Conclusion Paragraph Format Research Paper

Make Your Last Words Count

 

In academic writing, a well-crafted conclusion can provide the final word on the value of your analysis, research, or paper. Complete your conclusions with conviction!

Conclusions show readers the value of your completely developed argument or thoroughly answered question. Consider the conclusion from the reader's perspective. At the end of a paper, a reader wants to know how to benefit from the work you accomplished in your paper. Here are ways to think about the purpose of a conclusion:

  • To connect the paper's findings to a larger context, such as the wider conversation about an issue as it is presented in a course or in other published writing.
  • To suggest the implications of your findings or the importance of the topic.
  • To ask questions or suggest ideas for further research.
  • To revisit your main idea or research question with new insight.

Should you summarize?

Consider what readers can keep track of in their heads. If your paper is long or complex, some summary of your key points will remind readers of the ground you've covered. If your paper is short, your readers may not need a summary. In any paper, you'll want to push beyond mere summary to suggest the implications or applications of your work.

How do you start drafting a conclusion?

Effective conclusions take the paper beyond summary and demonstrate a further appreciation of the paper's argument and its significance: why it works, why it is meaningful, and why it is valuable. To get started, you might ask yourself these questions:

  • How do the ideas in your paper connect to what you have discussed in class, or to what scholars have written in their treatment of your topic?
  • What new ideas have you added to the conversation? What ideas do you critique?
  • What are the limitations of your data, methods, or results?
  • What are the consequences of the strongest idea that comes out of your paper?
  • How can you return to the question or situation you describe in your introduction?

Examples

Mechanical engineering

From Mounting methodologies to measure EUV reticle nonflatness (SPIE Proceedings 7470, 2009), by UW–Madison Professor Roxanne L. Engelstad's lab. Notice how Battula et al. explain the limitations of their findings, and identify specific future developments that would make their proposal more accurately testable.

The horizontal whiffle tree mount should have performed the best considering the kinematics of the 16 support points, as well as theoretically displaying the least amount of gravitational distortions. However, due to possible friction at the pivoted joints and the current tolerances on the whiffle tree system, there were difficulties in using this mount. At this time, the process of averaging the measurements taken at four vertical orientations appears to be the best approach.

Gender and Women's Studies

From Examining Millie and Christine McKoy: Where Enslavement and Enfreakment Meet (Signs 37, 2011), by UW–Madison Professor Ellen Samuels. Notice how Samuels's conclusion briefly summarizes her article's main claims before turning to the consequences of her strongest claims.

While there are still many questions left unanswered about the McKoys, and many possible truths to be drawn from their lives, I have aimed in this article to establish that at least two things are not true: the tale of the beneficent and beloved slaveowners and the resigned, downcast expression on Millie's face in the altered picture. Moreover, I contend that turning away from historical legacies as complex and dangerous as those of enslavement and enfreakment keeps us from being able to understand them and to imagine different futures. We need to develop paradigms of analysis that allow us to perceive and interpret both the radical empowerment of the McKoys' lives and the oppressions that are no less fundamental to their story. Such an analysis must allow for dissonance, contradictions, and even discomfort in its gaze. Only then can we move forward with the work of shaping new representations and new possibilities for extraordinary bodily experience.

Legal writing

From UW–Madison Law Professor Andrew B. Coan's Judicial Capacity and the Substance of Constitutional Law (2012). Notice how this conclusion emphasizes the significance of the topic under consideration.

Judicial capacity has been too long misunderstood and too long neglected. It is a central institutional characteristic of the judiciary, which has significant predictive power in important constitutional domains and also significant normative implications. It deserves consideration from constitutional theorists on par with that accorded to judicial competence and judicial independence. Indeed, it is crucial to a full understanding of both of these much-discussed institutional features of the judiciary.

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Writing a Good Conclusion Paragraph

Parents, does your student need assistance with writing a concluding paragraph? Our teachers can help. Sign up for either our Middle School Essay Writing or High School Essay Writing course for 1-on-1 guidance.


In a conclusion paragraph, you summarize what you’ve written about in your paper. When you’re writing a good conclusion paragraph, you need to think about the main point that you want to get across and be sure it’s included. If you’ve already written a fabulous introductory paragraph, you can write something similar with different wording. Here are some points to remember.

Use your introductory paragraph as a guide. You may have started by saying, “There are three classes at school that I absolutely can’t wait to go to every day.” You can start your conclusion by saying, “Gym, Math, and Art are the three classes I try to never miss.”

If it’s a longer paper, a good place to start is by looking at what each paragraph was about. For example, if you write a paper about zoo animals, each paragraph would probably be about one particular animal. In your conclusion, you should briefly mention each animal again. “Zoo animals like polar bears, lions, and giraffes are amazing creatures.”

Leave your readers with something to think about. Suggest that they learn more with a sentence like, “We have a lot to learn about global warming.” You can also give them something to do after reading your paper. For example, “It’s easy to make your own popsicles. Grab some orange juice and give it a try!”

To sum up, remember that it’s important to wrap up your writing by summarizing the main idea for your readers. This brings your writing to a smooth close and creates a well-written piece of work.


What is a conclusion?

  • A conclusion is what you will leave with your reader
  • It “wraps up” your essay
  • It demonstrates to the reader that you accomplished what you set out to do
  • It shows how you have proved your thesis
  • It provides the reader with a sense of closure on the topic

Structure

  • A conclusion is the opposite of the introduction
  • Remember that the introduction begins general and ends specific
  • The conclusion begins specific and moves to the general

Essay Structure

  • So, if we use shapes to demonstrate the essay’s content, it would look like this:

 

Introduction

Thesis statement

Body of Essay

Rephrased thesis statement

Conclusion

 


What to include

  • Your conclusion wraps up your essay in a tidy package and brings it home for your reader
  • Your topic sentence should summarize what you said in your thesis statement
    • This suggests to your reader that you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish
  • Do not simply restate your thesis statement, as that would be redundant
    • Rephrase the thesis statement with fresh and deeper understanding
  • Your conclusion is no place to bring up new ideas
  • Your supporting sentences should summarize what you have already said in the body of your essay
    • If a brilliant idea tries to sneak into the final paragraph, you must pluck it out and let it have its own paragraph in the body, or leave it out completely
  • Your topic for each body paragraph should be summarized in the conclusion
  • Your closing sentence should help the reader feel a sense of closure
  • Your closing sentence is your last word on the subject; it is your “clincher”
    • Demonstrate the importance of your ideas
    • Propel your reader to a new view of the subject
    • End on a positive note
  • Your closing sentence should make your readers glad they read your paper

Strategies for an effective conclusion

  • Play the “So What” Game.
    • When you read a statement from the conclusion, ask yourself, “So what?” or “Why should anybody care?”
    • Ponder that question and answer it
      • Basically, I’m just saying that education was important to Douglass
      • So what?
      • Well, it was important because it was a key to him feeling like a free and equal citizen
      • Why should anybody care?
      • That’s important because plantation owners tried to keep slaves from being educated so that they could maintain control. When Douglass obtained an education, he undermined that control personally.
  • Return to the theme or themes in the introduction
    • This brings the reader full circle
    • If you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay is helpful in creating a new understanding
    • Refer to the introductory paragraph by using key words, or parallel concepts and images that you also used in the introduction
  • Summarize
    • Include a brief summary of the paper’s main points, but don’t simply repeat things that were in the paper
  • Pull it all together
    • Show your reader how the points you made and the support and examples you used fit together
  • Include a provocative insight or quotation from the research or reading you did for the paper
  • Propose a course of action, a solution to an issue, or questions for further study
  • Point to broader implications
    • A paper about the style of writer, Virginia Woolf, could point to her influence on other writers or later feminists

Concluding strategies that do not work

  • Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase
  • These may work in speeches, but they come across as wooden and trite in writing
    • “in conclusion”
    • “in summary”
    • “in closing”
    • “as shown in the essay”
  • Stating the thesis for the very first time
  • Introducing a new idea or subtopic in your conclusion
  • Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of the paper
  • Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper

Ineffective conclusions

  • “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It”
    • Restates the thesis and is usually painfully short
    • Does not push ideas forward
    • Written when the writer can’t think of anything else to say
    • Example
      • In conclusion, Frederick Douglass was, as we have seen, a pioneer in American education, proving that education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery.
  • “Sherlock Holmes”
    • State the thesis for the first time in the conclusion
    • Writer thinks it would be more dramatic to keep the reader in suspense and then “wow” them with the main idea, as in a Sherlock Holmes mystery
    • Readers want an analytical discussion of the topic in academic style, with the thesis statement up front
  • “America the Beautiful”
    • Draws on emotion to make its appeal
    • Out of character with the rest of the paper
  • “Grab Bag”
    • Includes extra information thought of or found but couldn’t integrate into the main body
    • Creates confusion for the reader

Conclusion outline

  • Topic sentence
    • Fresh rephrasing of thesis statement
  • Supporting sentences
    • Summarize or wrap up the main points in the body of the essay
    • Explain how ideas fit together
  • Closing sentence
    • Final words
    • Connects back to the introduction
    • Provides a sense of closure

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