Understanding the Theoretical and Practical Implications of a Research Paper

February 19 2018, By Anuoluwapo Dorcas Oni

A research implication is the logical connection between a condition and its outcome. Before you write an implication on a research paper, take your time to go back and read the significance of the study. What potential did you think the data may provide when you were proposing your study? Now that you have your data, has your perspective changed? You should consider these themes on your implication section. Step back and remember the problems you aligned to the purpose, which led to your research questions then, methodology.

Practical Implication
Moreover, try as much as possible to be realistic in your description of what the results of your study might imply. You don’t want to overstate it. Also be sure that you don’t keep recommendations for future research out of the implication body.

Literarily, the word practical means the actual results. Practical implication is the reality that would occur if certain conditions are fulfilled. An instance is, when analysts conduct behavioral experiments, the reliability of the data they collect would have practical implications on how clinicians accurately determine the effectiveness of specific behavioral remedies.
Determining the practical implications of a range of options can help decide which ones produce the desired results, For instance, studying the implications of sport-to-health activities reveals that these are more effective in the spreading of HIV/AID awareness than teaching the same in the classroom.

Theoretical Implication

Theoretical implication on the other hand, is a newly found addition(s) to existing theories or building materials for new theories. In a research perspective, the job of theory is to provide interesting and perhaps promising areas to work on.             

Drawing out you implication
As part of reflecting on what your findings mean, you need to draw out the implications of your findings for the field itself and/ or societies. In longer theses, it is usual to situate findings in the contexts of past and future research. Contextualizing your findings within previous research helps readers to grasp the significance of your research - how your research builds on, and contributes to knowledge. It is also common to see somewhere in PhD Conclusions 'Recommendations for future research' whereby the study's limitations are acknowledged and are presented in a more positive light: what you have found out can pave the way for future research. Ask yourself these questions. 

  • To what extent does my findings align with those of other scholars, in what precise ways, and if not why not?
  • If certain findings suggest a need for further research, what might this consist of and how might such research extend or improve the current state of knowledge in my field?
  • Are there any practical implications (e.g. policy implications) that I need to specifically address?

The implications of your research project may be complex and variable, leading you into the realm of speculation. Some findings, for example, might appear to have application beyond the parameters of your research, and they may do so.  But judicious judgment is called for. Ensure that such speculations are contained within the boundaries of the arguments and discussions developed in the body of your thesis.

To emphasize the level of speculation and uncertainty, you can take advantage of more tentative language (e.g. it seems, perhaps, maybe or it could be, possibly / possible, it is likely / unlikely, etc.). In sum, keep your speculations grounded; do not let them float free from these boundaries so that they appear wildly improbable or even questionable. 


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