FAQs about writing a Conclusion
How do I write a compelling Conclusion for my paper?
A useful thing to bear in mind is that your Conclusion isn’t about summarizing your paper, but rather synthesizing the main points and opening up to larger considerations. Don’t shy away from stating your study’s contributions to the field and, if applicable, to the real world (but don’t overstate them). Also emphasize your study’s originality: if it is the first to tackle an important research question, or to use a particular methodology, say so. Consider finishing with a strong sentence that conveys the take-home message from your findings.
How long should my Conclusion be?
Your Conclusion should be straightforward and concise. The number of paragraphs will vary depending on the length of the work itself, i.e. whether you are writing a short report, journal article, or PhD thesis. The two examples here show how greatly length can differ. But in general, your Conclusion should be no more than a few paragraphs long; perhaps up to five or six, or around 5-7% of the overall word count. If you find that it is very long, it probably has unnecessary details that should have been included in previous sections of your paper. Remember that the emphasis here should be on the main findings and the bigger picture, not details.
Should my Conclusion mirror my Introduction?
It is sometimes thought that Introductions and Conclusions should mirror each other. They are similar in that they have prominent places as beginning and closing sections, and sometimes end up being the only ones that are read. Both should ideally be compelling to readers. The key difference between the two is that while your Introduction should go from the general to the specific (starting with the state of existing research and knowledge gaps to your present study), your Conclusion should do the opposite (starting with a synthesis of your findings to broader implications and avenues for future research). The mirroring is not only in structure but also in content: the questions you raise as part of your Introduction should find their answers in your Conclusion.
How do I avoid repeating information in my Conclusion?
Though your Conclusion will include some elements of repetition from the body of your paper, it should not be a summary of your work. That is what your Abstract is for. Remember that it is your one chance to tie elements together and to stress the importance and wider applicability of your work, so it should go beyond restating ideas using different words.
Make sure you read your entire paper again before writing your Conclusion, so you remember what you have written. If you find yourself repeating a lot of information in your Conclusion, you may have devoted too much space to synthesizing your findings. See if you can cut a few sentences by removing information that is too detailed for a Conclusion.
Can I present new ideas in my Conclusion?
In general, it is advisable not to include new information in your Conclusion. Conclusions should not strike an unpredictable note. You should definitely not present any arguments or evidence that you haven’t already introduced in previous sections (such as in your Results or Discussion). Your Conclusion should summarize and reflect on your findings, not introduce new ones. However, it is permissible for your Conclusion to include new ideas based on your findings, such as broader implications/applications and directions for future research.