How to Write Conclusion Chapter in a Doctoral Dissertation
You are on the verge of finishing your doctoral dissertation since only one chapter is left to write. Although it seems simple to create, it might turn out to be a more time-consuming task than you think. Hopefully, you have left yourself a plenty of time to devote to the conclusion and editing the dissertation. If you have not, well... at least try not to write a conclusive chapter a night before the submission. It will inevitably lead to a failure.
In this discussion of the chapter, we will pay attention to two aspects, which are "what" and "how." The former segment will explain what messages a conclusion should convey, what elements it should contain, and why they are necessary. The latter one, in turn, will assist you by elaborating on ways of including and developing the mentioned components in the final chapter.
What: The Goals Explained
Although a list of elements in a concluding chapter of doctoral dissertations may vary from a discipline to a discipline, the following ones are usually constant and are rarely omitted:
- Major contributions. To start strongly, you are advised to begin with recounting your major contribution to the field. It is likely to make a positive impression on a committee and grab their attention. Of course, there is no room for exaggeration and excessive modesty when it comes to contributions. To make sure their make a desired effect, keep it simple and just list them from the least to the most important.
- Main points. This component implies writing a brief summary of all the sections. You might remind a reader what you have wrote chapter after chapter. However, there is an alternative way that many might find better. You may summarize the main points thematically, not in the order as they appear in the paper. In such a way, you will synthesize an excellent executive summary that will be specifically useful for those who have little time for or interest in reading the entire dissertation of yours. In a nutshell, it is up to you to decide how to present the main ideas, but it definitely should be done.
- Practical significance. Some might consider this element to be redundant in their dissertations as they write about theoretical subjects. Still, whatever topic you have chosen, it will be valuable to show how your discovery and conclusion might be applied in practice. You do not have to write a lot in this regard. An appropriate approach would be to make a list of simple recommendations as to how your findings might be used. It will be particularly beneficial for your evaluation if there is a practitioner as a member of the committee.
- Future perspective. Science is immense, and every aspect of it might be looked at from a new angle. Basically, none of the topics may be fully studied. Therefore, even though you have probably spent a huge amount of time and efforts to complete your research, you have not studied it all. There is certainly something left, and you should mention it. This small detail in your concluding chapter does not mean that you are going to write another doctoral dissertation. It only implies that your paper has future that might be ensured by you, your Master's students if you become a professor, or just another scholar.
How: The Ways Explained
Now, as you are familiar with what you have to include in the conclusion of your doctoral dissertation, you should find out how it can be done effectively and easily. The key to success in this endeavor is to resort to self-reflection and self-evaluation, and the following questions might be extremely helpful in applying them:
- What do I want my audience to memorize most of all after reading my dissertation?
- If a reader's experience with my dissertation was limited to conclusion only, what should he/she remember after reading it?
Then, use a checklist:
- Did I include the main points from every section in my conclusion chapter?
- Did I paraphrase all the passages copied from the body and pasted in the conclusion?
- Does my conclusion have an overarching idea that can be easily memorized and summarizes the entire work?
- Did I indicate the practical implications and opportunities for future research in the conclusion?
- Did I emphasize the significance of my work and contribution I have made to the field?
- Does the section look and sound good after rereading?
If all questions get the answer "yes," your conclusion section is ready, and all you need to do it to edit and proofread it once again. If some of them have a "no" as an answer, just correct that by adding a missing element. Do not forget that conclusion section is as important as other sections, so there should be no overgeneralized data and unnecessary details, which you might be tempted to add since you are probably exhausted by this point. Gather your strengths and make one last push!