Significance & Implications

Confirmation Reports >> Significance and Implications

The Significance and Implications in a Confirmation Report should highlight the originality of the research and the contribution to knowledge and practices in the field. The author needs to demonstrate the practical and theoretical significance of the research and provide initial insights into how the results are expected to answer the research questions. In addition, the Significance and Implications should show how the study may extend existing knowledge in the field and contribute to professional practice to support confirmation as a PhD candidate. 

The purpose of the Significance and Implications is to highlight, but not overstate, what is new or important about the findings. The author should avoid merely repeating the results reported with a superficial commentary.

In a Confirmation Report, the Significance and Implications are normally quite short and include the author’s interpretation of what the results mean in light of the research objective. There may also be acknowledgement of the limitations or problems connected with the preliminary findings or methods which will inform any suggestions for how they can be addressed in the main study. The author should always check with their supervisor for the preferred structure.

The Significance and Implications may include the following items.

  • Reference to overall aims of the study and a brief summary of the major findings
  • Reference to key results
  • Discussion of the significance of the study and results (what they mean)
  • Discussion of the implications of the study and results (how they affect the wider field)
  • Limitations of the preliminary results.
  • Discussion of changes, if any, in research design for the main study.

Some key questions to help decide what information to include are:

  • Have your preliminary results confirmed your expectations?
  • What have been your most significant findings so far?
  • Were there any issues with your methodology which may have restricted or influenced your results? What are the implications of your results (e.g. Will some parts of your original research design have to be changed?)
  • Are there any generalisations you can make from the results?

Example of Significance and Implications

Below is an extract from an Electronic and Information Engineering Confirmation Report which shows an example of the Significance and Implications with the key functions highlighted.

Statement to recall key preliminary findings about two methods used to exploit gene ontology for subcellular localization prediction

The results presented in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 have shown that one key difference between the two approaches to prediction of the location of subcellular proteins gene ontology (GO) methods is the way of retrieving the GO terms. The InterProGSVM method uses InterProScan to search the GO terms, whereas GOASVM uses the accession numbers (AN) of the sequences as the keys to search against the Gene Ontology Annotation (GOA) database.

Implications of the results with suggestion of how the proposed methods overcome a problem

Both methods are based on the same notion- taking advantage of functional-domain based methods and overcoming their disadvantages. One advantage of functional-domain based methods is that their performance is slightly better than other methods. But the disadvantage is that they are not applicable to all the protein sequences because some sequences may not have any annotated GO terms. The two proposed methods attempt to surmount the disadvantage from different perspectives.

Statement of the significance of findings for the first approach

The fusion of InterProGOSVM and PairProSVM attempts to use homology-based method to complement the functional-domain based method. This is one of the most effective approaches and the results suggest that this approach is feasible as was initially expected.

Limitation of the approach with comments on research design changes

However, the numbers of distinct GO terms can run into thousands and so the size of the dataset may become too large. This may lead to prohibitively expensive computational costs. To avoid this scenario, only the relevant GO terms should be selected in the main study.

Adapted from: S. Wan, “Protein Subcellular Localization Protein Based on Gene Ontology and SVM”, PhD confirmation report, Dept. of Elec. and Inf. Eng., POLYU, Hong Kong, 2011.
    Abstract >> Introduction >> Literature review >> Methodology >> Results >> Significance & Implications >> Future Plan

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