Writing the Implications Section: Explaining How Your Study Contributes to Positive Social Change

Before writing the implications section of chapter 5, I suggest you go back and read your significance section from chapter 1. [Learn more about what should be in a significance section.] When you were proposing your study, what potential did you think the data may provide? Now that you have your data, has your perspective changed? You should touch on these themes in the implications section. It is also a good time to review your study alignment. Step back, remember the problem you set out to address. The problem aligned to the purpose, which led to your research questions then methodology. It is in the implication section that you finally share what your study means for society. You finally get to answer the question, “Who Cares?” in relation to your study results. This really is the fun part!

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As should be your habit by now, go to the dissertation checklist. Scroll down to chapter 5 and find the Implications heading. Now, write a topic sentence for this section that aligns with what is required. Here is an example of what that might look like.

Topic Sentence for Implications Section: The results of this study have implications for potential positive social change on the individual level, organizational level, and at the societal level.

Then, just as you did in the significance section, one-by-one address each of these elements of implications. Discuss these in the same order you did in the topic sentence and use clear transitions to organize the various levels of social change. Here are some example transitions sentences or additional topic sentences that would help organize the writing of the implications section.

At the individual level, the results of this study may inform [who]….

At the organizational level, the results of this study have implications for positive social change for improving practice across the state.

However the results of this study might also have implications at the societal level.

At the individual level you might address the participants themselves and their sphere of influence. At the organizational level, you might discuss the building, district, state, or national level. Once you get to the societal level you address how the new knowledge might aide in taking steps toward solving a larger problem.

For students in the PhD in Education with a specialization in Learning, Instruction, and Innovation, you will need to be using the term innovative in the discussion of implications of your study. How do the results from your study support the “New and Better” [link to Innovators Mindset blog] philosophy of making positive social change?

Here are a few other phrases—that if appropriate—might belong in the Implications section (aligned with the checklist):

The results of this study indicate that approaching the problem using [certain methodology] is/is not beneficial to solving the problem.

Additional implications relate to the theoretical framework chosen for the study.

The results of this study also have empirical implications.

DANGER! Be realistic in your description of what the results of your study might imply. You don’t want to overstate the implications of your study. Also be sure that you keep recommendations for future research out of this section. They belong in their own section. Here are some examples of overstated implication sentences:

The results of this study will inform policy makers in ways that will eradicate bullying in elementary school.

Data from this study show that ceasing current retention practices reduces student drop out rate which will improve the social issue of incarcerations of youth.

Making Social Change a Reality

Very few will actually read your dissertation! [I’m sorry, I hope I’m not the first to tell you that!] You likely chose Walden because of their passion for social change. Although some of the life and excitement for your topic may have escaped during the dissertation journey, I hope the passion for making a difference has not. If you are serious about your desire to make a difference, please remember you should publish out of your dissertation after you graduate. I know its hard to think about now, but your research will only make a difference if people read and cite it! So tuck that in the back of your mind…you need to publish the results.

Walden Writing Center Blog: How to Write for Positive Social Change: 

Undoing the Silence: Writing For Social Change: A Book Review 


Other posts you may like:

Align, Align, Align

Who Cares? Writing the Significance Section of Your Dissertation


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