How to Write a Scientific Conclusion for a Dissertation

The conclusion of a dissertation needs to sum up the entire document. It should restate the hypothesis before coming to a final judgement in the light of evidence presented in the dissertation. It may answer other questions raised during the course of research and usually poses questions for future study. It is important to bear in mind that a conclusion is not simply a summary; it needs to display evidence of reasoning and critical analysis.

Content and Structure

A conclusion is an analytical closing section that synthesizes all previous discussion and justifies the thesis. It needs to pull all the material together, with reference back to the introduction and original research question, and should be clear, systematic and relatively concise. A conclusion needs to have a logical structure, one form of which can be a beginning, middle and end as follows.

Introductory Section

The beginning of any conclusion needs to refer back to the thesis statement which was the initial basis for the research. The original question should be restated, with reference to its context and the subject’s importance, along with the key objectives of the study. This reinforcement gives the reader a clear sense of grounding. The introduction should then give the layout for the rest of the conclusion, outlining a clear and systematic framework.

Findings and Implications

Depending on the particular field, the middle section of a conclusion can vary in structure and content. Typically, however, it should synthesize the results of the research questions and subsequent discussion, not merely summarizing but demonstrating various points. It may also include a section on how the research may contribute to current understanding in the field and any implications for policy and future study, stating also how the study supports or differs from the findings of others.

Study Limitations and Final Conclusions

The final sections of the conclusion can mention any limitations in the study -- for example, during sampling, data collection and data analysis -- though alternatively these could just be stated in the methodology chapter. Lastly, a final concluding section should state whether the aims of the study have been reached and why, placing the dissertation in the context of the subject in general. This final section should be positive, concise and to the point.

About the Author

Based in Scotland, Clare Smith is a writer specializing in natural science topics. She holds a Master of Science in plant biodiversity from the University of Edinburgh.

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