How to Write a Conclusion to a Science Research Paper

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If you are accustomed to writing essays, you probably have experienced some trepidation about writing conclusions -- largely because you have endless options about how to wrap up your essay on precisely the right note. But if you're about to write a conclusion to a science research paper, you're in for a pleasant surprise. Most science research papers at the college level conform to the style of the American Psychological Association, which refers to the conclusion as the “discussion” portion. There is a four-step, seamless process to writing such a conclusion, and all four steps require that you ask yourself pointed and poignant questions about the research you have just conducted.

Explain, Interpret Findings

  • Explain and interpret the results of your scientific research. Lay out the facts in a straightforward manner. Explain what you found and discovered. Include numbers and statistics. Revisit your hypothesis and explain how your data supported or failed to support your hypothesis. Take the next step of interpreting your findings in the context of previous research and studies on the subject. Describe how your findings were consistent or inconsistent with previous work. Do your best to explain those consistencies or inconsistencies. Don't hold back on rendering your opinions; in fact, your instructor probably will evaluate you on your analytical skills. Adopt a rational and logical point of view and support your ideas in concrete terms.

Describe Your Contributions

  • Segue to describing what your scientific research has contributed to the field. Explain why it was important and what gap it filled. To some extent, you must adopt the mindset of a forecaster in describing the potential implications of your findings. Tout why your research project matters, what difference it will make and what changes it might inspire. Strive for a reasoned and balanced tone.

Define the Limitations

  • Define the limitations or shortcomings of your scientific research, remembering that it's a rare project that proceeds exactly as intended. For example, assuming that your science project involved a survey, with the benefit of hindsight, you might wish that you had increased the sample size. Or you might reword some questions that respondents found confusing. No honest researcher would say, “I conducted this science project perfectly from beginning to end.” Your instructor probably will evaluate your judgment and critical-thinking skills in this portion of the conclusion, so be honest. If you need a few days to adopt a fair-minded attitude, take it.

Suggest Future Research

  • Proffer suggestions for future study in the field. With any luck, some ideas occurred to you during the course of your research -- often landing under the heading of, “If only I had more time, I would....” Think back to those moments and present realistic ideas for future research. Then expound on why you think these ideas are worthwhile and important to the field. Push yourself to present provocative ideas, well beyond, “This project could be improved by including more participants.” The veracity of any research project is not necessarily measured by size alone. Your instructor probably will reward you for your creative thinking style and your skill at concluding your science research paper on a compelling, forward-looking note.

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