Many students dread writing the conclusion paragraphs for their research papers. You’ve already said everything you have to say, what could be left? Will you just sound like you’re repeating yourself? What is really the point of a conclusion paragraph anyway?
Well, you should feel comforted that there are easy ways to succeed in writing up the conclusion paragraph to your research paper.
Idea of a Research Paper Conclusion
Before you can write an effective conclusion paragraph, you need to understand its purpose. A conclusion is your last chance to impress your ideas upon the reader. Thus, you do not want to introduce any new ideas, but rather recap everything throughout the rest of your piece of writing. Now, this is where most students worry about redundancy.
Instead of rewriting the points exactly as you have before, you want to shorten them up by taking the main ideas of the whole paper and turning them into concise sentences that get straight to the point. It is also your chance to show how you’ve proven your thesis throughout the research paper.
Structure of Your Conclusion
An introduction paragraph should go from broad (first sentence as a hook to bring readers in) to narrow (thesis statement that specifically addresses your paper’s claim). The conclusion is the exact opposite of that, so you can use your introduction paragraph as somewhat of a template.
In the conclusion, start narrow by first restating your thesis (in different words than in your introduction) and showing how you proved it. Then, work on broadening your conclusion to the outer world.
Your conclusion should also make an attempt to address the significance of your topic. When writing a research paper, you are utilizing other authors’ information in order to present a claim. In the conclusion, attempt to answer this question: “why is my claim about this topic important? why should people read my paper or care that I’ve written it?”.
Difference Between Synthesizing and Summarizing
In your conclusion, you want to synthesize the information in your paper, not simply summarize it. Your readers already looked through your piece of writing and know what it says.
To synthesize effectively, you need to show your readers how everything you put in your research paper fits together to create a cohesive whole. You can think of your paper like a recipe. To bake a cake, you first have all of the ingredients stand on their own. However, once you combine them all together, you have created something new. What did you create when you put all of your ideas and evidence down onto paper?
Some students suffer from writing conclusion paragraphs that are either too short or much too long. You don’t want to risk not saying enough, but you also don’t want to drone on. As a good rule of thumb, your conclusion should be about the same length of your introduction paragraph. Of course, if the length of your introduction paragraph is off, then your conclusion will be too.
Another good way to gauge how long your conclusion should be is by counting how many supporting ideas you have in your paragraph. If you have 5-6 supporting ideas, then try to synthesize that down into 2-3 sentences. Then add another 3-4 sentences to account for recasting your thesis, connecting your sentences together, and making your final connection to the outer world for a total of 5-7 sentences in your paragraph.
Those figures are just a guideline, however, and keep in mind that you need to vary sentence structure and length in order for it to work as intended. You could easily write 5 sentences that are extremely long and you likely still have a conclusion that’s too long despite limiting your sentence number.
What to Avoid
Here’s a quick list of things that you should never, ever incorporate in your conclusion paragraph:
- New ideas. If a new idea strikes you and you think it’s brilliant, then go back and make a full body paragraph for it, don’t just sandwich into your conclusion.
- Additional supporting evidence (quotations, paraphrasing). You need to have already given all of your proof prior to the conclusion. This is the time for recapping the case you’ve made, not continuing to make it via new sources.
- Clichés. You should really avoid clichés in all areas of your writing, but it goes extra in your conclusion since it’s the last bit of your . This means no “in conclusion,” “in summary,” or anything like that. This also means that you shouldn’t break the standard that you set in your paper.
Don’t let writing your conclusion paragraph intimidate you. Follow the above tips and then ask yourself the ultimate “so what?” question. Once you feel you’ve adequately proven the significance of your research paper to your reader, then your job is done.
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