Introduction to the Conclusion and Abstract
The main discussion about writing conclusions is the question whether we should include a conclusion in our text or not? To conclude or not to conclude? Generally, when we follow the canonical IMRaD model, we do not see the mention of C (conclusion), however, when we analyse the articles written in our discipline, we actually see that a great many of them have a Conclusion included. So what’s the purpose of a Conclusion and how is it different from a Discussion? This workshop dives deeper into those questions and concludes with the recommendations that, as in all other sections, our course raises more questions than answers, as the answers we seek are provided by our choice of communicating our science to our audiences, via the journals (medium) we have chosen. In other words, all journals will provide their own guidelines; however, your research account might actually fit one format better than another. As such, we see that a greater amount than 50% of articles published across disciplines deviate from the IMRaD format. They will take the following formats:
Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results and Discussion, and Conclusion;
Introduction, Methods and Results and Discussion, and Conclusion;
Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion, and Conclusion;
So, it’s useful to familiarise yourself with the different functions these have, for the type of text you put forward.
One (or two, if you include the abstract) is/are always present: The Introduction
Purpose of Conclusion:
So what’s the main purpose of a conclusion:
The main purpose of a Conclusion is to summarize the research by highlighting the findings, evaluating and pointing out possible lines of future research as well as suggesting implications for teaching and learning. Yang & Allison (2003: 380)
Move & Step model for Conclusions (Yang & Allison, 2003)
Move 1: Summarizing the study
Indicating significance and/or advantage
Indicating limitations of the study
Evaluating the methodology
Move 2: Evaluating the study
Move 3: Deductions from the research
Recommending further research
Drawing (pedagogical) implications (VALUE)
So how are Discussions different from Conclusions?
If you recall the moves and steps of the discussion section, we can actually underline the parts of that model which overlap with the conclusion section. In other words, if you already draw conclusions in your discussion section, should you also do so in a separate conclusion section? It might be worth it, as readers might only read your conclusion, and therefore miss out on that valuable message.
1. Re-establishing the territory
Drawing on general background
Drawing on study specific background
Recounting the principal findings
Previewing the discussion ‘road map’
2. Framing the new knowledge
Explicating the results
Accounting for the results
3. Re-shaping the territory
Supporting with evidence
Countering with evidence
4. Establishing additional territory
Stating the value
The bolded and underlined text marks the overlap.
THUS: The Discussion section focuses more on commenting on specific results, and the Conclusion concentrates on highlighting overal results and evaluating the study.
We usually write the abstract as the final section of our paper. It is also the section we have left at the last point of our sections to discuss. However, at this point of the course, we are actually going to challenge you to write the Abstract first for all future publications. Why? Well, consider the fact that for conferences you have to write an abstract or for special issues. Why do we write abstracts for these formats? Even if our research is not ready? Generally, containing your research article in an abstract demonstrates that you are well planned and have a clear overview what to include in your product. There is a clarity and simplicity in your message. Why go through the elaborate scheme of writing a full text in order to find out what your main message is? Writing your abstract first will help you to specificy the general outline (message) of your text. With that clarity in mind, it’ll be easier for you to follow those guidelines and not digress from that path. As such, in addition to providing you with a general Move&Step model for your abstract (provided by Hyland, 2000), we will urge you to answer 8 simple questions, proposed by Brown (1995), and highlighted by Rowena Murray (2000).
These questions guide you in writing an abstract which is less formulaic and much more communicative, and can help you to contruct abstracts for papers, but also for conferences, etc.
Brown’s 8 questions.
In addition, when used, Brown’s 8 questions do the following:
Provides a framework (e.g. to write an abstract)
Clarifies the main purpose
Considers the frame of the whole paper
Finding the thread that keeps it together
How to work with the questions
1. Answer as many questions as you can in 20/30 min.
2. If you get bogged down on one question, move on to the next
3. Take the questions literally (e.g. question 1)
4. Adapt your writing about your work to these questions, not vice versa
5. Stick to the word limit (25 words is 1 or 2 short sentence(s))
6. Make sure you answer question 7. (destination / so what question / and contribution to the field)
7. Discuss your answers with someone
1 Who are the intended readers? List three to five of them by name.
2 What did you do? (50 words)
3 Why did you do it? (50 words)
4 What happened [when you did that]? (50 words)
5 What do the results mean in theory? (50 words)
6 What do the results mean in practice? (50 words)
7 What is the key benefit for readers? (25 words)
8 What remains unresolved? (no word limit)