Finishing an argument in the bar: writing discussions in life science | Sunday Observer

Finishing an argument in the bar: writing discussions in life science

3 October, 2021

Write-ups on writing titles, introduction, materials and method and results for life science-based research communications were presented previously. Tips for writing a successful discussion for life science-based research communications is presented in this week with the goal of understating the characteristics of a successful discussion.

Closing an argument in a court room and the discussion section of a scientific communication have similarities. It starts by re-emphasising your research problem and summarising your key findings.

You do not need to repeat all the data described in the results. The way you think critically as a researcher for a scientific problem and the ability of research data to provide creative solutions to problems are highlighted in the discussion. Important findings of your investigation are contextualised in the discussion section. Also, the basic meaning of your research, possible implications of the investigation, and possible improvements for further research activities with logical suggestions are also given in the discussion.

In addition, it mentions how the findings of your study can help to fill the gaps in the scientific context which are previously discovered or adequately described. At the end of the discussion a take-home message is given.

Creative section

The discussion section is the most creative section of a scientific communication. In the discussion section, you describe the story of your research by interpreting results. Worth or success of your work can be determined by the discussion section.

The main goal of the discussion is to answer your research questions or relate your findings with facts. Your findings are also justified here with current scientific knowledge or theories. Several authors highlight the discussion section as the most difficult part for authors and most interesting part for readers.

A well written discussion can sell your paper. Also, a poorly written discussion can underestimate the quality of your work. The discussion section can be matched with a global positioning system (GPS system) as this section tells us where we are, where to go or where to stop or how far we can travel in a scientific route. The discussion section of a hypothesis testing paper mainly comprises answers to the questions with explanations, supports and arguments. Significance and novelty are also stated here.

Organisation of the structure of the discussion is similar to an inverted funnel, which starts from narrow to a bigger picture or message. There is no fixed format to be followed when writing a discussion in life science-based communications. Normally, the first paragraph of the discussion is the strongest section.

The answer for the question raised or hypothesis made should be included in the first paragraph of the discussion.

The middle part of the discussion should interpret your results, strength of your results and limitations by arranging from most to the least important. When interpreting results, authors can go beyond the data, but not too far, by providing knowledge without mere comparison of their findings with those of scientific literature available.

Do not make biased interpretations. In my opinion, with the help of a wide-angled viewpoint and a broader setting or frame work, a bigger idea or picture can be generated by sowing how much your study has added to current scientific knowledge in the discussion section.

Authors can simply and briefly described results here if the results are consistent with data. Unexpected or controversial findings should be highlighted with possible explanations. Unexpected results, which may sow the seed for future investigations, should be honestly presented by elaborating them. Readers find perplexing, when all the findings in results are not described.


Therefore, authors should discuss all findings present in the results section. In other words, discussion should be results driven and authors should not mention what they hoped or expected to investigate.

Actually, no investigation is 100% perfect. All investigations meet limitations, which should be clearly stated in the discussion section. Limitations should be presented in a way that future scientific investigations should be improved. Avoid criticising others work.

In the ending paragraph of the discussion, a conclusion is written by summarising the main points of the study and connecting them to the main objectives of the study. Normally, two patterns are followed when ending a discussion. In the first pattern, the answers to the research question are restated. In the other method, the importance and significance of your work is indicated.

Usage of both the patterns are also seen when writing the conclusion section.

The conclusion section of the discussion should be concise and strong and should clearly mention whether your findings support the hypothesis.

The discussion can be concluded with a strong take-home based on the main conclusion of the investigation. For supporting the scientific story, figures can be included in the discussion section. Some journals request to present results and discussion together.

Unless mentioned in the journal guidelines, there is no word limit for discussions. It should not be too lengthy or too brief. It has been advised to use active voice predominantly in the discussion. It is advisable to use appropriate references when validate your current work and credit others investigations.

Transition words and phrases such as our results show that, our demonstration that, previous studies have found that, our first finding that, therefore, however, thus, etc help authors to highlight major points and readers to identify shifts from one point to another point. An article describing referencing in life science will be presented next week.