How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper
The conclusion is the last, yet not the easiest part of a research paper. It must summarize the whole paper and explain its main purpose. This section also shouldn’t sound too dry. Any conclusion consists of a few elements, so you can choose different approaches depending on your agenda and the paper type. We decided to provide you with useful tips on what to do in order to make your conclusion effective, and what to avoid.
- Restate your topic
Restate your topic briefly and explain why it’s important. Make sure that this part of the conclusion is concise and clear. You have already explained why your arguments are important in a body part of your paper, and you also don’t need to support your ideas with new arguments. Usually, the restated topic is only one sentence long.
- Restate your thesis statement
Once you’ve restated the topic of the research, you have to restate your thesis statement. Make sure to rewrite it, because it shouldn’t sound exactly like in the introduction. It must be narrowed and focused on your topic.
- Summarize main points of your paper
Remind your readers your key points. We suggest re-reading the whole body of your paper focusing on the most important arguments and facts. Don’t repeat your ideas in the exact same way as in the body. This time, you don’t need to support each statement. Just provide a brief overview of key points, and make sure that you don’t add any new details in the conclusion.
- Discuss the significance of your points
Note that it may be unnecessary for most papers. However, in some cases. you need to address the importance of your points in a particular section of the conclusion. Note that you don’t have to do it in case you’ve already considered this question in your paper. We suggest explaining the importance of your arguments in the body part, because the conclusion is aimed only to summarize everything written before and to draw your readers’ attention to your topic in a more general context. Most often, you will need to just restate your topic and thesis statement.
- Discuss the future of your subject
You have to address the future perspective of your research and the considered issue. It may be a suggestion or a call to action. Note that this part of the introduction is not necessary. For example, you don’t need to write it when writing a literary research, because you unlikely will find any possible call to action in this case. On the other hand, if your paper addresses some important social issues, the conclusion will only benefit from your thoughts about the possible use of your research and important needs in this area.
Make Your Conclusion Effective
- Basic synthesis
As we have mentioned above, the conclusion must summarize the paper. At the same time, you don’t have to just re-write main points, because such conclusions are quite banal. Provide a basic synthesis of everything stated before. While rephrasing your topic and thesis statement, try to connect them logically so that your conclusion will sound like a coherent single thought rather than a bunch of random ideas.
- Keep things together
The best structure for a research paper includes an introduction and a conclusion which are linked to each other. This is the “full circle” method, and here’s how to tie these two sections together:
- In the introduction, ask a question. When the whole paper is done, restate this question in the conclusion, and provide a clear answer.
- Write a story or an anecdote in the introduction, but don’t tell how such a story ends. You can do it in the conclusion section.
- We suggest using the same images and concepts in both sections.
- Logic is important
Sometimes your paper may contain many different or even opposite points. The conclusion is a perfect place to form a single clear opinion on your issue. If your thesis contains some question that wasn’t clearly answered throughout the paper, it must be answered in the conclusion. While restating your thesis statement, tell your readers whether you still believe it or results of the research pushed you to change your opinion. If it seems impossible to give a clear answer now, tell your readers what further research is needed, or what actions may help answer this question in the future.
- Ask readers to draw their own conclusions
Another way to create an impressive conclusion is to ask your readers instead of providing them with answers. However, note that such a creative approach may be inappropriate for some kinds of research papers. We suggest trying this method in case you’re writing a research paper on some social issues or politics. Your question must be directly related to the central topic and purpose of the paper.
- Give a recommendation
If you make a call to action, you have to explain what actions you consider the most important or effective. You can give certain recommendations on your topic even in case you don’t make a call to action, because your thoughts of such a kind may help to better understand the topic and the general context of your research.
Avoid Common Mistakes
- Don’t start your conclusion with the words “in conclusion”, or “in summary”. Such words are unnecessary and they sound unnatural. You don’t need to say obvious things to write a good conclusion.
- Make sure that your thesis is stated not only in the conclusion but also in the introduction and in the body part of your paper. Your readers must follow your arguments throughout the entire paper.
- Don’t present any new arguments nor details about your research or topic. The introduction is aimed to only summarize what has been written before.
- Don’t change the tone of your paper. If the whole paper was written in the academic tone, don’t make your conclusion more emotional or informal. Even if the chosen topic is very important to you, don’t try to make it personal. In either case, you can end your paper with a story related to the subject and so illustrate why it’s so important with a particular example.
- Don’t apologize. Never express concerns about results of your research or your authority. Avoid such phrases as “this is only my personal opinion”, or “I don’t know for sure”. Never use the first person at all. Writing in the first person is too informal and cannot be used for academic papers.