May 24th 2017

How to Write Great and Effective Conclusion to Your Dissertation


How you end an academic paper is equally important as how you start it. Once you have completed the introduction and body of the dissertations, your next and final concern is the conclusion, followed by the additional pages, such as table of contents or references.

The final paragraphs of your dissertation should serve to present the reader with a summary of the entire paper, as well as guide them towards future research. Fortunately, there are several tips and tricks you can implement in writing a brilliant last chapter of the dissertation paper.

Key Goals of a Dissertation Conclusion

Before you actually learn how to write this specific chapter of a dissertation, you must understand its goals and purpose. Generally speaking, a conclusion must convey a certain message regardless of the subject or discipline you are discussing. The main goal of every dissertation conclusion is to absorb the findings of the entire paper in a single chapter.

Basically, a conclusion must serve to:

Provide a General Overview of Your Work and Its Contributions

Point out to the importance of your paper and its contributions to the academic discipline. Your conclusion should show the general audience and the committee that you contributed through your work and did a great job arriving to a thoroughly researched conclusion.

Summarize Your Main Points

Many people look at the conclusion to learn the main points of a dissertation. Seeing that this is a lengthy paper, the final chapter should strive to summarize the work, since not everyone will have the time or interest to read the entire paper. Even if they do have the time, the general audience will start with the conclusion and see if your research is worthy the amount of time necessary to read all the pages.

Make Recommendations

Depending on the guidelines from your university or instructor, your conclusion should always include a set number of paragraphs that speak of the practical implications from your findings. If this is not set in the instructions, you need at least one paragraph with recommendations for your reader.

You can be flexible with these recommendations and use guides you find to be necessary and relevant to your dissertation research. For example, you can start with specific recommendations and provide a list of general recommendations that gives the reader some ideas for future research in the specific academic field.

Speak of Future Work

No dissertation is a final piece of work. The world changes and so does research, which is why you are requested to use 'up-to-date sources' in all your papers. Basically, there will always be an open end to every dissertation, so make sure that you do not present the paper as a final version of itself. After all, a dissertation should aim to spark an interest and motivation in other researchers.

Writing a Dissertation Conclusion

Now that you have some general idea for the outline of the conclusion, it is time to actually write it.

The first thing to do when you write a dissertation conclusion is ask yourself the following questions:

  • What message will the audience take from the conclusion of your dissertation? Which idea do you want to share with them?
  • Will the reader understand your message by solely reading the conclusion?

Usually, you start writing a dissertation conclusion by planning the outline and taking some notes. For best results, use the following approach:

  • Take notes and summarize every chapter of the work in several sentences. This will help you set the best conclusion structure
  • Order your sentences by combining them in your conclusion
  • Modify until you are happy with the final idea of your summary
  • Add the contributions, practical implications and future work to the conclusion
  • Check if the conclusion fits the criteria mentioned above

As there are things you should include in your dissertation, there are also things that you should avoid at all costs. In general, students struggle with three major pitfalls when writing this dissertation chapter:

1. Rambling in Conclusion

If you summarize the paper in a lengthy chapter, this will lose the entire purpose of a conclusion. A long conclusion is one that makes unnecessary repetitions, without providing the reader with new or relevant information.

Try not to repeat yourself in the conclusion. Your task here is to summarize the chapters of the dissertation, not re-write them in other words. If a person has read your entire dissertation, this part will only bore them.

2. Too Short Conclusion

The pitfall goes both ways – your conclusion should be neither too long, nor to short. And even though a short conclusion is much better than a lengthy, rambling conclusion, too short means insufficient information about the paper.

Your conclusion serves to provide the reader with a logical conclusion and summary of everything you discussed in the paper. This means that you should provide the reader with everything they need to understand in terms of your findings, but you must do so by writing down only the vital points and arguments.

3. Implausible Conclusion

Very often, students come to conclusions that only boggle the mind of the reader. They use claims that cannot be linked to the dissertation's evidence or are not strongly backed by the findings in the study.

For example, students make a mistake of saying that the results of their particular study will help everyone, even those who do not really have a connection with the particular idea or topic. If you make such major errors, you are risking appearing unprofessional and insufficiently informed on the impact your study has on science.

Try to avoid any unsubstantiated claims. Using only relevant claims and findings will allow you to present the most relevant data of your research, while keeping the conclusion within the desired word count.

Now that you know all this, you are ready to start writing your dissertation chapter. You are almost done with this lengthy paper – all you have to do is make sure that you finish it in a way no one will ever forget your research!

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