2.4 Assessing potential resolutions, conclusions, or solutions raised by an argument

4 min readdecember 31, 2022

Minna Chow

Minna Chow

AP Research 🔍

28 resources
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Implications are often the most exciting part of generating or reading about new knowledge, because they point out the exciting new opportunities that research can reveal! In this guide, we'll discuss how to evaluate the implications of the arguments you read or write. In order to do this, you need to identify and analyze the implications.
Often, scholarly papers will have a section at the end directly discussing their implications and directions for future research.
However, those implications sections won't necessarily cover all the implications of a work. There may be further ones that you can identify, discuss, or even use to find a gap in the research. College Board also wants you to discuss some of the implications of your work in the final AP Research paper.
Therefore, it's important to know how to identify and analyze implications on your own.
It's not a cakewalk, unfortunately. Even just identifying implications can be very difficult. Luckily, we're here to help! Let's start by discussing how to identify implications.

Identifying Implications

Always start by checking to see if there's a section in the paper about limitations. Usually, this will be at the very end of the paper, after the findings of the paper are reported.

Brainstorming Questions for Identification

If there aren't, or you need to identify more implications, here are some questions to consider.
  • Does this paper identify a problem in the status quo? Does it claim to resolve any problems? Does it create new problems?
  • Does this paper introduce a new way of thinking about something or point out flaws in old thinking methods?
  • Does this paper do anything new? Is the methodology different from other papers?
  • Is it possible to generate new research questions from this paper? If so, what are they?
If you think that Paper A implies (leads to, suggests, or could cause) Idea B, you can call it an implication as long as you can explain why you think the paper implies that. The implication must naturally connect to something written in the paper.
Research Tip: If you're working with an older or influential text in your field, look for other people's reviews or comments. They may have discovered some of the paper's implications already. (Don't forget to cite all sources you use!)
Research Tip: Keep in mind that you don't need to identify every single implication of any text. Indeed, that's virtually impossible. You just need to identify some that you can work with productively.

Analyzing Implications

The power of arguments is that they can influence what we do. Even arguments about obscure or small fields can influence what the people in that field do. Sometimes, an argument can even do more than what its authors intend: an idea can take "life of its own" when people begin to apply their own interpretations to it. With all of this in mind, let's look at how we can start to analyze implications.
A good first question to ask when you're analyzing an implication is what broader issues does this paper connect to? An argument doesn't have to directly address a broader issue to connect to it. For example, a research paper about the effect of texting on grammar skills could connect to the broader fields of technology and linguistics: technology because the paper raises questions about how instant messaging technology is affecting our lives, linguistics because the paper is about grammar and grammar shifts. You could even potentially make connections to education if you argued that schools needed to teach grammar differently because of the prevalence of texting.
Research Tip: It can be easy to go a bit overboard with implications. Always remember, you should ground your proposed implications in facts or quotes from the research paper itself.

Brainstorming Questions for Analysis

Here are some further questions you could discuss:
  • Does this paper's implications rely on a fundamental assumption you think should be challenged? For example, the argument that pineapple doesn't belong on pizza (if being argued seriously) implies that there's a "right" way to make pizza.
  • If the argument proposes a solution, what would happen if that solution were implemented? What if it were implemented at larger scales?
  • If the argument raises a call to action, what might happen if people listened to that call? If governments or businesses did?
  • Sometimes, it's the research methodology instead of the conclusion that's the most interesting part. What if more people did research the way this paper does? What if this method were applied to different fields?
  • Can you see any negative consequences of the paper's conclusion? Do the ideas this paper presents to you worry you, and, if so, why?
  • Conversely, is there anything in the paper that you find interesting? It could be because that section raises new questions or ideas, which would work as implications.
Research Tip: An argument's implications don't have to be grand to still be implications. An argument might only have implications for a small field of research or only a few people, and that's okay.

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