Introduction to Academic Writing – How to Write Conclusions | Inductive, Deductive, and Abductive reasoning -019
Hey, it’s Dr. Liu here with Better LIFE Research TIPS. The conclusion section is usually the most important section in a research paper, however, it is often the weakest part of many papers from new researchers. To write a good conclusion, not only we need to have a deep understanding on the specific results of our study, but also we need to have a big picture in mind. In this video, I will show you how to write the conclusion section in a research paper. How it should be different from the results, and what methods we can use to draw conclusions from the results. We will talk about two questions need to be answered, three methods can be used, and two directions we may follow in the conclusion section.
Many students don’t know the difference between conclusions and results. So they often just put a summary of results in the conclusion section. However, a good conclusion should go beyond the results. Our results are often defined and limited by the specific objectives and methods used in the current study. But in our conclusion, we should try to highlight the significance of the results, and try to expand the results for a more general or a more practical problem solving. Our conclusion section is a place to demonstrate why our paper is valuable, and it is also a place to demonstrate the depth and clarity of our scientific thinking, our ability to generate new knowledge from available evidences, which may include both our own results in the current study and also all the related results in the literature.
Basically, in the conclusion section, there are two questions we need to answer. First, we should connect our results back to the objectives of the study, and locate the current results in the big picture of our overall goal. We should provide a clear answer, based on the current results, whether our objective is achieved, and how our results have contributed to the overall goal of the study. How do our results compare with what we expected? How we might explain any unexpected results? Second, we should locate our results in the big picture of related literature. How do our results compare with results from other researchers? We should answer whether the results in this study are in line with the existing knowledge. If not, we should attempt to explain the discrepancies, and that may lead to some new findings in addition to our original objectives. Answering these two questions are the basic logic behind most conclusions.
When we have a big picture in mind, we can put the results of the current study and the related results in the literature together. And they should all be treated as evidences that can be used to draw conclusions. Generally, there are three methods to draw conclusions from these evidences. The first method is inductive reasoning. The black dot here represents the results of the current study, the circles here represent related results in the literature. When we put them together, through inductive reasoning, we may be able to identify trends, rules, or patterns in studies. We may be able to contribute to a new theory, or to complete a existing theory. The red line here represents the rule or theory that can be concluded from all available evidences. The second method of reasoning is deductive reasoning. The dashed line here represents an existing theory. Based on the existing theory, and the results of the current study, through deductive reasoning, we may be able to make predictions for a future problem, which is represented by the red circle here.
Basically, inductive reasoning is used to generate conclusions on a possible general rule, and deductive reasoning is used to generate more certain and specific conclusions for practical problem solving. They are both commonly used in our daily life. But sometimes, when there is no enough information, a third method of reasoning is required to draw conclusions. That is abductive reasoning. In abductive reasoning, given all the evidences, we need to rule out what is not likely to be true, until we are left with what is most likely to be true. As the famous British detective character, Mr. Holmes said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, must be the truth”. Based on abductive reasoning, we can draw a conclusion that provides the best and most plausible explanation for a group of observations. The black dot and the circles here represent all the possibilities that can be ruled out based on our results and related results in the literature. The red line here represent the conclusion that provides the most plausible explanation, given all the evidences. Abductive reasoning often entails making an educated guess using the best information available, and it is very useful for forming new hypotheses.
These three reasoning methods can be used alone or in combination to draw conclusions. And typically, in the conclusion, we can move in two directions, form the results. First, we can move from specific results to a more general theory, which is right opposite to what we should do in the introduction or the literature review section, where we move from general to specific. Second, we may also move from the current results to a more practical problem solving, which is more connected to the real world. So, to be more general or theoretical, and to be more connected to the real world, are the two directions we may move in order to highlight the significance of the study.
In addition to the significance of the study and possible implications, a good conclusion should also include the limitations of this study and recommendations for future studies. It will improve the chance for our study to be correctly used to support more researches, and thus make our paper more valuable. Thanks for watching, I am Dr. Liu with research tips for the underdogs. Writing is a way of thinking. Until next time, let’s keep writing to have more reflection and more production for our life.