The primary purpose of the Discussion is to test General Hypotheses.

The Methods and Results sections of scientific papers can focus exclusively on testing Measurable Hypotheses. However, Measurable Hypotheses are simply predictions that can be made from broader, explanatory scientific models: General Hypotheses.

How can we use conclusions about Measurable Hypotheses as evidence to test General Hypotheses?

The conclusions of the Results most often lead to one of two different types of arguments: Supporting or Revising General Hypotheses. 

In summary, the Discussion uses evidence from a many sources to test the General Hypothesis. Remember, that a General Hypothesis is an explanatory scientific model of how some aspect of our universe works. In the Discussion, we explain our decision either to support our current model, or reject and revise our model (or propose a new model entirely). 

Frameworks, hierarchy and abstraction can clarify arguments of the Discussion.

The Discussion section can be very challenging to write, because testing General Hypotheses involves integrating information from MANY sources, including our own findings and evidence from other studies drawn from all of the relevant literature. However, using clear frameworks can help! For example, we can use the same Hypothesis-Evidence-Conclusion (HEC) framework that we proposed in the Results to help us structure the Discussion.

In the Discussion, our objective is to test the General Hypothesis. We can test the General Hypothesis by determining how well its predictions (i.e. our Measurable Hypotheses) matched the data that we collected. In the Results, we tested each Measurable Hypothesis and defended a conclusion. Therefore, we can use the conclusions from the Results as evidence in the Discussion. If the data matched our predictions, then they support the General Hypothesis. If the data did NOT match the predictions, then they may lead to rejecting the General Hypothesis. 

However, to test General Hypotheses, we can’t only use our data alone! To be a useful scientific model, a General Hypothesis must apply to many contexts – not just to our study. Therefore, to test General Hypotheses, we also need to determine whether the model is consistent with, or conflicts with, data from other experiments and observations. 

Using information from so many sources can be daunting and confusing. However, the principles of hierarchy and abstraction can help us to organize the arguments of the Discussion. Using strong deductive arguments, or inductive frameworks such as Hill's criteria, in a hierarchical way can be helpful to organize and simplify the arguments of the Discussion. The principle of abstraction suggests that each paragraph and/or section defend one main argument

Supporting or Revising General Hypotheses typically requires 3-5 paragraphs of text that form the body of the Discussion. Just as with the Introduction and Results sections, premises of arguments in the Discussion are primarily facts, with each premise supported by a reference either to data or conclusions presented in the Results, or to data and conclusions from other studies. All references in the Discussion should be placed parenthetically at the END of sentences. 

The primary purpose of the Discussion section is to test General Hypotheses. Data and/or conclusions about Measurable Hypotheses that are consistent with existing General Hypotheses can be used to support the General Hypotheses. Data or conclusions that conflictwith existing General Hypotheses can lead to rejecting the existing General Hypotheses, and justify creating new General Hypotheses.