How to write the Conclusion section of a scientific article
The Conclusion is an important part of your paper where you distil your study and give the paper a sense of finality. A good Conclusion section encourages a reader to appreciate your work in light of the ‘bigger picture’.
Location and length of the Conclusion
The Conclusion appears as a separate section with a subheading after the Discussion. Alternatively, it may sometimes be included within the Discussion section. Depending on the length of the paper or quantum of findings, the Conclusion can be a single paragraph or longer, forming a significant section of its own.
Crafting the Conclusion
Note: The Conclusion section in a research paper is quite different from that of a Master’s or doctoral thesis/dissertation. While it serves the same purpose, the approach to writing it is slightly different for a journal article.
To write an impactful concluding section…
- Step back from the specifics and think of the larger picture of your research. Put away the paper and try to compose some concluding lines without consulting the main text. This will help you keep it objective and simple. (You don’t want to get back into finer details, since you would have already adequately addressed those in the Discussion section.)
- Remind the reader of the importance of the study in wording that is totally different from what you have used in the Introduction. Include the study’s implications, recommendations, strengths and limitations, and segue into the future directions your study might inspire.
- Ensure that the last few lines give a sense of closure.
Dos and Don’ts for writing the Conclusion
- Summarise your overall findings.
- Provide a synthesis of key points.
- Highlight the important takeaways from the study.
- Point out the problems and questions remaining.
- Indicate future directions.
- End with a strong, final sentence.
- Repeat background information from the Introduction.
- Present new arguments or evidence.
- Draw conclusions that are not supported by your data.
- Be abrupt and leave a reader hanging.
Example of Conclusion
Here’s a fictional example to illustrate the points discussed.
[Overview of the main argument] Light pollution is increasing globally every year, disrupting the biological rhythms of animal species, including insects. A decline in the populations of Abc xyz beetles is exceedingly being observed in urban pockets of Efgh.
[Findings] Dramatic alterations in the egg-laying behaviour of Abc xyz beetles were evident in our study. Moreover, the impacts on beetle behaviour were affected to a greater extent by white light than by yellow light.
[Limitations, Scope for further research] Further work is needed to clarify the role of light pollution in disrupting other behaviours in these beetles, as well as in other local insects. Considering the general move from traditional yellow lighting to white LEDs, outdoor lighting will need to be modified to minimise the detrimental effects on insect populations.
[Strong concluding sentence] The spread of urbanisation cannot be curbed, but appropriate steps can be undertaken to minimise disruptions to biological rhythms of local fauna.
The Conclusion puts into focus the meaning of the study’s findings and its potential influence on the field. A strong conclusion that leaves a lasting impression can improve the likelihood of the paper’s acceptance and maximise its impact.
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