Dissertation Discussion Conslusions

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discussion and conslusions

Discussing and concluding the dissertation

In this section of a research dissertation you need to review and present your key findings and discuss possible connections between them. Always refer back to your research question(s). You should relate your own findings to those in existing related studies outlined in your literature review. Where your findings differ you should offer a suggested explanation. What light do they shed on the phenomenon under discussion? What new research questions are raised by your investigation and study?

Be sure to explain what the limitations of your own study are. What are the limitations of your sample? To what degree are your findings specific to a particular socio-cultural or organisational context? In what ways is your interpretation of your findings related to your own theoretical assumptions? What insights into the phenomenon does your study seem to offer? What could others learn from your study?

Discuss any wider implications in relation to your theoretical framework. This is important because many people discuss implications as if these were simply logical consequences and leave implicit the model within which the findings might have such implications. Your theoretical model must be explicit. Undergraduates are sometimes unwisely tempted into using the concluding section of their dissertation in order to make general pronouncements on the topic, often going well beyond the scope of their study. Conclusions may be optional in research articles where consolidation of the study and general implications are covered in the Discussion section. However, they are usually expected in university dissertations and essays.

Many academic experts have identified a number of key components that form part of a conclusion. Again (as with introductions) it will not always be necessary or desirable to include all the elements they mention. However, you will probably want to use some of these in some combination, in order to conclude your work.

•  A summary of the main part of the text
•  A deduction made on the basis of the main body
•  Your personal opinion on what has been discussed
•  A statement about the limitations of the work
•  A comment about the future based on what has been discussed
•  The implications of the work for future research
•  Important facts and figures not mentioned in the main body

Conclusions must follow coherently from the evidence; do not be tempted into speculation, prediction or moralising. Unless specifically called for, personal opinions should not feature. If you must end with a quotation, make sure it is a very short one. In dissertations and research papers, conclusions tend to be more complex and will also include sections on significance of the findings and recommendations for future work.

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