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How to Write a Dissertation Conclusion?
Date published September 16 2020 by Babara Neil
A dissertation consists of a number of chapters, the last one of which is the ‘Conclusion’. While there are some other components after the Conclusion as well, the Conclusion is one of the main five chapters in the dissertation.
The purpose of a Dissertation Conclusion is to:
- Jot down the answers to your stated research question (s).
- Provide a summary of and reflect on the research you have done.
- State some recommendations for future research on the topic.
- Reflect on the knowledge that you have contributed in your dissertation.
You need to make sure that your dissertation conclusion is engaging and does not end on a cliff-hanger. Ensure to clarify the conclusion and your aims and justify how your research has contributed in your field overall, especially if it is a PhD level dissertation.
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Table of Contents
How is the Conclusion Different from Discussions?
Depending on your academic level and the requirements of your university, you may have the Discussions and Conclusion section different. At undergraduate level, you may choose to have your Discussions content in the Conclusion only, while at PhD level, the sections may be different. There plenty of chapters in a dissertation and confirm regarding them from your institute.
These chapters are usually combined in shorter research papers and journal articles, however, in a dissertation; you can use the Discussions section to wrap up your research. If you feel like, you can reflect on your research in the Discussions.
You have to keep the Conclusion chapter shorter and much more general than the Discussions section. Do not go very specific in discussing and interpreting the results in the Conclusion, instead, you can jot down broad statements that summarise the main highlights of your research.
Remember; do not introduce new interpretations, data or arguments in the Conclusion section.
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What Should Be The Length of the Conclusion?
The length of the dissertation can vary according to its type and academic level. Normally, the length of the dissertation has to be between 5% to 7% of the overall dissertation.
For example, if the total word count of the dissertation is 50,000, you should keep the Conclusion with a word count between 2,500 to 3,500. Again, the length can vary and it is best to confirm this from your institution as well.
If your paper is an empirical scientific study, the Conclusion will be short and will state the main findings and recommendations in a concise manner.
On the other hand, a Humanities dissertation can have a longer dissertation. This is because, the dissertation conclusion will ask for much more space for ending its analysis and jot down the argument that sums up the entire research. The conclusion in this case will also be longer since all the other chapters will be longer, since, you have to tie all the chapters together in that particular argument.
Answering the Research Questions in the Conclusion
In the Introduction chapter, you as a student list down your research questions and research aims and the rest of your dissertation follows on those research aims and questions.
As such, in the Conclusion, you have to reinstate your research aims and questions and justify your research. You can do this by starting your Conclusion with your main question that you had aimed to address in the dissertation overall.
It is necessary to formulate a concise and clear answer where you can justify your research as per your research aims and objectives. Make sure not to list down all of your results repeatedly or repeat your information again and again.
Instead, try to synthesise your results in the form of a final takeaway so the reader will remember your research aims and how you have accomplished them.
Summarising and Reflecting on Your Research in the Conclusion
Since the Conclusion is the last chapter of your dissertation, it gives you the chance to reflect on your research in order to remind your reader of your research. It is where you have to justify your research and explain why you took a particular approach for your research and how the results were in match with your expectations.
The conclusion gives an overview of the steps you have taken while performing your research and while building your argument.
Try not to repeat everything in your Conclusion just to meet the word count. Instead, the Conclusion should act as a summary of all of your chapters and hence reflect on the chapters as well.
For example, if your methodology section was much more effective in answering your research questions, you can try mentioning some aspects in a concise manner. In addition, you can mention if you came across any unexpected insights or some new questions arose during your research.
It is worth mentioning all sorts of limitations that you faced during your research, especially if you did not mention these limitations before. However, do not try to prolong the discussion of your limitations just to meet the word count. This will shift the focus away from the positive aspects of your work.
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Making Recommendations in Your Conclusion
While you may have jotted down the recommendations in the Discussions chapter, however, you can try to give an elaboration of your recommendations, especially if there are notable implications of your findings, both in theory and practice.
However, try not to exaggerate the applicability of your research. If your recommendations are for policy, business or some other practical implementation, you can frame such recommendations in the form of suggestions. This is because academic research serves to explain, inform and explore, rather than to instruct.
If your recommendations are for further research, do not undermine your own research in the process. In fact, future studies can even build on or enrich your conclusions. Best of all, they may confirm your research as well.
Lay an Emphasis on Your Contributions
You can lay an emphasis on your contributions in the Dissertation Conclusion to give an impression of your research on the reader. This is because you have to justify that your research has contributed some sort of knowledge in your field.
A few ways that you can achieve this is by:
- Reinstating your problem statement and by explaining your research is helpful in solving that particular problem in hand.
- Showing how you have managed to address a research gap by referring back to your literature review.
- Discussing how your findings have confirmed or challenged an existing assumption or theory.
Once again, remember to avoid if you have already discussed all of these points in your past. Try to pick out all of the important points in this section and sum them up in a concise manner. When you sum them up, give a clear overview that sheds light on your research in a broader context.
Wrap Up Your Dissertation
You have reached the end of your dissertation. After your dissertation conclusion is done, you have to take the final steps to wrap your dissertation and hence complete it.
The Abstract, which is a summary at the starting of the dissertation, is written after completing your dissertation. The reason behind this is that the research is still fresh in your mind and you can better write the Abstract at this part.
After finishing the Abstract, check your Reference List and see if the formatting is correct. You can use some online reference generators if you have trouble in doing the citation by yourself.
Add the Appendices if there are tables and figures in your dissertation. Create the Table of Contents and Title Page for your dissertation. Finally, proofread your dissertation by going through the whole of the dissertation.
While proofreading your dissertation, you can run the dissertation for grammar checks and wipe away any kind of language errors. You can also ask a friend or professional or proofreading and editing service to proofread your dissertation for you. There are many dissertation conclusion writing services as well that can help you.
A Checklist for Your Dissertation Conclusion
1. Answering the main research question.
2. Summarising the overall argument.
3. Reflecting on the research aims, methods utilised and results of your research.
4. Mentioning any encountered limitations.
5. Discussing any kind of relevant recommendations.
6. Explaining whatever contributions made from the research.
7. Ensuring that no new data or arguments are introduced.