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How to Write a Results Section | Tips & Examples

Published on August 30, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.

A results section is where you report the main findings of the data collection and analysis you conducted for your thesis or dissertation . You should report all relevant results concisely and objectively, in a logical order. Don’t include subjective interpretations of why you found these results or what they mean—any evaluation should be saved for the discussion section .

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Table of contents

How to write a results section, reporting quantitative research results, reporting qualitative research results, results vs. discussion vs. conclusion, checklist: research results, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about results sections.

When conducting research, it’s important to report the results of your study prior to discussing your interpretations of it. This gives your reader a clear idea of exactly what you found and keeps the data itself separate from your subjective analysis.

Here are a few best practices:

  • Your results should always be written in the past tense.
  • While the length of this section depends on how much data you collected and analyzed, it should be written as concisely as possible.
  • Only include results that are directly relevant to answering your research questions . Avoid speculative or interpretative words like “appears” or “implies.”
  • If you have other results you’d like to include, consider adding them to an appendix or footnotes.
  • Always start out with your broadest results first, and then flow into your more granular (but still relevant) ones. Think of it like a shoe store: first discuss the shoes as a whole, then the sneakers, boots, sandals, etc.

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If you conducted quantitative research , you’ll likely be working with the results of some sort of statistical analysis .

Your results section should report the results of any statistical tests you used to compare groups or assess relationships between variables . It should also state whether or not each hypothesis was supported.

The most logical way to structure quantitative results is to frame them around your research questions or hypotheses. For each question or hypothesis, share:

  • A reminder of the type of analysis you used (e.g., a two-sample t test or simple linear regression ). A more detailed description of your analysis should go in your methodology section.
  • A concise summary of each relevant result, both positive and negative. This can include any relevant descriptive statistics (e.g., means and standard deviations ) as well as inferential statistics (e.g., t scores, degrees of freedom , and p values ). Remember, these numbers are often placed in parentheses.
  • A brief statement of how each result relates to the question, or whether the hypothesis was supported. You can briefly mention any results that didn’t fit with your expectations and assumptions, but save any speculation on their meaning or consequences for your discussion  and conclusion.

A note on tables and figures

In quantitative research, it’s often helpful to include visual elements such as graphs, charts, and tables , but only if they are directly relevant to your results. Give these elements clear, descriptive titles and labels so that your reader can easily understand what is being shown. If you want to include any other visual elements that are more tangential in nature, consider adding a figure and table list .

As a rule of thumb:

  • Tables are used to communicate exact values, giving a concise overview of various results
  • Graphs and charts are used to visualize trends and relationships, giving an at-a-glance illustration of key findings

Don’t forget to also mention any tables and figures you used within the text of your results section. Summarize or elaborate on specific aspects you think your reader should know about rather than merely restating the same numbers already shown.

A two-sample t test was used to test the hypothesis that higher social distance from environmental problems would reduce the intent to donate to environmental organizations, with donation intention (recorded as a score from 1 to 10) as the outcome variable and social distance (categorized as either a low or high level of social distance) as the predictor variable.Social distance was found to be positively correlated with donation intention, t (98) = 12.19, p < .001, with the donation intention of the high social distance group 0.28 points higher, on average, than the low social distance group (see figure 1). This contradicts the initial hypothesis that social distance would decrease donation intention, and in fact suggests a small effect in the opposite direction.

Example of using figures in the results section

Figure 1: Intention to donate to environmental organizations based on social distance from impact of environmental damage.

In qualitative research , your results might not all be directly related to specific hypotheses. In this case, you can structure your results section around key themes or topics that emerged from your analysis of the data.

For each theme, start with general observations about what the data showed. You can mention:

  • Recurring points of agreement or disagreement
  • Patterns and trends
  • Particularly significant snippets from individual responses

Next, clarify and support these points with direct quotations. Be sure to report any relevant demographic information about participants. Further information (such as full transcripts , if appropriate) can be included in an appendix .

When asked about video games as a form of art, the respondents tended to believe that video games themselves are not an art form, but agreed that creativity is involved in their production. The criteria used to identify artistic video games included design, story, music, and creative teams.One respondent (male, 24) noted a difference in creativity between popular video game genres:

“I think that in role-playing games, there’s more attention to character design, to world design, because the whole story is important and more attention is paid to certain game elements […] so that perhaps you do need bigger teams of creative experts than in an average shooter or something.”

Responses suggest that video game consumers consider some types of games to have more artistic potential than others.

Your results section should objectively report your findings, presenting only brief observations in relation to each question, hypothesis, or theme.

It should not  speculate about the meaning of the results or attempt to answer your main research question . Detailed interpretation of your results is more suitable for your discussion section , while synthesis of your results into an overall answer to your main research question is best left for your conclusion .

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dissertation findings and discussion

I have completed my data collection and analyzed the results.

I have included all results that are relevant to my research questions.

I have concisely and objectively reported each result, including relevant descriptive statistics and inferential statistics .

I have stated whether each hypothesis was supported or refuted.

I have used tables and figures to illustrate my results where appropriate.

All tables and figures are correctly labelled and referred to in the text.

There is no subjective interpretation or speculation on the meaning of the results.

You've finished writing up your results! Use the other checklists to further improve your thesis.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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The results chapter of a thesis or dissertation presents your research results concisely and objectively.

In quantitative research , for each question or hypothesis , state:

  • The type of analysis used
  • Relevant results in the form of descriptive and inferential statistics
  • Whether or not the alternative hypothesis was supported

In qualitative research , for each question or theme, describe:

  • Recurring patterns
  • Significant or representative individual responses
  • Relevant quotations from the data

Don’t interpret or speculate in the results chapter.

Results are usually written in the past tense , because they are describing the outcome of completed actions.

The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.

In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.

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  • How to Write Discussions and Conclusions

How to Write Discussions and Conclusions

The discussion section contains the results and outcomes of a study. An effective discussion informs readers what can be learned from your experiment and provides context for the results.

What makes an effective discussion?

When you’re ready to write your discussion, you’ve already introduced the purpose of your study and provided an in-depth description of the methodology. The discussion informs readers about the larger implications of your study based on the results. Highlighting these implications while not overstating the findings can be challenging, especially when you’re submitting to a journal that selects articles based on novelty or potential impact. Regardless of what journal you are submitting to, the discussion section always serves the same purpose: concluding what your study results actually mean.

A successful discussion section puts your findings in context. It should include:

  • the results of your research,
  • a discussion of related research, and
  • a comparison between your results and initial hypothesis.

Tip: Not all journals share the same naming conventions.

You can apply the advice in this article to the conclusion, results or discussion sections of your manuscript.

Our Early Career Researcher community tells us that the conclusion is often considered the most difficult aspect of a manuscript to write. To help, this guide provides questions to ask yourself, a basic structure to model your discussion off of and examples from published manuscripts. 

dissertation findings and discussion

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Was my hypothesis correct?
  • If my hypothesis is partially correct or entirely different, what can be learned from the results? 
  • How do the conclusions reshape or add onto the existing knowledge in the field? What does previous research say about the topic? 
  • Why are the results important or relevant to your audience? Do they add further evidence to a scientific consensus or disprove prior studies? 
  • How can future research build on these observations? What are the key experiments that must be done? 
  • What is the “take-home” message you want your reader to leave with?

How to structure a discussion

Trying to fit a complete discussion into a single paragraph can add unnecessary stress to the writing process. If possible, you’ll want to give yourself two or three paragraphs to give the reader a comprehensive understanding of your study as a whole. Here’s one way to structure an effective discussion:

dissertation findings and discussion

Writing Tips

While the above sections can help you brainstorm and structure your discussion, there are many common mistakes that writers revert to when having difficulties with their paper. Writing a discussion can be a delicate balance between summarizing your results, providing proper context for your research and avoiding introducing new information. Remember that your paper should be both confident and honest about the results! 

What to do

  • Read the journal’s guidelines on the discussion and conclusion sections. If possible, learn about the guidelines before writing the discussion to ensure you’re writing to meet their expectations. 
  • Begin with a clear statement of the principal findings. This will reinforce the main take-away for the reader and set up the rest of the discussion. 
  • Explain why the outcomes of your study are important to the reader. Discuss the implications of your findings realistically based on previous literature, highlighting both the strengths and limitations of the research. 
  • State whether the results prove or disprove your hypothesis. If your hypothesis was disproved, what might be the reasons? 
  • Introduce new or expanded ways to think about the research question. Indicate what next steps can be taken to further pursue any unresolved questions. 
  • If dealing with a contemporary or ongoing problem, such as climate change, discuss possible consequences if the problem is avoided. 
  • Be concise. Adding unnecessary detail can distract from the main findings. 

What not to do


  • Rewrite your abstract. Statements with “we investigated” or “we studied” generally do not belong in the discussion. 
  • Include new arguments or evidence not previously discussed. Necessary information and evidence should be introduced in the main body of the paper. 
  • Apologize. Even if your research contains significant limitations, don’t undermine your authority by including statements that doubt your methodology or execution. 
  • Shy away from speaking on limitations or negative results. Including limitations and negative results will give readers a complete understanding of the presented research. Potential limitations include sources of potential bias, threats to internal or external validity, barriers to implementing an intervention and other issues inherent to the study design. 
  • Overstate the importance of your findings. Making grand statements about how a study will fully resolve large questions can lead readers to doubt the success of the research. 

Snippets of Effective Discussions:

Consumer-based actions to reduce plastic pollution in rivers: A multi-criteria decision analysis approach

Identifying reliable indicators of fitness in polar bears

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Mastering Your Dissertation pp 105–115 Cite as

How Do I Write the Discussion Chapter?

Reflecting on and Comparing Your Data, Recognising the Strengths and Limitations

  • Sue Reeves   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-3017-0559 3 &
  • Bartek Buczkowski   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-4146-3664 4  
  • First Online: 19 October 2023

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The Discussion chapter brings an opportunity to write an academic argument that contains a detailed critical evaluation and analysis of your research findings. This chapter addresses the purpose and critical nature of the discussion, contains a guide to selecting key results to discuss, and details how best to structure the discussion with subsections and paragraphs. We also present a list of points to do and avoid when writing the discussion together with a Discussion chapter checklist.

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Braun V, Clarke V (2013) Successful qualitative research: a practical guide for beginners. SAGE Publications, London

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PLOS (2023) Author resources. How to write discussions and conclusions. Accessed Mar 3, 2023, from https://plos.org/resource/how-to-write-conclusions/ . Accessed 3 Mar 2023

Further Reading

Cottrell S (2017) Critical thinking skills: effective analysis, argument and reflection, 3rd edn. Palgrave, London

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dissertation findings and discussion

Writing the Dissertation - Guides for Success: The Results and Discussion

  • Writing the Dissertation Homepage
  • Overview and Planning
  • The Literature Review
  • The Methodology
  • The Results and Discussion
  • The Conclusion
  • The Abstract
  • The Difference
  • What to Avoid

Overview of writing the results and discussion

The results and discussion follow on from the methods or methodology chapter of the dissertation. This creates a natural transition from how you designed your study, to what your study reveals, highlighting your own contribution to the research area.

Disciplinary differences

Please note: this guide is not specific to any one discipline. The results and discussion can vary depending on the nature of the research and the expectations of the school or department, so please adapt the following advice to meet the demands of your project and department. Consult your supervisor for further guidance; you can also peruse our  Writing Across Subjects guide .

Guide contents

As part of the Writing the Dissertation series, this guide covers the most common conventions of the results and discussion chapters, giving you the necessary knowledge, tips and guidance needed to impress your markers! The sections are organised as follows:

  • The Difference  - Breaks down the distinctions between the results and discussion chapters.
  • Results  - Provides a walk-through of common characteristics of the results chapter.
  • Discussion - Provides a walk-through of how to approach writing your discussion chapter, including structure.
  • What to Avoid  - Covers a few frequent mistakes you'll want to...avoid!
  • FAQs  - Guidance on first- vs. third-person, limitations and more.
  • Checklist  - Includes a summary of key points and a self-evaluation checklist.

Training and tools

  • The Academic Skills team has recorded a Writing the Dissertation workshop series to help you with each section of a standard dissertation, including a video on writing the results and discussion   (embedded below).
  • The dissertation planner tool can help you think through the timeline for planning, research, drafting and editing.
  • iSolutions offers training and a Word template to help you digitally format and structure your dissertation.


The results of your study are often followed by a separate chapter of discussion. This is certainly the case with scientific writing. Some dissertations, however, might incorporate both the results and discussion in one chapter. This depends on the nature of your dissertation and the conventions within your school or department. Always follow the guidelines given to you and ask your supervisor for further guidance.

As part of the Writing the Dissertation series, this guide covers the essentials of writing your results and discussion, giving you the necesary knowledge, tips and guidance needed to leave a positive impression on your markers! This guide covers the results and discussion as separate – although interrelated – chapters, as you'll see in the next two tabs. However, you can easily adapt the guidance to suit one single chapter – keep an eye out for some hints on how to do this throughout the guide.

Results or discussion - what's the difference?

To understand what the results and discussion sections are about, we need to clearly define the difference between the two.

The results should provide a clear account of the findings . This is written in a dry and direct manner, simply highlighting the findings as they appear once processed. It’s expected to have tables and graphics, where relevant, to contextualise and illustrate the data.

Rather than simply stating the findings of the study, the discussion interprets the findings  to offer a more nuanced understanding of the research. The discussion is similar to the second half of the conclusion because it’s where you consider and formulate a response to the question, ‘what do we now know that we didn’t before?’ (see our Writing the Conclusion   guide for more). The discussion achieves this by answering the research questions and responding to any hypotheses proposed. With this in mind, the discussion should be the most insightful chapter or section of your dissertation because it provides the most original insight.

Across the next two tabs of this guide, we will look at the results and discussion chapters separately in more detail.

Writing the results

The results chapter should provide a direct and factual account of the data collected without any interpretation or interrogation of the findings. As this might suggest, the results chapter can be slightly monotonous, particularly for quantitative data. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you present your results in a clear and direct manner as it provides the necessary detail for your subsequent discussion.

Note: If you’re writing your results and discussion as one chapter, then you can either:

1) write them as distinctly separate sections in the same chapter, with the discussion following on from the results, or...

2) integrate the two throughout by presenting a subset of the results and then discussing that subset in further detail.

Next, we'll explore some of the most important factors to consider when writing your results chapter.

How you structure your results chapter depends on the design and purpose of your study. Here are some possible options for structuring your results chapter (adapted from Glatthorn and Joyner, 2005):

  • Chronological – depending on the nature of the study, it might be important to present your results in order of how you collected the data, such as a pretest-posttest design.
  • Research method – if you’ve used a mixed-methods approach, you could isolate each research method and instrument employed in the study.
  • Research question and/or hypotheses – you could structure your results around your research questions and/or hypotheses, providing you have more than one. However, keep in mind that the results on their own don’t necessarily answer the questions or respond to the hypotheses in a definitive manner. You need to interpret the findings in the discussion chapter to gain a more rounded understanding.
  • Variable – you could isolate each variable in your study (where relevant) and specify how and whether the results changed.

Tables and figures

For your results, you are expected to convert your data into tables and figures, particularly when dealing with quantitative data. Making use of tables and figures is a way of contextualising your results within the study. It also helps to visually reinforce your written account of the data. However, make sure you’re only using tables and figures to supplement , rather than replace, your written account of the results (see the 'What to avoid' tab for more on this).

Figures and tables need to be numbered in order of when they appear in the dissertation, and they should be capitalised. You also need to make direct reference to them in the text, which you can do (with some variation) in one of the following ways:

Figure 1 shows…

The results of the test (see Figure 1) demonstrate…

The actual figures and tables themselves also need to be accompanied by a caption that briefly outlines what is displayed. For example:

Table 1. Variables of the regression model

Table captions normally appear above the table, whilst figures or other such graphical forms appear below, although it’s worth confirming this with your supervisor as the formatting can change depending on the school or discipline. The style guide used for writing in your subject area (e.g., Harvard, MLA, APA, OSCOLA) often dictates correct formatting of tables, graphs and figures, so have a look at your style guide for additional support.

Using quotations

If your qualitative data comes from interviews and focus groups, your data will largely consist of quotations from participants. When presenting this data, you should identify and group the most common and interesting responses and then quote two or three relevant examples to illustrate this point. Here’s a brief example from a qualitative study on the habits of online food shoppers:

Regardless of whether or not participants regularly engage in online food shopping, all but two respondents commented, in some form, on the convenience of online food shopping:

"It’s about convenience for me. I’m at work all week and the weekend doesn’t allow much time for food shopping, so knowing it can be ordered and then delivered in 24 hours is great for me” (Participant A).

"It fits around my schedule, which is important for me and my family” (Participant D).

"In the past, I’ve always gone food shopping after work, which has always been a hassle. Online food shopping, however, frees up some of my time” (Participant E).

As shown in this example, each quotation is attributed to a particular participant, although their anonymity is protected. The details used to identify participants can depend on the relevance of certain factors to the research. For instance, age or gender could be included.

Writing the discussion

The discussion chapter is where “you critically examine your own results in the light of the previous state of the subject as outlined in the background, and make judgments as to what has been learnt in your work” (Evans et al., 2014: 12). Whilst the results chapter is strictly factual, reporting on the data on a surface level, the discussion is rooted in analysis and interpretation , allowing you and your reader to delve beneath the surface.

Next, we will review some of the most important factors to consider when writing your discussion chapter.

Like the results, there is no single way to structure your discussion chapter. As always, it depends on the nature of your dissertation and whether you’re dealing with qualitative, quantitative or mixed-methods research. It’s good to be consistent with the results chapter, so you could structure your discussion chapter, where possible, in the same way as your results.

When it comes to structure, it’s particularly important that you guide your reader through the various points, subtopics or themes of your discussion. You should do this by structuring sections of your discussion, which might incorporate three or four paragraphs around the same theme or issue, in a three-part way that mirrors the typical three-part essay structure of introduction, main body and conclusion.

Cycle of introduction (topic sentence), to main body (analysis), to conclusion (takeaways). Graphic at right shows cycle repeating 3, 5, and 4 times for subtopics A, B, and C.

Figure 1: The three-part cycle that embodies a typical essay structure and reflects how you structure themes or subtopics in your discussion.

This is your topic sentence where you clearly state the focus of this paragraph/section. It’s often a fairly short, declarative statement in order to grab the reader’s attention, and it should be clearly related to your research purpose, such as responding to a research question.

This constitutes your analysis where you explore the theme or focus, outlined in the topic sentence, in further detail by interrogating why this particular theme or finding emerged and the significance of this data. This is also where you bring in the relevant secondary literature.

This is the evaluative stage of the cycle where you explicitly return back to the topic sentence and tell the reader what this means in terms of answering the relevant research question and establishing new knowledge. It could be a single sentence, or a short paragraph, and it doesn’t strictly need to appear at the end of every section or theme. Instead, some prefer to bring the main themes together towards the end of the discussion in a single paragraph or two. Either way, it’s imperative that you evaluate the significance of your discussion and tell the reader what this means.

A note on the three-part structure

This is often how you’re taught to construct a paragraph, but the themes and ideas you engage with at dissertation level are going to extend beyond the confines of a short paragraph. Therefore, this is a structure to guide how you write about particular themes or patterns in your discussion. Think of this structure like a cycle that you can engage in its smallest form to shape a paragraph; in a slightly larger form to shape a subsection of a chapter; and in its largest form to shape the entire chapter. You can 'level up' the same basic structure to accommodate a deeper breadth of thinking and critical engagement.

Using secondary literature

Your discussion chapter should return to the relevant literature (previously identified in your literature review ) in order to contextualise and deepen your reader’s understanding of the findings. This might help to strengthen your findings, or you might find contradictory evidence that serves to counter your results. In the case of the latter, it’s important that you consider why this might be and the implications for this. It’s through your incorporation of secondary literature that you can consider the question, ‘What do we now know that we didn’t before?’


You may have included a limitations section in your methodology chapter (see our Writing the Methodology guide ), but it’s also common to have one in your discussion chapter. The difference here is that your limitations are directly associated with your results and the capacity to interpret and analyse those results.

Think of it this way: the limitations in your methodology refer to the issues identified before conducting the research, whilst the limitations in your discussion refer to the issues that emerged after conducting the research. For example, you might only be able to identify a limitation about the external validity or generalisability of your research once you have processed and analysed the data. Try not to overstress the limitations of your work – doing so can undermine the work you’ve done – and try to contextualise them, perhaps by relating them to certain limitations of other studies.


It’s often good to follow your limitations with some recommendations for future research. This creates a neat linearity from what didn’t work, or what could be improved, to how other researchers could address these issues in the future. This helps to reposition your limitations in a positive way by offering an action-oriented response. Try to limit the amount of recommendations you discuss – too many can bring the end of your discussion to a rather negative end as you’re ultimately focusing on what should be done, rather than what you have done. You also don’t need to repeat the recommendations in your conclusion if you’ve included them here.

What to avoid

This portion of the guide will cover some common missteps you should try to avoid in writing your results and discussion.

Over-reliance on tables and figures

It’s very common to produce visual representations of data, such as graphs and tables, and to use these representations in your results chapter. However, the use of these figures should not entirely replace your written account of the data. You don’t need to specify every detail in the data set, but you should provide some written account of what the data shows, drawing your reader’s attention to the most important elements of the data. The figures should support your account and help to contextualise your results. Simply stating, ‘look at Table 1’, without any further detail is not sufficient. Writers often try to do this as a way of saving words, but your markers will know!

Ignoring unexpected or contradictory data

Research can be a complex process with ups and downs, surprises and anomalies. Don’t be tempted to ignore any data that doesn’t meet your expectations, or that perhaps you’re struggling to explain. Failing to report on data for these, and other such reasons, is a problem because it undermines your credibility as a researcher, which inevitably undermines your research in the process. You have to do your best to provide some reason to such data. For instance, there might be some methodological reason behind a particular trend in the data.

Including raw data

You don’t need to include any raw data in your results chapter – raw data meaning unprocessed data that hasn’t undergone any calculations or other such refinement. This can overwhelm your reader and obscure the clarity of the research. You can include raw data in an appendix, providing you feel it’s necessary.

Presenting new results in the discussion

You shouldn’t be stating original findings for the first time in the discussion chapter. The findings of your study should first appear in your results before elaborating on them in the discussion.

Overstressing the significance of your research

It’s important that you clarify what your research demonstrates so you can highlight your own contribution to the research field. However, don’t overstress or inflate the significance of your results. It’s always difficult to provide definitive answers in academic research, especially with qualitative data. You should be confident and authoritative where possible, but don’t claim to reach the absolute truth when perhaps other conclusions could be reached. Where necessary, you should use hedging (see definition) to slightly soften the tone and register of your language.

Definition: Hedging refers to 'the act of expressing your attitude or ideas in tentative or cautious ways' (Singh and Lukkarila, 2017: 101). It’s mostly achieved through a number of verbs or adverbs, such as ‘suggest’ or ‘seemingly.’

Q: What’s the difference between the results and discussion?

A: The results chapter is a factual account of the data collected, whilst the discussion considers the implications of these findings by relating them to relevant literature and answering your research question(s). See the tab 'The Differences' in this guide for more detail.

Q: Should the discussion include recommendations for future research?

A: Your dissertation should include some recommendations for future research, but it can vary where it appears. Recommendations are often featured towards the end of the discussion chapter, but they also regularly appear in the conclusion chapter (see our Writing the Conclusion guide   for more). It simply depends on your dissertation and the conventions of your school or department. It’s worth consulting any specific guidance that you’ve been given, or asking your supervisor directly.

Q: Should the discussion include the limitations of the study?

A: Like the answer above, you should engage with the limitations of your study, but it might appear in the discussion of some dissertations, or the conclusion of others. Consider the narrative flow and whether it makes sense to include the limitations in your discussion chapter, or your conclusion. You should also consult any discipline-specific guidance you’ve been given, or ask your supervisor for more. Be mindful that this is slightly different to the limitations outlined in the methodology or methods chapter (see our Writing the Methodology guide vs. the 'Discussion' tab of this guide).

Q: Should the results and discussion be in the first-person or third?

A: It’s important to be consistent , so you should use whatever you’ve been using throughout your dissertation. Third-person is more commonly accepted, but certain disciplines are happy with the use of first-person. Just remember that the first-person pronoun can be a distracting, but powerful device, so use it sparingly. Consult your lecturer for discipline-specific guidance.

Q: Is there a difference between the discussion and the conclusion of a dissertation?

A: Yes, there is a difference. The discussion chapter is a detailed consideration of how your findings answer your research questions. This includes the use of secondary literature to help contextualise your discussion. Rather than considering the findings in detail, the conclusion briefly summarises and synthesises the main findings of your study before bringing the dissertation to a close. Both are similar, particularly in the way they ‘broaden out’ to consider the wider implications of the research. They are, however, their own distinct chapters, unless otherwise stated by your supervisor.

The results and discussion chapters (or chapter) constitute a large part of your dissertation as it’s here where your original contribution is foregrounded and discussed in detail. Remember, the results chapter simply reports on the data collected, whilst the discussion is where you consider your research questions and/or hypothesis in more detail by interpreting and interrogating the data. You can integrate both into a single chapter and weave the interpretation of your findings throughout the chapter, although it’s common for both the results and discussion to appear as separate chapters. Consult your supervisor for further guidance.

Here’s a final checklist for writing your results and discussion. Remember that not all of these points will be relevant for you, so make sure you cover whatever’s appropriate for your dissertation. The asterisk (*) indicates any content that might not be relevant for your dissertation. To download a copy of the checklist to save and edit, please use the Word document, below.

  • Results and discussion self-evaluation checklist


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Dissertations 5: findings, analysis and discussion: home.

  • Results/Findings

Alternative Structures

The time has come to show and discuss the findings of your research. How to structure this part of your dissertation? 

Dissertations can have different structures, as you can see in the dissertation  structure  guide.

Dissertations organised by sections

Many dissertations are organised by sections. In this case, we suggest three options. Note that, if within your course you have been instructed to use a specific structure, you should do that. Also note that sometimes there is considerable freedom on the structure, so you can come up with other structures too. 

A) More common for scientific dissertations and quantitative methods:

- Results chapter 

- Discussion chapter


  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology
  • (Recommendations)

if you write a scientific dissertation, or anyway using quantitative methods, you will have some  objective  results that you will present in the Results chapter. You will then interpret the results in the Discussion chapter.  

B) More common for qualitative methods

- Analysis chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic subheadings.

- Discussion chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic subheadings.

  • Case study of Company X (fashion brand) environmental strategies 
  • Successful elements
  • Lessons learnt
  • Criticisms of Company X environmental strategies 
  • Possible alternatives

C) More common for qualitative methods

- Analysis and discussion chapter. This can have more descriptive/thematic titles.

  • Case study of Company X (fashion brand) environmental strategies 

If your dissertation uses qualitative methods, it is harder to identify and report objective data. Instead, it may be more productive and meaningful to present the findings in the same sections where you also analyse, and possibly discuss, them. You will probably have different sections dealing with different themes. The different themes can be subheadings of the Analysis and Discussion (together or separate) chapter(s). 

Thematic dissertations

If the structure of your dissertation is thematic ,  you will have several chapters analysing and discussing the issues raised by your research. The chapters will have descriptive/thematic titles. 

  • Background on the conflict in Yemen (2004-present day)
  • Classification of the conflict in international law  
  • International law violations
  • Options for enforcement of international law
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  • Last Updated: Aug 4, 2023 2:17 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.westminster.ac.uk/c.php?g=696975


  • How it works

How to Write the Dissertation Findings or Results – Steps & Tips

Published by Grace Graffin at August 11th, 2021 , Revised On October 9, 2023

Each  part of the dissertation is unique, and some general and specific rules must be followed. The dissertation’s findings section presents the key results of your research without interpreting their meaning .

Theoretically, this is an exciting section of a dissertation because it involves writing what you have observed and found. However, it can be a little tricky if there is too much information to confuse the readers.

The goal is to include only the essential and relevant findings in this section. The results must be presented in an orderly sequence to provide clarity to the readers.

This section of the dissertation should be easy for the readers to follow, so you should avoid going into a lengthy debate over the interpretation of the results.

It is vitally important to focus only on clear and precise observations. The findings chapter of the  dissertation  is theoretically the easiest to write.

It includes  statistical analysis and a brief write-up about whether or not the results emerging from the analysis are significant. This segment should be written in the past sentence as you describe what you have done in the past.

This article will provide detailed information about  how to   write the findings of a dissertation .

When to Write Dissertation Findings Chapter

As soon as you have gathered and analysed your data, you can start to write up the findings chapter of your dissertation paper. Remember that it is your chance to report the most notable findings of your research work and relate them to the research hypothesis  or  research questions set out in  the introduction chapter of the dissertation .

You will be required to separately report your study’s findings before moving on to the discussion chapter  if your dissertation is based on the  collection of primary data  or experimental work.

However, you may not be required to have an independent findings chapter if your dissertation is purely descriptive and focuses on the analysis of case studies or interpretation of texts.

  • Always report the findings of your research in the past tense.
  • The dissertation findings chapter varies from one project to another, depending on the data collected and analyzed.
  • Avoid reporting results that are not relevant to your research questions or research hypothesis.

Does your Dissertation Have the Following?

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If not, we can help. Our panel of experts makes sure to keep the 3 pillars of the Dissertation strong.

research methodology

1. Reporting Quantitative Findings

The best way to present your quantitative findings is to structure them around the research  hypothesis or  questions you intend to address as part of your dissertation project.

Report the relevant findings for each research question or hypothesis, focusing on how you analyzed them.

Analysis of your findings will help you determine how they relate to the different research questions and whether they support the hypothesis you formulated.

While you must highlight meaningful relationships, variances, and tendencies, it is important not to guess their interpretations and implications because this is something to save for the discussion  and  conclusion  chapters.

Any findings not directly relevant to your research questions or explanations concerning the data collection process  should be added to the dissertation paper’s appendix section.

Use of Figures and Tables in Dissertation Findings

Suppose your dissertation is based on quantitative research. In that case, it is important to include charts, graphs, tables, and other visual elements to help your readers understand the emerging trends and relationships in your findings.

Repeating information will give the impression that you are short on ideas. Refer to all charts, illustrations, and tables in your writing but avoid recurrence.

The text should be used only to elaborate and summarize certain parts of your results. On the other hand, illustrations and tables are used to present multifaceted data.

It is recommended to give descriptive labels and captions to all illustrations used so the readers can figure out what each refers to.

How to Report Quantitative Findings

Here is an example of how to report quantitative results in your dissertation findings chapter;

Two hundred seventeen participants completed both the pretest and post-test and a Pairwise T-test was used for the analysis. The quantitative data analysis reveals a statistically significant difference between the mean scores of the pretest and posttest scales from the Teachers Discovering Computers course. The pretest mean was 29.00 with a standard deviation of 7.65, while the posttest mean was 26.50 with a standard deviation of 9.74 (Table 1). These results yield a significance level of .000, indicating a strong treatment effect (see Table 3). With the correlation between the scores being .448, the little relationship is seen between the pretest and posttest scores (Table 2). This leads the researcher to conclude that the impact of the course on the educators’ perception and integration of technology into the curriculum is dramatic.

Paired Samples

Paired samples correlation, paired samples test.

Also Read: How to Write the Abstract for the Dissertation.

2. Reporting Qualitative Findings

A notable issue with reporting qualitative findings is that not all results directly relate to your research questions or hypothesis.

The best way to present the results of qualitative research is to frame your findings around the most critical areas or themes you obtained after you examined the data.

In-depth data analysis will help you observe what the data shows for each theme. Any developments, relationships, patterns, and independent responses directly relevant to your research question or hypothesis should be mentioned to the readers.

Additional information not directly relevant to your research can be included in the appendix .

How to Report Qualitative Findings

Here is an example of how to report qualitative results in your dissertation findings chapter;

How do I report quantitative findings?

The best way to present your quantitative findings is to structure them around the  research hypothesis  or  research questions  you intended to address as part of your dissertation project. Report the relevant findings for each of the research questions or hypotheses, focusing on how you analyzed them.

How do I report qualitative findings?

The best way to present the  qualitative research  results is to frame your findings around the most important areas or themes that you obtained after examining the data.

An in-depth analysis of the data will help you observe what the data is showing for each theme. Any developments, relationships, patterns, and independent responses that are directly relevant to your  research question  or  hypothesis  should be clearly mentioned for the readers.

Can I use interpretive phrases like ‘it confirms’ in the finding chapter?

No, It is highly advisable to avoid using interpretive and subjective phrases in the finding chapter. These terms are more suitable for the  discussion chapter , where you will be expected to provide your interpretation of the results in detail.

Can I report the results from other research papers in my findings chapter?

NO, you must not be presenting results from other research studies in your findings.

You May Also Like

Dissertation discussion is where you explore the relevance and significance of results. Here are guidelines to help you write the perfect discussion chapter.

Here are the steps to make a theoretical framework for dissertation. You can define, discuss and evaluate theories relevant to the research problem.

If your dissertation includes many abbreviations, it would make sense to define all these abbreviations in a list of abbreviations in alphabetical order.



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Writing your Dissertation:  Results and Discussion

When writing a dissertation or thesis, the results and discussion sections can be both the most interesting as well as the most challenging sections to write.

You may choose to write these sections separately, or combine them into a single chapter, depending on your university’s guidelines and your own preferences.

There are advantages to both approaches.

Writing the results and discussion as separate sections allows you to focus first on what results you obtained and set out clearly what happened in your experiments and/or investigations without worrying about their implications.This can focus your mind on what the results actually show and help you to sort them in your head.

However, many people find it easier to combine the results with their implications as the two are closely connected.

Check your university’s requirements carefully before combining the results and discussions sections as some specify that they must be kept separate.

Results Section

The Results section should set out your key experimental results, including any statistical analysis and whether or not the results of these are significant.

You should cover any literature supporting your interpretation of significance. It does not have to include everything you did, particularly for a doctorate dissertation. However, for an undergraduate or master's thesis, you will probably find that you need to include most of your work.

You should write your results section in the past tense: you are describing what you have done in the past.

Every result included MUST have a method set out in the methods section. Check back to make sure that you have included all the relevant methods.

Conversely, every method should also have some results given so, if you choose to exclude certain experiments from the results, make sure that you remove mention of the method as well.

If you are unsure whether to include certain results, go back to your research questions and decide whether the results are relevant to them. It doesn’t matter whether they are supportive or not, it’s about relevance. If they are relevant, you should include them.

Having decided what to include, next decide what order to use. You could choose chronological, which should follow the methods, or in order from most to least important in the answering of your research questions, or by research question and/or hypothesis.

You also need to consider how best to present your results: tables, figures, graphs, or text. Try to use a variety of different methods of presentation, and consider your reader: 20 pages of dense tables are hard to understand, as are five pages of graphs, but a single table and well-chosen graph that illustrate your overall findings will make things much clearer.

Make sure that each table and figure has a number and a title. Number tables and figures in separate lists, but consecutively by the order in which you mention them in the text. If you have more than about two or three, it’s often helpful to provide lists of tables and figures alongside the table of contents at the start of your dissertation.

Summarise your results in the text, drawing on the figures and tables to illustrate your points.

The text and figures should be complementary, not repeat the same information. You should refer to every table or figure in the text. Any that you don’t feel the need to refer to can safely be moved to an appendix, or even removed.

Make sure that you including information about the size and direction of any changes, including percentage change if appropriate. Statistical tests should include details of p values or confidence intervals and limits.

While you don’t need to include all your primary evidence in this section, you should as a matter of good practice make it available in an appendix, to which you should refer at the relevant point.

For example:

Details of all the interview participants can be found in Appendix A, with transcripts of each interview in Appendix B.

You will, almost inevitably, find that you need to include some slight discussion of your results during this section. This discussion should evaluate the quality of the results and their reliability, but not stray too far into discussion of how far your results support your hypothesis and/or answer your research questions, as that is for the discussion section.

See our pages: Analysing Qualitative Data and Simple Statistical Analysis for more information on analysing your results.

Discussion Section

This section has four purposes, it should:

  • Interpret and explain your results
  • Answer your research question
  • Justify your approach
  • Critically evaluate your study

The discussion section therefore needs to review your findings in the context of the literature and the existing knowledge about the subject.

You also need to demonstrate that you understand the limitations of your research and the implications of your findings for policy and practice. This section should be written in the present tense.

The Discussion section needs to follow from your results and relate back to your literature review . Make sure that everything you discuss is covered in the results section.

Some universities require a separate section on recommendations for policy and practice and/or for future research, while others allow you to include this in your discussion, so check the guidelines carefully.

Starting the Task

Most people are likely to write this section best by preparing an outline, setting out the broad thrust of the argument, and how your results support it.

You may find techniques like mind mapping are helpful in making a first outline; check out our page: Creative Thinking for some ideas about how to think through your ideas. You should start by referring back to your research questions, discuss your results, then set them into the context of the literature, and then into broader theory.

This is likely to be one of the longest sections of your dissertation, and it’s a good idea to break it down into chunks with sub-headings to help your reader to navigate through the detail.

Fleshing Out the Detail

Once you have your outline in front of you, you can start to map out how your results fit into the outline.

This will help you to see whether your results are over-focused in one area, which is why writing up your research as you go along can be a helpful process. For each theme or area, you should discuss how the results help to answer your research question, and whether the results are consistent with your expectations and the literature.

The Importance of Understanding Differences

If your results are controversial and/or unexpected, you should set them fully in context and explain why you think that you obtained them.

Your explanations may include issues such as a non-representative sample for convenience purposes, a response rate skewed towards those with a particular experience, or your own involvement as a participant for sociological research.

You do not need to be apologetic about these, because you made a choice about them, which you should have justified in the methodology section. However, you do need to evaluate your own results against others’ findings, especially if they are different. A full understanding of the limitations of your research is part of a good discussion section.

At this stage, you may want to revisit your literature review, unless you submitted it as a separate submission earlier, and revise it to draw out those studies which have proven more relevant.

Conclude by summarising the implications of your findings in brief, and explain why they are important for researchers and in practice, and provide some suggestions for further work.

You may also wish to make some recommendations for practice. As before, this may be a separate section, or included in your discussion.

The results and discussion, including conclusion and recommendations, are probably the most substantial sections of your dissertation. Once completed, you can begin to relax slightly: you are on to the last stages of writing!

Continue to: Dissertation: Conclusion and Extras Writing your Methodology

See also: Writing a Literature Review Writing a Research Proposal Academic Referencing What Is the Importance of Using a Plagiarism Checker to Check Your Thesis?

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dissertation findings and discussion

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Writing a compelling integrated discussion: a guide for integrated discussions in article-based theses and dissertations

  • Krystina B. Lewis , Ian D. Graham , Laura Boland and Dawn Stacey

Article-based theses and dissertations are increasingly being used in nursing and the health sciences as an alternate format to the traditional five-chapter monograph. A unique chapter in the article-based thesis is the integrated discussion, which differs in breadth and depth as compared to the discussion for a traditional thesis monograph or journal article. For many students and faculty, the integrated discussion is a challenging chapter to write, with minimal or no published guidance available. In this article, we offer a four-step approach with templates for planning and writing an integrated discussion. We also share several lessons learned with examples from published theses and dissertations. Writing an integrated discussion can be facilitated and written more efficiently by developing a clear and detailed outline of the chapter and broad discussion points prior to drafting the text, to achieve a higher-level synthesis, analysis, and interpretation of the overall significance of the thesis findings.


An increasing number of university graduate programs in nursing and the health sciences offer the option of writing an article-based thesis or dissertation as an alternate format to the traditional five-chapter monograph ( De Jong, Moser, & Hall, 2005 ; Graves et al., 2018 ; Robinson & Dracup, 2008 ; Smaldone, Heitkemper, Jackman, Joanne Woo, & Kelson, 2019 ). This format has gained traction internationally to facilitate the earlier and more frequent publication of graduate student research for the timelier advancement of knowledge and impact on clinical practice ( Evans, Amaro, Herbert, Blossom, & Roberts, 2018 ; Maynard, Vaughn, Sarteschi, & Berglund, 2012 ; Smaldone et al., 2019 ). An article-based thesis, also known as the manuscript option, thesis-by manuscript, integrated thesis, or PhD by published works, typically includes one or more articles suitable for publication in peer-reviewed journals and bounded together with an introduction chapter and integrated discussion chapter ( Baggs, 2011 ). The integrated discussion is a unique chapter in an article-based thesis. Integrated (2020) is defined as “ many different parts [that] are closely connected and work successfully together ” (“Integrated,” 2020). The general purpose of the integrated discussion chapter is to provide an overall synthesis and demonstrate high level abstraction, analysis, and interpretation of the thesis findings. It is an opportunity to showcase the thesis’ findings, the student’s reflections about the findings, and its implications ( Smith, 2015 ).

Requirements and expectations for the integrated discussion chapter vary by institution and department. Supervising faculty within individual institutions may also have differing approaches and expectations. We found no general rules or expectations in the literature for writing an integrated discussion. An inquiry of select institutional guidance documents in various international jurisdictions revealed that academic institutions provide few details about this chapter. Descriptions focus more on the overall contribution of the integrated discussion chapter to the thesis, rather than guidance on how to write it ( Table 1 ).

Examples of institutional guidelines for the integrated discussion chapter in an article-based thesis.

Writing a compelling integrated discussion can be challenging, and there is a scarcity of resources, instructions, or published guidance for students and supervising faculty on this subject. Existing guidance is focused primarily on writing discussions for a single journal article or a traditional thesis monograph. Yet, the integrated discussion chapter differs in breadth and depth. In journal articles, a discussion usually consists of a statement of the main findings, interpretation of the results in the context of the broader literature, strengths and limitations of the study, and implications for potential users of the findings (clinicians, administrators, policy makers, and others), the discipline, and future research ( Makar, Foltz, Lendner, & Vaccaro, 2018 ). The discussion section of the traditional monograph thesis has a similar format to that of a journal article as it discusses a single study but is often more detailed. In comparison, the integrated discussion chapter of the article-based thesis provides students with a space in which to weave the results and discussion points from the individual articles comprising the thesis, elaborate on the logic and linkages between them, and convincingly argue for the unified, coherent, and original nature of their findings and contributions to the field-at-large. Smith (2015) refers to this as the golden thread. Grant (2011) refers to it as the logic of connectivity . Ultimately, it is about how the student links the key ideas from the individual papers and articulates the connectedness between them, so as to make readers understand the thesis’ broader meaning which make it accessible to a larger audience ( Smith, 2015 ).

The educational value of conceptualizing and writing an integrated discussion can be best classified at the highest level of Bloom’s revised taxonomy of educational objectives, to Create  — formerly known as Synthesis in Bloom’s original taxonomy — whereby parts are combined in novel ways to produce a coherent whole and to formulate new points of view ( Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001 ; Bloom, 1956 ). According to the taxonomy, the integrated discussion represents the pinnacle of cognitive tasks and processes by requiring higher-order thinking and critical reflections expected of graduate level students. Hence, the integrated discussion chapter provides the graduate student an opportunity to synthesize, integrate, and raise the discussion to a higher level of abstraction; allowing them to demonstrate the coherence between all articles reported in the thesis. It is often in the integrated discussion where thesis advisory committee members and examiners can assess the student’s depth of theoretical and applied knowledge of the subject matter, capacity for critical inquiry, and judge the overall value of the student’s conclusions and contributions to the substantive area of study ( Gould, 2016 ). Specifically in nursing, this higher-level thinking can be articulated by discussing how the knowledge generated advances nursing practice, education and research, and how it contributes to the delivery of high quality health care, and improved health and health system outcomes ( Institute of Medicine [US] Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, 2011 ). Yet, with little guidance available on how to think about and write an integrated discussion, graduate students may miss the opportunity to engage in this higher-order thinking and critical reflections.

In this paper, we offer a practical four-step approach with templates for writing an integrated discussion for article-based theses. KBL initially developed the steps and templates as she conceptualized and wrote her integrated discussion for her PhD dissertation. The steps and templates were refined as a result of (a) her own integrated discussion writing process; (b) discussion with her thesis supervisor and thesis advisory committee members; and, (c) feedback from several graduate students who have used it successfully. As recent doctoral graduates and faculty supervisors, we are sharing this approach and our lessons learned with examples from published theses and dissertations.

Writing an integrated discussion chapter

Step 1: outlining the integrated discussion chapter.

To begin, we propose drafting an outline for the integrated discussion chapter with six major sections ( Table 2 ). First, provide an opening paragraph introducing the information to be presented in the chapter. Second, present a summary of the overall purpose of the thesis as a unified piece of work and a brief summary of each individual article prepared for publication. Each article summary should include the study aim, study design, and key results. Keep in mind that by the time supervisors, thesis advisory committee members, and examiners read the integrated discussion chapter, they have probably just finished reading the previous chapters and articles, so there is no need to repeat information in detail. Rather, the purpose of this section is to refresh the readers’ focus and to begin demonstrating how the articles logically link to each other. Third, outline the main points of the integrated discussion as clearly and concisely as possible (see Step 2 and 3 for more details). Fourth, discuss the strengths and limitations of the thesis, as a whole, if applicable. Typically, strengths and limitations are only presented at the individual article level, but if there are broader strengths or limitations that apply to the thesis, they can be discussed in this chapter. Fifth, discuss the implications of the thesis for the specific discipline (e.g., nursing, medicine, population health, epidemiology, rehabilitation) in terms of the findings’ applicability to practice, education, leadership, and/or policy. Sixth, describe implications for future research. Finally, this chapter should end with a strong, clear, and logical conclusion summarizing the entire work across all elements of the thesis. The conclusions should clearly state the original contribution(s) to the advancement of knowledge and overall significance for the field at-large.

Suggested structure for an integrated discussion.

a Approximate length based on 12-point type font, double spacing, left-justified, 1-inch margins, and format for 8 ½ × 11 paper.

Step 2. Mapping individual articles’ findings to inform the integrated discussion

The next step is to draft the main integrated discussion points. Using Template I, capture the main discussion points from each individual article ( Table 3 ). If there is only one article in the thesis, these can be generated from the literature review, guiding theoretical framework, and/or chosen methodology. This exercise is intended to facilitate the student’s thinking about how to build convincing overarching discussion points and explore the key messages they want readers to come away with after reading the thesis.

Template I to summarize individual article discussion points to identify overarching discussion points.

a If there is only one article in the thesis, additional discussion points/contributions/implications can come from the literature review, guiding theoretical framework, and/or chosen methodology. b Whether these implications are included in the individual article or not, this explicitly offers a starting point to think of the implications arising from individual articles.

The last row in this template is reserved for listing the actual and potential disciplinary implications arising from each article, which may address any of the following domains: practice, education, leadership, policy and/or research. Depending on journal requirements, these implications may be directly discussed in the individual articles. If not, this section offers the student a starting point for thinking about the disciplinary implications arising from their thesis as a whole.

Completing Template I as individual articles are finalized, and sharing it with a faculty supervisor or thesis advisory committee can facilitate discussion about the evolving integrated discussion points. It can also facilitate requisite critical thinking and reflection necessary for linking findings across the individual articles.

Step 3. Drafting the main integrated discussion points

Consider the discussion points and disciplinary implications across all individual articles of the thesis to identify commonalities or differences;

Draft main integrated discussion points, logically connecting the individual articles;

Identify findings from, ideally, two individual articles that support (or refute) the proposed main integrated discussion points (aiming for evidence from two articles helps achieve a higher level integrated discussion); and

Identify and classify theoretical and empirical literature relevant to the main integrated discussion points. Select regional, national, and international empirical studies, theoretical works, clinical practice guidelines, technical reports, and/or policy documents; highlight what the thesis adds to the field (of knowledge) and how it will enhance understanding of the subject.

Template II to build the main integrated discussion points from the individual articles and summarize implications.

a If there is only one article in the thesis, the supporting contributions/arguments can come from the literature review, guiding theoretical framework, and/or chosen methodology. b Broader literature can include empirical studies, theoretical works, practice guidelines, technical reports, and/or policy documents. c List the disciplinary implications identified across all articles. This explicitly offers a starting point to think of the disciplinary implications arising across the individual articles’ findings and discussion points.

This exercise is intended to help organize the content of the integrated discussion early in the writing process. We recommend sharing the evolving Templates I and II with the faculty supervisor or thesis advisory committee and use it as a tool for discussion before writing the integrated discussion chapter. As supervisors (DS, IDG), we also initiate Template I in discussion with our graduate students – often using a blank piece of paper. This reflective exercise may save time in the long run, as it facilitates staying focused on the key points and avoids repeating elements of the discussions within the individual papers. The more detailed the completed templates, the more content is available to transform into text.

Step 4. Writing the integrated discussion chapter

The final step is to turn the planned outline (Step 1) and the drafted main integrated discussion points (Step 3) into narrative prose. To remain focused, start by adding subheadings from the outline and lower level subheadings for each of the main integrated discussion points. A compelling integrated discussion is often preceded by multiple revisions. It should not be written when rushing to meet the thesis submission deadline as writing this chapter requires considerable reflection and introspection. For these reasons, we remind students that the integrated discussion is the last chapter their examiners will read, and it will leave a lasting impression. Getting this chapter right allows the student to demonstrate their mastery of the totality of their thesis work and sets the stage for the examination. In our experience, when an integrated discussion is well-written, the examiners’ comments indicate that the integrated discussion chapter tied all elements of the thesis together and helped them understand the thesis in its entirety.

Lessons learned

When applying this approach for writing our own integrated discussions, or when guiding graduate students through the process, we have learned several lessons. To exemplify these lessons, we offer examples of published theses and dissertations in nursing and other health professions.

Lesson 1. Use stepwise approach with templates to plan and structure the chapter

Using the attached templates and proposed stepwise approach to structure the writing process reduces the inclination to simply repeat the discussion points found in the individual articles. The templates may also help graduate students overcome procrastination resulting from not knowing where to start with the integrated discussion. Further, Templates I and II may be used to guide discussions between graduate student and faculty supervisor, allowing for progress to be monitored prior to writing. Another advantage to doing this early is that some supervisors are less familiar with the article-based thesis format and may have little experience guiding their students in writing the integrated discussion. As such, using the template to walk through this process may be helpful for both parties.

Lesson 2. Think ahead

Avoid delaying until all the individual thesis articles are written before thinking about the integrated discussion. We recommend filling out the templates as individual articles are completed. When analyzing the results for individual articles and thinking about the discussion sections for these, we often identified relevant discussion points that were too broad for the articles. Keeping a log of discussions with faculty supervisors and thesis advisory committee members throughout the thesis writing process, and keeping record of personal reflections that were beyond the scope of individual articles, may help gather ideas early. For example, when first considering her integrated discussion, Hoefel (2019) chose the Walker and Avant (2011) theory testing approach to validate the decisional needs concept and test the main hypothesis of the Ottawa Decision Support Framework ( O’Connor et al., 1998 ). For her thesis, Hoefel (2019) wrote two articles based upon this framework. Her first was a systematic review article on decisional needs of people making health decisions and the second was a sub-analysis of a systematic review on patient decision aids. Hence, evidence from these articles contributed to the higher level discussion about validating the concepts and testing the hypotheses in the framework.

Lesson 3. Dedicate sufficient time

Dedicating sufficient time to writing the integrated discussion is important. For many students, the integrated discussion is a challenging chapter to write. It calls for a different style of writing than that which is required for individual research study articles. It requires conveying abstract and conceptual ideas to generate broader insights. Prior to developing and using these templates, our experience with many students has been that it can take many months of re-writing the integrated discussion chapter for it to adequately reflect the breadth and depth of the student’s thesis work and its vital contribution to the field. We have found that our stepwise approach involves more careful planning and conceptualizing of the integrated discussion prior to drafting the chapter, and therefore results in a more efficient writing and editing process.

Lesson 4. Consider theoretical and methodological implications

Theoretical and methodological implications may be considered as integrated discussion points. A student may choose to closely examine their selected theoretical perspective in light of their thesis findings. For example, in Lewis’ (2018) integrated discussion, she provided a discourse on the use of complementary theoretical frameworks across individual studies: the Ottawa Decision Support Framework ( O’Connor et al., 1998 ) and Normalization Process Theory ( May et al., 2009 ). This provided a link between intervention development and implementation planning, proposing a novel theory-informed approach for the development of decision support interventions ( Lewis, 2018 ). Likewise, methodological implications may be discussed in cases where a student’s thesis advances methods, or to discuss the influence of chosen methodology on key findings where similar research questions are answered using distinct study designs. Wu’s (2014) integrated discussion focused on the methods used for conducting a survey for data collection. He used a set of reminders, with the last reminder being a courier package and return envelope. He then discussed how testing this reminder strategy in his thesis study contributed to survey design methods.

Lesson 5. An integrated discussion is feasible with one article

In cases where there is only one article comprising an article-based thesis, key findings from a more detailed literature review, a theoretical framework guiding the entire research project, or chosen methodology can provide the additional linkages to build the main integrated discussion points. For instance, in her Master of Nursing thesis integrated discussion, Demery Varin (2018) compared and contrasted her secondary analysis findings on the predictors of nurses’ research use in long-term care settings (as reported in one published article) with her review of the literature on the individual and contextual factors to nurses’ research use in all settings.

Lesson 6. Integrated discussions are publishable

The integrated discussion (or elements of it) may be publishable in its own right. When written well, the integrated discussion often results in an important academic contribution to the body of knowledge. Some graduate students have used the integrated discussion as the basis for a commentary paper or an updated theoretical framework paper. In her integrated discussion chapter of her doctoral thesis, Jull (2014) described the development of a collaborative framework for community-research partnerships co-produced by First Nations, Inuit, and Metis women’s community members and researchers. This framework was based on her findings and experience conducting the studies comprising her thesis. Jull et al. (2018) subsequently published a paper based on her integrated discussion.

Lesson 7. Integrated discussions can lay the foundation for subsequent research

Many students who are completing a Master’s or PhD thesis also intend to pursue further research. A well thought out and articulated integrated discussion can inform subsequent research projects, grant proposals, or programs of research. For example, Boland (2018) drew from her PhD integrated discussion to identify evidence-practice gaps and potential solutions in pediatric shared decision-making, which she used to underpin a successful Canadian Institutes of Health Research post-doctoral fellowship and guide the establishment of her research program.

In this paper, we propose an approach to writing an integrated discussion chapter for an article-based thesis. Our advice provided in this paper is intended to position graduate students to adequately plan and produce a unified, coherent, and higher-level synthesis of the articles comprising their thesis. Challenges in writing an integrated discussion include avoiding repetition of discussion points already included within the individual articles comprising the thesis and achieving a higher-level discussion to integrate findings across the individual articles. Writing an integrated discussion can be facilitated by developing a clear and detailed outline of the chapter and, in particular, by identifying broader, more overarching points of discussion, than those presented within the individual articles. We encourage graduate students, faculty supervisors and thesis advisory committees to use the templates provided and share their experiences.


The authors wish to thank the graduate students who have used this approach, reported that it was useful, and offered feedback to improve it. The authors also wish to thank the reviewers. Their critical read and constructive comments strengthened this manuscript.

Research funding: The authors received no financial support for the authorship and publication of this manuscript. IDG is a recipient of a CIHR Foundation Grant (FDN# 143237). DS holds a University Research Chair in Knowledge Translation to Patients at the University of Ottawa.

Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.

Competing interest: Authors state no conflict of interest.

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How to Write a Discussion Section | Tips & Examples

Published on 21 August 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 25 October 2022.

Discussion section flow chart

The discussion section is where you delve into the meaning, importance, and relevance of your results .

It should focus on explaining and evaluating what you found, showing how it relates to your literature review , and making an argument in support of your overall conclusion . It should not be a second results section .

There are different ways to write this section, but you can focus your writing around these key elements:

  • Summary: A brief recap of your key results
  • Interpretations: What do your results mean?
  • Implications: Why do your results matter?
  • Limitations: What can’t your results tell us?
  • Recommendations: Avenues for further studies or analyses

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What not to include in your discussion section, step 1: summarise your key findings, step 2: give your interpretations, step 3: discuss the implications, step 4: acknowledge the limitations, step 5: share your recommendations, discussion section example.

There are a few common mistakes to avoid when writing the discussion section of your paper.

  • Don’t introduce new results: You should only discuss the data that you have already reported in your results section .
  • Don’t make inflated claims: Avoid overinterpretation and speculation that isn’t directly supported by your data.
  • Don’t undermine your research: The discussion of limitations should aim to strengthen your credibility, not emphasise weaknesses or failures.

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Start this section by reiterating your research problem  and concisely summarising your major findings. Don’t just repeat all the data you have already reported – aim for a clear statement of the overall result that directly answers your main  research question . This should be no more than one paragraph.

Many students struggle with the differences between a discussion section and a results section . The crux of the matter is that your results sections should present your results, and your discussion section should subjectively evaluate them. Try not to blend elements of these two sections, in order to keep your paper sharp.

  • The results indicate that …
  • The study demonstrates a correlation between …
  • This analysis supports the theory that …
  • The data suggest  that …

The meaning of your results may seem obvious to you, but it’s important to spell out their significance for your reader, showing exactly how they answer your research question.

The form of your interpretations will depend on the type of research, but some typical approaches to interpreting the data include:

  • Identifying correlations , patterns, and relationships among the data
  • Discussing whether the results met your expectations or supported your hypotheses
  • Contextualising your findings within previous research and theory
  • Explaining unexpected results and evaluating their significance
  • Considering possible alternative explanations and making an argument for your position

You can organise your discussion around key themes, hypotheses, or research questions, following the same structure as your results section. Alternatively, you can also begin by highlighting the most significant or unexpected results.

  • In line with the hypothesis …
  • Contrary to the hypothesised association …
  • The results contradict the claims of Smith (2007) that …
  • The results might suggest that x . However, based on the findings of similar studies, a more plausible explanation is x .

As well as giving your own interpretations, make sure to relate your results back to the scholarly work that you surveyed in the literature review . The discussion should show how your findings fit with existing knowledge, what new insights they contribute, and what consequences they have for theory or practice.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do your results support or challenge existing theories? If they support existing theories, what new information do they contribute? If they challenge existing theories, why do you think that is?
  • Are there any practical implications?

Your overall aim is to show the reader exactly what your research has contributed, and why they should care.

  • These results build on existing evidence of …
  • The results do not fit with the theory that …
  • The experiment provides a new insight into the relationship between …
  • These results should be taken into account when considering how to …
  • The data contribute a clearer understanding of …
  • While previous research has focused on  x , these results demonstrate that y .

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Even the best research has its limitations. Acknowledging these is important to demonstrate your credibility. Limitations aren’t about listing your errors, but about providing an accurate picture of what can and cannot be concluded from your study.

Limitations might be due to your overall research design, specific methodological choices , or unanticipated obstacles that emerged during your research process.

Here are a few common possibilities:

  • If your sample size was small or limited to a specific group of people, explain how generalisability is limited.
  • If you encountered problems when gathering or analysing data, explain how these influenced the results.
  • If there are potential confounding variables that you were unable to control, acknowledge the effect these may have had.

After noting the limitations, you can reiterate why the results are nonetheless valid for the purpose of answering your research question.

  • The generalisability of the results is limited by …
  • The reliability of these data is impacted by …
  • Due to the lack of data on x , the results cannot confirm …
  • The methodological choices were constrained by …
  • It is beyond the scope of this study to …

Based on the discussion of your results, you can make recommendations for practical implementation or further research. Sometimes, the recommendations are saved for the conclusion .

Suggestions for further research can lead directly from the limitations. Don’t just state that more studies should be done – give concrete ideas for how future work can build on areas that your own research was unable to address.

  • Further research is needed to establish …
  • Future studies should take into account …
  • Avenues for future research include …

Discussion section example

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How to Write a Dissertation Discussion Chapter: Guide & Examples


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Dissertation discussion section is a chapter that interprets the results obtained from research and offers an in-depth analysis of findings. In this section, students need to analyze the outcomes, evaluate their significance, and compare them to previous research. The discussion section may also explore the limitations of the study and suggest further research perspectives.

If you are stuck with your thesis or dissertation discussion chapter, you are in the right place to complete this section successfully. This article will outline our best solutions and methods on how to write the discussion of a dissertation or thesis. We also will share advanced dissertation discussion examples to help you finalize your PhD work.  Feel like academic writing gives you hassles? Remember that you can always rely on academic experts qualified in your field to get professional dissertation help online .

What Is a Dissertation Discussion?

First and foremost, students need to have a clear understanding of what dissertation discussion is. This is not the same as your results section , where you share data from your research. You are going deeper into the explanation of the existing data in your thesis or dissertation discussion section. In other words, you illustrate practical implications of your research and how the data can be used, researched further, or limited.  What will make your discussion section of a dissertation excellent:

  • clear structure
  • practical implication
  • elaboration on future work on this topic.

This section should go after research methodology and before the dissertation conclusion . It should be directly relevant to questions posed in your introduction.  The biggest mistake you can make is to rewrite your result chapter with other words and add some limitations and recommendation paragraphs. However, this is an entirely different type of writing you need to complete.

Purpose of a Dissertation Discussion Chapter

A dissertation discussion section is critical to explaining students’ findings and the application of data to real-life cases. As we mentioned before, this section will often be read right after the dissertation methods . It evaluates and elaborates on findings and helps to understand the importance of your performed thesis research.  A dissertation discussion opens a new perspective on further research on the same field or topic. It also outlines critical data to consider in subsequent studies. In a nutshell, this is the section where you explain your work to a broad audience.

Structure of a Dissertation Discussion Section

Let’s start your writing journey of this research part with a clear delineation of what it should include and then briefly discuss each component. Here are some basic things you need to consider for an excellent discussion chapter of dissertation :

  • Brief summary It does not mean copying an introduction section. However, the first few paragraphs will make an overview of your findings and topic.
  • Interpretations This is a critical component of your work — elaborate on your results and explain possible ways of using them.
  • Implication Research work is not just 100+ pages of text. Students should explain and illustrate how it could be used for solving practical problems.
  • Constraints This is where you outline your limitations. For instance, your research was done only on students, and it may have different results with elderly people.
  • Recommendations You can also define possible ways of future research on the exact topic when writing a discussion for your thesis or dissertation. Tell readers, for example, that it would be helpful to run similar research in other specific circumstances.

How to Write a Dissertation Discussion Chapter?

One of the most commonly asked questions for our experts is how to write the discussion section of a dissertation or thesis. We understand why it can be complicated to get a clear answer. Students often think that this section is similar to the result chapter and just retells it in other words. But it is not so. Let’s go through all steps to writing a discussion in a dissertation, and share our best examples from academic papers.

1. Remind Your Research Questions & Objectives

Writing the discussion chapter of a dissertation is not a big deal if you understand its aim and each component in a text structure. First of all, you need to evaluate how your results help to answer research questions you defined in the beginning. It is not about repeating the result, you did it in previous paragraphs.  However, dissertation or thesis discussion should underline how your findings help to answer the research problem. Start writing from a brief intro by recalling research questions or hypotheses . Then, show how your results answer them or support a hypothesis in your work.

2. Sum Up Key Findings

Next part of your discussion for dissertation is to provide a short summary of previous data. But do not respite the same summary paragraphs from results or introduction of a dissertation . Here researchers should be more thoughtful and go deeper into the work’s aims.  Try to explain in a few sentences what you get from running research. For instance, starters usually write the statement that “our data proves that…” or “survey results illustrate a clear correlation between a and b that is critical for proving our working hypothesis…”.  A discussion chapter of your dissertation is not just a fixation on results but a more profound summary connected to research goals and purpose. Here is an example: Summary of Findings Example

According to the data, implementing the co-orientation theory was successful and can be used for the same circumstances in the future. As we found, most participants agreed with the importance of those theses on the five fundamental reforms. It means that the results identified a successful government work in choosing the messages to communicate about examined reforms. At the same time, the situation is not so favorable with implementing the principles of two-way symmetrical communications. According to the results, people did not feel that the government had a mutual, open, and equal dialogue with the public about the reforms.

3. Interpret the Results

The most critical part of a discussion section is to explain and enact the results you’ve got. It is the most significant part of any text. Students should be clear about what to include in these paragraphs. Here is some advice to make this elaboration structured:

  • Identify correlations or patterns in the data for dissertation discussion.
  • Underline how results can answer research questions or prove your hypothesis.
  • Emphasize how your findings are connected to the previous topic studies.
  • Point out essential statements you can use in future research.
  • Evaluate the significance of your results and any unexpected data you have.
  • What others can learn from your research and how this work contributes to the field.
  • Consider any possible additional or unique explanation of your findings.
  • Go deeper with options of how results can be applied in practice.

Writing a dissertation discussion chapter can be tough, but here is a great sample to learn from. Example of Interpretations in Disssertation Discussion

Our study underlines the importance of future research on using TikTok for political communication. As discussed above, TikTok is the most commonly used social media platform for many young voters. This means that political discussion will also move to this platform. Our research and typology of political communication content can be used in the future planning of effective political campaigns. For example, we can assume that “play videos” have enormous potential to facilitate complicated topics and provide specific agenda settings. We also identified additional affordances of TikTok used for political communication, such as built-in video editors, playlists for specific topics, a green screen for news explainers, and duets for reflection on news and discussion. It means that these features make TikTok suitable for efficient political communications.

4. Discuss How Your Findings Relate to the Literature

Here we came to the implications of your findings for the dissertation discussion. In other words, this is a few sentences on how your work is connected to other studies on the same research topic or what literature gap you are going to fill with the data and research you launched. Remember to mention how your study address the limitations you have discovered while writing a literature review .  First, outline how your hypothesis relates to theories or previous works in the field. Maybe, you challenged some theories or tried to define your own. Be specific in this section. Second, define a practical implementation of your work. Maybe, it can support recommendations or change legislation.  Discussion chapter of a thesis is a place where you explain your work, make it valuable, and incorporate additional meaning for some specific data.  Example of Implications in Disssertation Discussion

As we pointed out in the literature review, there are few works on using TikTok affordances for political communications, and this topic can be expanded in the future. Government institutions have already understood the importance of this platform for efficient communication with younger audiences, and we will see more political projects on TikTok. That is why expanding research on using TikTok for political communication will be enormous in the following years. Our work is one of the first research on the role of emerging media in war communication and can be used as a practical guide for government's strategic planning in times of emergencies.

5. Mention Possible Limitations

It is pretty tricky to conduct research without limitations. You will always have some, which does not mean that your work is not good. When you write a discussion chapter in a thesis or dissertation, focus on what may influence your results and how changing independent variables can affect your data collection methods and final outcomes.  Here are some points to consider when you structure your dissertation discussion limitation part:

  • If results can change in case you change the reference group?
  • What will happen with data if it changes circumstances?
  • What could influence results?

Critical thinking and analysis can help you to outline possible limitations. It can be the age of the reference group, change of questionnaire in a survey, or specific use of data extraction equipment. Be transparent about what could affect your results.  Example of Complications

Although this study has provided critical first insights into the effects of multimodal disinformation and rebuttals, there are some limitations. First and most importantly, the effects of multimodal disinformation and rebuttals partially depend on the topic of the message. Although fact-checkers reduce credibility of disinformation in both settings, and attitudinal congruence plays a consistent role in conditioning responses to multimodal disinformation, visuals do not have the same impact on affecting the credibility of news on school shootings and refugees.

6. Provide Recommendations for Further Research

Writing a dissertation discussion also makes a connection to possible future research. So, other scientists may complete that. While elaborating on possible implementations of your study, you may also estimate future approaches in topic research.  Here are some points to consider while your discussion in thesis writing:

  • Outline questions related to your topic that you did not answer in defined study or did not outline as research questions. There are other possible gaps to research.
  • Suggest future research based on limitations. For example, if you define surveyed people’s age as a limitation, recommend running another survey for older or younger recipients.

Example of Recommendations

As we mentioned before, our study has some limitations, as the research was conducted based on data from United State citizens. However, for a better understanding of government communication practices, it would be productive to implement the same research in other countries. Some cultural differences can influence the communication strategies the government uses in times of emergency. Another possible way to examine this topic is to conduct research using a specific period of time. For future studies, it will be beneficial to expand the number of survey recipients. 

7. Conclude Your Thesis/ Dissertation Discussion

You are almost done, the last step is to provide a brief summary of a section. It is not the same as a conclusion for whole research. However, you need to briefly outline key points from the dissertation discussion.  To finalize writing the discussion section of a dissertation, go through the text and check if there is no unimportant information. Do not overload the text with relevant data you did not present in the result section. Be specific in your summary paragraphs. It is a holistic view of everything you pointed out. Provide a few sentences to systemize all you outlined in the text. Example of a Concluding Summary in a Dissertation Discussion Section

To summarize, Airbnb has expertise in communicating CSR and CSA campaigns. We defined their communication strategy about the program for Ukrainian refugees as quite successful. They applied all the principles of CSR communication best practices, used dialogic theory to engage with the public on social media, and created clear messaging on applying for the program. Airbnb examples of CSR communication can be used by other businesses to create a communication strategy for unplanned CSR campaigns. Moreover, it can be further researched how Airbnb's CSR campaign influenced the organizational reputation in the future. 

Dissertation Discussion Example

If we need to share one piece of practical advice, it would be to use thesis or dissertation discussion examples when writing your own copy. StudyCrumb provides the best samples from real students' work to help you understand the stylistic and possible structure of this part. It does not mean you need to copy and paste them into your work.  However, you can use a  dissertation discussion example for inspiration and brainstorming ideas for breaking writing blocks. Here’s a doctoral thesis discussion chapter example.


Dissertation Discussion Writing Tips

Before reading this blog, you should already know how to write a thesis discussion. However, we would share some essential tips you need to have in mind while working on the document. 

  • Be consistent Your dissertation discussion chapter is a part of bigger research, and it should be in line with your whole work.
  • Understand your reader You are writing an academic text that will be analyzed by professionals and experts in the same field. Be sure that you are not trying to simplify your discussion.
  • Be logical Do not jump into a new line of discussion if you did not delineate it as a research question at the beginning.
  • Be clear Do not include any data that was not presented in the result section.
  • Consider word choice Use such terms as “our data indicate…” or “our data suggests…” instead of “the data proves.”
  • Use proper format Follow the formatting rules specified by a specific paper style (e.g., APA style format , MLA format , or Chicago format ) or provided by your instructor.

Bottom Line on Writing a Dissertation Discussion Chapter

At this stage, it should not be a question for you on how to write a discussion chapter in a PhD thesis or dissertation. Let’s make it clear. It is not a result section but still a place to elaborate on data and go deeper with explanations. Dissertation discussion section includes some intro, result interpretations, limitations, and recommendations for future research. Our team encourages you to use examples before starting your own piece of writing. It will help you to realize the purpose and structure of this chapter and inspire better texts! If you have other questions regarding the PhD writing process, check our blog for more insights. From detailed instruction on how to write a dissertation or guide on formatting a dissertation appendix , we’ve got you covered.


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FAQ About Dissertation Discussion Chapter

1. where does a discussion section go in a dissertation.

Dissertation discussion section is used to go right after the result chapter. The logic is simple — you share your data and then go to the elaboration and explanation of it. Check the sample thesis we provide to students for details on structure.

2. How long should a dissertation discussion chapter be?

It is not a surprise that dissertation discussion chapter is extremely significant for the research. Here you will go into the details of your study and interpret results to prove or not your hypothesis. It should take almost 25% of your work. 

3. What tense should I use in a dissertation discussion?

Thesis or dissertation discussion used to have some rules on using tenses. You need to use the present tense when referring to established facts and use the past tense when referring to previous studies. And check your text before submission to ensure that you did not miss something.

4. What not to include in a dissertation discussion section?

The answer is easy. Discussion section of a dissertation should not include any new findings or describe some unsupported claims. Also, do not try to feel all possible gaps with one research. It may be better to outline your ideas for future studies in recommendations.


Joe Eckel is an expert on Dissertations writing. He makes sure that each student gets precious insights on composing A-grade academic writing.

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How To Write The Conclusion Chapter

The what, why & how explained simply (with examples).

By: Jenna Crossley (PhD Cand). Reviewed By: Dr. Eunice Rautenbach | September 2021

So, you’ve wrapped up your results and discussion chapters, and you’re finally on the home stretch – the conclusion chapter . In this post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to craft a high-quality conclusion chapter for your dissertation or thesis project.

Overview: Dissertation Conclusion Chapter

  • What the thesis/dissertation conclusion chapter is
  • What to include in your conclusion chapter
  • How to structure and write up your conclusion chapter
  • A few tips  to help you ace the chapter

What exactly is the conclusion chapter?

The conclusion chapter is typically the final major chapter of a dissertation or thesis. As such, it serves as a concluding summary of your research findings and wraps up the document. While some publications such as journal articles and research reports combine the discussion and conclusion sections, these are typically separate chapters in a dissertation or thesis. As always, be sure to check what your university’s structural preference is before you start writing up these chapters.

So, what’s the difference between the discussion and the conclusion chapter?

Well, the two chapters are quite similar , as they both discuss the key findings of the study. However, the conclusion chapter is typically more general and high-level in nature. In your discussion chapter, you’ll typically discuss the intricate details of your study, but in your conclusion chapter, you’ll take a   broader perspective, reporting on the main research outcomes and how these addressed your research aim (or aims) .

A core function of the conclusion chapter is to synthesise all major points covered in your study and to tell the reader what they should take away from your work. Basically, you need to tell them what you found , why it’s valuable , how it can be applied , and what further research can be done.

Whatever you do, don’t just copy and paste what you’ve written in your discussion chapter! The conclusion chapter should not be a simple rehash of the discussion chapter. While the two chapters are similar, they have distinctly different functions.  

Discussion chapter vs conclusion chapter

What should I include in the conclusion chapter?

To understand what needs to go into your conclusion chapter, it’s useful to understand what the chapter needs to achieve. In general, a good dissertation conclusion chapter should achieve the following:

  • Summarise the key findings of the study
  • Explicitly answer the research question(s) and address the research aims
  • Inform the reader of the study’s main contributions
  • Discuss any limitations or weaknesses of the study
  • Present recommendations for future research

Therefore, your conclusion chapter needs to cover these core components. Importantly, you need to be careful not to include any new findings or data points. Your conclusion chapter should be based purely on data and analysis findings that you’ve already presented in the earlier chapters. If there’s a new point you want to introduce, you’ll need to go back to your results and discussion chapters to weave the foundation in there.

In many cases, readers will jump from the introduction chapter directly to the conclusions chapter to get a quick overview of the study’s purpose and key findings. Therefore, when you write up your conclusion chapter, it’s useful to assume that the reader hasn’t consumed the inner chapters of your dissertation or thesis. In other words, craft your conclusion chapter such that there’s a strong connection and smooth flow between the introduction and conclusion chapters, even though they’re on opposite ends of your document.

Need a helping hand?

dissertation findings and discussion

How to write the conclusion chapter

Now that you have a clearer view of what the conclusion chapter is about, let’s break down the structure of this chapter so that you can get writing. Keep in mind that this is merely a typical structure – it’s not set in stone or universal. Some universities will prefer that you cover some of these points in the discussion chapter , or that you cover the points at different levels in different chapters.

Step 1: Craft a brief introduction section

As with all chapters in your dissertation or thesis, the conclusions chapter needs to start with a brief introduction. In this introductory section, you’ll want to tell the reader what they can expect to find in the chapter, and in what order . Here’s an example of what this might look like:

This chapter will conclude the study by summarising the key research findings in relation to the research aims and questions and discussing the value and contribution thereof. It will also review the limitations of the study and propose opportunities for future research.

Importantly, the objective here is just to give the reader a taste of what’s to come (a roadmap of sorts), not a summary of the chapter. So, keep it short and sweet – a paragraph or two should be ample.

Step 2: Discuss the overall findings in relation to the research aims

The next step in writing your conclusions chapter is to discuss the overall findings of your study , as they relate to the research aims and research questions . You would have likely covered similar ground in the discussion chapter, so it’s important to zoom out a little bit here and focus on the broader findings – specifically, how these help address the research aims .

In practical terms, it’s useful to start this section by reminding your reader of your research aims and research questions, so that the findings are well contextualised. In this section, phrases such as, “This study aimed to…” and “the results indicate that…” will likely come in handy. For example, you could say something like the following:

This study aimed to investigate the feeding habits of the naked mole-rat. The results indicate that naked mole rats feed on underground roots and tubers. Further findings show that these creatures eat only a part of the plant, leaving essential parts to ensure long-term food stability.

Be careful not to make overly bold claims here. Avoid claims such as “this study proves that” or “the findings disprove existing the existing theory”. It’s seldom the case that a single study can prove or disprove something. Typically, this is achieved by a broader body of research, not a single study – especially not a dissertation or thesis which will inherently have significant and limitations. We’ll discuss those limitations a little later.

Dont make overly bold claims in your dissertation conclusion

Step 3: Discuss how your study contributes to the field

Next, you’ll need to discuss how your research has contributed to the field – both in terms of theory and practice . This involves talking about what you achieved in your study, highlighting why this is important and valuable, and how it can be used or applied.

In this section you’ll want to:

  • Mention any research outputs created as a result of your study (e.g., articles, publications, etc.)
  • Inform the reader on just how your research solves your research problem , and why that matters
  • Reflect on gaps in the existing research and discuss how your study contributes towards addressing these gaps
  • Discuss your study in relation to relevant theories . For example, does it confirm these theories or constructively challenge them?
  • Discuss how your research findings can be applied in the real world . For example, what specific actions can practitioners take, based on your findings?

Be careful to strike a careful balance between being firm but humble in your arguments here. It’s unlikely that your one study will fundamentally change paradigms or shake up the discipline, so making claims to this effect will be frowned upon . At the same time though, you need to present your arguments with confidence, firmly asserting the contribution your research has made, however small that contribution may be. Simply put, you need to keep it balanced .

Keep it balanced

Step 4: Reflect on the limitations of your study

Now that you’ve pumped your research up, the next step is to critically reflect on the limitations and potential shortcomings of your study. You may have already covered this in the discussion chapter, depending on your university’s structural preferences, so be careful not to repeat yourself unnecessarily.

There are many potential limitations that can apply to any given study. Some common ones include:

  • Sampling issues that reduce the generalisability of the findings (e.g., non-probability sampling )
  • Insufficient sample size (e.g., not getting enough survey responses ) or limited data access
  • Low-resolution data collection or analysis techniques
  • Researcher bias or lack of experience
  • Lack of access to research equipment
  • Time constraints that limit the methodology (e.g. cross-sectional vs longitudinal time horizon)
  • Budget constraints that limit various aspects of the study

Discussing the limitations of your research may feel self-defeating (no one wants to highlight their weaknesses, right), but it’s a critical component of high-quality research. It’s important to appreciate that all studies have limitations (even well-funded studies by expert researchers) – therefore acknowledging these limitations adds credibility to your research by showing that you understand the limitations of your research design .

That being said, keep an eye on your wording and make sure that you don’t undermine your research . It’s important to strike a balance between recognising the limitations, but also highlighting the value of your research despite those limitations. Show the reader that you understand the limitations, that these were justified given your constraints, and that you know how they can be improved upon – this will get you marks.

You have to justify every choice in your dissertation defence

Next, you’ll need to make recommendations for future studies. This will largely be built on the limitations you just discussed. For example, if one of your study’s weaknesses was related to a specific data collection or analysis method, you can make a recommendation that future researchers undertake similar research using a more sophisticated method.

Another potential source of future research recommendations is any data points or analysis findings that were interesting or surprising , but not directly related to your study’s research aims and research questions. So, if you observed anything that “stood out” in your analysis, but you didn’t explore it in your discussion (due to a lack of relevance to your research aims), you can earmark that for further exploration in this section.

Essentially, this section is an opportunity to outline how other researchers can build on your study to take the research further and help develop the body of knowledge. So, think carefully about the new questions that your study has raised, and clearly outline these for future researchers to pick up on.

Step 6: Wrap up with a closing summary

Quick tips for a top-notch conclusion chapter

Now that we’ve covered the what , why and how of the conclusion chapter, here are some quick tips and suggestions to help you craft a rock-solid conclusion.

  • Don’t ramble . The conclusion chapter usually consumes 5-7% of the total word count (although this will vary between universities), so you need to be concise. Edit this chapter thoroughly with a focus on brevity and clarity.
  • Be very careful about the claims you make in terms of your study’s contribution. Nothing will make the marker’s eyes roll back faster than exaggerated or unfounded claims. Be humble but firm in your claim-making.
  • Use clear and simple language that can be easily understood by an intelligent layman. Remember that not every reader will be an expert in your field, so it’s important to make your writing accessible. Bear in mind that no one knows your research better than you do, so it’s important to spell things out clearly for readers.

Hopefully, this post has given you some direction and confidence to take on the conclusion chapter of your dissertation or thesis with confidence. If you’re still feeling a little shaky and need a helping hand, consider booking a free initial consultation with a friendly Grad Coach to discuss how we can help you with hands-on, private coaching.

dissertation findings and discussion

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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How to write the discussion chapter



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Really your team are doing great!

Solomon Abeba

Very helpful guidelines, timely saved. Thanks so much for the tips.

Mazvita Chikutukutu

This post was very helpful and informative. Thank you team.

Moses Ndlovu

A very enjoyable, understandable and crisp presentation on how to write a conclusion chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks Jenna.


This was a very helpful article which really gave me practical pointers for my concluding chapter. Keep doing what you are doing! It meant a lot to me to be able to have this guide. Thank you so much.

Suresh Tukaram Telvekar

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Wonderful, clear, practical guidance. So grateful to read this as I conclude my research. Thank you.

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Research Method

Home » Dissertation – Format, Example and Template

Dissertation – Format, Example and Template

Table of Contents




Dissertation is a lengthy and detailed academic document that presents the results of original research on a specific topic or question. It is usually required as a final project for a doctoral degree or a master’s degree.

Dissertation Meaning in Research

In Research , a dissertation refers to a substantial research project that students undertake in order to obtain an advanced degree such as a Ph.D. or a Master’s degree.

Dissertation typically involves the exploration of a particular research question or topic in-depth, and it requires students to conduct original research, analyze data, and present their findings in a scholarly manner. It is often the culmination of years of study and represents a significant contribution to the academic field.

Types of Dissertation

Types of Dissertation are as follows:

Empirical Dissertation

An empirical dissertation is a research study that uses primary data collected through surveys, experiments, or observations. It typically follows a quantitative research approach and uses statistical methods to analyze the data.

Non-Empirical Dissertation

A non-empirical dissertation is based on secondary sources, such as books, articles, and online resources. It typically follows a qualitative research approach and uses methods such as content analysis or discourse analysis.

Narrative Dissertation

A narrative dissertation is a personal account of the researcher’s experience or journey. It typically follows a qualitative research approach and uses methods such as interviews, focus groups, or ethnography.

Systematic Literature Review

A systematic literature review is a comprehensive analysis of existing research on a specific topic. It typically follows a qualitative research approach and uses methods such as meta-analysis or thematic analysis.

Case Study Dissertation

A case study dissertation is an in-depth analysis of a specific individual, group, or organization. It typically follows a qualitative research approach and uses methods such as interviews, observations, or document analysis.

Mixed-Methods Dissertation

A mixed-methods dissertation combines both quantitative and qualitative research approaches to gather and analyze data. It typically uses methods such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups, as well as statistical analysis.

How to Write a Dissertation

Here are some general steps to help guide you through the process of writing a dissertation:

  • Choose a topic : Select a topic that you are passionate about and that is relevant to your field of study. It should be specific enough to allow for in-depth research but broad enough to be interesting and engaging.
  • Conduct research : Conduct thorough research on your chosen topic, utilizing a variety of sources, including books, academic journals, and online databases. Take detailed notes and organize your information in a way that makes sense to you.
  • Create an outline : Develop an outline that will serve as a roadmap for your dissertation. The outline should include the introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion.
  • Write the introduction: The introduction should provide a brief overview of your topic, the research questions, and the significance of the study. It should also include a clear thesis statement that states your main argument.
  • Write the literature review: The literature review should provide a comprehensive analysis of existing research on your topic. It should identify gaps in the research and explain how your study will fill those gaps.
  • Write the methodology: The methodology section should explain the research methods you used to collect and analyze data. It should also include a discussion of any limitations or weaknesses in your approach.
  • Write the results: The results section should present the findings of your research in a clear and organized manner. Use charts, graphs, and tables to help illustrate your data.
  • Write the discussion: The discussion section should interpret your results and explain their significance. It should also address any limitations of the study and suggest areas for future research.
  • Write the conclusion: The conclusion should summarize your main findings and restate your thesis statement. It should also provide recommendations for future research.
  • Edit and revise: Once you have completed a draft of your dissertation, review it carefully to ensure that it is well-organized, clear, and free of errors. Make any necessary revisions and edits before submitting it to your advisor for review.

Dissertation Format

The format of a dissertation may vary depending on the institution and field of study, but generally, it follows a similar structure:

  • Title Page: This includes the title of the dissertation, the author’s name, and the date of submission.
  • Abstract : A brief summary of the dissertation’s purpose, methods, and findings.
  • Table of Contents: A list of the main sections and subsections of the dissertation, along with their page numbers.
  • Introduction : A statement of the problem or research question, a brief overview of the literature, and an explanation of the significance of the study.
  • Literature Review : A comprehensive review of the literature relevant to the research question or problem.
  • Methodology : A description of the methods used to conduct the research, including data collection and analysis procedures.
  • Results : A presentation of the findings of the research, including tables, charts, and graphs.
  • Discussion : A discussion of the implications of the findings, their significance in the context of the literature, and limitations of the study.
  • Conclusion : A summary of the main points of the study and their implications for future research.
  • References : A list of all sources cited in the dissertation.
  • Appendices : Additional materials that support the research, such as data tables, charts, or transcripts.

Dissertation Outline

Dissertation Outline is as follows:

Title Page:

  • Title of dissertation
  • Author name
  • Institutional affiliation
  • Date of submission
  • Brief summary of the dissertation’s research problem, objectives, methods, findings, and implications
  • Usually around 250-300 words

Table of Contents:

  • List of chapters and sections in the dissertation, with page numbers for each

I. Introduction

  • Background and context of the research
  • Research problem and objectives
  • Significance of the research

II. Literature Review

  • Overview of existing literature on the research topic
  • Identification of gaps in the literature
  • Theoretical framework and concepts

III. Methodology

  • Research design and methods used
  • Data collection and analysis techniques
  • Ethical considerations

IV. Results

  • Presentation and analysis of data collected
  • Findings and outcomes of the research
  • Interpretation of the results

V. Discussion

  • Discussion of the results in relation to the research problem and objectives
  • Evaluation of the research outcomes and implications
  • Suggestions for future research

VI. Conclusion

  • Summary of the research findings and outcomes
  • Implications for the research topic and field
  • Limitations and recommendations for future research

VII. References

  • List of sources cited in the dissertation

VIII. Appendices

  • Additional materials that support the research, such as tables, figures, or questionnaires.

Example of Dissertation

Here is an example Dissertation for students:

Title : Exploring the Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Academic Achievement and Well-being among College Students

This dissertation aims to investigate the impact of mindfulness meditation on the academic achievement and well-being of college students. Mindfulness meditation has gained popularity as a technique for reducing stress and enhancing mental health, but its effects on academic performance have not been extensively studied. Using a randomized controlled trial design, the study will compare the academic performance and well-being of college students who practice mindfulness meditation with those who do not. The study will also examine the moderating role of personality traits and demographic factors on the effects of mindfulness meditation.

Chapter Outline:

Chapter 1: Introduction

  • Background and rationale for the study
  • Research questions and objectives
  • Significance of the study
  • Overview of the dissertation structure

Chapter 2: Literature Review

  • Definition and conceptualization of mindfulness meditation
  • Theoretical framework of mindfulness meditation
  • Empirical research on mindfulness meditation and academic achievement
  • Empirical research on mindfulness meditation and well-being
  • The role of personality and demographic factors in the effects of mindfulness meditation

Chapter 3: Methodology

  • Research design and hypothesis
  • Participants and sampling method
  • Intervention and procedure
  • Measures and instruments
  • Data analysis method

Chapter 4: Results

  • Descriptive statistics and data screening
  • Analysis of main effects
  • Analysis of moderating effects
  • Post-hoc analyses and sensitivity tests

Chapter 5: Discussion

  • Summary of findings
  • Implications for theory and practice
  • Limitations and directions for future research
  • Conclusion and contribution to the literature

Chapter 6: Conclusion

  • Recap of the research questions and objectives
  • Summary of the key findings
  • Contribution to the literature and practice
  • Implications for policy and practice
  • Final thoughts and recommendations.

References :

List of all the sources cited in the dissertation

Appendices :

Additional materials such as the survey questionnaire, interview guide, and consent forms.

Note : This is just an example and the structure of a dissertation may vary depending on the specific requirements and guidelines provided by the institution or the supervisor.

How Long is a Dissertation

The length of a dissertation can vary depending on the field of study, the level of degree being pursued, and the specific requirements of the institution. Generally, a dissertation for a doctoral degree can range from 80,000 to 100,000 words, while a dissertation for a master’s degree may be shorter, typically ranging from 20,000 to 50,000 words. However, it is important to note that these are general guidelines and the actual length of a dissertation can vary widely depending on the specific requirements of the program and the research topic being studied. It is always best to consult with your academic advisor or the guidelines provided by your institution for more specific information on dissertation length.

Applications of Dissertation

Here are some applications of a dissertation:

  • Advancing the Field: Dissertations often include new research or a new perspective on existing research, which can help to advance the field. The results of a dissertation can be used by other researchers to build upon or challenge existing knowledge, leading to further advancements in the field.
  • Career Advancement: Completing a dissertation demonstrates a high level of expertise in a particular field, which can lead to career advancement opportunities. For example, having a PhD can open doors to higher-paying jobs in academia, research institutions, or the private sector.
  • Publishing Opportunities: Dissertations can be published as books or journal articles, which can help to increase the visibility and credibility of the author’s research.
  • Personal Growth: The process of writing a dissertation involves a significant amount of research, analysis, and critical thinking. This can help students to develop important skills, such as time management, problem-solving, and communication, which can be valuable in both their personal and professional lives.
  • Policy Implications: The findings of a dissertation can have policy implications, particularly in fields such as public health, education, and social sciences. Policymakers can use the research to inform decision-making and improve outcomes for the population.

When to Write a Dissertation

Here are some situations where writing a dissertation may be necessary:

  • Pursuing a Doctoral Degree: Writing a dissertation is usually a requirement for earning a doctoral degree, so if you are interested in pursuing a doctorate, you will likely need to write a dissertation.
  • Conducting Original Research : Dissertations require students to conduct original research on a specific topic. If you are interested in conducting original research on a topic, writing a dissertation may be the best way to do so.
  • Advancing Your Career: Some professions, such as academia and research, may require individuals to have a doctoral degree. Writing a dissertation can help you advance your career by demonstrating your expertise in a particular area.
  • Contributing to Knowledge: Dissertations are often based on original research that can contribute to the knowledge base of a field. If you are passionate about advancing knowledge in a particular area, writing a dissertation can help you achieve that goal.
  • Meeting Academic Requirements : If you are a graduate student, writing a dissertation may be a requirement for completing your program. Be sure to check with your academic advisor to determine if this is the case for you.

Purpose of Dissertation

some common purposes of a dissertation include:

  • To contribute to the knowledge in a particular field : A dissertation is often the culmination of years of research and study, and it should make a significant contribution to the existing body of knowledge in a particular field.
  • To demonstrate mastery of a subject: A dissertation requires extensive research, analysis, and writing, and completing one demonstrates a student’s mastery of their subject area.
  • To develop critical thinking and research skills : A dissertation requires students to think critically about their research question, analyze data, and draw conclusions based on evidence. These skills are valuable not only in academia but also in many professional fields.
  • To demonstrate academic integrity: A dissertation must be conducted and written in accordance with rigorous academic standards, including ethical considerations such as obtaining informed consent, protecting the privacy of participants, and avoiding plagiarism.
  • To prepare for an academic career: Completing a dissertation is often a requirement for obtaining a PhD and pursuing a career in academia. It can demonstrate to potential employers that the student has the necessary skills and experience to conduct original research and make meaningful contributions to their field.
  • To develop writing and communication skills: A dissertation requires a significant amount of writing and communication skills to convey complex ideas and research findings in a clear and concise manner. This skill set can be valuable in various professional fields.
  • To demonstrate independence and initiative: A dissertation requires students to work independently and take initiative in developing their research question, designing their study, collecting and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions. This demonstrates to potential employers or academic institutions that the student is capable of independent research and taking initiative in their work.
  • To contribute to policy or practice: Some dissertations may have a practical application, such as informing policy decisions or improving practices in a particular field. These dissertations can have a significant impact on society, and their findings may be used to improve the lives of individuals or communities.
  • To pursue personal interests: Some students may choose to pursue a dissertation topic that aligns with their personal interests or passions, providing them with the opportunity to delve deeper into a topic that they find personally meaningful.

Advantage of Dissertation

Some advantages of writing a dissertation include:

  • Developing research and analytical skills: The process of writing a dissertation involves conducting extensive research, analyzing data, and presenting findings in a clear and coherent manner. This process can help students develop important research and analytical skills that can be useful in their future careers.
  • Demonstrating expertise in a subject: Writing a dissertation allows students to demonstrate their expertise in a particular subject area. It can help establish their credibility as a knowledgeable and competent professional in their field.
  • Contributing to the academic community: A well-written dissertation can contribute new knowledge to the academic community and potentially inform future research in the field.
  • Improving writing and communication skills : Writing a dissertation requires students to write and present their research in a clear and concise manner. This can help improve their writing and communication skills, which are essential for success in many professions.
  • Increasing job opportunities: Completing a dissertation can increase job opportunities in certain fields, particularly in academia and research-based positions.

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  • Legal Issues

Robert Hur, now the special counsel investigating President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, speaks July 27, 2017, at the White House. (AP)

Robert Hur, now the special counsel investigating President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, speaks July 27, 2017, at the White House. (AP)

Louis Jacobson

The special counsel report on President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents was a major discussion topic on the Sunday morning political talk shows. 

The president’s critics played up Special Counsel Robert Hur’s description of Biden’s allegedly poor memory; defenders countered that such details were inaccurate, out of bounds for such a report, or both.

The discussion yielded several examples of incomplete or inaccurate descriptions of what Hur wrote in the report. 

Here’s a rundown.

Sarah Isgur, a former Justice Department official under former President Donald Trump appearing on ABC’s "This Week," overstepped on the report’s findings about reasonable doubt.

"They found evidence that (Biden) willfully retained national security information. And even probably beyond a reasonable doubt," Isgur said. "But the justice manual says that that's not enough even if you can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. You have to believe, as the prosecutor, that you can get a conviction from a jury." 

In the report’s executive summary, Hur wrote that "we conclude that the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." 

The report repeats the concern about not achieving proof beyond reasonable doubt roughly two dozen more times throughout the 388 pages of text.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., appearing on "Fox News Sunday," exaggerated the similarities between the Biden documents case and the one being pursued by Jack Smith, a different special counsel, against Trump.

Willfully disclosing classified material is "exactly what Donald Trump’s been charged with," Cotton said. "The special counsel had to explain why he wasn’t going to charge President Biden with a crime, since President Trump is facing the exact same crime and the explanation is, President Biden’s memory is failing."

There is overlap between the willful retention charge that Hur considered against Biden and the document case charges against Trump. However, Cotton ignored other charges that were made against Trump and not against Biden.

When Trump was indicted in June 2023 on about three dozen counts , the charges included conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements. The indictment accused Trump of 

"suggesting that his attorney falsely represent to the FBI and grand jury that Trump did not have the documents called for by the grand jury subpoena."

directing an employee "to move boxes of documents to conceal them from Trump’s attorney, the FBI and the grand jury." 

"suggesting that his attorney hide or destroy documents." 

causing the submission of a certification to the FBI and grand jury "falsely representing" that all documents had been produced.

In his report, Hur stated that Biden had consistently cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation. Hur specifically noted that this was a major point of contrast with how Biden and Trump handled classified documents after they left office.

Several hosts and guests on the shows omitted a key word — "evidence" — when summarizing what the report said.

Although the report sometimes reads as if the special counsel mentally concluded that Biden was guilty of willful retention of classified documents, Hur’s phrasing is more circumspect.

Here’s how several Sunday show guests went beyond what the report said: 

The report "codified the fact that … Biden committed a felony and willful retention of documents." — "This Week" guest Reince Priebus, President Donald Trump’s first chief of staff.

The special counsel wrote that Biden "‘willfully and knowingly retained classified documents.’" — Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor and former Republican presidential candidate, on NBC’s "Meet the Press."

"The report makes it clear President Biden intentionally took classified material and he willfully disclosed it to his own ghostwriter. That’s clear." — Cotton on "Fox News Sunday." (Cotton’s reference to Biden’s ghostwriter concerns his 2017 memoir, "Promise Me, Dad." The special counsel found evidence that Biden shared classified information with his ghostwriter as the book was being written, though no classified material appeared in the book.)

Also, hosts Jonathan Karl on ABC’s " This Week " and Kristen Welker on NBC’s " Meet the Press " didn’t use the word "evidence" when referring to the report on their shows, and a graphic behind Welker’s shoulder also omitted the word.

In each case, this framing goes beyond what the report said.

To be fair, our initial article on the special counsel’s report also did not appreciate the distinction between including or omitting the word "evidence." We decided to update our earlier story given feedback from experts for this one.

At the beginning of the report, the special counsel said the investigation "uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials." The phrase "uncovered evidence that" offers a limit on what the special counsel concluded.

The special counsel said Biden would likely be able to muster counterevidence against a charge of "willful retention" if the case were to go to trial.

Several legal experts told PolitiFact that omitting the "uncovered evidence that" phrasing is not trivial.

"Saying that there is evidence of a crime is not the same as saying Biden is guilty of a crime," said Joan Meyer, who has worked as a prosecutor at the federal and local level.

Ric Simmons, an Ohio State University law professor, said the special counsel was consistent. The report "always says that there is evidence that Biden committed these crimes, not that he is guilty of these crimes, and this is consistent with the best practices of prosecutors," he said.

In essence, Simmons said, "Hur says that he does not believe he can prove Biden's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so it would be even worse for him to claim that Biden is guilty."

Biden’s legal team referred to a handwritten memo Biden wrote to then-President Barack Obama about Afghanistan around Thanksgiving 2009. It was among the materials FBI agents recovered from Biden's Delaware garage and home office in December 2022 and January 2023. 

"Even the special counsel acknowledges (that this) was one that he would not have thought would include classified information," Bob Bauer, Biden’s personal attorney, said on CBS "Face the Nation."

The report said: "The memo concerned deliberations from more than seven years earlier about the Afghanistan troop surge, and in the intervening years those deliberations had been widely discussed in public, so Mr. Biden could have reasonably expected that the memo's contents became less sensitive over time." 

"Less sensitive" is not the same as having zero classified information. However, the report acknowledged that if the charges came to trial, "We expect the defense would strongly challenge whether the documents still contain sensitive national defense information."

Our Sources

Special counsel report on Biden documents case, Feb. 8, 2024

Trump documents case indictment , June 8, 2023

CBS News, " Face the Nation " transcript, Feb. 11, 2024

ABC News, " This Week " transcript, Feb. 11, 2024

NBC News, " Meet the Press " transcript, Feb. 11, 2024

Fox News, "Fox News Sunday," Feb. 11, 2024

Victor Shi, post on X, Feb. 11, 2024

Email interview with Mark Osler, law professor at the University of St. Thomas, Feb. 12. 2024

Email interview with Ric Simmons, law professor at Ohio State University, Feb. 12, 2024

Email interview with Joan Meyer, partner at the law firm Thompson Hine LLP, Feb.129, 2024

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