Writing the parts of scientific reports
22 Writing the conclusion & recommendations
There are probably some overlaps between the Conclusion and the Discussion section. Nevertheless, this section gives you the opportunity to highlight the most important points in your report, and is sometimes the only section read. Think about what your research/ study has achieved, and the most important findings and ideas you want the reader to know. As all studies have limitations also think about what you were not able to cover (this shows that you are able to evaluate your own work objectively).
Possible structure of this section:
Use present perfect to sum up/ evaluate:
This study has explored/ has attempted …
Use past tense to state what your aim was and to refer to actions you carried out:
- This study was intended to analyse …
- The aim of this study was to …
Use present tense to evaluate your study and to state the generalizations and implications that you draw from your findings.
- The results add to the knowledge of …
- These findings s uggest that …
You can either use present tense or past tense to summarize your results.
- The findings reveal …
- It was found that …
Achievements of this study (positive)
- This study provides evidence that …
- This work has contributed to a number of key issues in the field such as …
Limitations of the study (negative)
- Several limitations should be noted. First …
Combine positive and negative remarks to give a balanced assessment:
- Although this research is somewhat limited in scope, its findings can provide a basis for future studies.
- Despite the limitations, findings from the present study can help us understand …
Use more cautious language (modal verbs may, can, could)
- There are a number of possible extensions of this research …
- The findings suggest the possibility for future research on …
- These results may be important for future studies on …
- Examining a wider context could/ would lead …
Or indicate that future research is needed
- There is still a need for future research to determine …
- Further studies should be undertaken to discover…
- It would be worthwhile to investigate …
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How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Conclusion
Published on September 6, 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes. Revised on November 11, 2022.
The conclusion is the very last part of your thesis or dissertation . It should be concise and engaging, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your main findings, as well as the answer to your research question .
In it, you should:
- Clearly state the answer to your main research question
- Summarize and reflect on your research process
- Make recommendations for future work on your thesis or dissertation topic
- Show what new knowledge you have contributed to your field
- Wrap up your thesis or dissertation
Table of contents
Discussion vs. conclusion, how long should your conclusion be, step 1: answer your research question, step 2: summarize and reflect on your research, step 3: make future recommendations, step 4: emphasize your contributions to your field, step 5: wrap up your thesis or dissertation, full conclusion example, conclusion checklist, frequently asked questions about conclusion sections.
While your conclusion contains similar elements to your discussion section , they are not the same thing.
Your conclusion should be shorter and more general than your discussion. Instead of repeating literature from your literature review , discussing specific research results , or interpreting your data in detail, concentrate on making broad statements that sum up the most important insights of your research.
As a rule of thumb, your conclusion should not introduce new data, interpretations, or arguments.
Depending on whether you are writing a thesis or dissertation, your length will vary. Generally, a conclusion should make up around 5–7% of your overall word count.
An empirical scientific study will often have a short conclusion, concisely stating the main findings and recommendations for future research. A humanities dissertation topic or systematic review , on the other hand, might require more space to conclude its analysis, tying all the previous sections together in an overall argument.
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Your conclusion should begin with the main question that your thesis or dissertation aimed to address. This is your final chance to show that you’ve done what you set out to do, so make sure to formulate a clear, concise answer.
- Don’t repeat a list of all the results that you already discussed
- Do synthesize them into a final takeaway that the reader will remember.
An empirical thesis or dissertation conclusion may begin like this:
A case study –based thesis or dissertation conclusion may begin like this:
In the second example, the research aim is not directly restated, but rather added implicitly to the statement. To avoid repeating yourself, it is helpful to reformulate your aims and questions into an overall statement of what you did and how you did it.
Your conclusion is an opportunity to remind your reader why you took the approach you did, what you expected to find, and how well the results matched your expectations.
To avoid repetition , consider writing more reflectively here, rather than just writing a summary of each preceding section. Consider mentioning the effectiveness of your methodology , or perhaps any new questions or unexpected insights that arose in the process.
You can also mention any limitations of your research, but only if you haven’t already included these in the discussion. Don’t dwell on them at length, though—focus on the positives of your work.
- While x limits the generalizability of the results, this approach provides new insight into y .
- This research clearly illustrates x , but it also raises the question of y .
You may already have made a few recommendations for future research in your discussion section, but the conclusion is a good place to elaborate and look ahead, considering the implications of your findings in both theoretical and practical terms.
- Based on these conclusions, practitioners should consider …
- To better understand the implications of these results, future studies could address …
- Further research is needed to determine the causes of/effects of/relationship between …
When making recommendations for further research, be sure not to undermine your own work. Relatedly, while future studies might confirm, build on, or enrich your conclusions, they shouldn’t be required for your argument to feel complete. Your work should stand alone on its own merits.
Just as you should avoid too much self-criticism, you should also avoid exaggerating the applicability of your research. If you’re making recommendations for policy, business, or other practical implementations, it’s generally best to frame them as “shoulds” rather than “musts.” All in all, the purpose of academic research is to inform, explain, and explore—not to demand.
Make sure your reader is left with a strong impression of what your research has contributed to the state of your field.
Some strategies to achieve this include:
- Returning to your problem statement to explain how your research helps solve the problem
- Referring back to the literature review and showing how you have addressed a gap in knowledge
- Discussing how your findings confirm or challenge an existing theory or assumption
Again, avoid simply repeating what you’ve already covered in the discussion in your conclusion. Instead, pick out the most important points and sum them up succinctly, situating your project in a broader context.
The end is near! Once you’ve finished writing your conclusion, it’s time to wrap up your thesis or dissertation with a few final steps:
- It’s a good idea to write your abstract next, while the research is still fresh in your mind.
- Next, make sure your reference list is complete and correctly formatted. To speed up the process, you can use our free APA citation generator .
- Once you’ve added any appendices , you can create a table of contents and title page .
- Finally, read through the whole document again to make sure your thesis is clearly written and free from language errors. You can proofread it yourself , ask a friend, or consider Scribbr’s proofreading and editing service .
Here is an example of how you can write your conclusion section. Notice how it includes everything mentioned above:
The current research aimed to identify acoustic speech characteristics which mark the beginning of an exacerbation in COPD patients.
The central questions for this research were as follows: 1. Which acoustic measures extracted from read speech differ between COPD speakers in stable condition and healthy speakers? 2. In what ways does the speech of COPD patients during an exacerbation differ from speech of COPD patients during stable periods?
All recordings were aligned using a script. Subsequently, they were manually annotated to indicate respiratory actions such as inhaling and exhaling. The recordings of 9 stable COPD patients reading aloud were then compared with the recordings of 5 healthy control subjects reading aloud. The results showed a significant effect of condition on the number of in- and exhalations per syllable, the number of non-linguistic in- and exhalations per syllable, and the ratio of voiced and silence intervals. The number of in- and exhalations per syllable and the number of non-linguistic in- and exhalations per syllable were higher for COPD patients than for healthy controls, which confirmed both hypotheses.
However, the higher ratio of voiced and silence intervals for COPD patients compared to healthy controls was not in line with the hypotheses. This unpredicted result might have been caused by the different reading materials or recording procedures for both groups, or by a difference in reading skills. Moreover, there was a trend regarding the effect of condition on the number of syllables per breath group. The number of syllables per breath group was higher for healthy controls than for COPD patients, which was in line with the hypothesis. There was no effect of condition on pitch, intensity, center of gravity, pitch variability, speaking rate, or articulation rate.
This research has shown that the speech of COPD patients in exacerbation differs from the speech of COPD patients in stable condition. This might have potential for the detection of exacerbations. However, sustained vowels rarely occur in spontaneous speech. Therefore, the last two outcome measures might have greater potential for the detection of beginning exacerbations, but further research on the different outcome measures and their potential for the detection of exacerbations is needed due to the limitations of the current study.
I have clearly and concisely answered the main research question .
I have summarized my overall argument or key takeaways.
I have mentioned any important limitations of the research.
I have given relevant recommendations .
I have clearly explained what my research has contributed to my field.
I have not introduced any new data or arguments.
You've written a great conclusion! Use the other checklists to further improve your dissertation.
In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.
The conclusion is more shorter and more general: it concisely answers your main research question and makes recommendations based on your overall findings.
While it may be tempting to present new arguments or evidence in your thesis or disseration conclusion , especially if you have a particularly striking argument you’d like to finish your analysis with, you shouldn’t. Theses and dissertations follow a more formal structure than this.
All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the discussion section and results section .) The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.
For a stronger dissertation conclusion , avoid including:
- Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the discussion section and results section
- Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion …”)
- Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g., “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)
Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.
The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.
The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation should include the following:
- A restatement of your research question
- A summary of your key arguments and/or results
- A short discussion of the implications of your research
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George, T. & McCombes, S. (2022, November 11). How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Conclusion. Scribbr. Retrieved March 12, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/write-conclusion/
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How to Write Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations in a Research
The summary, conclusion and recommendations are the last part of the research work . It is essential to have this in all research work, both qualitative and quantitative . When perusing a research work (thesis or research articles ), the readers go directly to the summary, conclusion, and recommendation and see if they could point out what the dissertation is saying because it is common in this chapter.
The gap in the literature identified in the introduction signifies what the scholars decided to look at, what they finally assert when their study is done. What did it inform them, and what they are teaching us about the matter. Did they get the expected outcomes? If so, why or why not? The thesis is likely to be a very logical and provisional assertion instead of a broad statement.
Almost every research study concludes by encouraging other academics to continue the work by stating that more investigation is necessary on the topic. Nevertheless, please do not confuse this ruling with the thesis; it is merely a tradition. Frequently, the researchers offer detailed information about possible future research that might or can be undertaken in an attempt to make sense of the findings of their research. The following steps will guide in write a good chapter five:
Step 1: Summary
It is now time to go through each section and highlight the critical statements. What information does the reader have to fully comprehend the article’s central argument or inference? Remember that a summary does not necessitate rephrasing every single line of the article. The idea is to identify the main elements while excluding any background knowledge or optional information. A summary of findings reveals and summarises the most critical factors and outcomes of a study, including the best theoretical boundaries and the finality of the substantiation for each result. It tells the reader what has been done, how it has been done, and the study results. An engaging summary of findings allows the readers to see as many or more minor findings and just about relevant data about each result, see effect estimates presented in various ways, and view clarifications of the evidence supplied.
Step 2: Conclusions
After analysing the literature, the conclusion should aid in understanding why the study is essential to them. A conclusion is a synthesis of critical elements, not just a description of the points or a re-statement of the problem statement. For most research studies, one well-developed paragraph suffices as a conclusion. However, a two- or three paragraph conclusion may be considered necessary in some situations. It is vital to include a conclusion in a thesis, journal article or dissertation to inform the readers of the strength and effect of the assertions in the study. Concluding statements in a thesis can also aid in refocusing the reader’s attention on the quality statements and verifiable details of the research. Conclusions can also form a foundation for further research, generate new ideas to address an issue raised in the thesis or propose novel approaches to a problem. Consider the steps below to help you get started when writing the conclusion of your study:
- Restate the research topic.
- Reiterate the thesis (objective of the study).
- Make a summary of the main points.
- Mention the relevance or outcomes.
- Wrap up your thoughts.
- Inability to be concise.
- Inability to make a statement on more significant, more important issues.
- Failure to expose problems leads to adverse outcomes.
- Inability to provide a brief overview of what was observed.
- Failure to align the research aim and objectives.
- Refrain from apologizing.
Step 3: Recommendations
You may have already created suggestions for future studies in the discussion, but the recommendation is a great place to explain, taking into account the potential ramifications of your research results for practice and theory. The recommendations should be premised on the conclusions of the study.
- Predicated on these conclusions, managers should consider… Additional researches could address…
- Further research is necessary to confirm the causative factors of/effects of/relationship between…
Avoid overstating the practicability of the study. If you’re making policy, business, or other policy implications, it’s best to structure them as suggestions instead of instructions. Academic research aims to educate, demonstrate, and explore rather than to instruct.
Make sure not to undermine the research carried out when making recommendations for additional research. Academic research aims to educate, demonstrate, and explore rather than to instruct.
Make sure not to undermine the research carried out when making recommendations for additional research.
Step 4: Recommendations for further study
Future studies may confirm, build on, or supplement your findings, but they should not be considered necessary to accomplish them. Highlight the contributions. Make sure the reader understands how the study has contributed to knowledge in the field in focus.
The suggestions for further study should address other areas that your study did not cover. That is, suggestions for further study should expand on the limitations and scope of your study.
Organizing Academic Research Papers: Purpose of Guide
Purpose of guide.
- Design Flaws to Avoid
- Glossary of Research Terms
- Narrowing a Topic Idea
- Broadening a Topic Idea
- Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
- Academic Writing Style
- Choosing a Title
- Making an Outline
- Paragraph Development
- Executive Summary
- Background Information
- The Research Problem/Question
- Theoretical Framework
- Citation Tracking
- Content Alert Services
- Evaluating Sources
- Primary Sources
- Secondary Sources
- Tertiary Sources
- What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
- Qualitative Methods
- Quantitative Methods
- Using Non-Textual Elements
- Limitations of the Study
- Common Grammar Mistakes
- Avoiding Plagiarism
- Footnotes or Endnotes?
- Further Readings
- Annotated Bibliography
- Dealing with Nervousness
- Using Visual Aids
- Grading Someone Else's Paper
- How to Manage Group Projects
- Multiple Book Review Essay
- Reviewing Collected Essays
- About Informed Consent
- Writing Field Notes
- Writing a Policy Memo
- Writing a Research Proposal
This guide is intended to help you organize and write a quality academic research paper. Also included are recommendations regarding how to manage specific course assignments. Note that, if you have specific questions about how to write a research paper, you should always seek advice from your professor before you begin. Specific requirements stated by your professor will always supersede instructions provided in these general guidelines.
Thanks to Dr. Robert V. Labaree of the Von KleinSmid Center Library for International and Public Affairs, University of Southern California Libraries , for sharing the content of this guide.
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