How to Write a Conclusion for your Research Paper
Writing an academic or professional work requires that you prepare well-defined sections that adjust to certain formal and content aspects. In most works, there is an introduction, followed by the part of the method, results, discussions and, finally, the conclusions, one of the sections in which university students have the most problems.
These sections comply with the maxim of “last, and not least.” It is in the conclusions that it is about putting the icing on the cake, making the work finish in a way that implies some kind of response in the reader. That is why in this article we are going to address more clearly how a good conclusion should be written, highlighting what the last section of most university papers consists of and explaining what should be in them.
What is conclusion?
Before going into more detail about the steps to follow to develop a conclusion, we need to know exactly what it consists of. If we go back to the etymological origin of the word, the conclusion comes from the Latin “conclusion” and means “closing, end.” Thus, it is the last part of an essay, article, presentation or dissertation. What is expected in a good conclusion is that the premises and the development of what is stated in the previous sections lead to clarify an idea that has been treated throughout the work. What is concluded in this section must be related to what has been explained and investigated while the study or presentation was being prepared?
Normally, in the conclusions of scientific articles, the findings that have been found while the research was carried out are emphasized, and it is indicated in which new paths future studies could be focused. It should be noted that in a conclusion, although what the researchers believe the data obtained indicates is defended, they are not sections in which their opinion is expressed. Nor should long and verbatim summaries of all work are transformed.
How to make a good conclusion?
In the same way that starting to write the introduction is something that can be a real headache for many, the conclusions are equally difficult. For this reason, when they are written, it is necessary to take into account a series of aspects, in addition to the following order in their preparation. Thus, the information in this section will be exposed as clearly as possible but being concise, as well as reflecting and inviting new points of view.
Let’s see some tips that can help us to draw an appropriate conclusion to all the effort we have put into developing the work.
1. Review what has been done
In a good conclusion, the main ideas of the work are summarized since it is its final part. The information presented in this section should resolve any questions that the reader may have raised while reading the document. We will have to reread all the work, selecting what we consider to be essential to be present in the final section of it. It is highly recommended to have a sheet of paper at hand and write down all the ideas, results and findings that we consider relevant.
2. Write the key elements
Once we have reread all the work, we must write the key points that are present in it. In the conclusion, it should be clear what was the reason why the work began, for what purpose the subject matter presented in it was addressed, in addition to remembering the methodology used.
Also, we must specify what was new in what we have done, what problem we encountered in real life that we wanted to solve, in addition to indicating what could be done in the future. In essence, two key points cannot be missed in any conclusion: the purpose and the problem.
This is a point that must necessarily be at the beginning of the conclusion since it will remind the reader of what the work was about.
The purpose must be clearly shown. The objective of this point is to solve the reader, in case he still has any doubts about the reason why the author of the work initiated the investigation that he exposes in the document.
You should expose what the problem was that he wanted to solve or the question that the author was raised before starting the investigation. The hypothesis that had been raised at the beginning of the work should be explained and related to the data obtained. These data should not be presented in the form of numerical figures, since they have already been shown in the results section. It should be clear how what has been found while conducting the research has contributed to expanding scientific knowledge, either confirming or disproving our hypothesis.
3. New possibilities
Science advances and never stops, which is why a study will never put an end to the subject in which it has delved. On the contrary, new possibilities must be considered for the future. In any investigation, even if a theory has been demonstrated or an originally posed problem has been solved, something will always emerge that will invite new questions to be formulated. This will lead to new research, new ideas to be studied in further studies. The conclusion is the ideal section so that we can indicate some ideas that have come to us while we are investigating the subject we have discussed.
The reader can also be invited to document themselves on the subject we have spoken about. If two related investigations have been carried out and one of them has not yet finished, in the conclusions section it is possible to suggest to the reader to wait for the study that will be published in the not-too-distant future.
4. Avoid redundant information
This is one of the tips on how to make a conclusion that is most useful to avoid getting too long. All the relevant information shown extensively should already be explained in the introduction section, while the conclusion includes only the main ideas shown concisely, in addition to what is stated in the other sections.
When you have finished writing the conclusion, if you notice that some ideas give you the feeling that they are repeated, shorten them or, outright, remove them. In this section, a deep reflection on the work should be made, not an extensive summary of it, because what is the use of summarizing the same work in the same work?
5. Do not show new information
In the same way, as in the previous point, we have indicated that it should not be redundant, nor should we extract information that has not been previously explained. In other words, in the final section of our work, we should not introduce relevant information about the investigated topic that has not been addressed in our work.
The advice most repeated by many university professors to their students who are doing a thesis is that everything that is explained in the conclusion must be justified in the introduction.
Let’s take an example in which this idea is clearer: if we have talked about the differences between social psychology and clinical psychology, it would not make sense to talk in the conclusions section about how they differ from forensic. Talking about other topics at the end of our work can make the reader feel confused. In essence, it should be followed in the same line throughout the work.
6. Don’t spread yourself over
Depending on the criteria that are stipulated when preparing a certain project, such as final year projects, doctoral theses or PowerPoint presentations, it is highly counterproductive to add too much information. As has already been said, it is in the introduction section that all relevant information about the work is explained in greater depth, while the conclusions should be more concise.
7. Be sincere
When collecting the data, they may not confirm our hypothesis or even indicate the exact opposite of what we wanted to demonstrate. This must be clearly stated, reflecting on why it was originally thought that the data would behave differently.
8. Avoid contradictions and watch the spelling
It is a point that is obvious, but it never hurts to remember it. We must take care of how we present ideas, since, on occasions, they can be formulated in such a way that it seems that in one paragraph we indicate one thing and in the next, we come to say the opposite. Proofreading of the work is also necessary to ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes. An interesting piece of work can become tiresome if the writer has not ensured that the text is presented and without errors in the writing.