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Write your conclusions

Be meticulous about the final chapter

By now you have completed your research, identified results, drawn conclusions and written most of the work. You are ready to construct the final and concluding chapter of your thesis.

This is your last opportunity to show the examiner/s the strength of the research and of your expertise as a researcher. This chapter has to bring together all the scholarly elements that you have already developed in your work, the reading, the established literature in the area, a summary of your research findings, and in particular their importance and implications for the discipline. Demonstrate finally how your current findings connect with earlier work, with practice, with existing theory, with opportunities for future research and and if relevant, how theory has been developed by virtue of the work.

Go back and read your introductory chapter and have a look at the stated aims of the research. Now, in the concluding chapter, you will show how you have fulfilled the aims.

It is important to connect this chapter with your introductory chapter, showing how you achieved what you set out to do.

Present and discuss the main findings of your research

You will have already presented specific conclusions drawn from the results of each stage of your investigation in earlier chapters of your thesis. In the discussion section of the thesis, you will have drawn some conclusions. These can now be woven into a series of well organised conclusions of the work as a whole and should connect with the original project aims, its importance and the ways in which it contributes to the knowledge of the discipline. In the Conclusions chapter, you present the broad general conclusions of the entire investigation.

Remember: conclusions are not summaries. They are not just short descriptions or a short account of your findings. Conclusions show the significance of the research for knowledge in the discipline - what is new and important about your work. Because you are conveying your findings as current reality they are written basically in the present tense.

Implications of findings

You will need to identify and demonstrate the implications of your findings, what your research means in terms of practice or understanding, ideas or theory.

Limitations of the research

Within the concluding chapter, you will discuss limitations of the research. While you will present confidence regarding the scholarly aspect of your research, your findings and the significance of the work, you will simultaneously show humility in recognising that it is still only an in depth study into a very tiny aspect of the field. That is all it can purport to be. While you may succeed in doing that exceptionally well, you will also need to demonstrate that you appreciate that it is limited. Additionally, even within the most comprehensive and large scale study, there are limitations by virtue of the possible scope, methodological restrictions, and practical realities. All claims and generalisations therefore, have to be tempered by this knowledge, and should be made using cautious language.

Recommendations for future work

It is generally accepted as good practice to recommend areas and possibilities for further research and future work that is indicated by the present project. The study should open up new questions that can be addressed in the future. In this section you will suggest various useful ways of extending the scope of the research presented in the thesis.

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