Discussion, Recommendations, and Limitations
I’ve previously written about the discussion chapter, and also the conclusions chapter. However, I recently went on some training to look deeper into how the best students gain more marks for these sections. Here are some additional pointers for each of these vital sub-chapters. It is important to get deeply into your Dissertation Discussion, Recommendations, and Limitation chapters.
Previously I’d advised students to discuss the literature, discuss the methods, discuss their results, and/or discuss the case studies. Here are some more pointers to make for a deeper dissertation discussion section:
- How does your project achieve each of your research objectives?
- What is your literature gap? How does your research fill this literature gap?
- To what extent is the literature gap filled?
- If you didn’t fill the gap – what further research is required? (a nice link to Further Work!)
- What problem does your project address? How does your research help to solve this problem?
- What are some limitations to your research? Why are these limitations? How much do they limit your work?
- What are some opportunities for future research based on your project?
If the ‘Analysis Chapter‘ interprets the findings/results, then the ‘Discussion Chapter’ will discuss the implication of those findings.
In effect you are asking:
“What can I do, knowing what I know now?”
Dissertation Discussion is certainly more than a description. Discussion is an expansion of the analysis. It will include the ‘How?’ and the ‘Why?’.
Recommendations are “What a business should do as a result of your research”. They need to be more than a short list of bullet points. Certainly structuring this section to be easy to read might use bullet points. However there is so much more that can be added for each recommendation bullet:
- Not just what the recommendations are, but how they could be implemented
- The barriers to implementing the recommendation
- The impact on an organisations resources as the recommendations are considered
- The roles and & responsibilities for those implementing the recommendation
- A timeline for the implementation. How long might implementation take?
Justify why the recommendation (from your research) is better than other options or solutions. Remember that these are your proposed recommendations to the problem. What else could be implemented? What changes might result at both a local organisational level. Also consider the wider industrial/business benefits of the research.
This section may be easier if you are working, or have worked in an organisation in the area of your research. The barriers to implementation may be clearer if you have first-hand experience of an organisation. If you have collected data from an organisation or interviewed people as part of your research, then the practical implementation of your recommendations become more relevant and important.
Finally some more pointers on the limitations:
- What are the limitations to the research design, in the data collected, and in the results?
- Are there any limitations in the case studies?
- How did you try to resolve the limitations? Did this work?
- How could the limitations be resolved in the future? (A nice link to Further Work!)
- What would you do differently if the research was repeated?
All research will have limitations. A good researcher will identify and address all of the different limitations. Remember that even if your research is very limited, recognising that fact is important. Ignoring limitations is a sign of poor research.
There is a lot of work in writing the dissertation discussion and final chapters. (And a lot of marks – always check the marking scheme!). All too often I see a discussion chapter that is far too short. Then a generic list of recommendation bullet points taking up just half of a side, and no limitations/further work.
I hope this blog helps you to improve your work!