Academic Phrasebank

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Major Sections
Introducing work
Reviewing literature
Describing methods
Reporting results
Discussing findings
Writing conclusions

 

General Functions
Being critical

Classifying and listing
Compare and contrast

Defining terms
Explaining causality
Expressing caution
Describing trends
Describing quantities
Giving examples
Writing about the past
Preview and transition

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Discussing Findings

The term discussion has a variety of meanings in English. In academic writing, however, it usually refers to two types of activity: a) considering both sides of an issue, or question before reaching a conclusion; b) considering the results of research and the implications of these. Apart from introductory sections, Discussion sections in dissertations and research articles are probably the most complex in terms of their elements. They normally centre around a statement of result or an important finding. As there is usually more than one result, discussion sections are often structured into a series of discussion cycles. The most common elements in these cycles, and some of the language that is typically associated with them, are listed below.

Note that when offering explanations and suggesting implications the language used is very tentative or cautious (refer to Expressing Caution).

 

Background information: reference to literature or to research aim/questions

A strong relationship between X and Y has been reported in the literature.
Prior studies that have noted the importance of ....
In reviewing the literature, no data was found on the association between X and Y.
As mentioned in the literature review, ....
Very little was found in the literature on the question of ....

This study set out with the aim of assessing the importance of X in ....
The first question in this study sought to determine ....
The third question in this research was ....
It was hypothesized that participants with a history of ....
The present study was designed to determine the effect of ....
An initial objective of the project was to identify ....

Statements of result (usually with reference to results section)

The results of this study show/indicate that ....
This experiment did not detect any evidence for ....
On the question of X, this study found that ....
The current study found that ....
The most interesting finding was that ....
Another important finding was that ....
The results of this study did not show that .../did not show any significant increase in ....
In the current study, comparing X with Y showed that the mean degree of ....
In this study, Xs were found to cause ....
X provided the largest set of significant clusters of ....
It is interesting to note that in all seven cases of this study....
There was only limited evidence for an increased risk of…

Unexpected outcome

Surprisingly, X was found to ....
Surprisingly, no differences were found in ....
One unanticipated finding was that ....
It is somewhat surprising that no X was noted in this condition ....
What is surprising is that ....
Contrary to expectations, this study did not find a significant difference between ....
This finding was unexpected and suggests that ....
However, the observed difference between X and Y in this study was not significant.
However, the ANOVA (one way) showed that these results were not statistically significant.

Reference to previous research (support)

The results of this study will now be compared to the findings of previous work.
This study produced results which corroborate the findings of a great deal of the previous work in this field.
The findings of the current study are consistent with those of Smith and Jones (2001) who found ....
These results are consistent with those of other studies and suggest that ....
This finding supports previous research into this brain area which links X and Y.
This study confirms that X is associated with ....
This finding corroborates the ideas of Smith and Jones (2008), who suggested that ....
This finding is in agreement with Smith's (1999) findings which showed ....
It is encouraging to compare this figure with that found by Jones (1993) who found that ....
There are similarities between the attitudes expressed by X in this study and those described by (Smith, 1987, 1995) and Jones (1986)
These findings further support the idea of ....
Increased activation in the X in this study corroborates these earlier findings.
The present findings seem to be consistent with other research which found ....
This also accords with our earlier observations, which showed that ....
This finding confirms the association between ....
These results match those observed in earlier studies.
These results agree with the findings of other studies, in which ....
In accordance with the present results, previous studies have demonstrated that ….
The findings observed in this study mirror those of the previous studies that have examined the effect of ….

Reference to previous research (contradict)

However, the findings of the current study do not support the previous research.
This study has been unable to demonstrate that ....
However, this result has not previously been described.
In contrast to earlier findings, however, no evidence of X was detected.
Although, these results differ from some published studies (Smith, 1992; Jones, 1996), they are consistent with those of ......
These results differ from X's 2003 estimate of Y, but they are broadly consistent with earlier ....

Explanations for results

There are several possible explanations for this result.
A possible explanation for these results may be the lack of adequate ....
It is difficult to explain this result, but it might be related to ....
There are, however, other possible explanations.
These factors may explain the relatively good correlation between X and Y.
These differences can be explained in part by the proximity of X and Y.

A possible explanation for this might be that ....
Another possible explanation for this is that ....
This result may be explained by the fact that ....
Some authors have speculated that ....

It seems possible that these results are due to ......
This inconsistency may be due to ....
This discrepancy could be attributed to ....
This rather contradictory result may be due to ....
The observed increase in X could be attributed to ....
Since this difference has not been found elsewhere it is probably not due to ....

The observed correlation between X and Y might be explained in this way. ....
The reason for this is not clear but it may have something to do with ....
It may be that these students benefitted from ....
The possible interference of X cannot be ruled out ....

Advising cautious interpretation

These data must be interpreted with caution because ....
These results therefore need to be interpreted with caution.
However, with a small sample size, caution must be applied, as the findings might not be transferable to ....
These findings cannot be extrapolated to all patients.
Although exclusion of X did not reduce the effect on X, these results should be interpreted with caution.
It is important to bear in mind the possible bias in these responses.

Suggesting general hypotheses

The value of X suggests that a weak link may exist between ....
It is therefore likely that such connections exist between ....
It can thus be suggested that ....
It is possible to hypothesise that these conditions are less likely to occur in ....
It is possible/likely/probable therefore that ....
Hence, it could conceivably be hypothesised that ....
These findings suggest that ....
It may be the case therefore that these variations ....
In general, therefore, it seems that ....
It is possible, therefore, that ....
Therefore, X could be a major factor, if not the only one, causing ....
It can therefore be assumed that the ....
This finding, while preliminary, suggests that .…

Noting implications

This finding has important implications for developing ....
An implication of this is the possibility that ....
One of the issues that emerges from these findings is ....
Some of the issues emerging from this finding relate specifically to ....
This combination of findings provides some support for the conceptual premise that ....
These findings may help us to understand ....
These results provide further support for the hypothesis that ....

Commenting on findings

However, these results were not very encouraging.
These findings are rather disappointing.
The test was successful as it was able to identify students who ....
The present results are significant in at least major two respects.
These findings will doubtless be much scrutinized, but there are some immediately dependable conclusions for .…
The results of this study do not explain the occurrence of these adverse events.

Suggestions for future work

However, more research on this topic needs to be undertaken before the association between X and Y is more clearly understood.
Further research should be done to investigate the .....
Research questions that could be asked include ....
Future studies on the current topic are therefore recommended.
A further study with more focus on X is therefore suggested.
Further studies, which take these variables into account, will need to be undertaken.
Further work is required to establish this.
In future investigations, it might be possible to use a different X in which ....
This is an important issue for future research.
Several questions remain unanswered at present.
There is abundant room for further progress in determining ....

 

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Last updated: 3 April, 2014