Writing the conclusion is not necessarily done last but often in parallel with the introduction or the abstract.
The conclusion of a research paper is where you wrap up your ideas and leave the reader with a strong final impression. It has several main objectives:
- Restate the research problem addressed in the article
- Summarize your arguments or conclusions generals
- Suggest the main takeaways from your article
The content of the conclusion varies depending on whether your article presents the results of original empirical research or builds an argument through engagement with sources.
The conclusion can be built in a series of sentences as follows (1 or 2 sentences maximum for each point):
- Sentence 1 Recall the subject : The trick is to make the statement as coherent and short as possible. In a single sentence, there should be information about your topic and its importance.
- Sentence 2 Rephrase your thesis : Do you remember that last sentence of your introduction ? Here you need to paraphrase it so that it is not identical to the original thesis statement.
- Sentence 3 It's time to sum up the main arguments of your research paper. It would be easier if you proofread your work and highlight only the most important ideas and evidence. Remember that the conclusion is not the place for new information. Therefore, focus only on the points you present in the main body of your article. The purpose of this brief summary is to remind your readers of the importance of the subject you are working on.
- Sentence 4 Emphasize the importance of results : Here you can actually say a few words about the importance of your arguments. If you explain it elsewhere in your writing, there is no need to go into detail in the conclusion. Therefore, a short but meaningful sentence can do its job well. You can also try to bring a broader perspective here. For example, describe how your findings are making a difference in a particular area. In case of confusion, it can be useful to try to answer the question: "So what?" »
- Sentence 5 Call to Action : Note that, like the previous point, this one is optional. If you think it would be appropriate, comment on the need for further research on the topic. Usually, articles dealing with scientific questions and public are the most appropriate choices to call readers to action. Also, this is a great place to leave a comment on the unanswered question in the main body if there is one.
First step, recall the problem
The first task of your conclusion is to remind the reader of your research problem. You'll have discussed this issue in depth throughout the body, but now it's about zooming out from the details to the bigger picture.
While reframing a problem that you have already presented, you should avoid phrasing it identically to how it appeared in the introduction. Ideally, you will find a new way back to the problem from the more detailed ideas discussed in the body.
For example, an argumentative article advocating new measures to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture might rephrase its problem as follows:
While the role of livestock in climate change is now widely known, countries like the Netherlands continually fail to address this issue with the urgency it deserves.
Meanwhile, an empirical paper investigating the relationship between Instagram use and body image issues might present its problem like this:
As social media becomes increasingly central to young people's daily lives, it is important to understand how different platforms affect their developing sense of self.
Avoid starting your conclusion with phrases like "In conclusion" or "To wrap up," as this may seem too obvious and give the impression that your writing is unsophisticated. The content and location of your conclusion should make its function clear without requiring additional signage.
Second step, summarize your work
After zooming out on the problem, it's time to summarize how the body of the document tackled it and what conclusions this approach led to.
Depending on the nature of your research paper, this may mean restating your thesis and arguments, or summarizing your general conclusions.
Argumentative article: Reformulate your thesis and your arguments
In an argumentative article, you will have presented a thesis statement in your introduction, expressing the overall claim that your article argues for. In the conclusion, you should restate the thesis and show how it has been developed through the body of the article.
Briefly summarize the main arguments made in the body, showing how each of them contributes to proving your thesis. You can also mention any counter-arguments you have addressed, highlighting why your thesis resists them, especially if your argument is controversial.
Don't go into detail about your evidence or present new ideas; focus on describing in broad strokes the point you made.
Empirical Document: Summarize your findings
In an empirical article, this is the time to summarize your main conclusions. Do not go into details here (you will have already presented your in-depth results and your discussion), but clearly express the answers to the research questions you have studied.
Describe your main results, even if they are not necessarily what you expected or hoped for, and explain the general conclusion to which they led you.
Third step, discuss the consequences
After summarizing your main arguments or conclusions, the conclusion ends by discussing the broader implications of your research. This means expressing the main lessons, practical or theoretical, of your article, often in the form of a call to action or suggestions for future research.
Argument Paper: Strong Closing Statement
An argumentative paper usually ends with a strong closing statement. In the case of a practical argument, make a call to action: What actions do you think should be taken by relevant people or organizations in response to your argument?
If your topic is more academic and not suitable for a call to action, your closing statement should express the importance of your argument, such as offering a new understanding of a topic or laying the groundwork for future research. .
Empirical Article: Future Research Directions
In a more empirical paper, you can conclude either by making recommendations for practice (for example, in clinical or policy papers) or by suggesting directions for future research.
Regardless of the scope of your own research, there will always be room for further investigation into related topics, and you will often uncover new questions and issues during the research process.
End your article on a forward-looking note by suggesting how you or other researchers might expand on this topic in the future and address the limitations of the current article.