BA Art History

6. Conclusions

The argument always ends with a conclusion. An article, paper, thesis or book ends with a conclusion, but the sub research (chapters and paragraphs) must also contain sub-conclusions. A conclusion is much more than a mere summary of what has been said so far. In a conclusion you answer the research question. That means that the final conclusion of a paper discusses the sub-conclusions in relation to each other and not as a list (copy-paste) of those passages in the chapters.


  • Repeat the research question and the approach (do not copy it word for word from the introduction, but incorporate it within the body of the text): refer back to that which you promised to research in the beginning of your paper, so that the ‘Say Say Say’ approach remains in tact.

  • Provide a brief summary of the key findings of the chapters: apply a hierarchy based on the importance of the research results.

  • Draw a conclusion from this summary: do not merely summarise the results, but interpret the results while considering the answer to the main question.

  • Weigh your answer as carefully as possible; define the extent to which the conclusion has led to new insights.

  • Evaluate the research; briefly discuss the original expectations and the unexpected outcomes of the research. What parts of the research were, in the end, a bit disappointing and what aspects of the research (or visions) gave more insights than expected?

  • If you used a hypothesis instead of a research question, indicate whether the hypothesis has been accepted or rejected.

  • Discuss the relevance of the conclusion for the wider context of the research field.

  • Discuss any limitations of and gaps in the research, followed by aspects that are eligible for follow-up research.

  • For example: "This study did not cover ...", "The scope of this research did not allow for a discussion of ...", "Aspect X therefore invites further research."

  • The ending line can be more poetic and coloured than the rest of the text: an appropriate quote, an ironic, nuancing remark or a personal touch.


  • Do not present new information. A conclusion can only be drawn from the preceding argument.

  • Do not provide examples. Examples are meant to support the argument and therefore belong in the main body of the text.

  • Do not cut and paste text from the sub conclusions from the chapters into the conclusion of the paper.

  • The conclusion should not be a summary, but really answer the subquestions and the main question.

  • The conclusion should not include generalisations. That would undo all the subtlety that you have accomplished in the main body of the text. In the conclusion, the answer to the questions must be formulated as accurately as possible.



Negative results are also results. Sometimes the research did not yield what you had originally expected or hoped for. This absolutely does not mean that the research has no value.