Writing a research paper conclusion is more than just summarizing your paper’s main points. Depending on the type of term paper you’re writing, your conclusion must serve a variety of purposes. Below are tips on how to write a conclusion to a research paper, persuasive essay, instructional paper and scientific paper. For additional guidance, consult Questia’s library of topic categories and publications for research.
The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explains the purpose of a research paper’s conclusion: “The conclusion allows you to have the final say on the issues you have raised in your paper, to summarize your thoughts, to demonstrate the importance of your ideas, and to propel your reader to a new view of the subject. It is also your opportunity to make a good final impression and to end on a positive note.”
Other purposes of the conclusion:
- Provide implications of your findings
- Explain why your thesis is pertinent to the reader’s life
- Elaborate on your findings into other areas or disciplines
- Ask related questions for further discussion or research
Questia’s Summarizing Sources tutorial helps you learn when and why to write summaries of research material.
Research papers require that you research information on a topic and present the information in a clear and concise manner. The conclusion is the place for summarizing your findings and your argument for the reader. In the conclusion, reference the main points you mentioned in your introduction, then show how you have answered or addressed them. Generalize your information, explain the significance of your research and apply your findings to your main topic (whether it be society, economics, politics, etc.). Do not introduce new information that you have not backed up in your research.
When writing a persuasive essay, you are writing to establish a position and then to debate the merits of a point of view. You should explain the real-world implications of your beliefs to your reader’s life. Explain how they will benefit if they believe as you do. Offer a course of action.
Purdue Online Writing Lab advises for persuasive papers or Argumentative Essays that conclusions “must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize the information presented in the body of the essay. Restate why the topic is important, review the main points, and review your thesis. You may also want to include a short discussion of more research that should be completed in light of your work.”
An instructional essay is an important document as it helps others learn how to do something. Writing for all elements of the paper, including the conclusion, should be concise and clear, without flowery language, jargon or embellishments. In the conclusion, summarize the steps or lessons the readers need to know to do the task. Also, explain any specialized terms and background information or context. You can also present possible deviations in the instructions the reader may encounter and how he/she can adjust to changing situations.
Writing a controversial paper may make you stand out, but it’s an excellent chance to explore a pertinent viewpoint and persuade others. When writing the conclusion of a controversial paper, The Writing Center at the University of Iowa suggests: “It may help to think of your paper not as the final word on your issue but as an introduction to the debate and a suggestion as to what the next step in the discussion might be. Your task is not to ‘solve’ the controversy or provide a resolution… remind your audience of your main points or key ideas… provide an additional observation, an example or situation that exemplifies the conflict.” Also discuss where there might be common ground, present questions each side could ask each other and offer resources where they can go to get more information.
A scientific paper about a lab experiment or collection of scientific data requires the elements of hypothesis, research, procedure/methodology, analysis, results and conclusion. The conclusion is the most important element. Here you discuss your results and answer such questions as:
- What are the implications of your findings?
- Did you get the results you expected?
- Was your hypothesis accurate or was it flawed?
- Were there deviations you did not expect?
- Could you have done the experiment a different way that would yield different results?
- What is a related experiment you could do in the future?
Which type of paper do you think is the easiest to write?