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This Guide was created as a joint project of the Academic Resource Center and the William H. Hannon Library.


Conclusions are the last impression your reader will have of your paper. They are important because:  

  1. The conclusion represents the reader's final thoughts on your paper’s clarity, style, and overall feeling or tone.
  2. The conclusion provides an opportunity for you to discuss what you have just argued and some implications or applications of that argument. 

Strategies to Try

  1. Review the main points and restate your thesis with new words, but keep it brief.
  2. If you sense a gap in the literature or in your argument, suggest that the readers look into this area in the future.
  3. If your essay was addressing a particular issue or problem, offer a course of action to resolve it that is consistent with your argument.
  4. Try including a detail, example, or image from the introduction to bring readers full circle.
  5. Ask yourself, "So what?" Why should anyone care about your paper? Why is your argument important to discuss?

What to Avoid

  1. Introducing any new ideas in the conclusion.
  2. Apologizing for the inadequacy of your argument or complaining about your task or lack of time to complete it.
  3. Contradicting your previous arguments in the paper.
  4. Using phrases that are used too often to be interesting, i.e. “America is the land of opportunity.”

Example Conclusions


Ineffective Conclusion

Sartre and Dostoevsky give us a lot to think about in regards to our own freedom, including what it means to be responsible for that freedom and how to relate to other, free agents. We might also ask ourselves whether or not freedom is an illusion or an actual phenomenon, but that question is outside the scope of this paper. Instead, we should ask ourselves whether or not Sartre’s Existentialism is possible in the world and, if so, how Dostoevsky’s novel might give us examples of both the benefits and the pitfalls of such a life.

Why is it ineffective?  

It begins in a vague and unhelpful manner; addresses an idea that is not in the body of the paper; fails to provide any closure by not addressing key points in the essay; and does not give the reader a reason to care about the paper.


Effective Conclusion

The Brothers Karamazov provides concrete illustrations of Sartre’s existential philosophy through the actions and dialogues of the titular brothers. As the novel unfolds, we can see some of the practical consequences of Existentialism, especially in Ivan’s struggles with religion and social expectations. Even if we reject the possibility of a truly authentic life, both Sartre and Dostoevsky’s novel provide a clear call to reclaim responsibility for our own actions and take an active role in the project of living.

Why is it effective?  

It provides a concise summary of the main point; briefly touches on key points of the argument; and provides an answer to the question "So what?"