Once the main chapters of your dissertation are finished, it may seem that the work is finished, too. This, however, is not entirely so, as dissertation conclusion is still a vital and challenging part of your paper. Here, you have to chance to find how exactly you should approach your dissertation conclusion, which goals it should accomplish, as well which things you should better avoid. Let's get started.
Dissertation Conclusion: The Main Goals
You should always start a dissertation conclusion by reviewing the purpose of your chapters. No matter what topic you are dealing with, a conclusion should always:
- Provide an overview of your findings.
- Both the committee and the readers should have no doubts or confusion as to the results (findings, contributions) you've accomplished during the research. A bullet point list is a good way to achieve this.
Sum up the main points of each chapter
The conclusion summarizes everything you have analyzed in your paper, especially if you want your work to be published. Some readers will be searching for something in particular and have zero interest in reading your whole work, so it's important that those people can find what they're looking for easily, and this is the goal here with the overview.
- Recommendations – It's always important to highlight the results of your research - after all, a dissertation should have a practical purpose. Don't worry too much about a rigid structure for the recommendations, just make sure you've got a comprehensive list that's relevant your research findings. Beyond that, the recommendations can be very specific with steps and instructions, or if you prefer, more general recommendations that lead the reader to the ideas and principles you're interested in - that part is left to your discretion.
- Future Work – It's in the nature of any research topic that the work is never really over! The facts and theories of a field can change over time, and there will always be unanswered questions about what you're trying to accomplish. Don't despair! This is true of any dissertation, and it doesn't mean that your work isn't finished. It's actually a testament to your work that there are questions left to be explored that will generate interest and motivate others to take up where you've left off, using your contribution to further their own studies just as you referred to previous work.
Tips on Writing a Dissertation Conclusion Chapter
OK, so you understand the needs of the conclusion outline – how do you actually write this thing? Reflection is the key principle to bear in mind when considering that question. Let's take a look at some examples:
- If the reader only has a chance to go over your conclusion (nothing else), what message would you like to convey? What are the highlights of your work?
What's the fundamental message you're trying to get across to your audience in general? Is there something you want them to think about or discuss? What is it?
- Keep this in mind throughout your work – it's important to have an end goal in mind.
The best way to begin a conclusion is with some note taking, which itself is best done while you're proofreading your first draft. Don't forget that part! Here's a good approach to take:
- First, proofread. Then, go over your writing and summarize each chapter in a few sentences. This is a great linear way to progress through your work and make sure the conclusion fully reflects your research.
- This information is the "key ingredient" to your general summary, so develop it further.
- How? Well, highlight the practical relevance of your work, as well as mention several possible ways to continue in your footsteps.
- Don't forget to read over your work when you're done, and make sure that your conclusion really embodies the idea you're trying to get across.
Writing a Conclusion: What NOT to Do
When working on your very first dissertation, it is easy to get lost and make some mistakes. The most common ones are as follows:
- Lengthy Conclusion – Make it as brief as possible. Aim for a concise, informative summary with no "filler" information. Choose your words carefully and keep it relevant. Do not introduce anything new to the table, either.
- Short Conclusion – While not as bad as going overboard, your conclusion shouldn't be too short either. Keep it to the point but make sure you've covered the sections we've talked about in the blog post.
- Implausible Conclusion – It's not unheard of (at all!) for students to make wild conclusions that don't really make sense or have a basis in logic. It should go without saying, but unfortunately does not for many, that your conclusion should avoid this pitfall in particular! Don't start insisting that the government should adopt and incorporate your research into national policy, just keep it humble and state what you've found, nothing more. Your work will speak for itself.
In essence, a conclusion covers and summarizes the research and its purpose, the primary arguments being made, how the research was carried out, what was discovered in the process and what pre-existing views were changed or challenged along the way. Furthermore, the conclusion provides a summary of the information and findings discovered as well as the significance of that information if it has not been covered already elsewhere (new findings).
Also, mention the areas for future research and the alternative data that will contribute to the further development of the findings, the connections to other areas of study, and alternative methods that could be applied to the same findings/data. This will, once again, highlight the relevance of your work - no matter which subject matter you are dealing with. Keep your statements clear and straightforward when writing the final chapters concerning the original contribution to the information being dealt with in the dissertation. Try to demonstrate connections between other ideas that are distributed throughout your work in different chapters, your enthusiasm and dedication to your research, and give a good impression of yourself and your motivation for pursuing your studies.