Since I don't intend to continue work on my paper, I don't want to use the phrase "future work". After reading two similar questions (1 and 2), my first thinking is that most of the suggested replacements are long. There are two nominees that sound good:

  • "Open questions"
  • "Further discussion" or put it under "Discussion" section

But sometimes it's not a question nor a discussion, e.g. "find a better method to solve this problem".

Since the title of a section shouldn't be too long, I want to limit it not more than three words. Do you have any ideas?

I just think about these phrases, what do you think?

  • "Potential direction". Thanks to jakebeal's answer.
  • "Further development"
  • Hi! It would be really nice to know your field since this can matter. In math/TCS, for example, you rarely have a section called "Discussion".
    – yo'
    Oct 23, 2014 at 16:48
  • 1
    Keep in mind that future work does not require the work to be yours. Future directions are open game and indented, at least the way I see it, not to claim stakes, but to peek interest into further significance of your work.
    – afaust
    Oct 23, 2014 at 21:38
  • "Prospects" or "outlook" seem the obvious choices to me.
    – Kallus
    Oct 24, 2014 at 8:30
  • @Kallus: nice choices. I really like it. However, after looking up for them in dictionaries, I find that "outlook" doesn't contain the future meaning and "prospect" doesn't mean to be a set of choices. But I am really like the word "prospect".
    – Ooker
    Oct 24, 2014 at 8:47

3 Answers 3


I could see several headings:

  • possible next steps
  • future lines of questioning
  • potential directions
  • interesting extensions
  • where next
  • quo vadis (if you want to be pretentious) ...
  • Quo vadis? I'm not a christian. Future lines and Where next sound good.
    – Ooker
    Oct 30, 2014 at 23:50
  • It is Latin - but not Christian. It is what a Roman soldier would say "where are you going?"
    – Floris
    Oct 30, 2014 at 23:59
  • Beautiful. thank you Jan 23, 2022 at 17:59

Personally, I don't like separation of "future work" from the rest of the discussion. In a good discussion (or "conclusions" or "contributions") section, one first defines clearly what has been accomplished. Around and after that, one explains what is currently known about the limits of the work presented, which limits are likely to be easy or hard to overcome, and which directions of extension are expected to be most significant. This form gives the authors' perspective on how the work changes the research landscape without having (or presuming) to declare their own place in its future.

  • While I agree that the "future work" should be in the discussion section, I think that it should be clarified so that the readers can skip to it. Maybe the subtitle?
    – Ooker
    Oct 23, 2014 at 16:36
  • "Potential Extensions", "Future Directions"?
    – jakebeal
    Oct 23, 2014 at 16:52
  • In my opinion, "direction" is better than "extension". If you extend a project, you just do it in a larger scale, I think.
    – Ooker
    Oct 23, 2014 at 16:56
  • 1
    @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. Done.
    – jakebeal
    Oct 8, 2021 at 21:28

In papers that I have had published (in a similar physics field), I have not had a separate section at all, but did mention the potential for future work as the final paragraph of the discussion.

Alternatively, a sub-heading to highlight this in the Discussion could be "Potential Research", "Future Research"or "Further Research".

One thing to consider, is the guidelines from the journal's instructions/advice to authors - what subheadings the journal expects (and in some cases, what subheadings they will allow).

  • I kinda feel that "research" is not so different to "work"
    – Ooker
    Oct 23, 2014 at 18:42
  • To save any uncertainty in the terminology, it is best to consult the authors' instructions - and if still in doubt, contact the editorial team for the target journal.
    – Omen
    Oct 23, 2014 at 18:54
  • 1
    @Ooker By labelling it "Further Research" you're not entering into a contract you know? That "Further Research" may be by someone else; it may indeed be by parties yet unknown who see your paper and wish to continue where you leave off. Oct 23, 2014 at 18:59
  • Yes, exactly as @StephenKennedy stated, by stating it as 'Further Research', you are giving a lead as to what research directions your own research can lead to, should someone decide to take it up.
    – Omen
    Oct 23, 2014 at 19:01
  • @StephenKennedy: someone opines in one one of two questions I have read also says that "future work" is not a contraction. Maybe this is a culture-based.
    – Ooker
    Oct 23, 2014 at 19:08

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