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What is the Conclusion of an Essay?

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    Mar 27, 2018

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  • A conclusion is, in some ways, like your introduction. You restate your thesis and
    summarize your main points of evidence for the reader.You can usually do this in
    one paragraph. In the following example, the thesis statement is in

    Notice that it is written in 2 sentences. This is a stylistic choice for impact.

    Example:

    The problem of teen gang violence can be eliminated. It will, however,
    take time, money, and a combined effort on the part of many people.

    Organized, free, after-school programs such as: sports teams and games; art, music,
    and drama activities; internships in local area businesses and professional organizations;
    and interesting volunteer activities in the community would help engage teens
    in worthwhile pursuits outside of school hours.  More job opportunities for
    teens, especially those funded by state and local programs, would offer income for
    teens as well as productive work for the community. Outreach to families through
    schools, community organizations, and places of worship would help promote
    inter-generational activities that could improve family closeness, helping teens
    to work on their problems at the family level, instead of taking them to the streets.
    If these programs can be implemented, we will surely see a decrease in teen gang
    activity and safer streets and neighborhoods for us all.

    I.  General Rules

    When writing the conclusion to your paper, follow these general rules:

    • State your conclusions in clear, simple language.
    • Do not simply reiterate your results or the discussion.
    • Indicate opportunities for future research, as long as you haven’t already done so in the discussion section of your paper.

    The function of your paper’s conclusion is to restate the main argument. It reminds the reader of the strengths of your main argument(s) and reiterates the most important evidence supporting those argument(s). Make sure, however, that your conclusion is not simply a repetitive summary of the findings because this reduces the impact of the argument(s) you have developed in your essay.

    Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is appropriate:

    1. If the argument or point of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize the argument for your reader.
    2. If, prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the end of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
    3. Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from the data.

    The conclusion also provides a place for you to persuasively and succinctly restate your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with all the information about the topic. Depending on the discipline you are writing in, the concluding paragraph maycontain your reflections on the evidence presented, or on the essay’s central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the research you have done will depend on the topic and whether your professor wants you to express your observations in this way.

    NOTE: Don’t delve into idle speculation. Being introspective means looking within yourself as an author to try and understand an issue more deeply not to guess at possible outcomes.


    II.  Developing a Compelling Conclusion

    Strategies to help you move beyond merely summarizing the key points of your research paper may include any of the following.

    1. If your essay deals with a contemporary problem, warn readers of the possible consequences of not attending to the problem.
    2. Recommend a specific course or courses of action.
    3. Cite a relevant quotation or expert opinion to lend authority to the conclusion you have reached [a good place to look is research from your literature review].
    4. Restate a key statistic, fact, or visual image to drive home the ultimate point of your paper.
    5. If your discipline encourages personal reflection, illustrate your concluding point with a relevant narrative drawn from your own life experiences.
    6. Return to an anecdote, an example, or a quotation that you introduced in your introduction, but add further insight that is derived from the findings of your study; use your interpretation of results to reframe it in new ways.
    7. Provide a «take-home» message in the form of a strong, succient statement that you want the reader to remember about your study.

    III. Problems to Avoid

    Failure to be concise
    The conclusion section should be concise and to the point. Conclusions that are too long often have unnecessary detail. The conclusion section is not the place for details about your methodology or results. Although you should give a summary of what was learned from your research, this summary should be relatively brief, since the emphasis in the conclusion is on the implications, evaluations, insights, etc. that you make.

    Failure to comment on larger, more significant issues
    In the introduction, your task was to move from general [the field of study] to specific [your research problem]. However, in the conclusion, your task is to move from specific [your research problem] back to general [your field, i.e., how your research contributes new understanding or fills an important gap in the literature]. In other words, the conclusion is where you place your research within a larger context.

    Failure to reveal problems and negative results
    Negative aspects of the research process should never be ignored. Problems, drawbacks, and challenges encountered during your study should be included as a way of qualifying your overall conclusions. If you encountered negative results [findings that are validated outside the research context in which they were generated], you must report them in the results section of your paper. In the conclusion, use the negative results as an opportunity to explain how they provide information on which future research can be based.

    Failure to provide a clear summary of what was learned
    In order to be able to discuss how your research fits back into your field of study [and possibly the world at large], you need to summarize it briefly and directly. Often this element of your conclusion is only a few sentences long.

    Failure to match the objectives of your research
    Often research objectives change while the research is being carried out. This is not a problem unless you forget to go back and refine your original objectives in your introduction, as these changes emerge they must be documented so that they accurately reflect what you were trying to accomplish in your research [not what you thought you might accomplish when you began].

    Resist the urge to apologize
    If you’ve immersed yourself in studying the research problem, you now know a good deal about it, perhaps even more than your professor! Nevertheless, by the time you have finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you have produced. Repress those doubts!  Don’t undermine your authority by saying something like, «This is just one approach to examining this problem; there may be other, much better approaches….»


    Concluding Paragraphs. College Writing Center at Meramec. St. Louis Community College; Conclusions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Conclusions. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Freedman, Leora  and Jerry Plotnick. Introductions and Conclusions. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Leibensperger, Summer. Draft Your Conclusion. Academic Center, the University of Houston-Victoria, 2003; Make Your Last Words Count. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Tips for Writing a Good Conclusion. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Kretchmer, Paul. Twelve Steps to Writing an Effective Conclusion. San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008; Writing Conclusions. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Writing: Considering Structure and Organization. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College.

    §

    I.  General Points to Consider

    When considering whether to include content in an appendix, keep in mind the following points:

    1. It is usually good practice to include your raw data in an appendix, laying it out in a clear format so the reader can re-check your results. Another option if you have a large amount of raw data is to consider placing it online and note this as the appendix to your research paper.
    2. Any tables and figures included in the appendix should be numbered as a separate sequence from the main paper. Remember that appendices contain non-essential information that, if removed, would not diminish a reader’s understanding of the overall research problem being investigated. This is why non-textual elements should not carry over the sequential numbering of elements in the paper.
    3. If you have more than three appendices, consider listing them on a separate page at the beginning of your paper. This will help the reader know before reading the paper what information is included in the appendices [always list the appendix or appendices in a table of contents].
    4. The appendix can be a good place to put maps, photographs, diagrams, and other non-textual elements, if you feel that it will help the reader to understand the content of your paper, but remembering that the paper should be understandable without them.
    5. An appendix should be streamlined and not loaded with a lot information. If you have a very long and complex appendix, it is a good idea to break it down into separate appendices, allowing the reader to find relevant information quickly.

    II.  Contents

    Appendices may include some of the following, all of which should be referred to or summarized in the text of your paper:

    • Supporting evidence [e.g. raw data]
    • Contributory facts or specialized data [raw data appear in the appendix, but with summarized data appearing in the body of the text].
    • Sample calculations
    • Technical figures, graphs, tables, statistics
    • Detailed description of research instruments
    • Maps, charts, photographs, drawings
    • Letters, emails, and other copies of correspondance
    • Questionnaire/survey instruments, with the results appearing in the text
    • Complete transcripts of interviews
    • Complete field notes from observations
    • Specification or data sheets

    NOTE:  Do not include vague or irrelevant information in an appendix; this additional information will not help the reader’s overall understanding and interpretation of your research and may only succeed in distracting the reader from understanding your research study.


    III.  Format

    Here are some general guideline on how to format appendices, but consult the writing style guide [e.g., APA] your professor wants you to use for the class, if needed:

    • Appendices may precede or follow your list of references.
    • Each appendix begins on a new page.
    • The order they are presented is dictated by the order they are mentioned in the text of your research paper.
    • The heading should be «Appendix,» followed by a letter or number [e.g., «Appendix A» or «Appendix 1»], centered and written in bold.
    • Appendices must be listed in the table of contents [if used].
    • The page number(s) of the appendix/appendices will continue on with the numbering from the last page of the text.

    Appendices. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Tables, Appendices, Footnotes and Endnotes. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Lunsford, Andrea A. and Robert Connors. The St. Martin’s Handbook. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989.

    §

    Before You Proofread

    • Be sure you’ve revised the larger aspects of your text. Don’t make corrections at the sentence and word level if you still need to work on the overall focus, development, and arrangement of the paper, of sections in the paper, or of individual paragraphs.
    • Set your text aside for a while between writing and proofreading. Establishing some distance between the writing your paper and proofreading it will help you identify mistakes more easily.
    • Eliminate unnecessary words before looking for mistakes. Throughout your paper, you should try to avoid using inflated diction if a simpler phrase works equally well. Simple, more precise language is easier to proofread than overly complex sentence construction and vocabulary.
    • Know what to look for. Make a list of mistakes you need to watch for based upon the comments of your professors on previous drafts of your paper or for papers written in other classes. This will help you to identify repeated patterns of mistakes more readily.

    To help ensure that you identify all the errors in your paper, consider the following:

    1. Work from a printout, not a computer screen. Besides sparing your eyes the strain of glaring at a computer screen, proofreading from a printout allows you to easily skip around to where errors might have been repeated throughout the paper.
    2. Read out loud. This is especially helpful for spotting run-on sentences, but you’ll also hear other problems that you may not have picked up while reading silently. Reading your paper out loud also helps you play the role of the reader, thereby encouraging you to understand the paper as your audience might.
    3. Use a ruler or blank sheet of paper to cover up the lines below the one you’re reading. This technique keeps you from skipping over possible mistakes.
    4. Circle or highlight every punctuation mark in your paper. This forces you to pay attention to each mark you used and to question its purpose in each sentence or paragraph. This is particularly helpful strategy if you tend to misuse or overuse a punctuation mark, such as a comma or semi-colon.
    5. Use the search function of the computer to find mistakes you’re likely to make. Using the search [find] feature of your word processor can help youidentify common errors faster. For example, if you overuse a phrase or use the same qualifier over and over again, you can do a search for those words or phrases and in each instance make a decision about whether to keep it or not or use a synonym.
    6. If you tend to make many mistakes, check separately for each kind of error, moving from the most to the least important, and following whatever technique works best for you to identify that kind of mistake. For instance, read through once [backwards, sentence by sentence] to check for fragments; read through again [forward] to be sure subjects and verbs agree, and again [perhaps using a computer search for «this,» «it,» and «they»] to trace pronouns to antecedents.
    7. End with using a computer spell checker or reading backwards word by word. But remember that a spell checker won’t catch mistakes with homonyms [e.g., «they’re,» «their,» «there»] or certain typos [like «he» when you meant to write «the»].
    8. Leave yourself enough time. Since many errors are made and overlooked by speeding through writing and proofreading, taking the time to carefully look over your writing will help you catch errors you might otherwise miss. Always read through your writing slowly. If you read through the paper at a normal speed, you won’t give your eyes sufficient time to spot errors.
    9. Ask a friend to read your paper. Offer to proofread a friend’s paper if they will review yours. Having another set of eyes look over your writing will often spot errors that you would have otherwise missed.

    Individualize the Act of Proofreading

    In addition to following the suggestions above, individualizing your proofreading process to match weaknesses in your writing will help you proofread more efficiently and effectively. For example, I still tend to make subject-verb agreement errors. Accept the fact that you likely won’t be able to check for everything, so be introspective about what your typical problem areas are and look for each type of error individually. Here’s how:

    • Think about what errors you typically make. Review instructors’ comments about your writing and/or review your paper with a tutor.
    • Learn how to fix those errors. Talk with your professor about helping you understand why you make the errors you do make so that you can learn ways to avoid them.
    • Use specific strategies. Develop strategies you are most comfortable with to find and correct your particular errors in usage, sentence structure, and spelling and punctuation.
    • Where you proofread is important! Effective and efficient proofreading requires extended focus and concentration. If you are easily distracted by external noise, proofread in a quiet corner of the library rather than in a coffee shop.
    • Proofread in several short blocks of time. Avoid trying to proofread you entire paper all at once, otherwise, it will be difficult to maintain your concentration. A good strategy is to start your proofreading each time at the beginning of your paper. It will take longer to make corrections, but you’ll be amazed at how many mistakes you find in text you’ve already reviewed.

    Editing and Proofreading. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Editing and Proofreading Strategies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Proofreading. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Proofreading. Department of English Writing Guide. George Mason University; Revision: Cultivating a Critical Eye. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College; Revision Guidelines. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Where Do I Begin? The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University.

    §

    Cartoonist Doug Larson once observed: «If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur» [The Quotations Page]. Given the rules and the multiple exceptions to every rule that characterizes the English language, there are many sites on the web that discuss how to avoid mistakes in grammar and word usage. Listed below are the most common and, thus, the ones you should focus on locating and removing while proofreading your research paper.

      1. Affect / effect — welcome to what I consider to be the most confusing aspect in the English language. «Effect» is most often a noun and generally means “a result.” However, «effect» can be used as a verb that essentially means «to bring about,» or «to accomplish.» «Affect» is almost always a verb and generally means «to influence.» However, affect can be used as a noun when you’re talking about the mood that someone appears to have. [Ugh!]
      2. Apostrophes — the position of an apostrophe depends upon whether the noun is singular or plural. For singular words, add an «s» to the end, even if the final letter is an «s.» For contractions, replace missing letters with an apostrophe; but remember that it is where the letters no longer are, which is not always where the words are joined [e.g., «is not» and «isn’t»].
      3. Capitalization — a person’s title is capitalized when it precedes the name and is, thus, seen as part of the name [e.g., President Zachary Taylor]; once the title occurs, further references to the person holding the title appear in lowercase [e.g., the president]. For groups or organizations, the name is capitalized when it is the full name [e.g., the Department of Justice]; further references should be written in lowercase [e.g., the department]. Note that, in general, the use of capital letters should be minimized as much as possible.
      4. Colorless verbs and bland adjectives –- passive voice, use of the to be verb, is a lost opportunity to use a more interesting and accurate verb when you can. Adjectives can also be used very specifically to add to the sentence. Try to avoid generic or bland adjectives and be specific. Use adjectives that add to the meaning of the sentence.
      5. Comma splices — a comma splice is the incorrect use of a comma to connect two independent clauses (an independent clause is a phrase that is grammatically and conceptually complete: that is, it can stand on its own as a sentence). To correct the comma splice, you can: replace the comma with a period, forming two sentences; replace the comma with a semicolon; or, join the two clauses with a conjunction such as «and,» «because,» «but,» etc.
      6. Compared with vs. compared to — compare to is to point out or imply resemblance between objects regarded as essentially of a different order; compare with is mainly to point out differences between objects regarded as essentially of the same order [e.g., life has been compared to a journey; Congress may be compared with the British Parliament].
      7. Confusing singular possessive and plural nouns –- singular possessive nouns always take an apostrophe, with few exceptions, and plural nouns never take an apostrophe. Omitting an apostrophe or adding one where it does not belong makes the sentence unclear.
      8. Coordinating conjunctions — words, such as but, and, yet, join grammatically similar elements (i.e., two nouns, two verbs, two modifiers, two independent clauses). Be sure that the elements they join are equal in importance and in structure.
      9. Dangling participle — a participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject of the sentence.
      10. Dropped commas around clauses–-place commas around words, phrases, or clauses that interrupt a sentence. Do not use commas around restrictive clauses, which provide essential information about the subject of the sentence.
      11. The Existential «this» — always include a referent with «this,» such as «this theory…» or «this approach to understanding the….» With no referent, «this» can confuse the reader.
      12. The Existential «it» — the «existential it» gives no reference for what «it» is. Be specific!
      13. Its / it’s—«its» is the possessive form of «it.» «It’s» is the contraction of «it is.» They are not interchangeable.
      14. Fewer / Less — if you can count it, then use the word fewer; if cannot count it, use the word less.
      15. Interrupting clause –- this clause or phrase interrupts a sentence, such as, «however.» Place a comma on either side of the interrupting clause.
      16. Know your non-restrictive clauses –- this clause or phrase modifies the subject of the sentence but is not essential to understanding the sentence. The word “which” is the relative pronoun usually used to introduce the nonrestrictive clause.
      17. Know your restrictive clauses –- this clause limits the meaning of the nouns it modifies. The restrictive clause introduces information that is essential to understanding the meaning of the sentence. The word “that” is the relative pronoun normally used to introduce this clause. Without this clause or phrase, the meaning of the sentence changes.
      18. Literally — this word means that exactly what you say is true, no metaphors or analogies. Be aware of this if you are using «literally» to describe something.
      19. Lonely quotes –- quotes cannot stand on their own as a sentence. Integrate them into a sentence.
      20. Misuse and abuse of semicolons –- semicolons are used to separate two related independent clauses or to separate items in a list that contains commas. Do not abuse semicolons by using them often. They are best used sparingly.
      21. Overuse of unspecific determinates — words such as «super» [as in super strong] or «very» [as in very strong], are unspecific determinates. How many/much is «very»? How incredibly awesome is super? If you ask ten people how cold, «very cold» is, you would get ten different answers. Academic writing should be precise, so eliminate as many unspecific determinants as possible.
      22. Sentence fragments –- these occur when a dependent clause is punctuated as a complete sentence. Dependent clauses must be used together with an independent clause.
      23. Singular words that sound plural — when using words like «each,» «every,» «everybody,» «nobody,» or «anybody» in a sentence, we’re likely thinking about more than one person or thing. But all these words are grammatically singular: they refer to just one person or thing at a time. And unfortunately, if you change the verb to correct the grammar, you create a pedantic phrase like «he or she» or «his or her.»
      24. Split Infinitive — an infinitive is the form of a verb that begins with «to.» Splitting an infinitive means placing another word or words between the «to» and the infinitive verb. This is considered incorrect by purists, but nowadays it is considered a matter of style rather than poor grammar.
      25. Subject/pronoun disagreement –- there are two types of subject/pronoun disagreement. Shifts in number refer to the shifting between singular and plural in the same sentence. Be consistent. Shifts in person occurs when the person shifts within the sentence from first to second person, from second to third person, etc.
      26. That vs. which that clauses (called restrictive) are essential to the meaning of the sentence; which clauses (called nonrestrictive) merely add additional information. In general, most nonrestrictive clauses in academic writing are incorrect or superfluous. While proofreading, go on a «which» hunt and turn most of them into restrictive clauses.
      27. Verb Tense Agreement — do not switch verbs from present to past or from past to present without a good reason.
      28. Who / whom — who is used as the subject of the clause it introduces; whom is used as the object of a preposition, as a direct object, or as an indirect object. A key to remembering which word to use is to simply substitute who or whom with a pronoun. If you can substitute he, she, we, or they in the clause, and it still sounds okay, then you know that who is the correct word to use. If, however, him, her, us, or them sounds more appropriate, then whom is the correct choice for the sentence.

      Attending to Grammar. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College; Avoiding Common Grammar Mistakes. Department of English Writing Guide. George Mason University; Grammar. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Grammar and Mechanics. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Grammar and Punctuation. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Taylor, Dena and Margaret Procter. Hit Parade Of Errors In Grammar, Punctuation, And Style. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto.

      §

      Citations show your readers where you obtained your material, provides a means of critiquing your study, and offers the opportunity to obtain additional information about the research problem under investigation.

      Properly citing the works of others is important because:

      1. Proper citation allows others to locate the materials you used. Citations to other sources helps readers expand their knowledge on a topic. In some disciplines, one of the most effective strategies for locating authoritative, relevant sources is to follow footnotes or references from known sources [«citation tracking»].
      2. Citing other people’s words and ideas indicates that you have conducted thorough review of the literature on your topic and, therefore, you are operating from an informed perspective. This increases your credibility as the author of the work.
      3. Other researcher’s ideas can be used to reinforce your arguments, or, if you disagree with them, can act as positions from which to argue an alternative viewpoint. In many cases, another researcher’s arguments can act as the primary context from which you can emphasize a different viewpoint or to clarify the importance of what you are proposing.
      4. Just as other researcher’s ideas can bolster your arguments and act as evidence for your ideas, they can also detract from your credibility if they are found to be mistaken or fabricated. Properly citing information not unique to you prevents your reputation from being tarnished if the facts or ideas of others are proven to be inaccurate or off-base.
      5. Outside academe, ideas are considered intellectual property and there can serious repercussions if you fail to cite where you got an idea from. In the professional world, failure to cite other people’s intellectual property ruins careers and reputations and can result in legal action. Given this, it is important to get into the habit of citing sources.

      In any academic writing, you are required to identify for your reader which ideas, facts, theories, concepts, etc., are yours and which are derived from the research and thoughts of others. Whether you summarize, paraphrase, or use direct quotes, if it’s not your original idea, the source needs to be acknowledged. The only exception to this rule is information that is considered to be common knowledge [e.g., George Washington was the first president of the United States]. If in doubt regarding whether something is common knowledge, take the safe route and cite it, or ask your professor for clarification.


      Citing Information. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Referencing More Effectively. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra.

      §

      According to SHU’s Academic Integrity Policy, plagiarism is: any act of misrepresenting the sources of one’s information and ideas. When writing essays, it is the act of presenting another person’s written words or ideas as one’s own. When reporting experimental work, it includes the acts of falsifying data and presenting another’s data as one’s own. In speeches, it involves quoting passages of others’ speeches or written words without mention of the author.

      Forms of plagiarism therefore include, but are not limited to:

      • Copying whole papers or passages from another student or from any source.
      • Allowing another student to copy or submit one’s work.
      • Buying or obtaining a paper from any source, including term-paper sellers and internet sources, and submitting that paper or passages of it as one’s own work.
      • Pasting a passage from the internet or any computer source into one’s paper without quoting and attributing the passage.
      • Fabricating or falsifying a bibliography.

      I.  General Rules

      The function of your paper’s conclusion is to restate the main argument. It reminds the reader of the strengths of your main argument(s) and reiterates the most important evidence supporting those argument(s). Do this by stating clearly the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem you investigated in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found in the literature. Make sure, however, that your conclusion is not simply a repetitive summary of the findings. This reduces the impact of the argument(s) you have developed in your essay.

      When writing the conclusion to your paper, follow these general rules:

      • State your conclusions in clear, simple language. Re-state the purpose of your study then state how your findings differ or support those of other studies and why [i.e., what were the unique or new contributions your study made to the overall research about your topic?].
      • Do not simply reiterate your results or the discussion of your results. Provide a synthesis of arguments presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem and the overall objectives of your study
      • Indicate opportunities for future research if you haven’t already done so in the discussion section of your paper. Highlighting the need for further research provides the reader with evidence that you have an in-depth awareness of the research problem.

      Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is presented well:

      1. If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize the argument for your reader.
      2. If, prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the end of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
      3. Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from the data.

      The conclusion also provides a place for you to persuasively and succinctly restate your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with all the information about the topic. Depending on the discipline you are writing in, the concluding paragraph maycontain your reflections on the evidence presented, or on the essay’s central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the research you have done will depend on the topic and whether your professor wants you to express your observations in this way.

      NOTE: If asked to think introspectively about the topics, do not delve into idle speculation. Being introspective means looking within yourself as an author to try and understand an issue more deeply, not to guess at possible outcomes or make up scenarios not supported by evidence.


      II.  Developing a Compelling Conclusion

      Although an effective conclusion needs to be clear and succinct, it does not need to be written passively or lack a compelling narrative. Strategies to help you move beyond merely summarizing the key points of your research paper may include any of the following strategies:

      1. If your essay deals with a contemporary problem, warn readers of the possible consequences of not attending to the problem.
      2. Recommend a specific course or courses of action that, if adopted, could address a specific problem in practice or in the development of new knowledge.
      3. Cite a relevant quotation or expert opinion already noted in your paper in order to lend authority to the conclusion you have reached [a good place to look is research from your literature review].
      4. Explain the consequences of your research in a way that elicits action or demonstrates urgency in seeking change.
      5. Restate a key statistic, fact, or visual image to emphasize the ultimate point of your paper.
      6. If your discipline encourages personal reflection, illustrate your concluding point with a relevant narrative drawn from your own life experiences.
      7. Return to an anecdote, an example, or a quotation that you presented in your introduction, but add further insight derived from the findings of your study; use your interpretation of results to recast it in new or important ways.
      8. Provide a «take-home» message in the form of a strong, succinct statement that you want the reader to remember about your study.

      III. Problems to Avoid

      Failure to be concise
      Your conclusion section should be concise and to the point. Conclusions that are too lengthy often have unnecessary information in them. The conclusion is not the place for details about your methodology or results. Although you should give a summary of what was learned from your research, this summary should be relatively brief, since the emphasis in the conclusion is on the implications, evaluations, insights, and other forms of analysis that you make. Strategies for writing concisely can be found here.

      Failure to comment on larger, more significant issues
      In the introduction, your task was to move from the general [the field of study] to the specific [the research problem]. However, in the conclusion, your task is to move from a specific discussion [your research problem] back to a general discussion [i.e., how your research contributes new understanding or fills an important gap in the literature]. In short, the conclusion is where you should place your research within a larger context [visualize your paper as an hourglass—start with a broad introduction and review of the literature, move to the specific analysis and discussion, conclude with a broad summary of the study’s implications and significance].

      Failure to reveal problems and negative results
      Negative aspects of the research process should never be ignored. Problems, drawbacks, and challenges encountered during your study should be summarized as a way of qualifying your overall conclusions. If you encountered negative or unintended results [i.e., findings that are validated outside the research context in which they were generated], you must report them in the results section and discuss their implications in the discussion section of your paper. In the conclusion, use your summary of the negative results as an opportunity to explain their possible significance and/or how they may form the basis for future research.

      Failure to provide a clear summary of what was learned
      In order to be able to discuss how your research fits back into your field of study [and possibly the world at large], you need to summarize briefly and succinctly how it contributes to new knowledge or a new understanding about the research problem. This element of your conclusion may be only a few sentences long.

      Failure to match the objectives of your research
      Often research objectives in the social sciences change while the research is being carried out. This is not a problem unless you forget to go back and refine the original objectives in your introduction. As these changes emerge they must be documented so that they accurately reflect what you were trying to accomplish in your research [not what you thought you might accomplish when you began].

      Resist the urge to apologize
      If you’ve immersed yourself in studying the research problem, you presumably should know a good deal about it [perhaps even more than your professor!]. Nevertheless, by the time you have finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you have produced. Repress those doubts! Don’t undermine your authority by saying something like, «This is just one approach to examining this problem; there may be other, much better approaches that….» The overall tone of your conclusion should convey confidence to the reader.


      Assan, Joseph. Writing the Conclusion Chapter: The Good, the Bad and the Missing. Department of Geography, University of Liverpool; Concluding Paragraphs. College Writing Center at Meramec. St. Louis Community College; Conclusions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Conclusions. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Freedman, Leora  and Jerry Plotnick. Introductions and Conclusions. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Leibensperger, Summer. Draft Your Conclusion. Academic Center, the University of Houston-Victoria, 2003; Make Your Last Words Count. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Tips for Writing a Good Conclusion. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Kretchmer, Paul. Twelve Steps to Writing an Effective Conclusion. San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008; Writing Conclusions. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Writing: Considering Structure and Organization. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College.

      “What is the conclusion of an essay?” The answer is obvious. It is the closing part of any type of an academic assignment, no matter whether it is a school essay or college research paper.

      A conclusion is made of 3 different parts. Do not miss any of them:

      1. Rewrite the main premise, which is the thesis statement, which shows up in the opening, introduction paragraph of the essay.
      2. Include a couple of general sentences. They should summarize the arguments involved in the body paragraphs to provide supporting evidence for the major premise.
      3. Add a warning of the outcomes of not following the thesis and a general statement of the way society will benefit from using offered ideas.
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