When writing your PhD dissertation, one of the most challenging parts of the process is starting the discussion chapter. You may be feeling anxious about this section, and you are most definitely not alone in that feeling.
Although every PhD dissertation is different, there are some commonalities when starting a conversation:
What Is the Purpose of the Discussion Chapter?
When writing a PhD thesis, the goal of your discussion chapter is to critically examine your findings and make judgements about what you have learned. You are going to tell your readers what your findings may mean, how they are valuable, and why. This can be somewhat intimidating because you have to be able to make knowledgeable claims with confidence, according to your findings. You may have feelings of doubt or uncertainty, but it is crucial to get past these issues so that you can start your discussion chapter with the conviction required.
Steps to Starting Your Discussion Chapter
Now that the purpose of the discussion chapter is clear, it is time to move forward in the writing process. Your discussion chapter will answer the questions posed in the introduction, explain your results, and discuss how the answers fit in with current knowledge on the topic.
Make a list. Write down a list of all the things that you have ascertained as a PhD student that you did not know previously. Take each of your points and consider how it relates to the literature. Check to see if it supports or contradicts this. Do you need to read more to connect your findings to something in particular?
Consider each point. Next, consider each point as a section of the discussion chapter. Look at the order of all your findings to ensure they have a logical sequence. Make sure they support your argument and how they are significant to your PhD thesis topic.
Get organised. Organise your thoughts from specific to general. You should begin with your findings, then follow with literature, then your theory, and finally practice. Set up a flow chart, flip chart, or whatever method works best for you to get yourself organised and ready to write. Construct each section of your discussion chapter by beginning with a brief summary of the relevant finding. Consider how it relates to what is already known in the literature.
Writing a PhD thesis is no easy task, but if you think systematically, it can make the process much smoother. By starting your discussion chapter with a considered plan, you will be well placed to fully demonstrate your argument and why your research will make a difference. Do not attempt to finish your discussion chapter in a short period of time. Read and re-read your chapter to ensure that it conveys the correct message and in proper tense. Above all, remain confident in what you are writing.