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Discussion. Due: May 28 th , 2013 1:30 PM in the 2013 Ocean 220 CollectIt ( catalyst.uw.edu ). “ Seldom will you be able to illuminate the whole truth; more often, the best you can do is shine a spotlight on one area of the truth. ”

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Due: May 28th, 2013 1:30 PM in the 2013 Ocean 220 CollectIt (catalyst.uw.edu)


Seldom will you be able to illuminate the whole truth; more often, the best you can do is shine a spotlight on one area of the truth.”

Day, R.A. 1998. How to Write & Publish a Scientific Paper, 5th ed. Oryx.

Discussion sectionWhat do your key findings mean? How do they improve our understanding of the subject of your study?

Items to cover in your Discussion:

  • Do your results enable you to test a hypothesis?

  • Do your findings agree with previous studies? If not, have you learned something new? Or is the disagreement due to design flaws in your study or theirs?

  • Given your conclusions, what have we learned about the process or geographic region?

  • What future studies or measurements would you propose to resolve discrepancies?

Elements of the discussion
Elements of the Discussion

  • Address your key findings in the same sequence as in the Results. Provide your interpretations in context of the larger study (i.e. the findings from previous studies)

  • Note any ambiguous results and uncertainties in your interpretations.

    • Note reasonable alternate explanations

    • Identify constraints on your interpretation imposed by availability of data, accuracy of methodology, length of the study, etc.

  • State as clear a conclusion as possible that can be drawn from your data.

    • Relate this to the supporting evidence

    • Identify the significance of your findings, referring to your reasons for the study as described in the Introduction

    • Be clear about limitations – if you feel your study is conclusive, state it.

    • Comment on potential directions for future research



  • This section should be one to two pages long.

  • Continue to favor the active voice.

  • Use a mix of past and present tense

    • Use past tense to describe your activities and observations

    • Use present tense for your interpretations of processes within Puget Sound

    • Example: “The increases in salinity and zooplankton biomass we observed with distance from the Snohomish River mouth suggest that zooplankton prefer higher-salinity water.”

  • Do not use entire sentences to restate your results.

    • There should be no new results in this section

    • The only new figures should be to introduce results from other studies

  • There should be few (if any) new references.


  • Mixed Group Meetings

  • Provide an opportunity for you to explain your project to other students and faculty (good practice for your final oral presentation)

  • An opportunity to think about how your study be related to those from other groups

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