Q: Can you tell me the difference among 'significance,' 'justification,' and 'need' of the study with real-life examples?

Detailed Question -

Hello. I am confused about terms like 'significance,' 'justification,' and 'need’ of the study in the Introduction part of the thesis. I need a detailed answer with real-life examples. Thanks.

1 Answer to this question

Hello Abdulkadir – Welcome to the forum!

Although all three terms seek to explain why the study in question was undertaken and – at least to us – can be used interchangeably, we can distinguish some differences in the shades of their meaning. ‘Significance’ relates to the importance of the study; ‘justification’ (also called 'rationale') implies that some readers may not see its importance and therefore some explanation is expected; and ‘need’ is used to point out any practical difficulty or problem for which a solution is required.

As you asked for real-life examples, here is a paper that uses the word significance in its title: ‘Endometrial polyps during menopause: characterization and significance.’ The abstract shows why: “Postmenopausal endometrial polyp is a common, mostly benign entity [added emphasis]. However, the relatively high rate of concomitant endometrial hyperplasia, especially in patients receiving hormone replacement therapy, dictates a thorough histological evaluation.”

Here is a paper that uses the word justification in its title, and an excerpt from the abstract shows why. The title is ‘Menopause-related affective disorders: A justification for further study,’ and the abstract begins thus: “Despite descriptions dating back to the 19th century of menopause-related affective syndromes, researchers have been unable to characterize a specific disturbance of mood or behavior related to this period of life. Methodologic problems in earlier studies are identified, and it is suggested that further study is warranted.” Clearly, the author expected reviewers to question the need for such a study and therefore provided a justification.

Lastly, here is a paper that questions the need to sacrifice sleep for academic achievements. The paper is titled ‘Cognitive performance, sleepiness, and mood in partially sleep deprived adolescents: the need for sleep study,’ and produces evidence that “residual effects on sustained attention, speed of processing, and subjective alertness [were] observed even after 2 nights of recovery sleep.”

However, as you can see for yourself, these words in the titles could have been replaced with their synonyms without any significant changes in the intended meaning.

Hope the confusion is sorted out now. :-)

For more insights and information into these concepts on our site itself, you may refer to the following resources:

And as these are written in the Introduction section (as you have mentioned too), you may find this handbook helpful: How to write a strong introduction section that makes a great first impression

Finally, as you are probably writing a paper presently, or planning one, all the best for that!

[With inputs from Yateendra Joshi]