Writing an effective conclusion for a research paper can be daunting, especially since when you are trying to summarize four or more pages into just a few short phrases. Here are a few useful principles of composition that will help guide you through to the finish line.

Prep your conclusion: include your thesis and main ideas.

Before you start writing, take a moment to breathe, and review the main points of your paper. For some of us inexperienced writers, we tend to take the cookie-cutter approach to our conclusion by just restating the thesis, and the sub points of our paper. These are important to include, but you most certainly don’t want to leave the reader feeling like they are only reading an outline. This is an opportunity to distinguish yourself; so don’t get lazy. Make sure to restate your thesis, but do so in a way that is not so blatantly obvious. Then follow it up with succinct thoughts that transition one into the other, as well as summarizes your paper without making it appear as though you are simply restating.

Brevity is key.

The key to brevity is to be clear and concise. When constructing your conclusion, think about what each sentence accomplishes within the paragraphs. In order to avoid overwriting or overstating, each sentence must serve a purpose. At a glance, you should be able to point out which sentence reflects the thesis, which sentences reflect your main sub points, and which one reflects your final compelling thought. Anything more than these can very quickly become superfluous, or create clutter. Therefore, vigorously omit any unnecessary words or sentences.

Leave the reader with impressive final impression.

Authenticity is crucial if you want your paper to stand out among the rest. End strong with a compelling thought. This does not mean you need to introduce anything new to your paper, but that a morsel of insight will help to substantiate your study by giving the reader a reason to consider all that has been presented to them in your research.

Principles to Remember

  • Prep your conclusion to make clear what you want to say
  • Be succinct --- brevity is key!
  • Leave a compelling final impression


  • Don’t be too generic by simply outlining has already been said
  • Don’t go overboard---no need to say too much or overstate, so as not to pound your reader over the head.