Thesis Discussion Exercises

Here you will find extracts from Discussions from past theses. Each example demonstrates one or more of the key purposes of a Discussion section: explain/interpret; compare; evaluate; identify limitations; identify future research.

Exercise 1

Read each example and decide what is the purpose of the words in bold colour blocks. Then click on the answer to check if your response matches ours.

Example 1. (BABS)

Genetic mechanisms and dissemination of antibiotic resistance

PCR-screening for integrons in the multiple-antibiotic resistant and extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL) producing collections of bacteria revealed that 41% and 79% of strains in the multi-resistant and ESBL collections respectively, carried at least one integron. The proportion of strains in the multiple-antibiotic resistant collection of bacteria carrying integrons is comparable to other studies. For example, 49% of 120 urinary isolates of Enterobacteriaceaein Sydney were found to carry integrons (White et al., 2001) whilst 52% of clinical isolates of E. coli in Taiwan were found to harbour class 1 integrons (Chang et al., 2000). These high levels of integrons in clinical isolates emphasise the potential the potential of these elements in the development of multiple-antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria by capturing antibiotic resistance gene cassettes and collecting them in arrays.

(Jones 2003, p.62)


Example 2.  (School of Civil Engineering)

Permeable Treatment Walls

There are several important points to note  to note about the results presented for the case of a single gate permeable treatment wall. The first of these points involves the validity of the assumptions made about the properties of the aquifer, gate and walls. Clearly the use of the design chart is limited to cases where the parameters of the system are the same or very homogeneous. This assumption will only hold in a very small amount of real cases. The other assumption that may be difficult to fulfil, is the one metre width of the wall and gate. This value would be realistic for slurry walls but in the case of sheet piles may be less accurate.

(Dasey 1996 p.39)


Example 3 (School of Computer Science and Engineering)

The Steiner Tree Problem

Table 5.3.3 shows the comparison on the number of S-points generated. The number of S-points generated might not be  a good metric on the quality of the solutions. Smith et al. [1981] conjectured that increasing the number of S-points will increase the reduction over the MST. This is reasonable  since every addition of S-point into the tree is meant to reduce the total cost. However, in some applications it is more desirable to reduce the number of S-points. For example, in the case of building roads connecting cities, there might be some costs involved with every road intersection.

(Fu, 1993 p.53)


Example 4 (School of Geography)

In seasonal terms, the highest average foliar fluoride concentration is found consistently to be in the spring (Appendix X) followed by the winter...the rise in foliar fluoride in spring could be due to the increase in new growth in this season. In many Australian plant species young expanding leaves are more severely injured by gaseous fluoride (Doley,1986a). If the increase in the foliar concentrations in spring is due to environmental conditions and increased fluoride there may be a potential  for greater fluoride damage at this time. The slight increase in the foliar fluoride concentrations in the winter season could be due to  a predominance of westerly winds (Croft & Assoc., 1981) as the two sampling sites are to the east of the smelter... The wind direction in February tends to be from the south and west (Croft& Assoc., 1981) resulting in less exposure to fluoride of those plants to the east of the smelter at this time.



You can see from these examples that the writers are:

  • making sure that they evaluate their results;
  • compare them to other research;
  • emphasise the importance of the results;
  • identify limitations of the study.

The writers do this in the following ways:

Words usedExamples
reporting verbsrevealed; emphasise
evaluative languageseveral important points; may be less accurate
tentative languagemight; may be; would be

Exercise 2

Example (School of Geography)

Read each example and decide what is the purpose of the words in bold colour blocks. Then click on the answer to check if your response matches ours.

  • Monitoring data collected between 1986-1993 indicate that...
  • ...fluoride has been shown to reduce growth, vigour and reproductive success in several plant species (Pack & Sulzbach, 1976; Brewer et al., 1960a, 1960b).
  • Pyke (1985) found that ...
  • Ryan (1992) concluded that ...


Exercise 3

Exercise 3 — Sentence matching