The research report: conclusions and recommendations


THESES and dissertations are usually organized into five chapters. The Abstract precedes the five chapters, namely: Chapter 1 – Introduction, Chapter 2 – Literature Review, Chapter 3 – Methodology, Chapter 4 – Results, Analysis and Interpretation, and Chapter 5 – Conclusion and Recommendations. In some universities, Chapter 4 dwells only with the Results and Findings (or Analysis). Hence, Chapter 5 is titled Discussion (or Interpretation), Conclusions and Recommendations, followed by the Bibliography & Appendices. Some universities add a Chapter 6 – Interventions (arising from the Recommendations in Chapter 5).

Writing Chapter Five – Conclusions and Recommendations. This begins with a succinct recapitulation of Chapters 1 to 4 under the Introduction section of Chapter 5. The Introduction section consists of the context in which the study was conducted: questions being raised about the research topic, knowledge gaps, etc., the circumstances that inspired the researcher to undertake this study, relevant information drawn from the literature review, or an unanswered inquiry from a lecture. A brief sentence in the same paragraph describing this personal life, or career, or academic encounter with the research topic without recounting details, would suffice.

The next paragraph restates the research topic while also explaining why it is worth conducting, followed by the research questions in paraphrased form, without being “identical or too similar to the sentence originally used” in Chapter 1 < recommendations.html>.

Then, a sentence or two of the highlights of the literature review. If the research were on the poetic fragment “Kubla Khan” of the 18th century British romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, focus on the raging debate on Kubla Khan—whether or not the poem has any meaning. While some critics say Kubla Khan is “literally incomprehensible,” is merely a heap of images of “the distilled sorceries of romanticism, “is all magnificent description and allusion,” others say “it is not devoid of meaning.” In fact, it reflects the romantic dilemma to “reconcile opposites”—the “ideal and the actual”—of “human infallibility in attempting to redesign the world.”

In quantitative research, remind readers on the setting of the study, the research respondents and the major statistical treatment based on the Chapter on Methodology. Next, restate research results for each of the research questions as reported in Chapter 4 – Analysis and Interpretation, without repeating statistical details, but focused on the relationships or inter-relationships of the research variables. If the study is qualitative, paraphrase the findings. One technique to facilitate summarizing the major findings is to reread Chapter 4. Do not introduce new findings. The bottom line is write preferably a one-page reminder to readers of the main ideas in previous chapters.

Section One – Discussion and Conclusions. This section and the next make up Chapter 5 proper. Review the conceptual framework to facilitate discussion of the meaning of the results beyond what they mean statistically. Interpret the findings and indicate what can be concluded from them.” “Indicate whether the results confirm, totally or in part, the original expectations or predictions. For each hypothesis, indicate whether it was supported and why. Discuss any limitations inherent in your research procedures. What implications do these limitations have for the conclusions drawn from the results? Discuss also the relationship of the results to the original problem description.” <>

Add depth to the report by discussing whether “the alternatives make a difference, help solve the problem, or improve the situation.” Explain “what are the long-term as well as the short-term implications of the findings” and “how these findings relate to those of other researchers cited in the Literature Review.” “If the findings of several hypotheses are inter-related, include a discussion of those findings, explaining the interrelationships. Include a critical commentary covering the strengths and weaknesses of the study and possible alternative explanations.” For more writing tips when creating the conclusion for your next research paper, refer to < clusion-for-a-Research-Paper>

Section Two – Recommendations. This last section of Chapter 5 contains a statement of the “potential impact of the study in terms of its contribution to knowledge/understanding, to theory and theory development, to practice and application and its implications for future research.”

Our source recommends to include a section on Policy Recommendations if this appropriately flows from the conclusion, which earlier was drawn from the analysis/findings. This is especially true to dissertations where deeper probing is expected in doctoral research. However, these recommendations must have clear connections as an outflow of the conclusions. They cannot just come out of the blue. “A recommendation for a preferred alternative should include: specifically stating what should be done, the steps required to implement the policy, and the resources needed; discussion of the benefits to the organization and what problems would be corrected or avoided; discussion of the feasibility of the proposed policy; and a general statement about the nature and timing of an evaluation plan that would be used to determine the effectiveness of the proposed policy.”

Section Three – Recommendations for Further Research. This section could be the final part of a thesis or dissertation. It provides the opportunity to “present and discuss the actions that future researchers should take as a result of the research project.” A fine conclusion is a “well-thought-out set of recommendations” stating “the alternative that is best supported by the study, while presenting and discussing the kinds of additional research suggested by the research project. <see also dations.html>

Given a research report with policy recommendations, a Chapter 6 may be added to present a corresponding action plan covering implementation phases and needed resources for a preferred alternative, and “if the preferred alternative is implemented, what additional research might be needed.”

(To be continued – the abstract, acknowledgements, dedication)
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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies included not only education and pedagogy but also literature, general science and history. She studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Great Britain and Japan. She headed chartered institutions, was vice-president for academics and for external relations and internationalization. She is copy editor of the Liceo journals, an internationalization consultant and professorial lecturer on-call and at the Graduate Studies of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro City). She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the central office of the Commission on Higher Education.


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