Writing a conclusion: 6 steps + 3 basic tips for term papers

Whether you’re writing your technical paper, a term paper, or even your bachelor’s thesis, the scope may vary, but structure is always the same: Introduction, main body, conclusion. You write a conclusion to answer your initial question and to outline how you got there. The latter is the signal that you have the lion’s share of your work behind you. Yet many don’t know how to write a conclusion. We explain it to you in six simple steps and give you some tips..

Writing a conclusion: 6 steps + 3 basic tips for the term paper

➠ Contents: what to expect

Definition: What is a conclusion??

The conclusion heralds the end of your work. Synonyms for conclusion are outlook, results, perspective or conclusion. The exact name may be a matter of expertise. A little more distinguished sounds for example Conclusion. In English Conclusion or Summary used instead of conclusion. The synonyms for conclusion illuminate only a partial aspect, because the conclusion is more than just an outlook and more than the presentation of your results.

Want to write a good conclusion, then you deliver a mixture of all of the above. A conclusion picks up the questions from the introduction, briefly touches on how you arrived at your conclusion (in the main body), then states the result and classifies it accordingly. With a conclusion you write an evaluative summary of your term paper.

What role does the conclusion play?

At the end of the work, many people are out of breath – they just want to write their conclusion quickly and then put all thoughts of learning aside for the time being. In addition, some students tend to leave everything to the last minute. Accordingly, the stress is great when the deadline is approaching. The result is then a rather lovelessly rattled off conclusion. However, this is something you should avoid!

You wonder what it is for, To write a proper conclusion? The phenomenon is called the primacy-recency effect. Explained succinctly, this means that first and last impressions have the strongest effect on someone. In other words: Your introduction and conclusion are the most likely to be remembered. One of the reasons for this is that ideally, the conclusion succinctly provides the most important findings. You will also know this phenomenon from yourself: You are reading a book and are eagerly awaiting the end. Your evaluation of the book depends crucially on the ending.

Structure of the conclusion

With the conclusion, you not only underline your competence as a writer, you answer important research questions and thus provide added value to the reader. If this is not done due to lack of care on your part, the overall assessment of the work will be accordingly. Therefore, when writing a conclusion, you should allow yourself enough time to work through the individual points for it in a concentrated manner and step by step. The structure of a conclusion is always the same for student research papers:

  • Summary of the results
  • Interpret the results
  • Placement in the research context
  • Outlook on possible (because related) research fields

Writing a conclusion: Here’s how

1. Take the reader’s perspective

Often, a term paper is based on a presentation. You are absolutely familiar with the topic and have really dug in with the work again. As someone who has been working on a topic for a long period of time, you are now the expert on that very topic. You have read several books and / or articles on this subject and much of the knowledge is second nature – this is what makes it so difficult for some to write a conclusion.

You are afraid of just repeating yourself. In doing so, you should keep the following in mind: Your reader may have dealt with the topic in the past, but will hardly now be familiar with the matter in detail. Therefore, it is important that you come back to the hypotheses you developed in the beginning. You briefly state what you have studied in order to be able to answer the hypotheses. When writing a conclusion, you demonstrate that you can work scientifically and that your term paper offers the reader an important added value.

2. Abstract your work

In the main section, you are in the middle of the action – whether you are analyzing a poem or explaining an experiment: You are moving on the level of content. When writing the introduction and conclusion, adopt a detached point of view. This already starts with writing your paper in a scientific style and avoiding sentences with "I" or "you" if possible.

Depending on the course of study (usually more humanities subjects), a personal opinion may be desired in the conclusion. However, this should be clarified with the teacher or lecturer beforehand. As a workaround, you can then refer to yourself in the third person, i.e., "The author believes that there is an urgent need for research in this area." In the following, you will present to the reader what decisions you have made and why.

For example: "As could be shown, the term XY is historically biased. In modern research it is no longer used. Therefore, it was decided not to mention it again and to work with YZ instead."Before writing your conclusion, list the evidence for your results in the correct order, so that you do not forget any important point.

3. Summarize your results

This is where the actual conclusion writing begins: you come back to the research question you formulated in the introduction and briefly refer to your core ideas from the main part. The goal is to make the reader understand the topic and the problem without having to read the entire term paper. You will now present your results and thus answer the research question.

4. Place your results in the research context

At this point in your conclusion, you critically reflect on your own work and place it in the research context. To what extent do you make an important contribution to the topic? Arrive at the same results as other scientists? Arrive at completely different results?

It must be said that papers in natural science and technical subjects are more practical, while humanities subjects contribute more to scientific theory. Grateful for this part of the conclusion are scientific controversies on which you can take a position with the help of your work, such as: "In the debate between Meier and Muller about XY, this important point does not find any attention…"

5. Draw conclusions from the results

What can be deduced from the results? What not? At this point, open questions or problems are described, such as a thin literature base or failed attempts. Important: No result is a result! The point of housework (and certainly not writing a conclusion) is that everything goes smoothly. Your work will be good if you follow the guidelines.

6. Give an outlook

Depending on the subject or course of study, it may be desirable to provide an outlook. That is, you formulate what aspects could also be considered in this work. Typically, these tend to be side issues – coming up with the most pressing question at the end of your paper would tend to suggest a wrong focus.

Nevertheless, it is clear that you cannot include all aspects in your paper, no matter how much time you have before the deadline. Limiting yourself is also an art. A term paper with a page limit of 10 to 15 pages should not suddenly become 30 pages long, and a bachelor’s thesis should not be the size of a doctoral dissertation. However, do not make the mistake of suddenly formulating new ideas that were not at least briefly mentioned in the main body of the paper.

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