Concluding paragraphs may
remind readers of key ideas and encourage them to think
about information presented or actions proposed.
--The Longman Concise Companion, p.
Conclusions and introductions are two of the most
important elements of a paper. Unfortunately, they are also
often two of the most difficult parts to write. As Robert Keith Miller explains in
Motives for Writing, "While every paragraph should be helping to
fulfill the writer's motive and be directly related to the topic in
question, the introductory and concluding paragraphs are those for
which readers have the clearest expectations" (p. 29).
In Read, Reason, Write, Dorothy U. Seyler suggests that writers try one of the
following when they are stuck on the conclusion:
- Do not just repeat your claim exactly
as it was stated in paragraph 1, but expand on the
original wording and emphasize the claim's significance.
. . .
- End with a quotation that effectively
summarizes and drives home the point of your paper.
Researchers are not always lucky enough to find the
ideal quotation for the ending of a paper. If you
find a good one, use it. Better yet, present the
quotation and then add your comment in a sentence or
two. . . .
- If you have researched an issue or
problem, emphasize your proposed solutions in the
concluding paragraph. (317)
Seyler also explains that the
following five types of conclusions are usually
"ineffective and annoying":
- Do not introduce a new
idea. If the point belongs in your
paper, you should have introduced it
- Do not just stop or
trail off, even if you feel as though you
have run out of steam. A simple,
clear restatement of the thesis is better
than no conclusion.
- Do not tell your
reader what you have accomplished: "In
this paper I have explained the advantages
of solar energy by examining the costs. . .
" If you have written well, your reader
knows what you have accomplished.
- Do not offer apologies
or expressions of hope. "Although
I wasn't able to find as much on this topic
as I wanted, I have tried to explain the
advantages of solar energy, and I hope that
you will now understand why we need to use
it more" is a disastrous ending.
- Do not end with a
vague or confusing one- or two-sentence
summary of complex ideas. The
following sentences make little sense:
"These authors have similar and different
attitudes and ideas concerning American
desires. Faulkner writes with the
concerns of a man toward man whereas most of
the other writers are more concerned with
man toward money. (318)