Your dissertation may include recommendations for a client company or organization. These recommendations relate to the issue that you have described in the introduction to your dissertation.
Based on the findings of your research, what specific solutions are possible and what measures should the client implement? In other words, what do you advise the client to do “tomorrow”?
Recommendations are generally included in a separate chapter after your conclusion and discussion chapter. If your client prefers, you can also present them in a separate advisory report.
Each recommendation should be explained and justified with the support of your research findings. Focus in particular on the following questions:
- How will the measure contribute to solving the problem or issue?
- Why do you believe this is the case?
Example of a supported recommendation
How can aggressive behavior be prevented in young people (aged 10-12) in district XXX?
To prevent children in the highest levels of primary schools from joining up with loitering secondary school students, it is important to organize after-school activities for children between the ages of 10 and 12 years so that their free time has the structure they need. The municipality can play a proactive role by advising associations, making funds available, and supporting youth organizations.
When should you make recommendations?
If any of your research questions were in the form of an advice question, you definitely have to provide recommendations as your client wants to know what specific actions to take.
While explanatory or descriptive research questions are not directly aimed at changing a current situation, they can also lead to practical recommendations.
What should the recommendations look like?
Recommendations should be concrete and include verbs such as care of, create, organize and develop.
You can present your recommendations in different ways. For instance, you can start with your rationale and then move on to the actual recommendation, or the other way around. The key is just to not combine the styles.
Example of an advice research question with practical recommendations
Research question (advice):
How can teachers at primary school X ensure that the social skills that contribute to maintaining peer relationships in primary school be promoted in children aged 1 to 4?
An important condition for controlling many social skills is mastering language. If children have a better command of language, they can express themselves better and will typically exhibit fewer unacceptable behaviors. Moreover, they are better able to understand their peers. Children are thus able to create more opportunities to practice social skills and develop language skills.
The investigation revealed that mastering language is an important prerequisite for mastering social skills. The advice is that the primary school should develop language development programs together with its kindergartens and nurseries with the goal of continuously expanding the language skills of children aged 1 to 4.
Example of a descriptive question research with practical recommendations
Research question (descriptive):
To what extent does any social isolation experienced affect the public confidence of citizens in the Municipality of Amsterdam?
Sample sub-question (descriptive):
How does the social isolation of Amsterdam citizens look in practice?
Based on the research results, it can be concluded that individuals’ access to the internet, degree of feeling connected to their neighborhood and age have a strong influence on how they perceive isolation.
The study has shown that older people (especially those over 65) face the greatest risk of social isolation. To prevent or combat social isolation, it is therefore recommended that more attention be paid to this target group in particular.
Based on: Lievaart, N. F. (2009). Bowling alone without public trust (Master’s dissertation). Consulted https://www.ser.nl/~/media/files/internet/educatie/
Thesis / scriptieprijs_2010 / lievaart_volledige_scriptie.ashx
How many recommendations should you write?
As a rule of thumb, try to limit yourself to between three and seven recommendations in total. If you have more, group them together.
Note that you can have multiple recommendations for each conclusion. It is also acceptable to have one recommendation that is connected to more than one conclusion.
Remember that no organisation or company has endless amounts of money and time. Your recommendations should remain within their parameters and reflect the available budget, the deadline by which the advice must be implemented and any relevant rules (such as laws and regulations).
In your dissertation, use a separate section in your introduction to outline any preconditions set by your client. This section can be omitted if your client has not defined any preconditions.
Example of a research question with preconditions
Research question (advice question):
How could the management of the common website for elementary schools in the Brabant region be made more efficient within a year?
- The solution should increase efficiency by at least 10% within one year.
- The related budget should not exceed €10,000.
- The website’s design should remain unchanged.
Who will read your recommendations?
Of course, your client will be the main consumer of your recommendations. Many stakeholders in the company or organization may be interested, including managers, staff members who have been involved in the study and anyone who may have to deal with changes related to your recommendations.
What is the difference between a conclusion and a recommendation?
A conclusion answers your research question based on the results of your investigations. In contrast, a recommendation offers concrete solutions that your client can use to set new goals for the future; any related ideas it contains must be connected to your research and be both realistic and implementable.
Make sure your recommendations concerning what your client could actually do (tomorrow) to solve its problem reflect any pre-conditions that it has set.
In the example concerning the website for Brabant’s elementary schools, the client’s conditions for the research have been clearly specified.
As noted above, remember that you can also have several recommendations related to one conclusion (or vice versa).
What is the difference between these recommendations and recommendations for future research?
The recommendations discussed in this article are aimed at your client; as explained, they should be included in a separate chapter of your dissertation and possibly in a stand-alone advisory report.
In contrast, recommendations for further research are aimed at the academic community and should only be included in the discussion section of your dissertation.
A separate advisory report?
Your client may want to receive a separate advisory report that presents your recommendations in a structured manner.
What does an advisory report look like?
I. General Rules
The function of your paper's conclusion is to restate the main argument. It reminds the reader of the strengths of your main argument(s) and reiterates the most important evidence supporting those argument(s). Do this by stating clearly the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem you investigated in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found in the literature. Make sure, however, that your conclusion is not simply a repetitive summary of the findings. This reduces the impact of the argument(s) you have developed in your essay.
When writing the conclusion to your paper, follow these general rules:
- State your conclusions in clear, simple language. Re-state the purpose of your study then state how your findings differ or support those of other studies and why [i.e., what were the unique or new contributions your study made to the overall research about your topic?].
- Do not simply reiterate your results or the discussion of your results. Provide a synthesis of arguments presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem and the overall objectives of your study
- Indicate opportunities for future research if you haven't already done so in the discussion section of your paper. Highlighting the need for further research provides the reader with evidence that you have an in-depth awareness of the research problem.
Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is presented well:
- If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize the argument for your reader.
- If, prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the end of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
- Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from the data.
The conclusion also provides a place for you to persuasively and succinctly restate your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with all the information about the topic. Depending on the discipline you are writing in, the concluding paragraph maycontain your reflections on the evidence presented, or on the essay's central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the research you have done will depend on the topic and whether your professor wants you to express your observations in this way.
NOTE: If asked to think introspectively about the topics, do not delve into idle speculation. Being introspective means looking within yourself as an author to try and understand an issue more deeply, not to guess at possible outcomes or make up scenarios not supported by evidence.
II. Developing a Compelling Conclusion
Although an effective conclusion needs to be clear and succinct, it does not need to be written passively or lack a compelling narrative. Strategies to help you move beyond merely summarizing the key points of your research paper may include any of the following strategies:
- If your essay deals with a contemporary problem, warn readers of the possible consequences of not attending to the problem.
- Recommend a specific course or courses of action that, if adopted, could address a specific problem in practice or in the development of new knowledge.
- Cite a relevant quotation or expert opinion already noted in your paper in order to lend authority to the conclusion you have reached [a good place to look is research from your literature review].
- Explain the consequences of your research in a way that elicits action or demonstrates urgency in seeking change.
- Restate a key statistic, fact, or visual image to emphasize the ultimate point of your paper.
- If your discipline encourages personal reflection, illustrate your concluding point with a relevant narrative drawn from your own life experiences.
- Return to an anecdote, an example, or a quotation that you presented in your introduction, but add further insight derived from the findings of your study; use your interpretation of results to recast it in new or important ways.
- Provide a "take-home" message in the form of a strong, succinct statement that you want the reader to remember about your study.
III. Problems to Avoid
Failure to be concise
Your conclusion section should be concise and to the point. Conclusions that are too lengthy often have unnecessary information in them. The conclusion is not the place for details about your methodology or results. Although you should give a summary of what was learned from your research, this summary should be relatively brief, since the emphasis in the conclusion is on the implications, evaluations, insights, and other forms of analysis that you make. Strategies for writing concisely can be found here.
Failure to comment on larger, more significant issues
In the introduction, your task was to move from the general [the field of study] to the specific [the research problem]. However, in the conclusion, your task is to move from a specific discussion [your research problem] back to a general discussion [i.e., how your research contributes new understanding or fills an important gap in the literature]. In short, the conclusion is where you should place your research within a larger context [visualize your paper as an hourglass--start with a broad introduction and review of the literature, move to the specific analysis and discussion, conclude with a broad summary of the study's implications and significance].
Failure to reveal problems and negative results
Negative aspects of the research process should never be ignored. Problems, drawbacks, and challenges encountered during your study should be summarized as a way of qualifying your overall conclusions. If you encountered negative or unintended results [i.e., findings that are validated outside the research context in which they were generated], you must report them in the results section and discuss their implications in the discussion section of your paper. In the conclusion, use your summary of the negative results as an opportunity to explain their possible significance and/or how they may form the basis for future research.
Failure to provide a clear summary of what was learned
In order to be able to discuss how your research fits back into your field of study [and possibly the world at large], you need to summarize briefly and succinctly how it contributes to new knowledge or a new understanding about the research problem. This element of your conclusion may be only a few sentences long.
Failure to match the objectives of your research
Often research objectives in the social sciences change while the research is being carried out. This is not a problem unless you forget to go back and refine the original objectives in your introduction. As these changes emerge they must be documented so that they accurately reflect what you were trying to accomplish in your research [not what you thought you might accomplish when you began].
Resist the urge to apologize
If you've immersed yourself in studying the research problem, you presumably should know a good deal about it, perhaps even more than your professor! Nevertheless, by the time you have finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you have produced. Repress those doubts! Don't undermine your authority by saying something like, "This is just one approach to examining this problem; there may be other, much better approaches that...." The overall tone of your conclusion should convey confidence to the reader.
Assan, Joseph. Writing the Conclusion Chapter: The Good, the Bad and the Missing. Department of Geography, University of Liverpool; Concluding Paragraphs. College Writing Center at Meramec. St. Louis Community College; Conclusions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Conclusions. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Freedman, Leora and Jerry Plotnick. Introductions and Conclusions. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Leibensperger, Summer. Draft Your Conclusion. Academic Center, the University of Houston-Victoria, 2003; Make Your Last Words Count. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Tips for Writing a Good Conclusion. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Kretchmer, Paul. Twelve Steps to Writing an Effective Conclusion. San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008; Writing Conclusions. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Writing: Considering Structure and Organization. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College.