👋 Introduction (Ironic)
You're almost done!! You've made it to your conclusion, the last component of your academic paper! This is the section that all of your research, review of literature, methodology, and results/discussion has led to: what is the answer to your question?
The conclusion takes the last 5000 or so words and summarizes it, synthesizes it, analyzes it, and, finally, looks towards the future. It will answer questions like:
What did we actually find in analyzing the data/results?
Did we find an answer to the research question/achieve the goal of this paper? What was it?
Were there any limitations to this paper? What were they and how did they affect the data?
What comes next? What does this mean for your field?
These are some pretty big questions and ones that have probably been bouncing around in your head even before you start the conclusion. So, let's jump right into it!
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Writing a 🔥 Conclusion
Answering Your Research Question
First and foremost, the purpose of your conclusion is to do exactly what its name implies: conclude your paper! This means that your conclusion must give the reader a sense of answers and a sense that something was actually learned as a result of this paper. While you may think that your research question was answered in your discussion section, and you probably did answer it to an extent, your conclusion is where you explicitly will state the answer to your research question.
Do silvering mirrors truly impact climate change in an isolated environment? Does intervention style education improve nutrition in high school athletes?
When writing, while you may not want to directly state, "the answer to my research question is...", you do want to be blunt in making sure your reader knows "we had this question through the entirety of this paper, and now THIS is the answer!" This provides a sense of satisfaction to the reader and provides a true conclusion to your paper.
It's also important to use points from your discussion to support this conclusion. After all, you just collected all of this data and analyzed it and drew basic conclusions from it. You want to use this information to explain how you came to your final conclusion.
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Along with the actual answer to your research question, it is crucial to your conclusion that you acknowledge any limitations
that may have been present in your research. According to St. Cloud State University, "Limitations are influences that the researcher cannot control. They are the shortcomings, conditions or influences that cannot be controlled by the researcher that place restrictions on your methodology and conclusions." (St. Cloud State
Here are some examples of potential limitations:
There are two important caveats to mentioning these limitations. First and foremost, you must also include what this means for your research. How have these limitations impacted your data? Did this change your overall conclusion or would similar results be expected without these limitations?
Second, your limitations are NOT, I repeat are NOT excuses for bad data, a bad methodology, or a bad paper in general. Similarly, using limitations as a reason to excuse that your data does not support your hypothesis is equally invalid and can, at times, be considered falsification of evidence.
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Finally, your conclusion should entertain ideas of what's next? The purpose of your research is not only to answer your question but also to encourage FUTURE research! Invariably, your research project has spawned new questions in your field that other researchers could look into. You've looked into a SUPER specific part of your field, so how can you branch out and look towards the future? Can you look at your topic from a new angle? A new lens? Acknowledge it!
This will lead to the very very end of your paper and leave your reader with a sense that new things were learned AND your research truly had a purpose. You weren't just studying some random aspect of a random topic, you created new facts that expanded the body of knowledge! This is what AP Research is all about, filling gaps and creating new ones that expand what research can be done because of the new knowledge you created.
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🎉 Conclusion (Pun Intended)
CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You have officially finished your AP Research Academic Paper. At this point, you have written an introduction, a review of the literature, a full-fledged academic methodology, collected real data and analyzed it, and now, have answered your research question!! This is an accomplishment that ranks among the top in your high school career.
You've accomplished something that many undergraduate students want to do and things that graduate students HAVE to do. You're equipped with a unique set of skills that will help you succeed not only in college, but beyond, regardless of whether or not you end up in academia. Time to celebrate!!!!!!!
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