In an earlier post, I described how to start writing a manuscript. (Click here, to see it) From choosing a good title, to writing discussion, it seems like crossing high mountains. We may know the things very well but when it comes to pour it all down on a sheet of paper.. (here on a word document), suddenly everything becomes scary.
Give a start
To come out of this fear, all you need is to give a start. Start by preparing a layout for your manuscript and fill in the blanks one by one. Choosing a title on the first step seems to be very difficult. This is like you have taken the ticket and the train is at the platform. But you want to reach the first compartment to meet your friend. Time is less and you may miss the train if you start running towards the engine.
So, better is that you board into any compartment that is the nearest to you and then slowly reach the first one. Similarly, here you can skip the title for a while and jump to any section of the manuscript that you feel easier. I prefer to go with ‘Materials and methods’ and then the ‘Results’ section, though it’s completely your choice what you want to do.
It is a better practice to first prepare graphs and tables and schematics for your work in a power point presentation file. And then you may paste them sequentially in the manuscript file in the order you wish to describe them. Getting done with ‘Results section’, you may now easily proceed to the ‘Discussion’ section.
In the discussion section, one summarizes the findings of the study. For example, if you have plotted a graph, and you obtained an increasing trend, write this in the Results section. But, why you got this trend and what does this signify, explain it in the Discussion section. Then compare your Results with what has been reported in literature. Your results may support or contradict results of previous studies. You just have to mention it explaining the probable reasons of the agreement or disagreement with proper references.
Keep discussion short and concise
Do not stretch it un-necessarily long. Write only what is needed to prove your point. When comparing with the findings by other authors, there is no need to completely describe their procedure. You have given reference for that article and that is enough. Many a times, people just start restating the results in the discussion section. This is not required. Just highlight the importance of your results and compare with the previous studies.
Language for the discussion must be objective
If you have got some unexpected results and there is no where mention of them, there is no need to worry. Write that no such results have been reported in the literature so far, simply. But here, you also need to exercise control on your language. Use qualifiers such as “probably” and “is likely” to tell the reviewer or reader that this is what you think may be the reason. Future studies may or may not confirm it. You have simply stated what you got and what you think.
Write Strengths and Limitations
Next, give a statement on the extent up to which the results of your study answer the research questions (aim of your study) and how they advance the current knowledge on the subject. Also, this is the right section to discuss the limitations of your study. Like, you may say that your newly developed equipment has such and such problem. You may then give the readers directions for the future research.
In the first paragraph of the discussion, summarize the results you have got. (This is usually suggested). And then in the next paragraph, Justify your choice of techniques, protocols, selection criteria, methods of data analysis, etc. After this compare your results with scientific literature, and so on. I follow the slight variant of this format. I take the results one by one and then interpret them rather than treating them as a whole. This brings more clarity and makes it simple to understand.