five discussion chapter challenges


In everyday speech, a discussion is usually understood as an in depth treatment of a topic, a way to exchange ideas or a process of talking about something in order to reach a decision. An academic discussion in a thesis or paper has elements of each of these three possibilities – an academic discussion is you

  • working further on your empirical material (in depth)
  • putting your ideas into conversation with the existing literatures (exchange) and
  • reaching a conclusion ( deciding on your “answers’ to your question or hypothesis).

However by the time PhDers come to the discussion chapter they are often tired. They’ve done a load of work generating and analysing stuff – and they have results. So why do more? Isn’t this enough already? Do you really have to start all over again?

It’s not really surprising that discussion chapters can have one or more of five predictable problems:

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