What Should Be Included In The Discussion Section Of A Systematic Review?
There are a number of key elements that are included in a discussion section of a systematic review. Remember to use all these elements to ensure the quality of your review remains high, that your review is deemed useful to your peers, and that the validity of your systematic review cannot be questioned.
The first thing to do in your discussion is to summarize your most important findings. This can simply be identifying your key results. Be careful not to just repeat all the results you have outlined in your previous sections. Instead, once you have briefly mentioned them, go on to interpret them. The results from included studies are presented in a summary. The results are then compared among different studies, and the consistent themes, agreements, and contradictions among studies are identified. The consistencies are reported and reasons for contradictions are given. The themes and agreement among the studies are used to answer the research question. Your interpretations need to be backed up by evidence so that they make the intended impact. Interpretations can be based on your critical thinking. Your interpretations of study findings can be compared to the interpretation of another review on the same topic.
Another way to ensure that your review is as persuasive as possible is to discuss any strengths and weaknesses at this point, in your discussion. It is advisable to first talk about the most notable strengths and limitations of included studies. Afterward, you can show how the characteristics of individual included studies have affected the strengths and limitations of the review. Identifying weaknesses may not be immediately obvious for some writers of reviews. However, they are essential to include, especially in the discussion section, as it means you can explain them and examine why your findings are still valid, despite such weaknesses. Discussing strengths will support your view even further. By highlighting both strengths and weaknesses together, you can dismiss any negative criticism before it even begins.
Next, go on to compare your review with previous studies, research, or literature. Identify how your review has offered further development in the area, and highlight how that previous work either supports your research or why your research contradicts it. It is advisable to acknowledge knowledge gaps identified by earlier research and mention if you have filled such gaps. This is a good opportunity to establish how well all your results and analysis have answered your initial research question, and if any hypotheses you made in your review’s opening statement have been confirmed or not.
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How Long Should A Discussion Be In A Systematic Review?
When it comes to the length of a discussion section, there is never really a right or wrong answer. The length of the discussion section is a systematic review is usually determined by the number of included studies, the scope of the research question, and the ability of the author to analyze and synthesize data from the included studies. That being said, given the breadth and number of areas to be covered as mentioned above, it will never be just one paragraph. Examining the strengths and weaknesses of your review alone will often call for a couple of paragraphs of discussion. Then you assert your findings that will answer your research question and support your initial hypothesis. This will likely demand another paragraph or two at least.
The Importance of Systematic Review Discussion
Remember that the discussion section of your review is, arguably, the most important part of your work. It is where you can put your label on all previous studies conducted, and highlight why your research into the area has been a worthwhile process. It is an opportunity for you to set yourself apart, and have your paper be seen as evidence for the subject matter in question. Therefore, the importance of a systematic review discussion cannot be overstated. The discussion section of a review is your chance to present the results of your analysis, which takes into account all previous studies or research in the area.
To give you a helping hand in formulating the discussion, it can be useful to look at automating as much of the process as possible beforehand. Harnessing the power of DistillerSR can help you do so, by streamlining the rest of the review process. Most importantly, automation using DistillerSR can significantly improve the quality of your final discussion, as all the relevant findings have been included, so that your subsequent analysis is both comprehensive and reliable.