Chapter 6: Discussion/Conclusion Section(s)

Discussion/Conclusion Goal 3: Reshaping the Territory

The next goal in the Discussion and Conclusion sections is Reshaping the Territory. The primary function of Goal 3 is to redefine the research area based on what your study contributes to the literature. This goal’s name reflects the dual role of generating new knowledge and connecting it to prior knowledge from previous studies about the research territory. In this way, Goal 3 gives an update on the topic within your field.

Strategies for Discussion/Conclusion Communicative Goal 3: Reshaping the Territory

  • Supporting with evidence 
  • Countering with evidence

Discussion/Conclusion Goal 3 Strategy: Supporting with Evidence

Supporting with evidence explains how the research findings reiterate findings from other studies. You can use this strategy to highlight the complementary or supplementary contribution your results make. This strategy confirms or supports the assertions made by other researchers and/or your assertions based on the findings.

Here are two examples of how you can accomplish this step:


  • This difference in outcome between the treatment groups did not reach statistical significance, but an overall survival rate of 80% was very similar to that reported in the recent literature [13].[1]
  • This supports previous findings that early and late growth in mice occur under different genetic regulation (Cheverud et al., 1996; Vaughn et al., 1999; Rocha et al., 2004).[2]

The Academic Phrasebank website recommends these phrases that are in line with using this strategy, including statements about one particular finding:

  • This finding was also reported by Smith et al. (1989).
  • This finding is consistent with that of Smith (2000) who …
  • Comparison of this result with those of other studies confirms …
  • This also accords with our earlier observations, which showed that …
  • This finding broadly supports the work of other studies in this area linking X with Y.
  • 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 …

Below are statements from Academic Phrasebank about the results as a whole:

These results:

  • further support the idea of …
  • confirm the association between …
  • are consistent with data obtained in …
  • match those observed in earlier studies.
  • are in line with those of previous studies.
  • are in agreement with those obtained by …
  • are in accord with recent studies indicating that …
  • seem to be consistent with other research which found …
  • are consistent with those of Smith and Jones (2015) who …
  • are in agreement with Smith’s (1999) findings which showed …
  • support previous research into this brain area which links X and Y.
  • corroborate the ideas of Smith and Jones (2008), who suggested that …

Discussion/Conclusion Goal 3 Strategy: Countering with Evidence

Countering with evidence is used when some or all of your results are contrary to those in previous research studies.

The following are examples of how you can realize this strategy:


  • Bontozoglou found a nonlinear resonance at a waviness smaller than ours [26]. However, the one he found numerically for the capillary-gravity regime in rather thick films is quite different from our observations.[3]
  • The molecular mass of deglycosylated inulinase from Aspergillus awamori var. 2250 constitutes 69 kDa[18]; from Aspergillus niger 12, 81 kDa [38]; from aspergillus candida, 54 kDa [39]; from Aspergillus ficuum, 74 kDa [40]; from Aspergillus fumigatus, 62 kDa[41], which differ strongly from the results obtained for exoinulinase from Aspergillus versicolor, 230 ±20kDa [42].[4]

The Academic Phrasebank website proposes the following sentence starters as ways for advising cautious interpretation of the findings:

  • This study has been unable to demonstrate that …
  • However, this result has not previously been described.
  • This outcome is contrary to that of Smith et al. (2001) who found …
  • This finding is contrary to previous studies which have suggested that …
  • In contrast to earlier findings, however, no evidence of X was detected.
  • The yields in this investigation were higher compared to those of other studies.
  • However, the findings of the current study do not support the previous research.
  • Smith et al. (1999) showed that … This differs from the findings presented here …
  • The overall level was found to be 15%, lower than that of previously reported levels.
  • It has been suggested that … (Smith et al., 2002). This does not appear to be the case.
  • The levels observed in this investigation are far below those observed by Smith et al. (2007).
  • These results differ from X’s 2003 estimate of Y, but they are broadly consistent with earlier …


Key Takeaways

Goal 3 of writing the Discussion/Conclusion section is related to Reshape the Territory. There are two possible strategies that you can use to accomplish this goal:

  1. Confirming with Evidence and/or
  2. Countering with Evidence

Remember: It isn’t necessary to include both of these strategies — you should only use both of them, in fact, if some of your findings are in line with previous research and other aspects present contradictory evidence to what has been done in the field. As you probably know well as a researcher, nothing about research is simple, neat, or uncomplicated. Most research is somewhat messy, meaning that you may have results that lend themselves to incongruous, inconsistent, or even conflicting implications. This is the nature of scientific discovery, and we can use the writing goals and strategies from this book to keep us on track when reporting such issues.

  1. Atherton, R. P., Furr, M. O., McKenzie, H. C., & Desrochers, A. M. (2011). Efficacy of Hyperimmunized Plasma in the Treatment of Horses with Acute Colitis. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science31(1), 19-25.
  2. Ishikawa, A., Hatada, S., Nagamine, Y., & Namikawa, T. (2005). Further mapping of quantitative trait loci for postnatal growth in an intersubspecific backcross of wild Mus musculus castaneus and C57BL/6J mice. Genetics Research85(2), 127-137.
  3. Wierschem, A., & Aksel, N. (2004). Hydraulic jumps and standing waves in gravity-driven flows of viscous liquids in wavy open channels. Physics of Fluids16(11), 3868-3877.
  4. Artyukhov, V. G., Kovaleva, T. A., Kholyavka, M. G., Bityutskaya, L. A., Grechkina, M. V., & Obraztsova, T. B. (2009). Study of the oligomeric structure and some physicochemical properties of inulinase from Kluyveromyces marxianus Y-303. Biophysics54(6), 675-680.


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