Writers have such a complicated relationship with that tricky last paragraph, and conclusions probably tie with introductions for the most closely read sections of papers. Yet they’re so often unrevised. I’ve left many a conclusion stranded at a dead end, hit “Submit,” and then hidden behind a moat of Snickers wrappers.
But I gave up too soon, mostly because I felt like I didn't have anything more to say, so anything I added would be pure B.S. Turns out that's not true.
Here are some generally accepted forms of conclusions to help you squeeze an ending out of a topic that you think you have already bled dry:
- Ask some questions. It’s a classic technique to conclude a paper, particularly if the information and ideas in your body paragraphs don’t add up to a conclusive conclusion. Provide readers with a reasonable tentative conclusion, then talk about the next-step questions that your paper raises.
- Provide a call to action. Rally the troops! If your paper isn’t political and your argument doesn't suggest a clear battle plan, you can call for more research on this important topic.
- Use the Austin Powers Method. Describe some of the most interesting or important implications of the information and ideas you have provided. This is what a conclusion really is, not a restatement of your “three main points.” You’ve proven your thesis with all those killer quotes and examples, so what’s the larger point? Channel your inner Austin Powers.
Or just don’t write one. In some genres, you can let readers draw their own conclusions. Especially if you have nothing to add...