The conclusion is a tricky chapter. Firstly because you’re probably knackered from writing a whole thesis. Secondly because knowing what to include without too much repetition is a tough call. There is no consensus over just how long a conclusion should be and examiners will have their preferences.
So, what should you do then? I’m at this stage now and it can at times feel like pulling teeth. The way I’ve decided to tackle it is to think about what the conclusion needs to do. I’ve read a fair few blogs on the topic (below) and have found these to be the key things needed in a conclusion:
- Restate the aims and objectives and/or research questions – these should match your introduction and can be used to structure your conclusion.
- State how you met your aims and objectives – it is useful here to give specific examples (in chapter 4,….) of how you answered your research questions.
- Highlight your key contributions – explicitly state how your thesis contributes to the literature (theoretically, empirically, methodologically)
- Reach out beyond academia – explain who, outside of academia, might be interested in your findings (e.g. the cohort your participants belong to, policy makers)
- Future avenues of research – what questions have been opened up from your findings? What limitations did you encounter during the research and how do these open up interesting avenues of research?
Here are some useful resources on writing a PhD conclusion:
Emma Seddon is a Sociology PhD student at Newcastle and co-convenor for the BSA PGForum.