Module 10: Sharing Your Conclusions and Recommendations

     Now that you have captured your readers' attention with your captivating Introduction . . . and you have informed them of the research questions you will pursue . . . and you explained how you went about your search . . . and you shared your findings . . . it is time to tell your readers "what you think."
     Up to this point, your readers didn't care about your thoughts.  All that they wanted to know was what studies had to say about answering your specific research questions.

Writing the Conclusions:Now it is time for you to share your own opinions. You have the opportunity to tie together the loose ends that you have discovered as you combed through the literature. This is where you can discuss what your discoveries mean to you and ultimately to the rest of the world.   This is where you cite the studies you have already introduced and share the similarities and differences you found when you were working on them.  To avoid redundancy, review the list of ideas at the bottom of this post.

Writing the Recommendation: 
Remember that this section has two parts.  It has your conclusions and then it has your recommendations for how this information should be researched/applied in the future.  The recommendations section is where you can direct your readers towards ways to extend and use your literature review.  This section will include recommendations for:

  • Future research
  • Classroom applications
  • Educational policies and procedures
  • Program revision or other warranted situations

The recommendations section is often where future researchers will get their ideas of what else to explore.  Administrators will gain their brainstorms for how to use this information to improve educational institutions.

Writing It - Do not underestimate the importance of the conclusion - it is the last thing the reader reads. It should give your writing a sense of completeness and leave a lasting impression on the reader.

     There is no one correct way to write a conclusion but you might think about the following:
  • Synthesize - don't summarize! Don't repeat things said in the main body (the reader has already read this!) but show how your ideas,  your examples and your references have combined to support your line of argument.
  • Don't introduce new information. Remember that you are bringing closure to what has already been presented.
  • Reference and Cite Studies. This is where you will be citing and referencing the research you have previously introduced.  You MUST Compare and Contrast the outcomes of those studies to support your conclusions!!
  • Bring your paper full circle by echoing the introduction. But talk about the topic now with the hindsight of having developed your ideas in the body of your review.
  • Emphasize key material but acknowledge where there are opposing viewpoints which might qualify your argument.
  • Pose questions which still remain to be answered or further explored or require further study.
  • Point out the importance of the implications of what you have said on your field of research or your area of work.
  • Describe lack of closure - You may feel you were not always able to arrive at conclusions to your questions. Being able to recognize the lack of a conclusion can be good in that it demonstrates you understand the complexity of the problem.
  • Leave on an exciting note - You might save a provocative or exciting insight or quotation to add spice to your conclusion. But take care not to risk diverting attention from the arguments you have developed - avoid leaving the reader with a new direction that needs researching when you want your ideas and deliberations on your topic to take centre stage.
Hints for Writing a Conclusion - This document does a good job of providing a mindset for writing your conclusion. Read it carefully for hints on how to begin your conclusion as well as examples of what your conclusion should NOT be. 

EXAMPLE of a Conclusions and Recommendations section from a 33-page IT Masters Degree Literature Review.

Leave your reader feeling fulfilled and on a good . . . 

Module 9: Developing Your Analysis and Discussion

Analysis and Discussion

This is the section where you actually present research-based concepts in an organized fashion and use specific studies to support these ideas. Remember that this section has NOTHING to do with your personal ideas. You need to save your personal ideas for the Conclusions and Recommendations section.

The Analysis and Discussion section begins by identifying the research question (or questions in your masters paper) that you will be exploring.  You will use the opening paragraph to provide the framework for the rest of this section. Having identified your research question, you will then define the subheadings. This shouldn't be done in a boring bulleted list. This organization can be defined through the prose of your review.
 Here is an example of how this opening paragraph for a Full Masters Literature Review might be written:
Teachers’ beliefs regarding technology integration into the 21st century classroom play a role in learning. Technology can only be embraced as an effective learning tool when teachers believe that what they are being asked to do will work, and that it is the best solution to an identifiable educational problem (Ertmer, Addison, Lane, Ross, & Woods, 1999). There are three specific areas that will be reviewed within the role of teacher belief systems in technology integration. These areas are common teacher beliefs regarding technology integration, teacher goals and knowledge concerning technology integration and supporting teachers as they integrate technology into the 21st century classroom. 
Tour a Sample Lit Review: It is difficult to describe how to write the Methodology or Analysis and Discussion sections without examples, so here is a narration of a single literature review as well as some other examples you will want to read to "get the idea" of how to write these beasts.

Other examples will be included after this narration:

A fine example of this organization is the article, The Effect of Instructor-created Video Programs to Teach Students with Disabilities: A Literature Review by Linda Mechling (2005) Journal of Special Education Technologies 20(2) 25 - 36.  Open the article in another window and review it while you read this narration.

This is a comprehensive review about using video programs. Notice how this begins with an opening paragraph that sets the stage. It talks about the research and development since the early 1980s. It then supports the importance of the topic by showing research-based advantages to the method. This is followed in the 5th paragraph where Mechling explains the purpose and scope of the review. It also explains how the review will be structured.

The Introduction is followed by the Method (Methodology) where it explains the method for finding the studies and the criteria that were used to filter the research. You will noticed that the explanation of databases is not as extensive as we expect for this project, the critera are quite specific.

The results section is similar to our Analysis and Discussion. It begins by specifically explaining the grouping of the studies. It does a wonderful job of creating the framework of the upcoming contents for the reader. Your section doesn't need to be quite so statistically-oriented, but please note how it prepares the reader for the research that will be presented.

Each of the sections described in the Analysis and Discussion are subheaded and discussed as independent entities. The Video Feedback section is concept-driven. This begins with the video feedback concept and supports that with Dowrick's work. it then explains a variety of studies where the value of video feedback was explored in various fashions. Notice how the studies are not the emphasis of the section the effects of video feedback are central to what is being shared. The final paragraph combines and summarizes what was found in the studies. Please NOTE: the final two sentences are transitional sentences that lead to the next section, Video Modeling.

This process of exploring each of the sections described in the opening paragraphs continues throughout the review. The Discussion section (p. 32) is close to the section that we would call the Conclusions and Recommendation section. The author reviews each of the sections and provides commentary on the effectiveness of the approach. This is also the place where the author can compare and contrast the various outcomes (i.e., Paragraph 3 on p. 33.)

The Recommendations for future research do a decent job of relating this technology to the future potential of Virtual Reality. Unfortunately, it doesn't do a very good job of discussing how these results might change policy and pedagogy for teaching disabled learners in the future. There are, however, a few sentences addressing these areas in the final sentences of the review.

The Summary at the end is not necessary if you have written your conclusions well. This section is well-written and much of it could be used as organizational material for the conclusions section in one of our papers.

This review is a fine example of the simple format of a literature review. It doesn't involve teaching readers the fundamentals of a topic as much as providing an organized review of the research in the field. 

Other Examples: