The conclusion is your final opportunity to ensure your reader fully understands your argument and why it is important.
An effective conclusion
- synthesizes the ideas in the paper, showing what they all add up to
- demonstrates the broader significance of your argument
Strategies for concluding a paper
A conclusion often progresses in the opposite manner from an introduction. You can begin with the very specific ideas from your thesis and then expand out to consider their broader implications.
Reiterate the most important points of the paper, showing how they relate to each other and what they add up to (synthesis).
Describe the implications of your thesis. Why does it matter? What does it teach us? What does it suggest we should do?
Come full circle. If you began with an interesting statistic or quotation, you may wish to reflect on that information again in the conclusions. Show how your paper helps us to more fully or differently understand that idea from your introduction.
What to avoid
- Beginning with the phrase “in conclusion…” The reader can see that this is the final paragraph of the paper. Begin with words that add meaning.
- Repeating essentially the same contents as in your introduction. Your reader now knows all of the information from your paper, and you should state your argument and its implications in a way that reflects that.
- Introducing a new topic. It is appropriate to bring up new implications or reasons why the ideas in the paper are important, but you do not want to introduce a new idea that would need evidence to support it.
- Stating the thesis for the first time in the conclusion. When you write your first draft, you may find that you state your main idea best in the last paragraph. Make sure you revise your thesis in your introduction to fit that main idea.