The conclusion summarises the major inferences that can be drawn from the information presented in the report. It answers the questions raised by the original research problem or stated purpose of the report (Blake & Bly, 1993) and states the conclusions reached. Finally, the conclusion of your report should also attempt to show ‘what it all means’: the significance of the findings reported and their impact (Weaver & Weaver, 1977).
The conclusion/s presented in a report must be related to, resulting from and justified by the material which appears in the report. The conclusion must not introduce any new material. It should report on all the conclusions that the evidence dictates as it is NOT the job of a conclusion to “gloss over conclusions that are puzzling, unpleasant, incomplete or don’t seem to fit into your scheme” (Weaver & Weaver, 1977: 98). Doing this would indicate writer bias and mean your conclusion may mislead the reader.
In the workplace, conclusions are quite often read by managers before the main text of the report and hence, should summarise the main points clearly. This section also may include:
reference to original aim(s) and objective(s) of report,
application(s) of results,
limitations and advantages of the findings,
objective opinion, evaluation or judgement of the evidence
Quite often the present tense is used in the conclusion; for example, “The healthy lifestyles concept analysed in this report is a good candidate for next phase of the marketing campaign for Choice chocolate”.
The conclusions may be ordered in several ways (Weaver & Weaver, 1977). The main conclusion may be stated first and then any other conclusions in decreasing order of importance. Alternatively, it may be better to organise the conclusions in the same order as the body section was organised. Another strategy would be to present the positive conclusions together and then the negative conclusions. The organisational strategy you use may vary; the important thing is that the organisation of your conclusion is logical.
The conclusion must arise from the evidence discussed in the body of the report. It should not, therefore, subjectively tell the reader what to do (Blicq, 1992; Weaver & Weaver, 1977): this job is performed by the recommendations section.
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