How to... structure your article Part: 4 -

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How to... structure your article

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Writing the conclusion

"It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material."
(Francis Crick and James Watson
concluding their seminal 1953 Nature paper on the double helix)

The conclusion should summarize the main state of play at point of writing and look forward to the future. Here are some do's and don'ts:


  • summarize and conclude, restating the main argument, and presenting key conclusions and recommendations
  • state how your findings/new framework, etc. apply to the world of practice
  • state what are the implications for further research
  • say to what extent your original questions have been answered
  • state the limitations of your research.


  • start a new topic or introduce new material
  • repeat the introduction
  • make obvious statements
  • contradict anything you said earlier.

As Emerald's philosophy is based on the idea of research into practice, most journal editors and reviewers are particularly keen on a statement of implications for the practitioner. This statement, along with one describing the implications for further research, should be within the conclusion somewhere, either within a section heading "Conclusion" or "Discussion", or in a separate section. Obviously in some cases it may not be possible to make such statements, but all research papers should state implications for research, and most papers will have implications for practice.


Dean Neu et al., in "" (Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 16 No. 1), close a review of ethics in the accountancy field with a summary of the key findings of their analysis, a discussion of how the work complements existing work, the limitations of the research, and summary remarks on the contemporary dilemmas of accountants: "We would like to close by suggesting that we have entered a period in which accountants are being forced to live a twin life, one that encompasses the globally competitive, but equally integral, moral individual."

Allen Edward Foster and Nigel Ford, in "", (Journal of Documentation, Vol. 59 No. 3), summarize findings in bullet points, then talk about the need for further triangulated studies.

"" (Susan P. Douglas and Edwin J. Nijssen, International Marketing Review, Vol. 20 No. 6) also has a lengthy section on the implications for further research.

Clyde A. Warden et al., "" (International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 14 No. 4), conclude their research on intercultural exchanges in the area of service by summarizing their findings, and their are sections on the management implications (apologizing for poor service) and business strategy implications (need for training).

In "" (Karen Boehnke et al., Leadership and Organizational Development Journal, Vol. 24 No. 1), there is a section "Discussion" on their research findings which is full of obversations for practice; the "Conclusion" starts: "One executive's remark can summarize the content of all the reports: 'key learnings from this experience were that a clearly focused, committed organization with strong visible leadership can accomplish what might otherwise be seen to be the impossible!'".