Writing the Discussion Section
*****Refer to the sample paper I provided, as this will be very helpful to you. The discussion section is often the most important and yet it is often the most neglected in this class due to fatigue or procrastination. This section needs your best effort! *****
The discussion section of an APA style manuscript includes four basic sections:
1. Summary of the purpose of the study and your hypotheses
A. Restate the hypotheses in a sentence discussing whether or not they were supported. Then write about the results in the order they were presented. Use “regular” English and discuss what the results mean. Don’t include statistical information. Don’t repeat the stats… you don’t really need numbers in this section. Just the words that explain your results!
2. Discussion of how the present study relates to previous research in the field (use articles from your literature review)
A. Make connections between what you have learned from your research project and what you know from the previous research that you referred to in your introduction:
Does the present study contribute to the literature in any way?
Are your results different than what had been found by other researchers?
What are some plausible explanations for the current results?
B. If your hypothesis was significant, you may end up citing similar sources as you did in the intro (the sources that lead you to have that hypothesis in the first place). If your hyp was NOT significant, this will usually require you to find new sources that might explain why these findings didn’t work out as you expected.
3. Limitations of the current study
A. Discuss probable confounds that may affect the interpretation of the results, and what could have been done differently or better. Approximately 3 limitations is a good amount.
4. Theoretical and/or applied implications, and future research directions
A. Discuss what the bottom line is for this information – how do the results affect our thinking about the issue at hand? How can the information be used in the real world? Then make suggestions for future studies in the field.
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