Skip to content

Research Paper How To Write Conclusion Essay

The conclusion is a very important part of your essay. Although it is sometimes treated as a roundup of all of the bits that didn’t fit into the paper earlier, it deserves better treatment than that! It's the last thing the reader will see, so it tends to stick in the reader's memory. It's also a great place to remind the reader exactly why your topic is important. A conclusion is more than just "the last paragraph"—it's a working part of the paper. This is the place to push your reader to think about the consequences of your topic for the wider world or for the reader's own life!

A good conclusion should do a few things:

  • Restate your thesis
  • Synthesize or summarize your major points
  • Make the context of your argument clear

Restating Your Thesis

You've already spent time and energy crafting a solid thesis statement for your introduction, and if you've done your job right, your whole paper focuses on that thesis statement. That's why it's so important to address the thesis in your conclusion! Many writers choose to begin the conclusion by restating the thesis, but you can put your thesis into the conclusion anywhere—the first sentence of the paragraph, the last sentence, or in between. Here are a few tips for rephrasing your thesis:

  • Remind the reader that you've proven this thesis over the course of your paper. For example, if you're arguing that your readers should get their pets from animal shelters rather than pet stores, you might say, "If you were considering that puppy in the pet-shop window, remember that your purchase will support 'puppy mills' instead of rescuing a needy dog, and consider selecting your new friend at your local animal shelter." This example gives the reader not only the thesis of the paper, but a reminder of the most powerful point in the argument!
  • Revise the thesis statement so that it reflects the relationship you've developed with the reader during the paper. For example, if you've written a paper that targets parents of young children, you can find a way to phrase your thesis to capitalize on that—maybe by beginning your thesis statement with, "As a parent of a young child…"
  • Don’t repeat your thesis word for word—make sure that your new statement is an independent, fresh sentence!

Summary or Synthesis

This section of the conclusion might come before the thesis statement or after it. Your conclusion should remind the reader of what your paper actually says! The best conclusion will include a synthesis, not just a summary—instead of a mere list of your major points, the best conclusion will draw those points together and relate them to one another so that your reader can apply the information given in the essay. Here are a couple of ways to do that:

  • Give a list of the major arguments for your thesis (usually, these are the topic sentences of the parts of your essay).
  • Explain how these parts are connected. For example, in the animal-shelter essay, you might point out that adopting a shelter dog helps more animals because your adoption fee supports the shelter, which makes your choice more socially responsible.

Context

One of the most important functions of the conclusion is to provide context for your argument. Your reader may finish your essay without a problem and understand your argument without understanding why that argument is important. Your introduction might point out the reason your topic matters, but your conclusion should also tackle this questions. Here are some strategies for making your reader see why the topic is important:

  • Tell the reader what you want him or her to do. Is your essay a call to action? If so, remind the reader of what he/she should do. If not, remember that asking the reader to think a certain way is an action in itself. (In the above examples, the essay asks the reader to adopt a shelter dog—a specific action.)
  • Explain why this topic is timely or important. For example, the animal-shelter essay might end with a statistic about the number of pets in shelters waiting for adoption.
  • Remind the readers of why the topic matters to them personally. For example, it doesn’t matter much if you believe in the mission of animal shelters, if you're not planning to get a dog; however, once you're looking for a dog, it is much more important. The conclusion of this essay might say, "Since you’re in the market for a dog, you have a major decision to make: where to get one." This will remind the reader that the argument is personally important!

Resources

Many students dread writing the conclusion paragraphs for their research papers. You’ve already said everything you have to say, what could be left? Will you just sound like you’re repeating yourself? What is really the point of a conclusion paragraph anyway?

Well, you should feel comforted that there are easy ways to succeed in writing up the conclusion paragraph to your research paper.

Idea of a Research Paper Conclusion

Before you can write an effective conclusion paragraph, you need to understand its purpose. A conclusion is your last chance to impress your ideas upon the reader. Thus, you do not want to introduce any new ideas, but rather recap everything throughout the rest of your piece of writing. Now, this is where most students worry about redundancy.

Instead of rewriting the points exactly as you have before, you want to shorten them up by taking the main ideas of the whole paper and turning them into concise sentences that get straight to the point. It is also your chance to show how you’ve proven your thesis throughout the research paper.

Structure of Your Conclusion

An introduction paragraph should go from broad (first sentence as a hook to bring readers in) to narrow (thesis statement that specifically addresses your paper’s claim). The conclusion is the exact opposite of that, so you can use your introduction paragraph as somewhat of a template.

In the conclusion, start narrow by first restating your thesis (in different words than in your introduction) and showing how you proved it. Then, work on broadening your conclusion to the outer world.

Your conclusion should also make an attempt to address the significance of your topic. When writing a research paper, you are utilizing other authors’ information in order to present a claim. In the conclusion, attempt to answer this question: “why is my claim about this topic important? why should people read my paper or care that I’ve written it?”.

Difference Between Synthesizing and Summarizing

In your conclusion, you want to synthesize the information in your paper, not simply summarize it. Your readers already looked through your piece of writing and know what it says.

To synthesize effectively, you need to show your readers how everything you put in your research paper fits together to create a cohesive whole. You can think of your paper like a recipe. To bake a cake, you first have all of the ingredients stand on their own. However, once you combine them all together, you have created something new. What did you create when you put all of your ideas and evidence down onto paper?

Word Count

Some students suffer from writing conclusion paragraphs that are either too short or much too long. You don’t want to risk not saying enough, but you also don’t want to drone on. As a good rule of thumb, your conclusion should be about the same length of your introduction paragraph. Of course, if the length of your introduction paragraph is off, then your conclusion will be too.

Another good way to gauge how long your conclusion should be is by counting how many supporting ideas you have in your paragraph. If you have 5-6 supporting ideas, then try to synthesize that down into 2-3 sentences. Then add another 3-4 sentences to account for recasting your thesis, connecting your sentences together, and making your final connection to the outer world for a total of 5-7 sentences in your paragraph.

Those figures are just a guideline, however, and keep in mind that you need to vary sentence structure and length in order for it to work as intended. You could easily write 5 sentences that are extremely long and you likely still have a conclusion that’s too long despite limiting your sentence number.

What to Avoid

Here’s a quick list of things that you should never, ever incorporate in your conclusion paragraph:

  • New ideas. If a new idea strikes you and you think it’s brilliant, then go back and make a full body paragraph for it, don’t just sandwich into your conclusion.
  • Additional supporting evidence (quotations, paraphrasing). You need to have already given all of your proof prior to the conclusion. This is the time for recapping the case you’ve made, not continuing to make it via new sources.
  • Clichés. You should really avoid clichés in all areas of your writing, but it goes extra in your conclusion since it’s the last bit of your . This means no “in conclusion,” “in summary,” or anything like that. This also means that you shouldn’t break the standard that you set in your paper.

Don’t let writing your conclusion paragraph intimidate you. Follow the above tips and then ask yourself the ultimate “so what?” question. Once you feel you’ve adequately proven the significance of your research paper to your reader, then your job is done.