Your conclusion is a key part of your writing. A good writer knows that the conclusion is often what a reader remembers best. Therefore, your conclusion needs to be the best part of your paper. Scholars frequently read the conclusion of a thesis, dissertation or research article first!
A good conclusion:
- reminds the reader of the main points made;
- emphasizes the importance of the thesis statement;
- gives the reader something to think about;
- points out remaining gaps in knowledge by suggesting issues for further research or work;
- gives the writing a sense of completeness and makes a good, strong final impression.
To write an effective conclusion:
- Remind the reader of the main points. Synthesize, don’t summarize! Don’t simply repeat things that were in your paper. They have read it. Show them how the points you made and the support and examples you used were not random, but tie together.
- Emphasize the importance of your thesis statement. Answer the question “So What?”. Show your readers why your writing was important. Show them that it was meaningful and useful.
- Give readers something to think about. Redirect or challenge your readers. Give your reader something to think about, perhaps a way to use your paper in the “real” world. If your introduction went from general to specific, make your conclusion go from specific to general. Think globally.
- Point out remaining gaps in knowledge. Show that you are aware of the limitations of your writing. Suggest directions for further research or areas where work is still needed. For example, in relation to your Literature Review: “It would be useful to extend this review to include more articles about….”
- begin with “In conclusion” or use the word “conclusion” in any form;
- only sum up;
- write too much. Conclusions are usually no more than 5% of the total writing, or one or two paragraphs long;
- include a quote or paraphrase;
- focus on a minor point you have made;
- introduce new information;
- include jokes or anecdotes.
STRUCTURE – Keep it simple:
- Give a brief synthesis of the main points. Identify the main issues/ reasons / causes / factors / themes.
- Emphasize your thesis statement and its importance.
- Give the reader something to think about.
- Point out gaps in knowledge by suggesting issues for further research or additional work needed
EXAMPLE: Good writing always ends with a strong conclusion (restatement of main idea). However, students may not know how to write a good conclusion, and so may need to develop this skill in order to write well at university (emphasizes importance). A good conclusion reminds the reader of the main points, emphasizes the thesis statement, leaves the reader with something to think about and identifies any gaps. The conclusion therefore serves a number of useful purposes. Yet, because students may be tired of their work at the end, they may feel tempted to rush their writing in order to finish it (something to think about). This is not helpful, and may leave the reader with a poor impression of the writer. Further research is needed in order to establish exactly the extent to which a reader is affected by a badly written conclusion (suggests a gap in knowledge).
REMEMBER: Start strong, end strong! Begin with a strong introduction – end with an even stronger conclusion. That’s good writing!
Source: “Writing an Effective Conclusion” by Caroline Brandt