Career Development

How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper

February 22, 2021

Writing a conclusion for your research paper can be difficult. Concluding paragraphs should be clear and sum up what you have presented in your research without sounding redundant. An effective concluding paragraph can also add impact to what you have presented in your paper. In this article, you will learn the importance of writing a strong concluding paragraph, how to write one and some tips to help you write the conclusion for your research paper.

Why is it important to write a conclusion for your research paper?

Including a conclusion in your research paper can be important to remind your readers of the strength and impact of your argument. Concluding statements in your paper can also help to refocus the reader's attention to the most important points and supporting evidence of your arguments or position that you presented in your research. Conclusions can also serve as a basis for continuing research, creating new ideas to resolve an issue you highlighted in your paper or offering new approaches to a topic.

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Types of conclusions for research papers

Depending on your research topic and the style of your paper, you may choose to write your conclusion according to specific types. The following information can help you determine which approach to take when you write your conclusion.

Summarizing conclusion

A summarizing conclusion is typically used for giving a clear summary of the main points of your topic and thesis. This is considered the most common form of conclusion, though some research papers may require a different style of conclusion. Common types of research papers that call for this kind of conclusion include persuasive essays, problem and solution research, argumentative papers and scientific and historical topics.

Externalizing conclusion

An externalizing conclusion presents points or ideas that may not have been directly stated or relevant to the way you presented your research and thesis. However, these types of conclusions can be effective because they present new ideas that build off of the topic you initially presented in your research. Externalizing conclusions get readers thinking in new directions about the impacts of your topic.

Editorial conclusion

In an editorial conclusion, you are presenting your own concluding ideas or commentary. This type of conclusion connects your thoughts to the research you present. You might state how you feel about outcomes, results or the topic in general. The editorial conclusion can work especially well in research papers that present opinions, take a humanistic approach to a topic or present controversial information.

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How to write a conclusion for your research paper

When writing your conclusion, you can consider the steps below to help you get started:

  1. Restate your research topic.
  2. Restate the thesis.
  3. Summarize the main points.
  4. State the significance or results.
  5. Conclude your thoughts.

1. Restate your research topic

Your first step when writing your conclusion should be to restate your research topic. Typically, one sentence can be enough to restate the topic clearly, and you will want to explain why your topic is important. This part of your conclusion should be clear and concise and state only the most important information. Here is an example:

"The increase in water pollution since 2010 has contributed to the decrease in aquatic wildlife as well as the increase in unsafe drinking water."

2. Restate the thesis

Next, restate the thesis of your research paper. You can do this by revising your original thesis that you presented in the introduction of your paper. The thesis statement in your conclusion should be worded differently than what you wrote in your introduction. This element can also be effectively written in one sentence. Here is an example:

"Clean water is imperative to maintaining ecological balance and protecting the public's health."

3. Summarize the main points of your research

Next, you can sum up the main points of your research paper. It's helpful to read through your paper a second time to pick out only the most relevant facts and arguments. You shouldn't need to include any more information than the main arguments or facts that you presented in your paper. The purpose of summarizing the key points is to remind the reader of the importance of the research topic. Here's an example to help illustrate how to do this:

"With the increase in sugar farming, more and more pollutants are entering our freshwater supplies. This increase in pollution has contributed to massive decreases in marine life, fish die-off, increased respiratory illness in neighborhood populations and has contributed to the shortage of clean drinking water."

4. Connect the significance or results of the main points

After discussing the main points of your argument, you can present the significance of these points. For instance, after stating the main points you made in your argument, you might discuss how the impacts of your topic affect a specific outcome. Likewise, you might present the results of studies or other findings that can help add emphasis to how you present the significance of your information. Here is an example:

"Ecologists and marine biologists are continuing to measure the water quality, and researchers are continuing to find ways to combat the pollution run-off from commercial farms. In the future, the EPA hopes this research will lead to a decrease in the pollutant concentration in our freshwater systems."

5. Conclude your thoughts

As you finish up your conclusion, you might create a call to action or pose an idea that gets your readers thinking further about your argument. You might also use this sentence to address any questions that were left unanswered in the body paragraphs of your paper. Here is an example:

"If we cannot combat the ill effects that commercial farming has on our clean water, our freshwater ecosystems and drinking water supplies will surely diminish. More research and innovation are needed to maintain our clean water while still supporting the agricultural needs of our economy."

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Tips for writing your conclusion

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when you write your research paper conclusion:

  • Keep your thesis, main points and summarizing facts clear and concise.
  • Avoid beginning your conclusion with statements like "in conclusion" or "in summary", as these basic statements can come across as redundant.
  • If you get overwhelmed, try sticking to a basic summarizing format for your conclusion.
  • Synthesize your information by providing questions and answers, results, suggestions or a resolution to your arguments.
  • Include only the most relevant points and arguments you presented in your paper.
  • Avoid repeating information that you have already discussed.

You can also experiment with other conclusion styles, however, using the summarizing format can help you be certain that you are including each element as it relates to your paper.

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Research paper conclusion examples

The following examples help illustrate what an effective research paper conclusion looks like and what an ineffective and disorganized conclusion looks like. The examples can help you outline and form your conclusion.

Good example

An effective conclusion will contain all five elements of summing up your research paper. Here is an example:

"Clean water is imperative to maintaining ecological balance and protecting the public's health. The increase in water pollution since 2010 has contributed to the decrease in aquatic wildlife as well as the increase in unsafe drinking water. With the growth of sugar farming, more and more pollutants are entering our freshwater supplies. This increase in pollution has contributed to massive decreases in marine life, fish die-off, increased respiratory illness in neighborhood populations and has contributed to the shortage of clean drinking water.

Ecologists and marine biologists are continuing to measure the water quality, and researchers are continuing to find ways to combat the pollution run-off from commercial farms. In the future, the EPA hopes this research will lead to a decrease in the pollutant concentration in our freshwater systems. If we cannot combat the ill effects that commercial farming has on our clean water, our freshwater ecosystems and drinking water supplies will surely diminish. More research and innovation are needed to maintain our clean water while still supporting the agricultural needs of our economy."

Bad example

In this example, some elements are missing and the thesis statement is not clear. Here is what a disorganized and ineffective conclusion might look like:

"Pollution can kill fish and people. Drinking water becomes unsanitary and unsafe with pollution. If we do not fix the state of our freshwater systems, our health can suffer. Researchers are still trying to help, but they have not resolved the issue of the water pollution. As citizens, it is our responsibility to help keep our waters clean and avoid polluting rivers, lakes and oceans."

While it is possible to tell from this conclusion that the topic may have been water pollution, there is no clear statement of the topic. Additionally, it is difficult to tell whether the first sentence is even a thesis statement.

When you write your conclusion, consider the type of conclusion you are writing, and include each element that is appropriate for your conclusion type. By following each step, you can format and write an effective and impactful concluding paragraph for your research paper.

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