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Dissertation Conclusion Chapter

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Writing A Good Dissertation Conclusion Chapter

Your thesis has a very fascinating title and an even more interesting abstract. So, someone picks up your 200+ pages thesis with the idea of reading it. Chances are they would only skim through the chapters. Most readers do read the concluding chapter; after all why read the entire thesis when the last chapter summarizes the main argument and conclusions. This is the chapter that both a reader and your examiner would remember. Hence the structure and tone of your concluding chapter is something that has to be written with extreme care.

What is a conclusion?

The conclusion is where you summarize your arguments. You should bring together and synthesize all the different threads and concepts running through the dissertation in this chapter. This section also re-acquaints the reader or examiner with the research question and goal. In that sense, the concluding chapter binds the different concepts/findings with the hypothesis and pull the entire dissertation or thesis into a comprehensive and comprehensible unit.

What is the structure of the conclusion?

The concluding chapter follows the same structure as the other chapters:

  • An introduction that brings to focus the research question(s), hypothesis, or goal
  • The middle section where you synthesize the new findings, theory and concepts
  • 2-3 paragraph conclusion which lays out the implications of the findings, future direction that the research can take, and so on.

What should be the length of a concluding chapter?

The general rule of thumb that is followed for a concluding chapter is around 5 pages for a Masters dissertation and around 15 pages for a doctoral thesis. However, depending upon your university, supervisor and your topic, the length of the chapter may vary. Keep in mind that this is a very important chapter, so you have to make it crisp, clear and pertinent.

What should and should not be included in the conclusion?

It is a good idea to have a paragraph devoted to each or your main chapters or main themes that you have addressed in your project; and to run through your findings. This section should also emphasis areas or ideas that you have developed or where you have taken a different stance from existing research or literature. In addition, it would be a good idea to include the limitations of the thesis, and the questions that you were not able to successfully address or find an answer to. However, this should be presented in a positive light; it should be shown as strengthening the work you have done and providing focus for your thesis.

What you should avoid in a conclusion

The conclusion should not be place to bring in new material. There would be theories or experiments you worked on, interviews and surveys you conducted that for various reasons would not have been included in the main thesis. You should not be including them in the conclusion also. The conclusion should support whatever you had proved or presented in the main chapters.

End it with elegance

And finally, your conclusion should have a 2-3 sentence conclusion that brings back the main theme, research goal and its importance in the furthering of human knowledge. Aim for an upbeat and elegant ending. You may feel that since you have said whatever you have to say in the thesis why rehash the entire argument; but the conclusion is critical since this is where you make a case for yourself and your expertise in your field as an academic.

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