In this writing seminar we concentrated on writing conclusions.  Although none of us (bar one, I think) are at the stage of writing the final conclusion chapter to our theses, the suggestion was that thinking about the conclusion earlier in the process can be useful.

In particular, by considering your conclusion you are forced to make a reality check, to see that your thesis is really focused on the things that you most wanted to discuss.  Thinking about the conclusion throughout the project can also help to prevent what I would call “project creep”, which is when you allow your subject to continually grow, and thus constantly move the finishing post.

We discussed the fact that introductions and conclusions bear a striking resemblance to one another, because both summarise what you are talking about, in particular the value of what you are about to say or have said.  However, in general the introduction should concentrate on the value of the questions you have decided to ask, whereas the conclusion should concentrate on the value of the answers you have found, or the arguments that you have drawn out, in your thesis.  Many people seemed to find this distinction helpful in thinking about writing both introductions and conclusions.