Monday, 31 May 2021

Conclusion or Conclusions

So, do we call the conclusions chapter "Conclusion" or "Conclusions"? 

A conclusion is the "'ending' or 'coda' ([the] opposite of [the] introduction)" (WordReference, 2013). However, a conclusion seems to imply a single answer (Academia, 2013; Purdue University, 2021; WordReference, 2013). 

Conclusions implies that there are more than one point to be made to complete the research; which will be the most likely outcome for the bulk of the research projects that most of us encounter. In fact, we most usually have both a coda, and a number of key points summarising the various elements of the research to tie up loose ends and to outline the substantive limitations of the work, while noting what future researchers could learn (Academia, 2013; Purdue University, 2021; StackExchange, 2013; WordReference, 2013).

APA is silent on which should be used: their advice stops at Discussion, and restarts with the Reference List (2019). 

In my experience, "conclusions" is the more 'normal' term, and this is what I recommend to my students. 

And to conclude (!), the conclusions chapter should mean that we do the following:

  • Restate [our] topic and why it is important, 
  • Restate [our] thesis/claim,
  • Address opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should align with [our] position,
  • Call for action or overview future research possibilities (Purdue University, 2021).

And that should see us right. 



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