WHAT ARE THE CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE GENERAL HYPOTHESES?
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 specific 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. Supporting or Revising General Hypotheses typically requires 3-5 paragraphs of text that form the body of the Discussion.
Whether supporting or revising General Hypotheses, the principles of hierarchy and abstraction can be important for organizing the overall arguments of the Discussion. Reviewing information from many studies to determine the conclusions most consistent with current data is not easy. Integrating conclusions from the Results into broader arguments to test General Hypotheses is also challenging. Therefore, using strong deductive arguments, or inductive frameworks such as Hill's criteria, can be helpful to organize and simplify the arguments of the Discussion.
However, individual experimental studies do not need to include all research findings and hypotheses in a particular field in the arguments of the Discussion. For example, individual studies do not need to address all of Hill's Criteria in an inductive argument. Other types of scientific papers (e.g. reviews and meta-analyses) are available to make comprehensive arguments about important research topics. Instead of trying to address many topics in the Discussion, focusing on fewer, stronger arguments can be sufficient to make a positive contribution to scientific understanding.
The principle of abstraction suggests that each paragraph defend one main argument. One way to structure a strong Discussion section is to relate paragraphs together, hierarchically, into a single argument that focuses on a clear conclusion about the General Hypothesis.
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.