DISCUSSION. Writing Up Research Robert Weissberg and Suzanne Buker.
Writing Up Research
Robert Weissberg and Suzanne Buker
In the discussion section you step back and take a broad look at your findings and your study as a whole. As in the introduction, researchers use the discussion section to examine their work in the larger context of their field.
The discussion section moves the reader back from the specific information reported in the methods and the results sections to a more general view of how the findings shoulded be interpreted.
Results deal with facts. Discussions deal with ideas and provide a sense of whole:
more integrated with the field
more connected to the real world
more connected with implications or applications
What are the limitations?
Are there further implications?
The discussion section typically contains the following:1. Original Hypothesis
3. Explanation for findings
5. Need for further research
The information that you include in this section depends greatly on the findings of your study; however, the specific-to-general movement is a convention that most writers follow. The kinds of information you can include in the discussion section are not fixed. However, the first elements are typically those that refer mostly directly to the study and its findings.
4. Limitations of the study that restrict the extent to which the findings can be generalized.
As the discussion section continues, the writer moves the reader’s attention away from the specific results of the study and begins to focus more generally on the importance that the study may have for other workers in the field.
5. Implications of the study (generalizations from the results);
6. Recommendations for future research and practical applications.
The order of discussion elements shown here is not strictly followed by all authors. However, the progressive move from specific to more general information elements is conventional.
In the discussion section more than any other place in the report, researchers make explicit their own views on the study and its findings. The researcher may take a position with respect to the explanations, implications, limitations, or applications of the findings.
Adverbs: usually, often, sometimes, almost, virtually, possibly, allegedly, arguably, perhaps,
apparently, in some ways, to a certain extent, somewhat, in some respects
Adjectives: most, many, some,
a certain number of
Adverbs: very, pretty, quite, clearly, obviously, undoubtedly, certainly, of course, indeed, inevitably, invariably, always, literally
Adjectives: key, central, crucial, basic, fundamental, major, principal, essential
Verbs: show, prove, establish, as you know, as you see, it is clear that, it is obvious that
There seems to be some evidence to suggest that the increase in quantum efficiency for p-polarized vs s-polarized injection is probably due to the difference in the reflectivity of copper at these polarizations.
The results indicate that the increase in quantum efficiency for p-polarized vs s-polarized injection is probably due to the difference in the reflectivity of copper at these polarizations.
We believe that the increase in quantum efficiency for p-polarized vs s-polarized injection is probably the difference in the reflectivity of copper at these polarizations
The results indicate that the increase in quantum efficiency for p-polarized vs s-polarized injection is due to the difference in the reflectivity of copper at these polarizations.
The increase in quantum efficiency for p-polarized vs s-polarized injection is probably due to the difference in the reflectivity of copper at these polarizations.
The increase in quantum efficiency for p-polarized vs s-polarized injection is due to the difference in the reflectivity of copper at these polarizations.
The difference in the reflectivity of copper at the different polarizations causes the increase in quantum efficiency for p-polarized vs s-polarized injection.
It is obvious that the difference in the reflectivity of copper at the different polarizations invariably causes the increase in quantum efficiency for p-polarized vs s-polarized injection.
There is definite evidence to strongly prove that the increase in quantum efficiency for p-polarized vs s-polarized injection is certainly due to the difference in the reflectivity of copper at these polarizations.
See what you already know (present)
Typically the quantum efficiency is higher for light of shorter wavelength.
The quantum efficiency can be increased in large electrical fields through the Schottky effect.
The Fowler-Dubridge theory for the one photon photoelectric effect predicts a linear dependence of charge production on incident laser energy.
To accommodate the information requirements of the discussion section, writers often use statements that are complex in grammatical structure--that is, that contain a main clause and a noun clause. Typically, the researcher’s position is carried by the main clause while the information being reported is contained in the noun clause.
Main clause + that + Noun clause
We speculate that the photoemission from copper under macroscopic electric fields of 50MV/m is enhanced by damage on cathode.
We believe that the difference in the reflectivity of copper at different polarizations causes the increase in quantum efficiency for p-polarized vs s-polarized injection.
We would argue that for charge levels greater than 0.25 nC the quantum efficiency is reduced by space charge near the photocathode.
The verb tenses used in the discussion section depend on the type of information you want to present. Remember that the first information elements of the discussion refer specifically to the study and its findings. The verb tense most commonly used in referring to the purpose, the hypothesis, and the findings is the simple past.
Referring to the purpose (Simple Past Tense)
EXAMPLE: This research attempted to define the effective quantum efficiency of the photo-injected rf gun system.
EXAMPLE:We originally assumed that the physical decrements would be more apparent in speed jobs than in skill jobs.
The reflectivity of a copper mirror was measured as a function of incident angle for both s and p polarized light. A 90%increase in absorption was measured for p-polarized light over s-polarized light predicting a 90% improvement of the quantum efficiency for p-polarized injection.
In some fields the present perfect tense may be used in referring to the purpose.
Example: The particle accelerator code, PARMELA, has been used to model this space charge effect.
In discussion statements that explain possible reason for , or limitations to, the findings, the past, present, or modal auxiliaries may be used. The choice depends on whether the explanation for the specific findings is restricted to your study (past) or whether is refers to a general condition (present). Modal auxiliaries may also be used to emphasize the speculative nature of these statements.
EXAMPLE : The increase in quantum efficiency for p-polarized vs s-polarized injection is probably due to the difference in the reflectivity of copper at these polarizations.
Example: The saturation can be explained by space charge effects near the cathode surface.
Example: The results suggest that the separation of the liquid crystal and monomer results from Kelvin type force of the form:
F = P•▽E
where p is the polarizability of the material and E is the field strength.
Example: This discrepancy could bedue to a difference in the relative reflectivities of the damaged cathode in comparison to those of the copper mirror.
Example: Despite these limitations in the computer modeling, the PARMELA simulation showed saturation similar to that of experimental data.
Example: Despite the limitations imposed by space charge, up to 3 nC is produced from the electron gun.
When comparing your findings to those of other researchers, use the present tense.
Example: A more recent measurement of quantum efficiency for polished, clean copper with low applied fields was reported by Srinivassan-Rao et al. Although this value agrees with our measurement, it implies that field enhanced emission did not occur and does not explain the difference in photoemission between the damaged and undamaged parts of the cathode.
As you move from the specific consideration of your study to broader, more general statements about the importance of the study as a whole, use simple present tense and modal auxiliaries/ tentative verbs.
VERB TENSES IN LATER ELEMENTS: Present and Modal Auxiliaries/Tentative Verbs
EXAMPLE:This suggests that the strength and gradient of the field determine the degree of separation between the liquid cryatal and the monomer.
Example: The function form of this enhancement fits a cos Φ square dependence which implies that the enhancement may be dependent on the energy of p-polarized light rather than its field.
This indicates that this procedure may be used to produce polymer walls in conventional liquid crystal devices such as twisted nematic and supertwisted nematic displays.
The main clause of a complex sentence in the discussion section often contains special expressions that indicate the researcher’s own point of view, or position, towards the information contained in he noun clauses. At the beginning of the discussion section, certain expressions make it clear that you are reconsidering the hypothesis of your study.
Main clause + That + Noun clause
It was anticipated that…
The theory led us to infer that…
In line with this hypothesis, we assumed that…
The results seem inconsistent with our hypothesis that…
Other expressions are typically used when you need to explain your findings.
Ｍain clause + That + Noun clause
These results can be explained by assuming that…
One reason could be that…
It is unlikely that…
Still other expressions are used when you wish to suggest the implications of your findings.
Main clause + That + Noun clause
These findings suggest that…
lend support to the assumption
lead us to believe
e. Raise related issues and provide recommendations for further consideration
h. Don’t plead ignorance.
The last major section of the experimental research report we look at is the abstract. As you know, the abstract is actually the first section of a report, coming after the title and before the introduction. The abstract provides the reader with a brief preview of your study based on the other sections of the report. We
have reserved our examination of the abstract for the last chapter because it is often the last part of the report to be written.
Many readers depend on the abstract to give them enough information about the study to decide if they will read the entirereport or not.
Abstract from almost all fields of study are written in a very similar way. The types of information included and their order are very conventional.
INCLUDED IN AN ABSTRACT
B = some background information
P = the principal activity (or purpose) of the study and its scope
M = some information about the methodology used in the study
R = the most important results of the study
C = a statement of conclusion or recommendation
Abstracts are usually written to be as brief and concise as possible. In order to shorten an abstract, you can eliminate or combine much of the above information. The reduced abstract typically focuses on only two or three elements, with the emphasis placed on the results of the study. Information concerning the purpose and method is presented first,
and background information is not included. Then the most important results are summarized. Finally, conclusions and recommendations may be included in one or two sentences.
IN REDUCED ABSTRACTS
P+M = purpose and method of the study
R = results
C = conclusions and recommendations (optional)
The verb tenses used in writing sentences in the abstract are directly related to those you used in the corresponding sections earlier in your report. For example, background sentences in the abstract are similar to the background sentences in Stage 1 of the introduction. They both are written in the present tense.
EXAMPLE:The photocathode efficiency is a fundamental parameter in laser driven rf guns.
P Principal activity (past tense/present
EXAMPLE:We have investigated the formation of polymer walls for high polymer content liquid crystal formulations, using a patterned electrical field to induce phase separation.
The structure of the polymer walls was
investigated using scanning electron
R Results (past tense)
A 90% increase in absorption was measured for p-polarized light over s-polarized light predicting a 90% improvement of the quantum efficiency for p-polarized injection.
C Conclusions (present tense/tentative verbs/modal auxiliaries)
EXAMPLE:The application of patterned field results in segregation of liquid crystal molecules in the high electric field regions, whereas the monomers segregate in the low-field regions.
For 70 degree laser injection, p-polarized light results in a 50% increase in quantum efficiency over s-polarized light probably due to their relative reflectivites.