How to Write an Analysis/Discussion for a Science Project

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Scientific research reports are an important part of finishing up science projects and sharing your results. The standard format for these types of reports includes an abstract, introduction, materials and methods, results, and an analysis or discussion section. The purpose of the analysis/discussion is to provide a clear interpretation of the results, what they might tell you about the problem in a broad sense, to discuss potential ways that your experimental design could have been improved and to explore what next steps might be taken to further answer the study question.

1 Refer Back to Your Hypotheses

Your introduction will provide background information on the problem and will define the hypotheses that you will examine with your experiment. The discussion section will talk about whether your hypothesis was supported by your experiment or not. The discussion section is the place to discuss patterns or trends in your results and what those patterns mean for your research. For example, if you test what kinds of foods ants like to eat by offering different foods to 100 ants, and 70 of them chose donuts instead of potato chips, you might interpret that to mean that ants prefer foods containing sugar.

2 Compare Your Results to Others

Take the time to discuss how your results compare to the findings of others who have done similar projects or sought to answer similar questions. If your results support the findings of other researchers, then cite their research and briefly describe what the similarities and differences in your approaches and results were. If your results are different from previous findings, discuss what you did differently than other researchers and why you think you got different results. If you can think of a few possibilities but you are not sure exactly why your results were different, talk about those possibilities but also say that you think more work could be done on the topic. Clarify if there may have been differences in experimental process or even errors that caused your results to differ.

3 Discuss Conflicting Explainations or Unexpected Findings

The discussion section is the place to provide an in-depth look at your experiment and address any ways that you could have made it better. This is also where you can explain conflicts in your results and reject or support them. If your research revealed something that you did not expect, talk about what that unexpected result was, why you didn't expect it, and what the unexpected finding may mean in terms of the questions you were trying to answer. For example, if you expected your ants to like donuts but they all went to the hot dogs, you might think that salt or protein was more important to the ants than sugars or carbohydrates.

4 Make Recommendations for Additional Research

Based on what you found out during your project, talk about new questions that you have now that you have done your experiment or discuss what experiment you would do next in order to expand on what you learned. Follow a logical approach here, and if you get stuck you can look at the further research suggested by researchers that you cited who did research similar to yours. Do not plagiarize, but it is fine say that so-and-so recommended this particular follow up work, and your research supports that additional work is needed in that area. Discuss exactly how your project supports this, and what may be gained from the additional research.

Ari Reid has a bachelor's degree in biology (behavior) and a master's in wildlife ecology. When Reid is not training to run marathons, she is operating a non-profit animal rescue organization. Reid has been writing web content for science, health and fitness blogs since 2008.