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Writing a Scientific Paper: DISCUSSION

Discussion of how to understand and write different sections of a scientific paper. Discussions of how to write Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Data, and Discussion.
URL: https://guides.lib.uci.edu/scientificwriting

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Writing a "good" discussion section

This is is usually the hardest section to write. You are trying to bring out the true meaning of your data without being too long. Do not use words to conceal your facts or reasoning. Also do not repeat your results, this is a discussion.

Goals:
• Present principles, relationships and generalizations shown by the results
• Point out exceptions or lack of correlations. Define why you think this is so.
• Show how your results agree or disagree with previously published works
• Discuss the theoretical implications of your work as well as practical applications
• State your conclusions clearly. Summarize your evidence for each conclusion.
• Discuss the significance of the results

Peer Review

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I COMPLETE MY PAPER?

 The peer review process is the quality control step in the publication of ideas.  Papers that are submitted to a journal for publication are sent out to several scientists (peers) who look carefully at the paper to see if it is "good science".  These reviewers then recommend to the editor of a journal whether or not a paper should be published. Most journals have publication guidelines. Ask for them and follow them exactly.
 
 Peer reviewers examine the soundness of the materials and methods section.  Are the materials and methods used written clearly enough for another scientist to reproduce the experiment?  Other areas they look at are: originality of research, significance of research question studied, soundness of the discussion and interpretation, correct spelling and use of technical terms, and length of the article.

"Discussion and Conclusions Checklist" from: How to Write a Good Scientific Paper. Chris A. Mack. SPIE. 2018.

Discussion and Conclusions

DISCUSSION

 Evidence does not explain itself; the results must be presented and then explained.

 Typical stages in the discussion: summarizing the results, discussing whether results are expected or unexpected, comparing these results to previous work, interpreting and explaining the results (often by comparison to a theory or model), and hypothesizing about their generality.

 Discuss any problems or shortcomings encountered during the course of the work.

 Discuss possible alternate explanations for the results.

 Avoid: presenting results that are never discussed; presenting discussion that does not relate to any of the results; presenting results and discussion in chronological order rather than logical order; ignoring results that do not support the conclusions; drawing conclusions from results without logical arguments to back them up. 

CONCLUSIONS

 Provide a very brief summary of the Results and Discussion.

 Emphasize the implications of the findings, explaining how the work is significant and providing the key message(s) the author wishes to convey.

 Provide the most general claims that can be supported by the evidence.

 Provide a future perspective on the work.

 Avoid: repeating the abstract; repeating background information from the Introduction; introducing new evidence or new arguments not found in the Results and Discussion; repeating the arguments made in the Results and Discussion; failing to address all of the research questions set out in the Introduction.