Final Discussion Chapter - How to construct this


Hi everyone,
I am sure this is a really dumb question especially as I am really not looking forward to writing the last 'discussion' chapter of my thesis. How did you construct the final discussion? I am writing a science based thesis so it has several chapters on experimental phases each with its own discussion on what I did, what I found and what I planned to happen next. For the final chapter I was expecting to have to write a mind-blowing, all exciting, action packed finale (arghh!). However my supervisor suggested I could (via cut and paste!) discuss the findings of the first experiment, what it meant and then follow on the next experiments, what they meant followed by the next etc. Basically take what I have already put in the chapter discussions and knit it together. Oh and add some limitations at the end and a 'what next if I ever have the inclination section'. Is this really all it involves?


I can't really speak with any authority, but that's what I'm trying to do. I had commentaries after each of my results chapters discussing the results but I've found that's left me very little to write about in the actual discussion chapter - because I'd already done most of what I was supposed to discuss. So, after discussion with my supervisor, I've decided to do exactly what you've described above.


You could have read my mind with this question - I sat down today to plan for the final push. I've decided to structure the final chapter like this:

Summary of findings and answers to RQs
Implications for linguistic theory
Implications for psycholinguistics (psychology)
Implications for methodology
Future research
Contribution of the thesis – how does it fit into the wider field?

With points 2-4 mirroring the major sections of my lit reviews.

I hear you re: the lack of enthusiasm for reiterating the discussion from elsewhere in the thesis, and I'm also mindful of my supervisor's advice about 'streamlining', quote:

a lot of the work involved in writing a thesis is
this very vague and most elusive of tasks "streamlining".
Generally, as I have found through reviewers' comments, not streamlining
is one of the major sins, right next to using your partner's toothbrush
etc. Your readership (examiners + the occasional buff) will at best read
each chapter once, and you should help them by not discussing the same
issue in more than one part of the chapter, unless of course this is
absolutely necessary.

My plan might change after tomorrow's supervision, but that's where I'm up to tonight. Would be good to hear of others' experiences.


Well I guess I don't feel quite so dumb now!!  It all seems a little too easy to just 'cut and paste' from my previous discussions. I also worry about repeating the same thing from experimental chapter to the overall discussion.  So I am pleased to hear of others having the same quandary. I had forgot to add the 'contribution to knowledge and implications to the wider field' in my discussion plan, thank you!

As for streamlining, I am going to head over to that fun task after the discussion is written.  I have 41,000 words so far for a 40,000 word thesis with a discussion to write, oops! So I guess it will have a radical trim by the time I am at submission.

It would be good to know what sort of word length a discussion should be..........can anyone advise me on that too? 


I'm in the same situation. Have discussed the results at the end of each results chapter. So the structure of my discussion chapter lokos like this:

Introduction and recap of the literature review
Major findings and how this integrates into previous research
Strengths and limitations of the research
Future avenues of the research
Short conclusion

It is about 5000 words all up.


Quote From fm:

So the structure of my discussion chapter lokos like this:

Introduction and recap of the literature review
Major findings and how this integrates into previous research
Strengths and limitations of the research
Future avenues of the research
Short conclusion

That's pretty much what mine looked like, though I also included a recap of the methodology and a defence of what I'd chosen in between the intro / lit review and major findings.

I also tried to combine results from multiple chapters. I investigated a humanities topic which each chapter looking at a different theme, and including its own mini literature review / intro at the start and conclusions at the end. But there were bigger issues that straddled the themes/chapters, and I tried to combine those in my discussion in my final chapter.

Above all I had to say what was the big new conclusions I'd reached, some of which I wouldn't have anticipated at the start, or even part way through the thesis. Writing the final chapter helped to crystallise my ideas.

My final conclusions chapter was only about 3,000 words out of a total 70,000.


Mine is similar

1) Summary of research aims and relevant results
2) Detailed look at the first research aim and the experiments
3) Detailed look at first attempts to address main aim and the experiments involved
4) Detailed look at final experiments and how they addressed the main aim
5) Discussion of the relevance of the results to both the aim and the theories and literature surrounding the area

1 was fairly brief and descriptive "To look at X experiment 1 was run which found Y, leading to the need for experiment 2. Which found..."

2, 3 and 4 went into greater detail and discussed problems, strengths and possible criticisms of the experiments. Related them to the theory. Went over a lot of old ground in those parts but I thought it was better to do that than have the examiners have to flick back to work out whether I'd mentioned something or not.

5 was the most important and longest part for me.

It could all be rubbish though. I've not had full feedback on my final chapter yet.


I'm in a science-based field too, and my final conclusion is as follows... (I have two results chapters).

1st paragraph has a couple of sentence summarising the reason for the research, followed by a couple of sentences on the results found.
2nd is summary of background/results/discussion of first results chapter.
3rd part is the same but for the 2nd results chapter.
4th part is a small paragraph that aims to bring together the two chapters.

The entire section is only 4 pages long



Thank you so much everyone for taking the time to reply. After reading all of your thoughts and experiences I am feeling much more confident about writing the overall discussion. I will draft out my discussion structure today and tomorrow then start to write! Oooh it feels very strange to be writing up the last chapter! Looking forward to the editing phase where it will all take shape as a final thesis :-)


I have been plodding on with my discussion and so far I have
The first paragraph sets out the aims and main findings.
The first area of research (ch2)
The next area of research (combining ch 3,4 and 5)
The incidental finding from ch 3,4 and 5 work.

In each area I have discussed what I found in this work and related it to other published work.  I have then highlighted the implication of this research within the wider clinical application.

I am in a quandry as to whether I include the limitations under each area or have that separately near the end?
Where do I include the originality part and contribution to knowledge?

Any ideas please