Summarise your findings as these relate to the objectives stated at the end of the introduction.

Compare your main results with published data as objectively as possible. Where your findings agree with and build on published work, you can keep this quite short. If your findings disagree with published work, consider all possible reasons for the observed differences and suggest how these might be explored in future research.

Some journals have a limitations section. This covers both possible weaknesses in the methodology, e.g. you were unable to measure some variables, and reasons why your findings might not be generalisable, e.g. findings of the study on one species might not be generalisable to other species.

Conclude with your key findings and the practical significance of your study or implications for future research.

Some journals have subheadings within the discussion: check your target journal and follow its format.


Congratulations: you have completed the first stage

Put the manuscript away for at least a few days. You could ask a senior researcher or even junior colleagues to look at it to check that your message is clear and all the information required to tell the story is present. Your manuscript communicates your research findings, so it must be well understood by the readers. Meanwhile, you could continue working on your figures and tables, reference list, methods section in detail, and additional material required for the paper.