How To Write A Conclusion For A Research Paper

By Chris Kolmar - Dec. 28, 2020
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Writing a research paper is a journey through a particular topic towards the destination of a strong conclusion. The conclusion of a research paper varies in formatting depending on the outcome the writer is hoping to achieve. This makes understanding what precisely a conclusion is and how to write one more burdensome.

The conclusion is the most strenuous portion of writing a research paper, but it’s also the most important for communicating final information with a reader.

What Is the Conclusion of a Research Paper?

The conclusion of a research paper ties together all the prior information you’ve covered. It leaves the reader with a final thought about the research paper and the message it’s trying to convey.

Unlike the body paragraphs of a research paper, which aim at specificity and focus on developing a single concept or piece of information, conclusions are broader. The goal is to gloss over what’s already been stated earlier in the essay to solidify it with the reader.

The conclusion also serves a different purpose than the introduction. An introductory paragraph is for establishing what the reader will be learning more about. It opens the metaphorical door towards understanding a research endeavor or topic. The conclusion closes the argument that the introductory paragraph opens.

Why Is Writing a Conclusion Important for a Research Paper

Including a conclusion is an integral part of writing a research paper because it creates an organized summarization of information and outlines inference about the subject studied. It provides an additional layer of clarity in a short written work.

Research papers are often lengthy and dull, so it’s easy for a reader’s attention to stray. A conclusion brings the reader back and offers them the most critical takeaways from the paper.

Different Formats of Research Paper Conclusions

Based on the goal or subject of your research paper, the structure of your conclusion changes. Pick a type of conclusion that will strengthen the point of your essay. Below are examples of different formats to use when writing research paper conclusions.

  • Summarization. The summarization conclusion is most commonly used for research papers that are presenting a series of concrete facts.

    It’s the form of conclusion that most people are familiar with. Using the summary technique requires a succinct compiling of the most critical points you’ve made in an essay.

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    Summarization Conclusion Formatting Works Best For:

    • Solution-Based Research

    • Persuasive Writing

    • History and Science Studies

    • Structuring An Argument

  • Reflective. A conclusion that uses a reflective structure takes the information outlined in the research paper to arrive at a grander insight about the topic at hand. This type of conclusion is popular when you’re attempting to change the reader’s viewpoint with a paper.

    Reflective Conclusion Formatting Works Best For:

    • Persuasive Essays

    • Speeches

    • English and Political Studies

  • Projective. When using a projective conclusion, the writer applies their work presented earlier in the thesis to eventual outcomes that can arise. It is called a projective conclusion because it is more results-based than summarizing facts or establishing an overarching lesson.

    Projective Conclusion Formatting Works Best For:

    • Research Paper

    • Expository Essay

    • Narrative Works (Sometimes)

How To Write A Research Paper Conclusion

Many students understand that the conclusion is a crucial part of their research paper, but they don’t know how to go about writing one.

Follow the steps below for how to write a research paper conclusion.

  1. Open With The Research Topic. To begin a conclusion paragraph, use the first sentence to reiterate the comprehensive subject matter that your paper covered. Since this is just a sentence-long retelling of your research topic and why it’s important, it doesn’t have to be specific, but it does need clarity.

    Example

    Dragonflies are a magnificently complex insect whose advanced physical mechanics and vast species differences make them a notable study in the scientific community.

  2. Focus On Your Specific Thesis. Every research paper focuses on targetted intricacies within a larger topic. Now that the more extensive topic of the research paper has been mentioned, the next sentence or two highlights the specific thesis presented.

    Don’t merely copy and paste the introduction of your thesis from the first paragraph. Restate it in different words that illicit a more in-depth understanding from the reader.

    Example

    The overall characteristics found only within the Odonata family unites the dragonfly under a singular title. All species of dragonfly faced the same path towards the modern structure known today, and therefore, they are all similar in one way or another. However, there are also significant differences apparent to the naked eye between a species that shares so much of the same structure.

  3. Summarize And Connect Main Points. Throughout a research paper, the writer presents points to support the initial thesis claim. Very briefly summarize and tie together these points in a way that supports your thesis. This is the place to restate your research findings.

    Example

    By examining the striped meadowhawk and migrant hawker dragonflies, it is shown that habitat governs many aspects pertaining to that specific species’ lifestyle. It is also proven that color and patterns perceived on this insect serve a greater purpose of individualizing and distinguishing between these two species.

  4. Bring It All Together. It sounds redundant to say you need to conclude your conclusion, but that’s the final step. You’ve done the mini recap of your research paper through the beginning sentences of your essay. Close the conclusion by making a final encouragement for an action, idea, or fact.

    Example

    The dragonfly is a unique insect with uniting factors and specialization. However, the most attributed aspect to this insect as a whole is the enormity of their differences. The evolved genetic features attributed to various species of dragonflies both individualize them and apply unification to the insect as a whole.

6 Tips for Writing a Research Paper Conclusion

  1. Consider What Conclusion Format To Use Carefully. The way you structure a conclusion has a massive effect on how impactful it will be to a reader.

    Some types of writing can work well with a variety of conclusion formats, but others will confuse a paper’s message. For example, using a reflective style conclusion on a scientific research paper comes across as too opinion-based for a topic that’s shrouded in measurable fact.

    Before you begin writing a conclusion, think carefully about how you plan to structure your conclusion.

  2. Don’t Make It Too Complex. It’s best to use plain language when summarizing the information presented in a research paper or making a claim. Many students are tempted to use impressive wording and complex writing in a research paper conclusion to present themselves as experts in the subject, but it only gives the reader a headache.

    Consider how you take in information when you’re learning about a new topic. Reading dense literature with phrasing that seems alien to modern understanding requires a lot more effort to comprehend, which is why many students dislike it. On the other hand, learning about a topic that was expressed in more simple language sticks in your mind for years.

  3. Conclusions Should Be Concise. Research papers give the writer pages of leeway to make all the drawn-out points that they need, but conclusions don’t offer as much room. An essay’s conclusion needs to be short by definition because it’s merely a last takeaway for the reader. A research paper conclusion is a final paragraph, not the entire page.

  4. Double Check Your Information. There’s nothing worse for a research paper’s validity than confidently making a claim in the conclusion that turns out to be false. It’s fundamental that all the facts and information your detail in a research paper are backed up with credible sources listed neatly on the works cited page.

    A paper’s conclusion is the closing statement that the reader is left with, and it needs to be accurate.

  5. Empathize With The Reader. Whether you’re submitting a research paper for an introductory university class or publishing a scholarly journal, you still need to keep the reader in mind when writing a conclusion. Think about who you’re communicating with through your research paper and what you’re hoping to accomplish with it.

    If you’re writing a paper for school with the intent to receive a good grade, pay attention to the rubric, and meet the professor’s expectations. When you’re publishing a scholarly journal article and want the reader to come to a particular conclusion, write the final paragraph with that call to action in mind.

  6. Do Research. One way to fix the problem if you’re unsure of what makes an essay conclusion compelling is researching the topic. Reading articles (like this one) is helpful because they give you a clear demonstration of how to create a conclusion, but applying this structure to your own work can be difficult. A case of easier said than done.

    Looking for examples of successful conclusions in published works is a strong tool for inspiration. Search papers in your subject and read through the conclusions to understand better why they work well.

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Chris Kolmar

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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