How to finish your research paper with a proper conclusion?

The concluding paragraph of a research paper is as important as the introduction when it comes to establishing its impact. The conclusion is an author’s last chance to reaffirm whether the reader followed the study throughout. It is very important because it supports in leaving a lasting impression about the topic and the argument, thus helping the writer to show to the readers that they have responded to a prompt appropriately (Hedengren, 2009).

Furthermore, it provides a sense of closure. An impactful conclusion also leaves the readers more knowledgeable regarding the broader context and implications of the work. A well-framed conclusion can several opportunities to demonstrate an overall understanding of the topic. By enabling the presentation of the last word on the issue helps the researcher show the importance of the idea and possible new ways to approach the research problem.

Every impactful conclusion should have certain key elements.

Assan, 2009; An, 2012

Restate your research topic

The first and most basic element is to restate the topic and explain why it is important. However, one should not spend much time restating the topic and should make sure that it is concise and clear. In a good research paper importance of the topic is apparent. Hence one does not need to support their ideas again with new arguments.

Restate your thesis

After restating the topic, it is important to restate the thesis statement. However at this point of time statement needs to be rephrased i.e. it should not be identical to the sentence that has been used originally.  It showed be narrowed down and should precisely focus on topic.

Briefly summarize the important findings

Next important element of good conclusion is to remind readers about the key findings of the main body of the paper. The most efficient way to go about this is to re-read the paper and focus on important arguments and facts. However one needs to find the way of restating each point and none of the supporting details should be repeated. Also new information should not be included in conclusion.

Mention the significance of the study

This should be presented in conclusion when a paper proceeds in an inductive manner and when the author has not fully explained the significance of the study. However, if it has been already explained in full detail in the main body then simply restating the thesis would suffice. It is advisable to address important points in the main body and summarise it in the Conclusion.

Call to action

This element is not necessary for the conclusion as it is alternatively presented as recommendations. It focuses on the state to the readers that there is a need for future research on the present topic. For example, a paper that is based on literary criticism is more likely to call for action rather than a paper that focuses to see the effect or impact of something.

Answering “so what” questions

Since conclusion is the opportunity to answer the broader context that has to be addressed. Thus helping readers to understand why the topic of the paper actually matters. Thus helps in answering the “so what” questions.

It is possible that the paper may contain some opposing points. Hence in conclusion all such doubts are cleared and a single clear opinion on the issue should be given. If there are some questions that are not answered in paper then answer for them should be provided in conclusion.

Elements of a good 'Conclusion' of a research paper
Figure 1: Elements of a good ‘Conclusion’ of a research paper

What not to write in the conclusion?

While writing the conclusion there should be some points that one should not include in order to make conclusion effective. Some of the points are as follows:

  1. No new idea or fact should be introduced: all the important ideas should be included in the main text only. Since the introduction of any new idea in this section will only confuse the reader.
  2. Avoid rewording introduction: avoid rewording of introduction as a conclusion. Rather it should logically bring the arguments, pieces of evidence and analysis together. It should work towards confirming and showing the significance of the researcher’s claim.
  3. Should not make any claim: one should not include any absolute claim in the paper since that reduces the scope of any interpretation and expectation. On the other hand, academic writing is reasonable and should allow for other interpretations.
  4. Statements should not be left unqualified: all the statements provided in should be qualified so that they can connect arguments to evidence in a much more logical way. Moreover, one should not conclude more than what can be reasonably claimed by the evidence presented in papers.  
  5. Avoid using unnecessary words: avoid starting the conclusion with words such as “in conclusion” or “in summary” such words are unnecessary and sound unnatural. Moreover, if that if the paper is written in an academic tone, then it should be followed in the conclusion as well. No need to make a conclusion sound emotional or informal.

Example of conclusion

Aim: Suppose a study aims to examine the impact of students’ TV-watching habits on their academic performance through a survey of school-going students in the age group of 10 – 25 years. The conclusion can be framed as follows.

Conclusion: The recent research on students’ TV-watching habits and their academic performance has provided a more complete understanding in terms of the student’s physiological process and thinking. The present study suggests that TV watching plays a critical role in students’ academic performance. Students who spend more hours watching TV had lower academic scores in comparison with the students who watched TV only for an hour per day. Further considering the point of view of parents it was found that watching excessive TV also had a negative impact on the overall development of their child since it makes them lazier and less attentive towards sports and other recreational activities.

What after the conclusion?

Once you are done writing the conclusion, the next things that can come after the conclusion include recommendations, limitations, and scope for future research.

  • Recommendations: Recommendations are added suggestions that the researcher might want to give to readers. These suggestions are generally based on what the writer has found and how future researchers can add to the existing body of knowledge on the topic.
  • Limitations: Every study experiences limitations. These limitations can be either due to the constraints related to the research design or in methodology ad tend to have an influence on the findings of the study. It is important to determine or acknowledge the study limitations since it gives an opportunity to make the further suggestions.
  • Scope for future research: this is very important part of academic research. The main purpose of this section is to make the reader aware of the shortcomings. Thus guides readers and other researchers on the other critical dimensions where the topic can explored even further.

References

  • Allen, M. (2017) ‘Limitations of Research’, The SAGE Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods, (January 2017). doi: 10.4135/9781483381411.n297.
  • An, R. (2012) ‘WRITING AN EFFECTIVE CONCLUSION Center for Writing and Speaking’, pp. 3–5.
  • Assan, J. (2009) ‘Writing the Conclusion Chapter : the Good , the Bad and the Missing’, Liverpool: Development Studies Association, pp. 1–8. doi: 10.1007/s10021-001-0070-8.
  • Bhatti, J. (2013) ‘Future Scope & Suggestion’, pp. 1–15.
  • Hedengren, B. (2009) ‘A Brief Guide to Writing conclusion’, p. 59.
  • Karalasingam, S. S. (2019) ‘CHAPTER 5 SUMMARY , CONCLUSIONS , IMPLICATIONS AND CHAPTER 5 SUMMARY , CONCLUSIONS , IMPLICATIONS AND’, (March), pp. 0–19.
  • Naik, M. (2017) ‘Conclusion’, Вестник Росздравнадзора, 6, pp. 5–9.
  • Allen, M. (2017) ‘Limitations of Research’, The SAGE Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods, (January 2017). doi: 10.4135/9781483381411.n297.
  • An, R. (2012) ‘WRITING AN EFFECTIVE CONCLUSION Center for Writing and Speaking’, pp. 3–5.
  • Assan, J. (2009) ‘Writing the Conclusion Chapter : the Good , the Bad and the Missing’, Liverpool: Development Studies Association, pp. 1–8. doi: 10.1007/s10021-001-0070-8.
  • Bhatti, J. (2013) ‘Future Scope & Suggestion’, pp. 1–15.
  • Hedengren, B. (2009) ‘A Brief Guide to Writing conclusion’, p. 59.
  • Karalasingam, S. S. (2019) ‘CHAPTER 5 SUMMARY , CONCLUSIONS , IMPLICATIONS AND CHAPTER 5 SUMMARY , CONCLUSIONS , IMPLICATIONS AND’, (March), pp. 0–19.
  • Naik, M. (2017) ‘Conclusion’, Вестник Росздравнадзора, 6, pp. 5–9.
Ashni Walia
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