Step-by-Step Guide to Writing the Discussion of a Scientific Paper

The discussion can seem very difficult to write at first, but I figured that like almost everything in life, the key is to divide the process step-by-step and to prepare a detailed plan of the overall section. Once you have dissected it into 5 or 6 paragraphs, you’ll see that filling each one of them is actually quite easy. Here is an example you can use to write your own discussion.

  1. In the first paragraph, summarize what was the goal of the study and what you did. You should do it in one or two phrases maximum. For example: “In an effort to elucidate the identity of the genetic factors implicated in stroke, we performed a case-control study and genotyped 200 SNPs in 1000 cases and 1000 controls of stroke.”
  2. Then explain your findings one by one (there shouldn’t be more than 3 to 4 key findings). For each one, summarize what was found and explain how it confirms or refutes what’s described in the literature. If there are methodological differences with other articles or limitations in your study, you can explain them here.
  3. Now focus on your main outcome. Start with the smaller degree of importance you can imagine and explain what you results can mean. For example, if you discovered a new mutation associated with myocardial infarction, you can describe here the mutation, what it does, where it’s located, if it’s associated with functional properties of the resulting protein, what’s its frequency in the population, what’s its effect on the disease, etc. Make sure to reference each statement to the proper published article.
  4. Following the same example as above, you can now enlarge a bit the field by explaining for example in which gene is the mutation located, what is known about the gene, which diseases it’s been related to, etc. Try to relate information that is especially relevant to your study. For instance, if you are studying a certain kind of cancer, it might be interesting to mention what is know about this gene in association to other types of cancer, but not to vascular diseases.
  5. Now that you described the gene, go one step further and explain things about the protein or about the disease, etc. For example, which other genes have been associated to the disease, what kind of genes/proteins, what kind of genetic studies have been performed concerning this disease. Is your study the first one in any particular aspect?
  6. Finish by giving a conclusion, with a phrase on the main finding of the study and a phrase on the clinical applications of the discovery or future studies that should be performed. For example: “In summary, the present study suggests that the KCNK17 gene might contribute to the elucidation of the complex mechanisms of neurovascular diseases and their genetic components. Additional functional studies around this potassium channel gene and protein might help to understand the exact contribution of the described variant to the susceptibility of the disease and permit diagnostic and therapeutic advances in the area of stroke.”

Finally, make sure to add in any place possible the positive aspects or attributes of your study (first one, bigger one, only one, etc…) and if you are still unsure about how to divide your discussion into paragraphs, check out other papers that have similar findings and create a plan based on their discussion’s structure.

  • Izzy

    what???

  • Ben Dover

    GR8 M8

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  • ME

    this is a bit confusing…

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    awesome

  • Phalaen

    Not politically correct, the novelty of the study should come automatically from the discussion, not from attributes like “bigger one”, but thank you anyway

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    THANKYOU SO MUCH! im in yr10 and this really hhelped with my assignment

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    sooo helpful thnx
    I passed

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      np

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    it is only really quite specific for the particular discussion not broad enough to be considered helpful to anyone other than people doing a discussion on the particular topic.

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