The conclusion chapter is the last in a thesis. It is usually a rehash of the major highlights of the thesis, especially the results of the empirical findings discussed in the previous chapter. In this article, we discuss some tips for writing a good conclusion chapter. You may also want to check out Avidnote, our app that makes it easier for you to write and organize your research notes for free.
Though there are no hard and fast rules on how to write a conclusion chapter in any field of learning, it is imperative that the written work concludes as sensibly and strongly as possible.
Provide a reminder of what you are researching
Research is always driven by a need to solve a problem and/or generate more insight about a topic of interest as well as fill gaps in knowledge. When concluding, it is logical to remind readers about what your study set out to investigate. This can easily be adapted from the thesis topic, problem statement, and objectives of the study. Note that the reminder has to be brief since any greater details should be found in the first chapter of the thesis. Starting with a brief explanation of what you are examining lays a good foundation for the rest of the conclusion. It also helps readers avoid referring back to chapter one.
Another highlight of your a priori expectations [if any]
Try to shed some light on the theoretical underpinnings of your study as well as your a priori expectations (if any). Many researchers have a particular expectation when formulating their study’s hypothesis. This expectation is usually based on extant theories about the subject matter of interest. Based on theory, the researcher holds his or her position until the hypothesis is tested. Sometimes, the a priori expectation of the researcher is not met (say a non-rejection of the null hypothesis). In such a scenario, he or she has to find creative ways to justify the unexpected outcome.
A reminder of the sampling technique/sample size
Data is the cornerstone of academic research. Your investigation must include a collection of data on the variables you wish to estimate. Depending on your research design and data collection instrument, you have to select a sampling technique from which a sample is drawn. Note that your sample size has to be representative enough (valid) if it is to be extended to the wider population. Be sure to find some space to describe your sampling technique and size in your conclusion.
Include your data analysis methods
Collected data has to be processed and analyzed to resolve the study’s hypothesis, answer the research questions, and solve the stated problem. With the advent of computer software, several applications are available to help researchers process and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data across all fields of learning. It is necessary to include a mention of whatever data analysis techniques as well as the measurement software early in your conclusion chapter.
Another mention of key findings
The results or findings of your study must have been explained extensively in the discussion of findings section or chapter. It is very important that the early phase of your conclusion significantly focuses on the study’s important findings especially with respect to the problem statement or area of interest, the research questions, and hypothesis. This area is of paramount interest to readers because it is the climax of the research and provides a basis on which recommendations and future suggestions can be made. The study’s findings are also a good yardstick for evaluating the usefulness of the study.
Restate your limitations
Though it is not impossible, it is not easy for all the data collection, measurement, and analysis to yield desired outcomes. Usually, there are shortcomings in one or all the above-mentioned areas which can question the integrity of the research. For instance, in some studies, some of the key variables may turn out results that are not statistically significant. Whatever the nature of the limitations you faced [which you may have stated earlier] during data collection, measurement, and analysis, etc should be mentioned in your conclusion chapter.
A reminder of the practical implications
Your study must have been intended to solve an observed educational or societal problem or tried to close a knowledge gap (or both). If you intend to solve a problem, then you have to relate the outcomes of your investigation to the real-world problem. In other words, be sure to explain the practical implications or benefits of your study to both the academic community and society as a whole. For example, if you are investigating the impact of terrorism on socio-economic development, your conclusion should be able to articulate how society will benefit from your thesis based on your findings and recommendations.
If you are also trying to close a knowledge gap, it is necessary to make a convincing case for this in your concluding comments. This is because your supervisor and many others that will study your thesis are high-standing intellectuals that will need a compelling argument before accepting whatever ever gap you claim to have closed. A weak argument can thus lead to severe literary criticism and non-acceptance which can erode the significance of your claims.
The conclusion chapter is an important component of a thesis because it is where the researcher summarizes the key highlights or ideas behind his or her study. A strong conclusion should have the capacity to paint a clear picture of the entire thesis, especially the important findings and their implications.
Though there are no fixed rules for writing a conclusion chapter, it is necessary for the researcher to commence with a reminder of what he or she is investigating. Note that the conclusion chapter is just a rehash of information in previous chapters and hence no new argument or information is expected to be introduced at that stage.
This post was produced as part of a research guide series by Avidnote which is a free web-based app that helps you to write and organize your academic writing online. Click here to find out more.