses predicted improved patient experience, the notable rise in job satisfaction among nurses post-training was revelatory. This could be attributed to the diminished work-related stress that effective communication often alleviates, echoing Johnson and Clarke's (2020) work on occupational satisfaction among healthcare providers.

However, this research is not without its limitations. The study's confinement to a single acute care facility raises questions about the generalizability of our results. Furthermore, the relatively short post-training observation period of three months might not capture long-term effects or potential decreases in training efficacy over time.

The benefits of patient-centered communication training underscore its potential as a pivotal component in nursing curricula and continuing professional development. Yet, further investigations across varied healthcare settings and over extended periods are warranted to comprehend its comprehensive impact.

While patient-centered communication training presents promising avenues for enhancing patient and nurse experiences in acute care environments, its broader applications and long-term implications warrant continued scholarly attention.

(Note: The study details and references, "Smith et al. (2019)" and "Johnson and Clarke (2020)", are fictional and used for illustrative purposes only.)

Wrapping Up

Crafting an insightful discussion section requires researchers to move beyond the data, offering readers a deeper understanding of the research’s relevance, implications, and place within the broader academic narrative. Through thoughtful interpretation, acknowledgment of limitations, and a forward-looking perspective, the discussion can illuminate the true significance of the research undertaken.