Chapter 6: Discussion/Conclusion Section(s)

Discussion/Conclusion Goal 4: Establishing Additional Territory

The fourth goal in the Discussion and Conclusion section is called Establishing Additional Territory. Goal 4 is accomplished when the writer expands the conversation beyond the results of their research and presents the bigger picture of how the findings fit into the literature. Goal 4 is entitled Establishing Additional Territory, because enlarging the focus demonstrates the expansion of the research space for the issue and the discipline. It is within this additional space that future research is able to extend the knowledge generated in your study.

Strategies for Discussion/Conclusion Communicative Goal 4: Establishing Additional Territory

  • Generalizing results
  • Stating the value
  • Noting implications
  • Proposing directions

Discussion/Conclusion Goal 4 Strategy: Generalizing Results

Writers are generalizing results when they draw inferences to bolster their overall arguments and conclusions. To use this strategy, it is often useful to summarize or synthesize your findings.

Remember that one main purpose of the research report is to demonstrate how your work fits into the existing body of literature in the field. So, this strategy is a way for you to enhance the value of your findings by generalizing and pointing out how the results transfer and compare and/or contrast to previous conclusions. This is also a chance for you to highlight the reliability and/or validity of your study, thus allowing your findings to be more generalizable.

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


  • The results of this study thereby show that the choice of the best model depends on the error measurement which depends on the ultimate purpose of the forecasting procedure.[1]
  • To summarize, the results from this study suggest that high calpastatin activity results in decreased calpain activity and, thus, decreased tenderness.[2]

Discussion/Conclusion Goal 4 Strategy: Stating the Value

Stating the value shows the centrality of the study within the field by characterizing the most salient results. Essentially, this strategy enables you to advocate for the significance of your work within your discipline. It’s a chance for you to label your exact contribution.

Consider the language in bold in the following examples:


  • Therefore, the findings on QTLs contributing to naturally occurring variations in postnatal growth are expected to be novel.[3]
  • The finding that TAF7 functions independently of a TAF1/TFIID complex significantly extends the growing body of evidence that TAFs contribute to transcriptional regulation outside of their assembly in the intact TFIID complex.[4]

Discussion/Conclusion Goal 4 Strategy: Noting Implications

Noting implications is a strategy that allows you to highlight the potential implications of the results and/or the study as a whole. You can use this strategy to explain how the findings could be applied to future research, practice, the development of theory in the discipline. Also, this shows the larger impact of the results and/or study in the discipline, and notifies the reader of possible consequences of the study and/or results (note the examples below).


  • Notably, even callers claiming to have a privately insured child faced an average wait time of 20 days when urgently requesting an appointment. These findings signal a need to consider refining specialty care delivery processes to more efficiently use the specialist workforce [28,29]. Two previous audit studies of pediatric specialty care have shown even lower Medicaid acceptance rates: 4% [13] and 8% [7].[5]
  • Soldiers exposed to combat were more likely than non-combat veterans to be disabled and unemployed in their mid-20s and to remain so throughout their work life. Policymakers and citizens should note these long-term consequences of war as U.S. soldiers continue to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. As these wars continue, future combat veterans who sustain mental and physical injuries in battle will likely suffer, as did past combat veterans, in their socioeconomic attainment.[6]

Discussion/Conclusion Goal 4 Strategy: Proposing Directions

Proposing directions is a way to make recommendations or suggestions about the next step of either your research or further research within the same area. This is also a means of proposing practical applications of the results. You can employ this strategy to make an argument for the need for future research or the opportunity to expand the niche by contributing new information/knowledge.

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


  • It would be interesting to design breeding experiments to explore if high AGPase activity late in grain filling stage cosegregates with enhanced seed weight in population segregating for grain weight so that cause/effect relationship could be established.[7]
  • Further research is recommended to confirm the efficacy of the product, to ascertain an optimal dosage for the hyperimmune plasma used in this study, and to clarify whether enteral or parenteral administration is more beneficial to the patient.[8]

The Academic Phrasebank website has a large number of sentence starters that serve to recommend further work. These are divided into two categories as noted in the table:

Recommendations for future research Recommendations for practice or policy
  • The study should be repeated using …
  • This would be a fruitful area for further work.
  • Several questions still remain to be answered.
  • A natural progression of this work is to analyze…
  • More research using controlled trials is needed to …
  • More broadly, research is also needed to determine …
  • A further study could assess the long-term effects of …
  • What is now needed is a cross-national study involving …
  • Considerably more work will need to be done to determine …
  • The precise mechanism of X in insects remains to be elucidated.
  • These findings provide the following insights for future research: …
  • Large randomized controlled trials could provide more definitive evidence.
  • This research has thrown up many questions in need of further investigation.
  • A greater focus on X could produce interesting findings that account more for …
  • The issue of X is an intriguing one that could be usefully explored in further research.
  • There is, therefore, a definite need for …
  • Greater efforts are needed to ensure …
  • Another important practical implication is that …
  • Moreover, more X should be made available to …
  • Unless governments adopt X, Y will not be attained.
  • These findings suggest several courses of action for …
  • A reasonable approach to tackle this issue could be to …
  • Continued efforts are needed to make X more accessible to …
  • The findings of this study have a number of practical implications.
  • There are a number of important changes which need to be made.
  • Management to enhance bumble-bee populations might involve …
  • This study suggests that X should be avoided by people who are prone to …
  • A key policy priority should therefore be to plan for the long-term care of …
  • This information can be used to develop targeted interventions aimed at …
  • Taken together, these findings do not support strong recommendations to …
  • Ensuring appropriate systems, services, and support for X should be a priority for …

Other important points about language

Discussion and Conclusion sections of research articles — as noted — are more general than the middle sections (Methods and Results). As a result, the final sections of a research article typically employ language to highlight that generality (e.g., Overall, In general, On the whole, etc.).  It’s also common for writers to use overt transitional expressions to highlight their communicative goals. Some examples of this include the following:

  • “Our major aim has been attained by …”
  • “Some limitations of this study include …”
  • “Future work will need to explore …”

Writers tend to use a more positive tone, present-tense verbs to denote confidence and language that highlights a level of certainty to demonstrate their belief in the validity, reliability, and strength of their design, findings, and conclusions. It is also common to find past simple verbs, which review background information, reiterate the study’s objectives, or remind readers about the procedures, methodology, hypotheses, and/or research questions.

Key Takeaways

Goal 4 of the Discussion/Conclusion section is Establishing additional territory. This allows you to expand on your comments and to really broaden the topic so that you can:

  • Draw conclusions or make generalizations, and/or
  • Assert the value of your work and/or
  • Remark on implications and/or
  • Suggest directions for future work.

  1. Corredor, P., & Santamaría, R. (2004). Forecasting volatility in the Spanish option market. Applied Financial Economics14(1), 1-11.
  2. Boehm, M. L., Kendall, T. L., Thompson, V. F., & Goll, D. E. (1998). Changes in the calpains and calpastatin during postmortem storage of bovine muscle. Journal of Animal Science76(9), 2415-2434.
  3. 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 Research, 85(2), 127-137.
  4. Devaiah, B. N., Lu, H., Gegonne, A., Sercan, Z., Zhang, H., Clifford, R. J., ... & Singer, D. S. (2010). Novel functions for TAF7, a regulator of TAF1-independent transcription. Journal of Biological Chemistry285(50), 38772-38780.
  5. Bednarek, P., Creinin, M., Reeves, M., Cwiak, C., Espey, E., Jensen, J. (2011). “Immediate versus delayed IUD insertion after uterine aspiration”, New England Journal of Medicine 364(23):2208-2217.
  6. MacLean, A. (2010). The things they carry: Combat, disability, and unemployment among US men. American sociological review75(4), 563-585.
  7. Devi, T. A., Sarla, N., Siddiq, E. A., & Sirdeshmukh, R. (2010). Activity and expression of adenosine diphosphate glucose pyrophosphorylase in developing rice grains: Varietal differences and implications on grain filling. Plant science178(2), 123-129.
  8. 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.


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