Writing a Successful Research Paper Conclusion

Conclusions definitely do make a world of difference when it comes to the written word. On the one end of the spectrum you have the immortal final words of some of Shakespeare’s best works, including The Tempest and its famous ending couplet, “As you from crimes would pardoned be, Let your indulgence set me free.” At the other end of the spectrum you have Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn—also a classic, but one that has been criticized, fairly or otherwise, for years for what many see as an anticlimactic ending.

You don’t want your kind of professor to have that kind of feeling when he or she reads the end of your paper. A successful paper conclusion can make a big difference in the grade you get. So, how can you end your paper in a way that leaves your audience wanting more?

Tie it All Back into Your Thesis

The thesis of your paper is the beginning and ending of your paper. It’s the most foundational part of your essay, and so it only makes sense to reassert your points as you begin to wrap up your paper. You want to make it very clear as to what your goals or ideals were. Don’t leave any room for ambiguity—to paraphrase Dr. McCoy from Star Trek, your instructors are doctors, not detectives. They won’t spend time guessing what you “might” have meant, so take the time in your conclusion to be clear and make it explicit as to what your central thesis is, and what your main points of evidence for that point of view is.

Reference an Earlier Part of Your Essay

If you watch a lot of TV show finales, you’ll find that they often like to reference earlier episodes in the series’ run. It’s a nice bit of nostalgia, and also reminds us as to just how far our beloved characters have come. Likewise, you can use your conclusion to reference earlier arguments in your paper to show how you’ve developed them over the course of your paper.

The “Crescendo Ending”

If you want to really make a big impact with your ending, you can try end your paper with a bang. Use your last paragraph to continue building and building your argument using ethos, pathos and logos, and finish with a conclusion that not just ties all your points together, but features a pithy and powerful final sentence that’s memorable, rolls off the tongue and serves as a nice, dramatic cap to your entire essay.