Conclusions are in many ways very similar to the Discussion section of a thesis. They both will summarize the research often discussing a particular claim and the research conducted. Furthermore, both sections may involve future recommendations on how the research may proceed. The real difference, however, is the scope on which such material is described. The Conclusion may well be viewed as a type of summary to the Discussion. It aims to cover the entire thesis as well as the Discussion and do so in a manner which allows the reader to gain a very general understanding, without focusing too much on the details.
The main research into PhD Conclusions comes from Bunton (2005), a researcher at HKU who in studying 45 theses organized the theses into two groups of Science and Technology (ST) and Humanities and Social Science (HSS). Bunton’s research found that such conclusions could be loosely organized into two groups:
Thesis-oriented: A conclusion that ‘focuses mainly on the thesis itself, beginning with a restatement of purpose and summary of findings and claims’ (Bunton 2005, pp. 214–215). This is the most common format.
Field-oriented: ‘focuses mainly on the field and only mentions the thesis and its findings or contributions in the context of the whole field’ (Bunton 2005, p. 215). The Field-oriented thesis typically begins with a summary of the world-situation (between 3-4 pages) that follows a “Situation–Problem–Solution–Evaluation structure”. Moves are not clearly identified as in the Thesis-Oriented format.
HKUST Student Example
Biology: Liu, F. J. (2012). Significance of metal-induced proteins in metal bioaccumulation in marine bivalves and pollution assessment http://lbxml.ust.hk/th_imgo/b1197864.pdf.
Assan, J. (Retrieved 4, Oct 2013). Writing the Conclusion Chapter: the Good, the Bad and the Missing.
Hewings, M. (1993). The end! How to conclude a dissertation. In G. M. Blue (Ed.), Language, learning and success: Studying through English. London: Modern English Publications and The British Council, Macmillan.
Hyland, K. (2005) ‘Stance and engagement: a model of interaction in academic discourse’, Discourse Studies, 7: 173–192.
Paltridge, B, Starfield, S. (2007). Thesis and dissertation writing in a second language: A handbook for supervisors. London: Routledge Falmer.