Discussions

Discussions, like introductions, have a typical structure. Lewin et al. (2001) and Swales and Feak (2004) describe typical 'moves' in the discussion sections of academic research papers. Putting these descriptions together suggests the following moves:

• Move 1: Restate the findings and accomplishments.

• Move 2: Evaluate how the results fit in with the previous findings — do they contradict, qualify, agree or go beyond them?

• Move 3: List potential limitations to the study.

• Move 4: Offer an interpretation/explanation of these results and ward off counter-claims.

• Move 5: State the implications and recommend further research.

Discussions, then, go beyond a summary of the findings and, indeed, there may be disciplinary differences in how they are approached. Holmes (1997), for instance, found that the discussion sections of papers in sociology and political science were similar in format to those in the sciences, whereas those in history were less complex. Swales and Feak (2004) state that some scientists believe that a long discussion implies weak methods and results, whereas social scientists and people in the arts may well believe the opposite.

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