What Should the Conclusion of a Research Paper Contain?
Whenever you have a research paper assignment, your lecturer often stresses the need for a quality conclusion. The best-concluding paragraphs summarize the research without being redundant and excellently express your study’s impact. Writing a quality research paper conclusion requires skills and experience to present your ideas in as few sentences as possible. Here is everything you need to know about writing a conclusion for a research paper.
What Is a Research Paper Conclusion?
A conclusion in research is the final paragraph in your paper that helps your readers understand why your study should matter to them. It is the last chapter of your story or the final piece of your puzzle.
A conclusion is the summary of your research and a reflection of the research process. It allows you to evaluate the methodology used, strengths, limitations of the study, and recommendations for future studies. The conclusion of any research paper is the following:
- Restatement of the research question and its importance
- Evaluation of different ideas about the topic
- Findings and discussions of the research
- Call to action based on the study results
Does a Research Paper Need a Conclusion?
Yes. Every research paper requires a concluding paragraph to remind readers to focus on your research question and findings. Having a conclusion in your research paper provides the readers with a summary of your study results and implications. This allows them to refocus on the supporting evidence and the positive impact of your study.
A conclusion is crucial because it provides a basis for future research on a particular topic. More research is needed based on the study’s limitations and gaps. The conclusion in research highlights the need for further research to ensure more in-depth answers to your research question.
Characteristics Of a Research Paper Conclusion
An appropriate conclusion for a research paper should be reasonable and effectively summarize the findings while ensuring readers comprehend the research methodology. The following are the essential characteristics of a suitable research paper conclusion:
- Leave a Strong Impression: The conclusion should always leave a lasting impression on your reader. You can achieve this by emphasizing the significance of your research question or crafting a strong final statement summarizing your paper. Any research through your essay should relate to your content and understand its value.
- Summarize the Findings: An excellent concluding paragraph summarizes the study findings. It uses clear and concise language to explain to the readers the methodology utilized to collect data and the results obtained. The section also highlights the conclusions drawn from the study results. Anyone reading the conclusion should know what the research was about and its primary findings.
- Connect Back to The Introduction: A great conclusion can help the readers connect to the introduction. It reminds them about the research question and how data was obtained to find answers. Readers going through the conclusion should experience the flow of ideas throughout your research. The ideas in the conclusion paragraph should not differ from those in the introduction.
- Discuss Study Implications: An excellent conclusion identifies the implications of a study and how it contributes to the area of study. For instance, a study identifying how breathing exercises impact asthma patients positively impacts healthcare quality. If the results are positive, asthma patients get a chance to improve their conditions through breathing exercises.
More factors help determine if the conclusion is excellent. To evaluate if your research paper has a good conclusion, consider the questions below:
- Does your conclusion summarize the implications of your findings?
- Can your readers answer your research question entirely based on your conclusion?
- Does your conclusion provide readers with a sense of completeness?
If the answer to these questions is a yes, then your conclusion meets the characteristics of a good conclusion. However, if any of your answers is a no, read through your conclusion and make the necessary amendments.
What Should the Conclusion of a Research Paper Contain?
The conclusions of any research paper should contain a summary of the study, its main findings, implications, strengths, and limitations. Below is a detailed explanation of what a good conclusion should contain:
Restatement of The Problem
When writing a conclusion for a research paper, the first task is to restate your research problem or hypothesis. You will have analyzed the problem in depth in the body paragraphs requiring no need to provide so many details in the conclusion. Only restate the hypothesis to remind your readers of the primary objective of your research.
Avoid phrasing the research question exactly as you did in the introduction. Present it novelly based on the ideas discussed in the body paragraph. For instance, if you were writing an argumentative research paper on new measures to lower the environmental implications of agriculture, you could state your research question as follows:
“While the negative impact of agriculture is now common knowledge, some countries need to treat the issue with the urgency it requires.”
Indirectly restating the research question makes the conclusion captivating. The readers are not bored of reading the same research question in the introduction and conclusion. This keeps your readers interested in reading your research paper to the end.
Summary of The Paper
Having reintroduced the research problem, you should summarize how your research addressed the issue and the conclusion it obtained. Depending on the type of research paper, this could mean restating your arguments or summarizing your study findings. Here is how to present ‘the summary section’ for different types of papers:
Argumentative Research Paper
When writing an argumentative research paper, you will have provided a thesis in the introduction identifying your paper’s claim. In the conclusion paragraph, restate this thesis and illustrate how it was developed throughout your research paper.
Also, summarize the key arguments in your body paragraphs and demonstrate how each supports your thesis. You may mention a few counterarguments and emphasize how your thesis holds up against them.
Avoid going into detail about the evidence obtained from your research. Only outline your arguments and a few counterarguments. Below is an example of a summary of an argumentative research paper on “the negative impacts of agriculture and measures that need to be placed.”
“To establish a futureproof agricultural sector, farmers must transition from livestock farming to sustainable agriculture. If implemented correctly, plant-based agriculture can produce bounty food harvests with less land. Although this idea would have economic ramifications in the long run, it would offer a significant step towards a more resilient and sustainable economy”.
Empirical Research Paper
When summarizing your critical findings in an empirical research paper, clearly express the answer to your research question. Describe your primary results, even when they were not what you hoped for or expected. For example, in a study evaluating the effects of daily Instagram use among young girls, this could be your summary:
“This study identified that increased use of Instagram among teenage girls has a major impact on their body image. There was a strong correlation between the hours spent on social media and the participant’s dissatisfaction with their body image and appearance.
However, the strengths of this impact were determined by the participant’s level of self-esteem. Those with high self-esteem were less likely to have body image concerns, while those with low self-esteem had a high chance of having body image issues. This suggests that although Instagram impacts young girls’ body image, it is key to consider the wider psychological and social context, such as the girls’ self-esteem.”
Discuss The Implications
Having presented your key findings and arguments., the conclusion ends by evaluating the implications of your study. This means identifying the key takeaways as a suggestion for future research or a call for action. This section is different in an argumentative and empirical research paper as indicated below:
An argumentative paper should end with a strong closing statement, for instance, a call for action. Illustrate the action that needs to be taken by the government or the people involved. Below is an example of a great call to action for an argumentative research paper.
“Transitioning to sustainable agricultural practices will make the country healthier and greener. This will set a great example for other countries across the globe. Policymakers, consumers, and farmers must focus on the future, not just their short-term interests, and work to initiate the transition now”.
When dealing with a theoretical topic that does not require a call to action, the most effective approach to addressing implications is highlighting the study’s importance. This could involve acknowledging that the research has established a foundation for future investigations.
When discussing the implications of an empirical research paper, you can close by recommending further research. Regardless of your study’s scope, there is always room for further research into the research topic. Complete your conclusion by suggesting how other researchers might address the limitations of your current study or build on the subject. Here is an example of how to present the ‘discuss the implications’ section in an empirical research paper:
“Future studies on Instagram should focus on identifying a clear picture of how self-esteem impacts young girls’ experiences using the platform. Moreover, while this research looked into how hours of usage impacted users, other studies need to gain insights into how different patterns of usage impact users. For instance, they could identify if posting has different impacts from being a passive consumer on Instagram”.
What To Not Include in Your Research Paper Conclusion
A good conclusion should avoid introducing new ideas in the paper and only focus on summarizing the findings. Avoid any ideas that make it challenging for readers to understand your research paper. Here are pitfalls to avoid when crafting your conclusion:
Do Not Use Phrases Like “In Conclusion”
Avoid beginning your conclusion with statements such as “in summary” or “in conclusion,” as they are redundant. These phrases are too obvious and can make your writing appear unsophisticated. The placement of your conclusion makes it clear that you are concluding your paper without any need for signposts.
Using these phrases in your conclusion also makes it unnecessarily long. A long conclusion results in low concentration levels among the readers.
Avoid Introducing New Ideas in Your Conclusion
The conclusion is aimed at summarizing your study findings and implications. Stick to highlighting the critical aspects of your study and avoid introducing new ideas. This can confuse your readers and distract them from your research question or topic.
You should ignore any new ideas not included in the body paragraphs. This will ensure that your paper maintains its flow and that your readers can connect the content in the body paragraphs to your conclusion.
Avoid Rambling in The Conclusion
The last part of your research paper should be as simple and clear as possible. Avoid providing too many details in this part, as it makes your conclusion too long and less captivating. Stick to the implications of your research instead of the methodologies as you already provided them in the body paragraphs.
Resist the Need to Apologize
Resist any urge to apologize if you have doubts about your research paper. If there were weaknesses in your research paper, focus on discussing the limitation of your study. When presenting them, also suggest how future studies can help solve them.
Do not be Overly Emotional.
Avoid being emotional in your conclusion, as this shows you are not analytic. Always provide the study thesis or research question and highlight the findings without stating your personal views. A research paper should not focus on your ideas on the issues. Being overly emotional may come off as a red flag to the readers that your research is not objective and could be biased.
How Long Should a Conclusion Be in a Research Paper
The length of a conclusion varies depending on different factors, such as the length and complexity of the paper, the author’s writing style, and the specific requirements of the paper. A conclusion should be precise and summarize the paper’s main points. However, the conclusion should be longer if your research paper is long.
As a rule of thumb, a conclusion must be 5 to 10% of the paper’s total length. For instance, if your research paper is 1000 words long, the conclusion should be around 100 words. This rule is flexible, and the conclusion length can vary based on the paper’s purpose.
It is also key to follow your instructors’ requirements when writing a conclusion for a research paper. In this case, your conclusion is solely based on the paper’s guidelines. If your lecturer requires you to write a conclusion 20% the length of your paper, then strive to meet this requirement.
Research Paper Conclusion Example
Having an illustration of a good conclusion can improve your writing skills significantly. Below is an example of a well-written conclusion based on the characteristics discussed above:
“While the impacts of cattle farming on climate change are now common knowledge, countries such as the Netherlands fail to treat this issue with the urgency it requires. The evidence is clear that to develop a sustainable and future-proof agricultural sector, farmers in the Netherlands must transition from livestock keeping to sustainable vegetable farming.
Plant-based farming, if approached well, can produce a great amount of food with limited land, allowing for natural regeneration and reduced climate change. Although this approach would result in major economic ramifications, in the long run, it would signify a major step towards a sustainable economy.
A shift to sustainable plant-based farming will transform the Netherlands into a healthier and greener country. This will set a great example for other countries across the globe. Policymakers, consumers, and farmers must focus on the future, not just their short-term interests, and work to initiate the transition now”.
Get research paper writing help
Writing great conclusions can be time-consuming and challenging, especially if you lack the skill and experience. However, understanding the characteristics and content of a good conclusion makes the process easier. This helps you understand what to include in your conclusion and what to avoid.
When writing a conclusion for a research paper, summarize your study’s findings and implications. Leave a strong impression on your readers by ensuring that anyone reading the conclusion can understand everything about your research. Avoid using phrases such as “in conclusion” or “in summary,” as they are redundant and only make your conclusion longer.
The conclusion should only include data that was discussed in the body paragraphs. Introducing new ideas confuses the reader and distracts them from your research question. Only explain information discussed in the body and avoid being overly emotional.
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