You’ve done thorough research, finished the dissertation preface, completed your results and discussion chapters, and reached the final stage of your study – creating the dissertation conclusion. This article will cover all the essential aspects of writing a well-crafted conclusion for your academic project. We’ll discuss the essential conclusion components, the main steps to completing this paragraph, and the best hacks to generate a compelling summarizing section for your research.
What is a dissertation conclusion?
To understand how to write a conclusion for a dissertation, it’s necessary to have a clear idea of this term’s meaning. The conclusion is the final major chapter of an academic paper, thesis, or dissertation, providing a brief concluding summary of research findings. Its essential purpose is to give the reader a distinct comprehension of the author’s primary findings and the solution to the research question.
Let’s see what a conclusion should include. A well-rounded summarizing paragraph involves the following functions:
- Synthesizing key points of the research work;
- Presenting the definitive answer to the main research question;
- Explaining the study value by highlighting new knowledge the author has contributed to the field;
- Discussing the research weaknesses and limitations;
- Outlining perspectives for future research.
It’s important to note that the final chapter should be based solely on the information and findings exposed in earlier paragraphs. Introducing new facts or data points is not advisable and should be avoided. If new points need to be introduced, they should be added to the earlier results and discussion paragraphs.
It’s common for readers to jump from the introduction to the conclusion to get a brief overview of the research findings. That’s why ensuring a smooth flow and strong connection between these two chapters is important, even if these paragraphs are on opposite ends of your thesis.
What’s the main difference between a discussion and a conclusion?
Upon closer examination, while writing a thesis or dissertation conclusion, you may observe that a conclusion and discussion share similarities in their components. Still, they’re not identical.
The primary distinction between the two is that a conclusion tends to be more concise and offers a broader perspective than a discussion. It’s necessary to refrain from analyzing particular research results, repeating information from the literature review, or delving into detailed data interpretations. Instead, a better solution is to focus on making general statements summarizing the most significant ideas from the research work.
In some cases, discussion paragraphs may be combined with conclusions, particularly in journal articles and shorter academic papers. Some universities suggest merging the conclusion and discussion. Still, in a thesis or dissertation, writers usually include a separate chapter summarizing their research and leaving the reader with a final impression of their investigation, distinct from the discussion section.
How long should your best conclusion be?
The length of a conclusion may vary depending on the type of academic work you’re writing. Generally, a paragraph to conclude a research paper should constitute approximately 5-7% of the total word count. In an empirical scientific study, this part is typically brief, summarizing the main findings and suggesting areas for further research. On the contrary, a systematic review or humanities dissertation may need a more extensive conclusion, integrating and synthesizing the analysis from previous paragraphs into an overarching argument.
How to write a dissertation conclusion: 6 effective steps
If you read this article, it means your research paper is almost ready. You clearly know how to write a dissertation introduction, complete your body paragraph, and understand what the conclusion entails. Now, it’s time to explore the essential steps to writing your academic paper's end. Note that this structure is just one sample and may vary depending on your university's requirements. Some colleges may prefer that certain points be covered in the discussion section or in different paragraphs.
Step 1. Begin with a concise introduction.
Like other chapters in your thesis, the conclusion should start with a short introduction. This part aims to inform the readers about what they can find here and how the information is exposed. The goal is to provide the reader with an overview of what will be covered in the chapter rather than a chapter summary. Therefore, keep it brief and concise, limiting it to one or two paragraphs. Here's one of the dissertation conclusion examples of how this could be done.
“The purpose of this chapter is to summarize the main findings of our investigation according to the research aims and and discuss their significance and contribution. Additionally, the study’s limitations will be reviewed, and perspectives for future research will be proposed.”
Step 2. Consider the research findings related to your study’s purpose.
The next stage is to present the overall findings of your investigation related to the research questions and aims. It’s essential to take a step back and consider the broad implications of the findings. To contextualize the findings, it’s useful to begin this part of your text by reminding the reader of your research questions and aims. You may use the same phrases as in our examples: “This research aimed to…”, “the study is focused on,” “the results show that…” etc.
“The study aimed to discover the relationship between exercise and mental health in young adults. Our investigation results show a relation between regular physical activity and lower stress and anxiety levels, particularly in those who engage in moderate to vigorous activity with regularity. This is consistent with previous research on the stress-reducing benefits of exercise. Additionally, higher levels of physical activity were positively correlated with improved mood and well-being, in line with the theory of exercise-induced endorphin release. The study also identified gender differences, with more pronounced effects in females.”
Avoid making exaggerated claims in this section, such as “this research proves that” or “the results of our investigation refute the existing theory.” It’s rare for a single study to prove or disprove any facts, as it typically requires more extensive research. Theses and dissertations inherently have limitations. We will consider these limitations in more detail later.
Step 3. Explain your investigation value for the subject area.
In the next section, it’s necessary to discuss your research's contribution to the field in practice and theory. It entails discussing the study's achievements, significance, and applicability, emphasizing its importance and value in practical applications. Here, you should:
- Enumerate the research outputs resulting from your study (for example, publications, articles, or any other);
- Explain how your study addresses your research problem and why this matters;
- Provide your ideas about gaps in existing research and explain how your thesis contributes to solving these issues;
- Give your opinion on how your study relates to relevant theories, whether it confirms them or provides an opposite point of view;
- Explain how your dissertation findings can be used in real-world settings, and suggest specific actions practitioners can take to apply your findings.
“These findings contribute to the existing literature on the topic and support the significance of incorporating regular physical activity as a potential intervention for promoting mental health among young people and college students.”
It's important to balance being confident but humble in your argumentation. It’s almost impossible for a single study to revolutionize a field or challenge established paradigms. Therefore, making grand claims may not be well-received. Still, you should confidently present your arguments, and assert the contribution of your investigation, however small it may be. In short, aim for a balanced approach.
Step 4. Explain the study’s limitations.
After enhancing your research, critically analyzing your paper’s limitations and potential flaws is crucial. While you may have addressed some of these in the discussion chapter according to your university’s preferences, avoid unnecessary repetition.
Potential limitations that may be applied to a thesis can include the following:
- Non-probability sampling and sampling issues that decrease the generalizability of the research results;
- Inappropriate sample size (for example, insufficient number of survey responses) or restricted data access;
- Low-resolution data collection or analysis methods;
- Lack of writing experience of the researcher;
- Limited access to research facilities;
- Budget constraints restricting various investigation aspects;
- Time limits restricting the methodology (longitudinal vs. cross-sectional time horizon).
Considering the limitations of your study may initially seem counterproductive as nobody wants to emphasize their weaknesses. However, it’s a crucial component of any academic work. It’s necessary to acknowledge that all papers, even those completed by writing experts with ample funding, have limitations. By recognizing them and demonstrating that you acknowledge the constraints of your research design, you add credibility to your investigation.
Nevertheless, be mindful of your wording and avoid undermining your research value. It’s essential to balance acknowledging limitations and emphasizing the significance of your study despite these limitations. Demonstrate you understand the limitations to your readers: they were well-founded considering your constraints, and you have insights on how they can be addressed and improved. This approach will earn you credibility and recognition for your research.
“However, it’s crucial to acknowledge the limitations inherent in this study. Firstly, the sample size was relatively small, which may restrict the applicability of the findings to broader populations. Moreover, the study relied on self-reported measures of exercise and mental health, which could be susceptible to biases and may not fully capture the intricacies of these constructs. Additionally, the study had a relatively short duration, and the long-term effects of exercise on mental health were not thoroughly examined. To obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between exercise and mental health, future research should consider larger and more diverse samples, utilize objective measures of exercise, and incorporate longer follow-up periods. Nonetheless, despite these limitations, the findings of this study offer valuable insights into the potential benefits of exercise for mental health and have implications for future research and practical applications.”
Step 5. Provide recommendations for future research.
The next stage is to formulate recommendations for further studies based on the limitations discussed earlier. For instance, if your study had data collection or analysis weaknesses, you can suggest that future researchers apply more sophisticated techniques.
You can also provide recommendations based on surprising or outstanding findings or data points that were not entirely related to your study goals and research questions. If any observations stood out but were not mentioned in the discussion, you could define them for further investigation in this part of your text.
In this section, you have the chance to guide how other writers can further develop your study and add to the existing knowledge. Articulate the fresh inquiries that your dissertation has generated, which can serve as reference points for future researchers to explore.
“Further research in this area may give supplementary insights into the mechanisms underlying the relationship between physical activity and mental health and inform the development of targeted interventions to improve mental health outcomes in young adults.”
Step 6. Conclude with a summary.
Finally, wrap up your conclusion chapter with a closing summary. It should briefly recap the essential thoughts of your work without adding new information. Keep it concise, ideally a paragraph or two, for easy reference by your readers.
“To sum up, the findings of this study emphasize the positive impact of physical activity on mental health outcomes in young adults, specifically in terms of improved mood, reduced stress, and overall well-being.”
Working tips for outstanding conclusions
Let’s see some practical recommendations on how to write a dissertation conclusion that can help you create a compelling summary of your research findings.
- Be coherent. The conclusion should be at most 7% of the overall number of words (still, the requirements may differ in various universities), so strive for conciseness. You should edit this section rigorously, focusing on clarity and brevity.
- Be cautious with claims about your study’s contribution. Be reasonable but confident in your assertions.
- Stick to using simple and clear language that is easy to understand for your audience. Note that not all readers are professionals in your subject area, so make sure your content is understandable for everyone. You know your research better than anyone else, so explain your findings clearly to your audience.
On the EduBirdie website, you’ll find many creative dissertation topic ideas and effective recommendations to tackle the conclusion of your thesis. If you still feel uncertain and need assistance, do not hesitate to order a consultation with our experts to solve all your academic writing issues.
What doesn’t go in a dissertation conclusion?
Let’s see some things you must avoid while completing your dissertation conclusion as they make it incoherent and unclear.
- Avoid introducing new material.
Offering personal reflections and ideas while concluding a dissertation is acceptable. Still, avoiding adding new arguments or evidence at this stage is crucial. Integrate it into the main body if you need to include something important.
- Don’t write too much.
The final section of your research should concisely summarize your findings without delving into excessive detail. Keep this chapter brief and easy to understand, presenting a digestible overview of what has been discussed previously.
- Avoid exaggerations.
It’s better to avoid unfounded or exaggerated claims about your research contribution that may disengage the reader.
- Clarify your research results.
Your dissertation shouldn’t leave your reader in suspense. Explicitly address the research questions or objectives you set out to answer, ensuring that nothing is skipped in your conclusion.
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