Writing your dissertation’s implications and conclusion summary can be challenging. It is your dissertation’s most important section. Like the conclusion of any college essay, it has to summarize not the content of your findings, but their significance. Given your field of study and the methodology, or institutional framework, with which you assessed your dissertation’s primary and secondary sources, your implications and conclusion summary needs to clearly demonstrate your scholarly contributions. It offers the lens with which you want your dissertation committee members to appreciate what they have just read. You want it to confirm their positive appraisal of your dissertation.
Take a break after you finish writing the dissertation. Reaching the end of your dissertation completes a physically and emotionally daunting task that has enveloped the last several years of your graduate school life. You need to step away from what you have written and think about something else for a few days. Even if you are on a tight deadline to submit your dissertation to your committee, put the laptop down and go watch a movie. It is important to clear your head.
Make a list of the strongest assertions that your dissertation makes about its subject material. Consider how your dissertation addresses an oversight or problem in the scholarship in your field. Remember the reasons that inspired you to study what your dissertation does. As you make your list of its accomplishments, think about how to write about them while answering a “so what” question. For example, if your dissertation assesses material that has thus far been ignored by scholarship in your field, your implications and conclusion summary should demonstrate why it deserves the attention. Connect your contributions to the scholars’ work you used to write about your subject material. Demonstrating how your new work fits neatly into the field here will help prepare you on the academic job market, where professors on hiring committees will ask you this question in a variety of different ways.
Write the summary as if it is another chapter in you dissertation. Do not start the first sentence with — or use in any form in the first few pages of your summary — “In conclusion.” There should not be a jarring shift in tone from the body to the conclusion of your work. After you have written a first draft of the summary, read your dissertation’s introduction again. Rewrite any sentences that seem too similar or repeat quotes you have used there. Making the implications and conclusion summary different from the rest of a dissertation that has thoroughly examined its material can be a challenge. Let the summary’s different approach to the dissertation material guide you. The summary offers your committee the reasons why your work strongly contributes to the field. It looks at the implications that your work raises for others. Think of it as a receipt, or the proof of the purchase of your work.