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Study Guides : Writing


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1.23 Writing conclusions

Just as your introduction is the first impression your reader will have of your writing, your conclusion is the last. A good conclusion will show that you have successfully answered the question or completed the task set.

A good conclusion should:

be more than just a summary. It should be a thoughtful end to a piece of writing; for example, by applying what you    have written to the outside world.
emphasize or reinforce your main ideas, but with your ideas restated in a fresh way: don't use the same language    again. You should refer back to your introduction, either with key words or parallel concepts and images.
fit in with the rest of the assignment. Different types of writing require different types of conclusion. A short piece    will probably not require extensive restatement of your main points, whereas a longer piece probably will.
perhaps include a provocative question or two; evoke vivid images or use quotations if appropriate.
if appropriate, suggest results or consequences or make a call for some sort of action.
make predictions or suggest solutions, again if appropriate.

A good conclusion should NOT:

include completely new ideas. If they're important, include them in your main text.
be apologetic! Be confident with what you say: avoid phrases such as: "I may not be an expert .." or "At least this is    my opinion"
focus on minor points.
qualify the impact of any previous points.

Many tutors would argue that the conclusion is the most important part of your writing. It is where you can demonstrate once and for all that you are in control of your ideas and material and that you have thought of the implications and issues involved. Don't worry if writing your conclusion leads you to re-writing other parts of your text. This is in fact a good sign!

Example conclusions

These conclusions follow on from the sample introductions seen in Guide 1.22. It might be an idea to have a look at those and the accompanying comments before reading these.

As with the introductions, imagine that you are studying the mass media as part of your course and you have been set the following essay title:

Examine the sociological evidence of stereotypes of social groups in the mass media. What are the causes of stereotyping in the mass media and to what extent do they influence social attitudes?

Word limit: 2000 words
Keeping in mind the advice on writing conclusions, look at these three attempts and make comments on them.

Example 1

My essay has looked, therefore, at the problems caused by racial stereotyping, focussing on the lack of ethnic minorities working in the mass media. It has been seen that this bias causes a parallel bias in the interpretation of events. Indeed, the problem is even more acute in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the Pocock Institute (1998), only 7% of newspaper staff are black or hispanic, which is totally unrepresentative of the population as a whole.

Your comments: _______________________________________________________________________




Example 2

I have done my best to show in this essay that the mass media, and particularly television, strengthens the various stereotypes in society, although at times in very subtle, implicit ways. Several examples have been analysed, although one or two of these were somewhat out of date. The essay also suggested ways of overcoming this problem, although it is not clear if it is the media which creates these stereotypes, or if it is merely reflecting the way society already sees itself. The media is of course a part of society as a whole. The question of positive discrimination was discussed and it was decided that in the long run this has a negative effect. Things will change, but only slowly.

Your comments: _______________________________________________________________________




Example 3

It has been shown, therefore, that stereotypes have always existed in society, and probably will always do so. The mass media is a relatively recent phenomenon, which is one reason for the widely differing views on its role in creating and fostering stereotypical images. The actual causes of stereotyping in the mass media have been shown to be surprisingly diverse, although there can be no argument that any form of it which leads, albeit indirectly, to suffering in any form must not be allowed to take place. It is society itself which must stop this from happening, as laws and regulations are often ineffective. Things are changing, though, and in some areas very quickly; some commonplace stereotypes of only twenty years ago and today virtually taboo. It is society which must indirectly control the mass media, not vice versa. However, in an increasingly 'global' world, controlled by fewer and fewer corporations and individuals eager to please the governments of the major world powers, and, in the mass media, who are more than willing to use stereotyping as a tool in the control of society, we must be more and more vigilent to avoid this cynical manipulation.

Your comments: _______________________________________________________________________




Links to further resources on writing conclusions

English for Academic Purposes
University of Leeds
Birmingham University


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Steve Gould
Last updated: 7 November 2008

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