Concluding Paragraphs In Essays

The Concluding Paragraph

Although conclusions generally do not cause students as much trouble as introductions, they are nearly as difficult to get right. Contrary to popular belief, conclusions do not merely restate the thesis, and they should never begin with "In conclusion…" They represent your last chance to say something important to your readers, and can be used for some, or all, of the following tasks:

  • Emphasizing the purpose and importance of your essay
  • Explaining the significance or consequences of your findings
  • Indicating the wider applications of the method developed in your essay
  • Establishing your essay as the basis for further investigation
  • To show other directions of inquiry into the subject
Exactly which tasks your conclusion fulfills will vary according to your subject, your audience, and your objectives for the essay. Generally, conclusions fulfill a rhetorical purpose—they persuade your readers to do something: take action on an issue, change a policy, make an observation, or understand a topic differently.

Structure

Conclusions vary widely in structure, and no prescription can guarantee that your essay has ended well. If the introduction and body of your essay have a clear trajectory, your readers should already expect you to conclude when the final paragraph arrives, so don’t overload it with words or phrases that indicate its status. Below is an outline for a hypothetical, abstract essay with five main sections:

V: Conclusion

    1. Transition from last body paragraph
    2. Sentences explaining how paper has fit together and leads to a stronger, more emphatic and more detailed version of your thesis
    3. Discussion of implications for further research
      1. Final words
    Sample Conclusions

    Here are a few ways that some good writers ended their essays:

    The conclusion of the essay

    The function of the essay's Conclusion is to restate the main argument. It reminds the reader of the strengths of the argument: that is, it reiterates the most important evidence supporting the argument. Make sure, however, that your conclusion is not simply a repetitive summary as this reduces the impact of the argument you have developed in your essay. The conclusion provides a forum for you to persuasively and succinctly restate your thesis given the reader has now been presented with all the information about the topic. Depending on the discipline you are writing in, the concluding paragraph may also contain a reflection on the evidence presented, or on the essay's thesis. The nature of the reflection will depend on your topic (Woodward-Kron, 1997) but questions such as these may be considered:


    What is the significance of your findings?
    What are the implications of your conclusions for this topic and for the broader field?
    Are their any limitations to your approach?
    Are there any other factors of relevance that impact upon the topic but fell outside the scope of the essay?
    Are their any suggestions you can make in terms of future research?

    The conclusion should match the introduction in terms of the ideas presented and the argument put forward. Sometimes you will find that the process of writing has changed what you have argued and so it will be necessary to go back and reword the introduction. Finally, the conclusion is not the place in your essay to introduce new information or new ideas: these should be in the body of your essay.

    Essay Question:: Italy on the eve of 1860 has often been described as an unlikely nation. Why?

    Before 1860, only a tiny minority of the population believed that Italy could ever become a unified nation under one Italian ruler. Yet, despite this belief and the many obstacles blocking the path to unificationsuch as differences and suspicion between the many regions of the peninsula, the lack of planning and common goals that saw many uprisings fail and the divergent views and politics amongst the men who fought for unity,the Piedmont region emerged "...as the nucleus around which the rest of Italy could gather" (Mack Smith, 1959: 17). On March 17, 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed. Italy was no longer a geographical expression, it was a nation.reference to essay question
    reiteration of thesis point
    overview of main arguments explaining the obstacles to Italy's unification
    concluding comment and reference to essay question

    1 This essay has been adapted from material developed by R. Woodward-Kron, E. Thomson & J. Meek (2000) Academic Writing: a language based guide (CD-ROM), University of Wollongong



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