Manuscripts that do not mention the implications of the study are often rejected by journals. In this DoNotEdit article, we will tell you what constitutes the ‘implications’ of research, and why it is important to include research implications in your manuscript.
Research implications: An overview
Once you have outlined the key findings in your paper, you should discuss how they will impact the world. What is the significance of your study to policymakers, laypersons, or other researchers? This thinking and contemplation, done in good faith, form the implications of your research.
If the importance of reading a research article is not addressed in the explanation of its findings, it is as if the article has been written for an audience in a vacuum. The article may be related to the author and some of his co-workers. But it is not clear whether others will benefit from reading it or not.
How can the findings of your study help create a better world? What can we infer from your conclusion about the current state of research in your field or the quality of the methods you have used? These are all important implications of your study.
You cannot predict how your study will affect the world or future research. You can only make reasonable speculations. To ensure that the implications are reasonable and make sense, you must be aware of the limitations of your study.
In the research context, only hypotheses supported by data count as valid implications. If the implications you draw do not follow logically the key findings of your study, they may seem excessive or downright ridiculous.
Suppose your study evaluated the effects of a new drug in an adult population. In that case, you could not make an honest guess about the drug’s effect on children’s care and how the drug will impact pediatric care. Thus, the implications you draw from your study cannot go beyond its scope.
Imagine that your study shows that a popular type of cognitive therapy is ineffective in treating insomnia. Your findings suggest that psychologists using this treatment method did not observe actual results, but rather an expected effect. Studies that can potentially affect real-world problems by making changes in policy or making changes in treatment methods have practical implications.
Understanding the difference between implication and recommendation can be helpful in your study. Suppose your study compares two or more types of treatment, ranks them in order of effectiveness, and explicitly asks doctors to follow the most effective type. The suggestion given at the end is a “suggestion” and not an “implication”.
Are your findings in line with previous research? Did your results validate the methods used in previous research or invalidate them? Has your study discovered a new and helpful way to do experiments? Speculations on how your findings can potentially impact research in your field of study are theoretical implications.
The main difference between practical and theoretical implications is that theoretical implications may not be readily helpful to policymakers or the public.
How to Write Implications in Research
Implications usually form an essential part of the conclusion section of a research paper. As we have mentioned in a previous article, this section starts by summarizing your work, but this time emphasizes your work’s significance.
While writing the implications, it is helpful to ask, “Who will benefit the most from reading my paper?”—policymakers, physicians, the public, or other researchers. Once you know your target population, explain how your findings can help them.
Think about how the findings in your study are similar or dissimilar to the findings of previous studies. Your study may reaffirm or disprove the results of other studies. This is an important implication.
Suggest future directions for research in the subject area in the light of your findings or further research to confirm your findings. These are also crucial implications.
Do not try to exaggerate your results, and make sure your tone reflects the strength of your findings. If the implications mentioned in your paper are convincing, it can improve the visibility of your work and spur similar studies in your field.
For more information on the importance of implications in research and guidance on how to include them in your manuscript, visit Elsevier Author Services now!