Dissertations – arguably the most stressful part of your final year at university. A project that can take a whole year of planning, researching, writing, rewriting and editing. You’ve spent so long creating on the research and analysis and you’re almost at the end, but there’s the dreaded conclusion left to write. But what exactly do you write in your dissertation conclusion and how much do you include? Lots of people make the common mistakes of simply repeating information from your dissertation main body or just overlooking the conclusion part. However, getting the conclusion right can leave a lasting impression on the marker, so it’s important to get it right. So here is everything you need to know about what to include in your dissertation conclusion and how to write it!

1. Summarise key findings

What should you include in your dissertation conclusion?

It seems obvious, but one of the most important things to include in your dissertation conclusion is a summary of your key findings. Summarising your argument down to a few sentences will effectively show whoever is marking your dissertation that you have kept a clear, logical structure throughout your argument that is consistent and makes sense. Some markers will read your introduction and your conclusion and then go back and read the main body of text, which just goes to show how important a good, effective conclusion is. 

2. Explicitly answer the research question

answer the research question in your dissertation conclusion

Again, this seems obvious, but explicitly answering the research question is incredibly important within your dissertation conclusion. You want the conclusion to be as clear as possible as it is the last thing the marker will see within the main body. Having a clear answer to your research question will show that you know what you’re talking about. You’ll want to do this right at the start of your conclusion to be as upfront and clear as possible with the reader. It doesn’t matter if your findings don’t provide the answer you were hoping for, you should state how far they answered the question or hypothesis. 

3. Inform the reader of the study’s main contributions

What should you include in your dissertation conclusion?

Next on what to include in your dissertation conclusion is its broader application. In other words, you’ll want to talk about what your dissertation contributes to your field of study. The likelihood that your dissertation will radically change anything is slim to none, so you want to find the balance between being firm and humble. Talk about how your research solves the problem your question poses and why that matters. Are there any gaps in the existing academic literature that your dissertation begins to address? How can your research be applied in the real world? These are the kinds of things to talk about in this section of your dissertation conclusion. It’s a good idea to draw on the context from your dissertation introduction about why the research was important.

4. Discuss any limitations and weaknesses

What should you include in your dissertation conclusion?

Similarly, you’ll want to include any limitations or weaknesses of your dissertation. Your research is not going to be perfect, no research is, but showing that you are aware of your research’s flaws will make you more credible to the marker. These limitations can encompass many different areas. Maybe you ran a survey that didn’t get enough responses to be helpful. Maybe budget constraints or time constraints limited the effectiveness of your study.

It’s a good idea to consider theoretical limitations – such as did you develop your argument well or were there other factors that weren’t explored, and methodological limitations, such as was it the best design for your question or was there any researcher bias, for example. But most importantly, do not undermine your research. Make sure you find the balance between recognising its limitations and highlighting the values of your dissertation. 

5. Present recommendations for future research

how to write your dissertation conclusion

This last section of your conclusion is about presenting recommendations for future research. These can basically be solutions to any limitations that you mentioned in the previous section. For instance, if a limitation of your study was that you didn’t have enough money to effectively conduct the study, then you can recommend to any researchers undertaking a similar study in the future that they will need more financial resources. Essentially, this section aims to provide a basis that other researchers can build on in the future to help develop the body of knowledge on the subject. Sounds simple enough. 

So, to answer the question, what do you need to include in your dissertation conclusion? These five steps above. While the exact structure of your conclusion will vary depending on your degree program, following these five steps will provide you with the basic structure that you need. In that case, the most important thing you can do is to check with your individual dissertation supervisor to make sure what you put in your dissertation conclusion is relevant to both your question and your degree. 

The conclusion is right at the finish line, but it can often be the part people put off doing. If you’re feeling like this then check out our top tips for getting your dissertation finished. 

If you’re still struggling with writing other sections of your dissertation, check out how to write a dissertation introduction

Last Updated on March 16, 2024

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