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Report Writing
The Structure of Scientific Report


Your discussion section has two fundamental aims:

 to explain the results of your study,

 to explore the significance of your study’s findings.

Therefore you need to:

 interpret and explain your results;

 examine whether and how the questions raised in the introduction section have been answered;

 show how your results relate to the literature;

  qualify and explore the theoretical importance/significance of your results;

 outline any new research questions or areas for future research that your results have suggested.

The discussion is also the place in a report where any qualifications or reservations you have about the research should be aired. Statistically significant results still require analysis and discussion. You might consider questions like the ones below.

 How generally do your results apply?

 How close to real life are the variables you manipulated in a laboratory situation?

 Were their any defects in your experimental design or procedure?

 Were their any confounding factors in your design: could some other factor explain your results?

These are the types of questions you will need to consider in terms of your results in terms of defining the generality and limitations of your results.

The discussion section requires you to use both the past tense and the present tense. The past tense is used when you need to explain particulars about your results; for example,

 This group achieved this level of performance after less time studying the instructions,

 The activity of the enzyme increased with temperatures up to 37°C.

The present tense is used when you are expanding on the implications of your results or drawing conclusions; for example,

  The results show the effectiveness of combination drug therapy as a treatment ... .

  This research provides powerful evidence that ... .

Separating the Results and Discussion sections is one way of organising this information. It is also possible to combine the Results and Discussion into one section or to include a separate conclusion or general discussion section. It is always advisable to check with your lecturer or tutor about these issues.


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