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Academic Writing 5. Discussing findings

2022-03-28 13:50:11 simyang 2

Discussing findings

The term ‘discussion’ has a variety of meanings in English. In academic writing, however, it usually refers to two types of activity: a) considering both sides of an issue, or question before reaching a conclusion; b) considering the results of research and the implications of these. Discussion sections in dissertations and research articles are probably the most complex sections in terms of their elements. They normally centre around a ‘statement of result’ or an important ‘finding’. As there is usually more than one result, discussion sections are often structured into a series of discussion cycles. The most common elements in these cycles, and some of the language that is typically associated with them, are listed below. Note that when offering explanations and suggesting implications the language used is very tentative or cautious (refer to the section entitled Being cautious).

Providing background information: reference to the literature

Several reports have shown that …
As mentioned in the literature review, …
Prior studies that have noted the importance of …
Very little was found in the literature on the question of …
Previous studies evaluating X observed inconsistent results on whether …
A strong relationship between X and Y has been reported in the literature.
In reviewing the literature, no data was found on the association between X and Y.

Providing background information: reference to the question

The third question in this research was …
An initial objective of the project was to identify …
The first question in this study sought to determine …
It was hypothesised that participants with a history of …
The present study was designed to determine the effect of …
With respect to the first research question, it was found that …
This study set out with the aim of assessing the importance of X in …

Restating the result or one of several results

One interesting finding is …
The current study found that …
Another important finding was that …
The most interesting finding was that …
In this study, Xs were found to cause …
The results of this study show/indicate that …
On the question of X, this study found that …
This experiment did not detect any evidence for …
The most important clinically relevant finding was …

X provided the largest set of significant clusters of …
It is interesting to note that in all seven cases of this study …
The most obvious finding to emerge from the analysis is that …
In the current study, comparing X with Y showed that the mean degree of …
The results of this study did not show that …/did not show any significant increase in …

Indicating an unexpected outcome

Surprisingly, X was found to ….
What is surprising is that ….
One unanticipated finding was that ….
Surprisingly, no differences were found in ….
This finding was unexpected and suggests that ….
It is somewhat surprising that no X was noted in this condition ….
Contrary to expectations, this study did not find a significant difference between ….
However, the observed difference between X and Y in this study was not significant.
However, the ANOVA (one way) showed that these results were not statistically significant.

Comparing the result: supporting previous findings

This study confirms that X is associated with …
This finding was also reported by Smith et al. (1989).
This finding is consistent with that of Smith (2000) who …
Comparison of the findings with those of other studies confirms …
This also accords with our earlier observations, which showed that …
These results reflect those of Smith et al. (1992) who also found that …
Increased activation in the X in this study corroborates these earlier findings.
These results corroborate the findings of a great deal of the previous work in …
This finding broadly supports the work of other studies in this area linking X with Y.
In accordance with the present results, previous studies have demonstrated that …
It is encouraging to compare this figure with that found by Jones (1993) who found that …
Consistent with the literature, this research found that participants who reported using X also …
This study supports evidence from previous observations (e.g. Smith, 2006; Jones et al., 2011).
There are similarities between the attitudes expressed by X in this study and those described by …

These resultsfurther support the idea of …
confirm the association between …
are consistent with data obtained in …
match those observed in earlier studies.
are in line with those of previous studies.
are in agreement with those obtained by …
are in accord with recent studies indicating that …
seem to be consistent with other research which found …
are consistent with those of Smith and Jones (2015) who …
are in agreement with Smith’s (1999) findings which showed …
support previous research into this brain area which links X and Y.
corroborate the ideas of Smith and Jones (2008), who suggested that …
Comparing the result: contradicting previous findings

This study has been unable to demonstrate that …
However, this result has not previously been described.
This outcome is contrary to that of Smith et al. (2001) who found …
This finding is contrary to previous studies which have suggested that …
In contrast to earlier findings, however, no evidence of X was detected.
The yields in this investigation were higher compared to those of other studies.
However, the findings of the current study do not support the previous research.
Smith et al. (1999) showed that … This differs from the findings presented here …
The overall level was found to be 15%, lower than that of previously reported levels.
It has been suggested that … (Smith et al., 2002). This does not appear to be the case.
The levels observed in this investigation are far below those observed by Smith et al. (2007).
These results differ from X’s 2003 estimate of Y, but they are broadly consistent with earlier …

Offering an explanation for the findings

A possible explanation for this might be that …
Another possible explanation for this is that …
This result may be explained by the fact that …
There are, however, other possible explanations.
These relationships may partly be explained by …
There are several possible explanations for this result.
A possible explanation for these results may be the lack of adequate …
These differences can be explained in part by the proximity of X and Y.
These factors may explain the relatively good correlation between X and Y.

This inconsistency may be due to …
These results are likely to be related to …
This discrepancy could be attributed to …
It seems possible that these results are due to …
This rather contradictory result may be due to …
The observed increase in X could be attributed to …
It is difficult to explain this result, but it might be related to …

The possible interference of X cannot be ruled out.
It may be that these participants benefitted from …
Differences between X and Y may have influenced …
These possible sources of error could have affected …
There are two likely causes for the differences between …
The reason for this is not clear but it may have something to do with …
The observed correlation between X and Y might be explained in this way: …
Since this difference has not been found elsewhere it is probably not due to …

Advising cautious interpretation of the findings

Another source of uncertainty is …
A note of caution is due here since …
These findings may be somewhat limited by …
These findings cannot be extrapolated to all patients.
These data must be interpreted with caution because …
It could be argued that the positive results were due to …
These results therefore need to be interpreted with caution.
In observational studies, there is a potential for bias from …
It is important to bear in mind the possible bias in these responses.
Although exclusion of X did not …, these results should be interpreted with caution.
However, with a small sample size, caution must be applied, as the findings might not be …

Suggesting general hypotheses

It is possible, therefore, that …
It can thus be suggested that …
In general, therefore, it seems that …
It may be the case therefore that these variations …
It is therefore likely that such connections exist between …
It is possible to hypothesise that these conditions are less likely to occur in …

These findings suggest that …
According to these data, we can infer that …
This observation may support the hypothesis that …
Hence, it could conceivably be hypothesised that …
The value of X suggests that a weak link may exist between …
These results provide further support for the hypothesis that …
Therefore, X could be a major factor, if not the only one, causing …

Noting implications of the findings

It can therefore be assumed that the …
An implication of this is the possibility that …
The present study raises the possibility that …
One of the issues that emerges from these findings is …
Some of the issues emerging from this finding relate specifically to …

These findings may help us to understand …
This finding, while preliminary, suggests that .…
This finding has important implications for developing …
This observational study suggests that a diet rich in X may help prevent …
These findings raise intriguing questions regarding the nature and extent of …
This combination of findings provides some support for the conceptual premise that …

Commenting on the findings

These findings are rather disappointing.
However, these results were not very encouraging.
The test was successful as it was able to identify students who …
The present results are significant in at least two major respects.
The results of this study do not explain the occurrence of these adverse events.
These findings will doubtless be much scrutinised, but there are some immediately dependable conclusions for …

Giving suggestions for future work

This is an important issue for future research.
Research questions that could be asked include …
There are still many unanswered questions about …
Several questions remain unanswered at present.
Despite these promising results, questions remain.
Further work is required to establish the viability of…
Further research should be undertaken to investigate the …
There is abundant room for further progress in determining …
A further study with more focus on X is therefore suggested.
Future studies on the current topic are therefore recommended.
To develop a full picture of X, additional studies will be needed that …
In future investigations, it might be possible to use a different X in which …
Further studies, which take these variables into account, will need to be undertaken.


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