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Making Sense of Data
Asking "So What?" The Implications of Research

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The outcomes of scientific research can help us learn about how the world "works," but the quest doesn't end there. Findings inevitably inspire new questions that lead to further research, and they may have broader impact and applications. For instance, the studies that uncovered the role of DDT in damaging the ability of eagles and other raptors to reproduce had significant ecological and policy implications. Many research findings are communicated to new audiences to educate, raise awareness, or inspire action (growing native plants to provide food for migrating birds, for instance).

As students participate in research and learn about migrations and seasonal changes, encourage them to routinely ask these types of "so what" questions:

  • What difference does this make (e.g., to homeowners, migratory species, the environment)?
  • Who might be interested in the results?
  • How might different types of people respond to the findings?
  • What new research studies might the findings inspire?
  • What do we want to communicate about this study? Who will we target and what approach will we use (e.g., presentation, newsletter, article)?
  • What new questions do we have or next steps will we take?

 

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