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conclusion and recommendation in case study example

How to write the conclusion of your case study

You worked on an amazing UX project. You documented every detail and deliverable and when the time came, you began to write a UX case study about it. In the case study, you highlighted how you worked through a Design Thinking process to get to the end result; so, can you stop there and now move on to the next thing? Well, no! There’s just one more bit left to finish up and make the perfect case study. So, get ready; we will now explore how you can write the perfect conclusion to wrap it all up and leave a lasting great impression.

Every start has an end – we’re not just repeating the famous quote here, because for case studies, a proper end is your last and final chance to leave a lasting great (at the very least, good) impression with whoever is reading your work (typically, recruiters!). Many junior UX designers often forget about the conclusion part of the case study, but this is a costly mistake to make. A well-written case study must end with an appropriate final section, in which you should summarize the key takeaways that you want others to remember about you and your work. Let’s see why.

Last impressions are just as important as first ones

We’ll go to some length here to convince you about the importance of last impressions, especially as we can understand the reason behind not wanting to pay very much attention to the end of your case study, after all the hard work you put into writing the process section. You are tired, and anyone who’s read your work should already have a good idea about your skills, anyway. Surely—you could be forgiven for thinking, at least—all that awesome material you put in the start and middle sections must have built up the momentum to take your work into orbit and make the recruiter’s last impression of you a lasting—and very good—one, and all you need to do now is take your leave. However, psychologist Saul McLeod (2008) explains how early work by experimental psychology pioneers Atkinson & Shriffin (1968) demonstrated that when humans are presented with information, they tend to remember the first and last elements and are more likely to forget the middle ones.

This is known as the “ serial position effect ” (more technically, the tendency to remember the first elements is known as the “ primacy effect ”, while the tendency to remember the last elements is known as the “ recency effect ”). Further work in human experiences discovered that the last few things we see or hear at the end of an experience can generate the most powerful memories that come back to us when we come across a situation or when we think about it. For example, let’s say you stayed in a hotel room that left a bit to be desired. Maybe the room was a little cramped, or the towels were not so soft. But if the receptionist, as you leave, shakes your hand warmly, smiles and thanks you sincerely for your custom, and goes out of his way to help you with your luggage, or to get you a taxi, you will remember that person’s kind demeanor more than you will remember the fact that the room facilities could be improved.

A good ending to your case study can help people forget some of the not-so-good points about your case study middle. For example, if you missed out a few crucial details but can demonstrate some truly interesting takeaways, they can always just ask you about these in an interview. Inversely, a bad ending leaves the recruiter with some doubt that will linger. Did this person learn nothing interesting from all this work? Did their work have no impact at all? Did they even write the case study themselves? A bad last impression can certainly undo much of the hard work you’ve put into writing the complicated middle part of your case study.

What to put in your case study conclusions

A case study ending is your opportunity to bring some closure to the story that you are writing. So, you can use it to mention the status of the project (e.g., is it ongoing or has it ended?) and then to demonstrate the impact that your work has had. By presenting some quantifiable results (e.g., data from end evaluations, analytics, key performance indicators ), you can demonstrate this impact. You can also discuss what you learned from this project, making you wiser than the next applicant – for example, something about a special category of users that the company might be interested in developing products for, or something that is cutting-edge and that advances the frontiers of science or practice.

As you can see, there are a few good ways in which you can end your case study. Next, we will outline four options that can be part of your ending: lessons learned, the impact of the project, reflections, and acknowledgements.

Lessons learned

A recruiter wants to see how you improve yourself by learning from the projects you work on. You can discuss interesting insights that you learned from user research or the evaluation of your designs – for example, surprising behaviors that you found out about the technology use in a group of users who are not typically considered to be big proponents of technology (e.g., older adults), or, perhaps, the reasons a particular design pattern didn’t work as well as expected under the context of your project.

Another thing you can discuss is your opinion on what the most difficult challenge of the project was, and comment on how you managed to overcome it. You can also discuss here things that you found out about yourself as a professional – for example, that you enjoyed taking on a UX role that you didn’t have previous experience with, or that you were able to overcome some personal limitations or build on your existing skills in a new way.

Impact of the project

Showing impact is always good. How did you measure the impact of your work? By using analytics, evaluation results, and even testimonials from your customers or users, or even your development or marketing team, you can demonstrate that your methodical approach to work brought about some positive change. Use before-after comparison data to demonstrate the extent of your impact. Verbatim positive quotes from your users or other project stakeholders are worth their weight (or rather, sentence length) in gold. Don’t go overboard, but mix and match the best evidence for the quality of your work to keep the end section brief and to the point.

conclusion and recommendation in case study example

Copyright holder: Andreas Komninos, Interaction Design Foundation. Copyright terms and license: CC BY-SA 3.0

User reviews from app stores are a great source of obtaining testimonials to include in your case studies. Overall app ratings and download volumes are also great bits of information to show impact.

conclusion and recommendation in case study example

An excerpt from a case study ending section. Here, text and accompanying charts are used to demonstrate the impact of the work done by the UX professional.

Reflections on your experiences

You can include some information that shows you have a clear understanding of how further work can build on the success of what you’ve already done. This demonstrates forward thinking and exploratory desire. Something else you can reflect on is your choices during the project. In every project, there might be things you could do differently or improve upon. But be aware that the natural question that follows such statements is this: “Well, so why haven’t you done it?”

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by listing all the things you wish you could have done, but focus on what you’ve actually done and lay out future directions. For example, if you’ve done the user research in an ongoing project, don’t say, “ After all this user research, it would have been great to progress to a prototype, but it’s not yet done ”; instead, say, “ This user research is now enabling developers to quickly progress to the prototyping stage. ”

Acknowledgments

The end of the case study section is where you should put in your acknowledgments to any other members of your team, if this wasn’t a personal project. Your goal by doing so is to highlight your team spirit and humility in recognizing that great projects are most typically the result of collaboration . Be careful here, because it’s easy to make the waters muddy by not being explicit about what YOU did. So, for example, don’t write something like “ I couldn’t have done it without John X. and Jane Y. ”, but instead say this: “ My user research and prototype design fed into the development work carried out by John X. User testing was carried out by Jane Y., whose findings informed further re-design that I did on the prototypes. ”

What is a good length for a UX case study ending?

UX case studies must be kept short, and, when considering the length of your beginning, process and conclusion sections, it’s the beginning and the conclusion sections that should be the shortest of all. In some case studies, you can keep the ending to two or three short phrases. Other, longer case studies about more complex projects may require a slightly longer section.

Remember, though, that the end section is your chance for a last, short but impactful impression. If the hotel receptionist from our early example started to say goodbye and then went on and on to ask you about your experience, sharing with you the comments of other clients, or started talking to you about where you are going next, and why, and maybe if he had been there himself, started to tell you all about where to go and what to see, well… you get the point. Keep it short, sincere and focused. And certainly, don’t try to make the project sound more important than it was. Recruiters are not stupid – they’ve been there and done that, so they know.

Putting it all together

In the example below, we will show how you can address the points above using text. We are going to focus on the three main questions here, so you can see an example of this in action, for a longer case study.

conclusion and recommendation in case study example

An example ending section for a longer case study, addressing all aspects: Lessons, impact, reflection and acknowledgments.

Here is how we might structure the text for a shorter version of the same case study, focusing on the bare essentials:

conclusion and recommendation in case study example

An example ending section for a shorter case study, addressing the most critical aspects: Lessons, impact and reflection. Acknowledgments are being sacrificed for the sake of brevity here, but perhaps that’s OK – you might mention it in the middle part of the case study.

The Take Away

The end part of your case study needs as much care and attention as the rest of it does. You shouldn’t neglect it just because it’s the last thing in the case study. It’s not hard work if you know the basics, and here, we’ve given you the pointers you need to ensure that you don’t miss out anything important. The end part of the case study should leave your recruiters with a good (hopefully, very good) last impression of you and your work, so give it the thorough consideration it needs, to ensure it doesn’t undo all the hard work you’ve put into the case study.

References & Where to Learn More

Copyright holder: Andrew Hurley, Flickr. Copyright terms and license: CC BY-SA 2.0

Atkinson, R. C., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1968). Chapter: Human memory : A proposed system and its control processes. In Spence, K. W., & Spence, J. T. The psychology of learning and motivation (Volume 2). New York: Academic Press. pp. 89–195.

McLeod, S. (2008). Serial Position Effect

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How To Make Recommendation in Case Study (With Examples)

How To Make Recommendation in Case Study (With Examples)

After analyzing your case study’s problem and suggesting possible courses of action , you’re now ready to conclude it on a high note. 

But first, you need to write your recommendation to address the problem. In this article, we will guide you on how to make a recommendation in a case study. 

Table of Contents

What is recommendation in case study, what is the purpose of recommendation in the case study, 1. review your case study’s problem, 2. assess your case study’s alternative courses of action, 3. pick your case study’s best alternative course of action, 4. explain in detail why you recommend your preferred course of action, examples of recommendations in case study, tips and warnings.

example of recommendation in case study 1

The Recommendation details your most preferred solution for your case study’s problem.

After identifying and analyzing the problem, your next step is to suggest potential solutions. You did this in the Alternative Courses of Action (ACA) section. Once you’re done writing your ACAs, you need to pick which among these ACAs is the best. The chosen course of action will be the one you’re writing in the recommendation section. 

The Recommendation portion also provides a thorough justification for selecting your most preferred solution. 

Notice how a recommendation in a case study differs from a recommendation in a research paper . In the latter, the recommendation tells your reader some potential studies that can be performed in the future to support your findings or to explore factors that you’re unable to cover. 

example of recommendation in case study 2

Your main goal in writing a case study is not only to understand the case at hand but also to think of a feasible solution. However, there are multiple ways to approach an issue. Since it’s impossible to implement all these solutions at once, you only need to pick the best one. 

The Recommendation portion tells the readers which among the potential solutions is best to implement given the constraints of an organization or business. This section allows you to introduce, defend, and explain this optimal solution. 

How To Write Recommendation in Case Study

example of recommendation in case study 3

You cannot recommend a solution if you are unable to grasp your case study’s issue. Make sure that you’re aware of the problem as well as the viewpoint from which you want to analyze it . 

example of recommendation in case study 4

Once you’ve fully grasped your case study’s problem, it’s time to suggest some feasible solutions to address it. A separate section of your manuscript called the Alternative Courses of Action (ACA) is dedicated to discussing these potential solutions. 

Afterward, you need to evaluate each ACA by identifying its respective advantages and disadvantages. 

example of recommendation in case study 5

After evaluating each proposed ACA, pick the one you’ll recommend to address the problem. All alternatives have their pros and cons so you must use your discretion in picking the best among these ACAs.

To help you decide which ACA to pick, here are some factors to consider:

  • Realistic : The organization must have sufficient knowledge, expertise, resources, and manpower to execute the recommended solution. 
  • Economical: The recommended solution must be cost-effective.
  • Legal: The recommended solution must adhere to applicable laws.
  • Ethical: The recommended solution must not have moral repercussions. 
  • Timely: The recommended solution can be executed within the expected timeframe. 

You may also use a decision matrix to assist you in picking the best ACA 1 .  This matrix allows you to rank the ACAs based on your criteria. Please refer to our examples in the next section for an example of a Recommendation formed using a decision matrix. 

example of recommendation in case study 6

Provide your justifications for why you recommend your preferred solution. You can also explain why other alternatives are not chosen 2 .  

example of recommendation in case study 7

To help you understand how to make recommendations in a case study, let’s take a look at some examples below.

Case Study Problem : Lemongate Hotel is facing an overwhelming increase in the number of reservations due to a sudden implementation of a Local Government policy that boosts the city’s tourism. Although Lemongate Hotel has a sufficient area to accommodate the influx of tourists, the management is wary of the potential decline in the hotel’s quality of service while striving to meet the sudden increase in reservations. 

Alternative Courses of Action:

  • ACA 1: Relax hiring qualifications to employ more hotel employees to ensure that sufficient human resources can provide quality hotel service
  • ACA 2: Increase hotel reservation fees and other costs as a response to the influx of tourists demanding hotel accommodation
  • ACA 3: Reduce privileges and hotel services enjoyed by each customer so that hotel employees will not be overwhelmed by the increase in accommodations.

Recommendation: 

Upon analysis of the problem, it is recommended to implement ACA 1. Among all suggested ACAs, this option is the easiest to execute with the minimal cost required. It will not also impact potential profits and customers’ satisfaction with hotel service.

Meanwhile, implementing ACA 2 might discourage customers from making reservations due to higher fees and look for other hotels as substitutes. It is also not recommended to do ACA 3 because reducing hotel services and privileges offered to customers might harm the hotel’s public reputation in the long run. 

The first paragraph of our sample recommendation specifies what ACA is best to implement and why.

Meanwhile, the succeeding paragraphs explain that ACA 2 and ACA 3 are not optimal solutions due to some of their limitations and potential negative impacts on the organization. 

Example 2 (with Decision Matrix)

Case Study: Last week, Pristine Footwear released its newest sneakers model for women – “Flightless.” However, the management noticed that “Flightless” had a mediocre sales performance in the previous week. For this reason, “Flightless” might be pulled out in the next few months.  The management must decide on the fate of “Flightless” with Pristine Footwear’s financial performance in mind. 

  • ACA 1: Revamp “Flightless” marketing by hiring celebrities/social media influencers to promote the product
  • ACA 2: Improve the “Flightless” current model by tweaking some features to fit current style trends
  • ACA 3: Sell “Flightless” at a lower price to encourage more customers
  • ACA 4: Stop production of “Flightless” after a couple of weeks to cut losses

Decision Matrix

Recommendation

Based on the decision matrix above 3 , the best course of action that Pristine Wear, Inc. must employ is ACA 3 or selling “Flightless” shoes at lower prices to encourage more customers. This solution can be implemented immediately without the need for an excessive amount of financial resources. Since lower prices entice customers to purchase more, “Flightless” sales might perform better given a reduction in its price.

In this example, the recommendation was formed with the help of a decision matrix. Each ACA was given a score of between 1 – 4 for each criterion. Note that the criterion used depends on the priorities of an organization, so there’s no standardized way to make this matrix. 

Meanwhile, the recommendation we’ve made here consists of only one paragraph. Although the matrix already revealed that ACA 3 tops the selection, we still provided a clear explanation of why it is the best. 

  • Recommend with persuasion 4 . You may use data and statistics to back up your claim. Another option is to show that your preferred solution fits your theoretical knowledge about the case. For instance, if your recommendation involves reducing prices to entice customers to buy higher quantities of your products, you may invoke the “law of demand” 5 as a theoretical foundation of your recommendation. 
  • Be prepared to make an implementation plan. Some case study formats require an implementation plan integrated with your recommendation. Basically, the implementation plan provides a thorough guide on how to execute your chosen solution (e.g., a step-by-step plan with a schedule).
  • Manalili, K. (2021 – 2022). Selection of Best Applicant (Unpublished master’s thesis). Bulacan Agricultural State College. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.studocu.com/ph/document/bulacan-agricultural-state-college/business-administration/case-study-human-rights/19062233.
  • How to Analyze a Case Study. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://wps.prenhall.com/bp_laudon_essbus_7/48/12303/3149605.cw/content/index.html
  • Nguyen, C. (2022, April 13). How to Use a Decision Matrix to Assist Business Decision Making. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://venngage.com/blog/decision-matrix/
  • Case Study Analysis: Examples + How-to Guide & Writing Tips. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://custom-writing.org/blog/great-case-study-analysis
  • Hayes, A. (2022, January O8). Law of demand. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/lawofdemand.asp

Written by Jewel Kyle Fabula

in Career and Education , Juander How

Last Updated September 23, 2022 07:23 PM

conclusion and recommendation in case study example

Jewel Kyle Fabula

Jewel Kyle Fabula is a Bachelor of Science in Economics student at the University of the Philippines Diliman. His passion for learning mathematics developed as he competed in some mathematics competitions during his Junior High School years. He loves cats, playing video games, and listening to music.

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Writing the parts of scientific reports

22 Writing the conclusion & recommendations

There are probably some overlaps between the Conclusion and the Discussion section. Nevertheless, this section gives you the opportunity to highlight the most important points in your report, and is sometimes the only section read. Think about what your research/ study has achieved, and the most important findings and ideas you want the reader to know. As all studies have limitations also think about what you were not able to cover (this shows that you are able to evaluate your own work objectively).

Possible structure of this section:

conclusion and recommendation in case study example

Use present perfect to sum up/ evaluate:

This study has explored/ has attempted …

Use past tense to state what your aim was and to refer to actions you carried out:

  • This study was intended to analyse …
  • The aim of this study was to …

Use present tense to evaluate your study and to state the generalizations and implications that you draw from your findings.

  • The results add to the knowledge of …
  • These findings s uggest that …

You can either use present tense or past tense to summarize your results.

  • The findings reveal …
  • It was found that …

Achievements of this study (positive)

  • This study provides evidence that …
  • This work has contributed to a number of key issues in the field such as …

Limitations of the study (negative)

  • Several limitations should be noted. First …

Combine positive and negative remarks to give a balanced assessment:

  • Although this research is somewhat limited in scope, its findings can provide a basis for future studies.
  • Despite the limitations, findings from the present study can help us understand …

Use more cautious language (modal verbs may, can, could)

  • There are a number of possible extensions of this research …
  • The findings suggest the possibility for future research on …
  • These results may be important for future studies on …
  • Examining a wider context could/ would lead …

Or indicate that future research is needed

  • There is still a need for future research to determine …
  • Further studies should be undertaken to discover…
  • It would be worthwhile to investigate …

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  • How to Write Discussions and Conclusions

How to Write Discussions and Conclusions

The discussion section contains the results and outcomes of a study. An effective discussion informs readers what can be learned from your experiment and provides context for the results.

What makes an effective discussion?

When you’re ready to write your discussion, you’ve already introduced the purpose of your study and provided an in-depth description of the methodology. The discussion informs readers about the larger implications of your study based on the results. Highlighting these implications while not overstating the findings can be challenging, especially when you’re submitting to a journal that selects articles based on novelty or potential impact. Regardless of what journal you are submitting to, the discussion section always serves the same purpose: concluding what your study results actually mean.

A successful discussion section puts your findings in context. It should include:

  • the results of your research,
  • a discussion of related research, and
  • a comparison between your results and initial hypothesis.

Tip: Not all journals share the same naming conventions.

You can apply the advice in this article to the conclusion, results or discussion sections of your manuscript.

Our Early Career Researcher community tells us that the conclusion is often considered the most difficult aspect of a manuscript to write. To help, this guide provides questions to ask yourself, a basic structure to model your discussion off of and examples from published manuscripts. 

conclusion and recommendation in case study example

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Was my hypothesis correct?
  • If my hypothesis is partially correct or entirely different, what can be learned from the results? 
  • How do the conclusions reshape or add onto the existing knowledge in the field? What does previous research say about the topic? 
  • Why are the results important or relevant to your audience? Do they add further evidence to a scientific consensus or disprove prior studies? 
  • How can future research build on these observations? What are the key experiments that must be done? 
  • What is the “take-home” message you want your reader to leave with?

How to structure a discussion

Trying to fit a complete discussion into a single paragraph can add unnecessary stress to the writing process. If possible, you’ll want to give yourself two or three paragraphs to give the reader a comprehensive understanding of your study as a whole. Here’s one way to structure an effective discussion:

conclusion and recommendation in case study example

Writing Tips

While the above sections can help you brainstorm and structure your discussion, there are many common mistakes that writers revert to when having difficulties with their paper. Writing a discussion can be a delicate balance between summarizing your results, providing proper context for your research and avoiding introducing new information. Remember that your paper should be both confident and honest about the results! 

What to do

  • Read the journal’s guidelines on the discussion and conclusion sections. If possible, learn about the guidelines before writing the discussion to ensure you’re writing to meet their expectations. 
  • Begin with a clear statement of the principal findings. This will reinforce the main take-away for the reader and set up the rest of the discussion. 
  • Explain why the outcomes of your study are important to the reader. Discuss the implications of your findings realistically based on previous literature, highlighting both the strengths and limitations of the research. 
  • State whether the results prove or disprove your hypothesis. If your hypothesis was disproved, what might be the reasons? 
  • Introduce new or expanded ways to think about the research question. Indicate what next steps can be taken to further pursue any unresolved questions. 
  • If dealing with a contemporary or ongoing problem, such as climate change, discuss possible consequences if the problem is avoided. 
  • Be concise. Adding unnecessary detail can distract from the main findings. 

What not to do

Don’t

  • Rewrite your abstract. Statements with “we investigated” or “we studied” generally do not belong in the discussion. 
  • Include new arguments or evidence not previously discussed. Necessary information and evidence should be introduced in the main body of the paper. 
  • Apologize. Even if your research contains significant limitations, don’t undermine your authority by including statements that doubt your methodology or execution. 
  • Shy away from speaking on limitations or negative results. Including limitations and negative results will give readers a complete understanding of the presented research. Potential limitations include sources of potential bias, threats to internal or external validity, barriers to implementing an intervention and other issues inherent to the study design. 
  • Overstate the importance of your findings. Making grand statements about how a study will fully resolve large questions can lead readers to doubt the success of the research. 

Snippets of Effective Discussions:

Consumer-based actions to reduce plastic pollution in rivers: A multi-criteria decision analysis approach

Identifying reliable indicators of fitness in polar bears

  • How to Write a Great Title
  • How to Write an Abstract
  • How to Write Your Methods
  • How to Report Statistics
  • How to Edit Your Work

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How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Conclusion

Published on September 6, 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes. Revised on November 20, 2023.

The conclusion is the very last part of your thesis or dissertation . It should be concise and engaging, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your main findings, as well as the answer to your research question .

In it, you should:

  • Clearly state the answer to your main research question
  • Summarize and reflect on your research process
  • Make recommendations for future work on your thesis or dissertation topic
  • Show what new knowledge you have contributed to your field
  • Wrap up your thesis or dissertation

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Table of contents

Discussion vs. conclusion, how long should your conclusion be, step 1: answer your research question, step 2: summarize and reflect on your research, step 3: make future recommendations, step 4: emphasize your contributions to your field, step 5: wrap up your thesis or dissertation, full conclusion example, conclusion checklist, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about conclusion sections.

While your conclusion contains similar elements to your discussion section , they are not the same thing.

Your conclusion should be shorter and more general than your discussion. Instead of repeating literature from your literature review , discussing specific research results , or interpreting your data in detail, concentrate on making broad statements that sum up the most important insights of your research.

As a rule of thumb, your conclusion should not introduce new data, interpretations, or arguments.

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Depending on whether you are writing a thesis or dissertation, your length will vary. Generally, a conclusion should make up around 5–7% of your overall word count.

An empirical scientific study will often have a short conclusion, concisely stating the main findings and recommendations for future research. A humanities dissertation topic or systematic review , on the other hand, might require more space to conclude its analysis, tying all the previous sections together in an overall argument.

Your conclusion should begin with the main question that your thesis or dissertation aimed to address. This is your final chance to show that you’ve done what you set out to do, so make sure to formulate a clear, concise answer.

  • Don’t repeat a list of all the results that you already discussed
  • Do synthesize them into a final takeaway that the reader will remember.

An empirical thesis or dissertation conclusion may begin like this:

A case study –based thesis or dissertation conclusion may begin like this:

In the second example, the research aim is not directly restated, but rather added implicitly to the statement. To avoid repeating yourself, it is helpful to reformulate your aims and questions into an overall statement of what you did and how you did it.

Your conclusion is an opportunity to remind your reader why you took the approach you did, what you expected to find, and how well the results matched your expectations.

To avoid repetition , consider writing more reflectively here, rather than just writing a summary of each preceding section. Consider mentioning the effectiveness of your methodology , or perhaps any new questions or unexpected insights that arose in the process.

You can also mention any limitations of your research, but only if you haven’t already included these in the discussion. Don’t dwell on them at length, though—focus on the positives of your work.

  • While x limits the generalizability of the results, this approach provides new insight into y .
  • This research clearly illustrates x , but it also raises the question of y .

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conclusion and recommendation in case study example

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You may already have made a few recommendations for future research in your discussion section, but the conclusion is a good place to elaborate and look ahead, considering the implications of your findings in both theoretical and practical terms.

  • Based on these conclusions, practitioners should consider …
  • To better understand the implications of these results, future studies could address …
  • Further research is needed to determine the causes of/effects of/relationship between …

When making recommendations for further research, be sure not to undermine your own work. Relatedly, while future studies might confirm, build on, or enrich your conclusions, they shouldn’t be required for your argument to feel complete. Your work should stand alone on its own merits.

Just as you should avoid too much self-criticism, you should also avoid exaggerating the applicability of your research. If you’re making recommendations for policy, business, or other practical implementations, it’s generally best to frame them as “shoulds” rather than “musts.” All in all, the purpose of academic research is to inform, explain, and explore—not to demand.

Make sure your reader is left with a strong impression of what your research has contributed to the state of your field.

Some strategies to achieve this include:

  • Returning to your problem statement to explain how your research helps solve the problem
  • Referring back to the literature review and showing how you have addressed a gap in knowledge
  • Discussing how your findings confirm or challenge an existing theory or assumption

Again, avoid simply repeating what you’ve already covered in the discussion in your conclusion. Instead, pick out the most important points and sum them up succinctly, situating your project in a broader context.

The end is near! Once you’ve finished writing your conclusion, it’s time to wrap up your thesis or dissertation with a few final steps:

  • It’s a good idea to write your abstract next, while the research is still fresh in your mind.
  • Next, make sure your reference list is complete and correctly formatted. To speed up the process, you can use our free APA citation generator .
  • Once you’ve added any appendices , you can create a table of contents and title page .
  • Finally, read through the whole document again to make sure your thesis is clearly written and free from language errors. You can proofread it yourself , ask a friend, or consider Scribbr’s proofreading and editing service .

Here is an example of how you can write your conclusion section. Notice how it includes everything mentioned above:

V. Conclusion

The current research aimed to identify acoustic speech characteristics which mark the beginning of an exacerbation in COPD patients.

The central questions for this research were as follows: 1. Which acoustic measures extracted from read speech differ between COPD speakers in stable condition and healthy speakers? 2. In what ways does the speech of COPD patients during an exacerbation differ from speech of COPD patients during stable periods?

All recordings were aligned using a script. Subsequently, they were manually annotated to indicate respiratory actions such as inhaling and exhaling. The recordings of 9 stable COPD patients reading aloud were then compared with the recordings of 5 healthy control subjects reading aloud. The results showed a significant effect of condition on the number of in- and exhalations per syllable, the number of non-linguistic in- and exhalations per syllable, and the ratio of voiced and silence intervals. The number of in- and exhalations per syllable and the number of non-linguistic in- and exhalations per syllable were higher for COPD patients than for healthy controls, which confirmed both hypotheses.

However, the higher ratio of voiced and silence intervals for COPD patients compared to healthy controls was not in line with the hypotheses. This unpredicted result might have been caused by the different reading materials or recording procedures for both groups, or by a difference in reading skills. Moreover, there was a trend regarding the effect of condition on the number of syllables per breath group. The number of syllables per breath group was higher for healthy controls than for COPD patients, which was in line with the hypothesis. There was no effect of condition on pitch, intensity, center of gravity, pitch variability, speaking rate, or articulation rate.

This research has shown that the speech of COPD patients in exacerbation differs from the speech of COPD patients in stable condition. This might have potential for the detection of exacerbations. However, sustained vowels rarely occur in spontaneous speech. Therefore, the last two outcome measures might have greater potential for the detection of beginning exacerbations, but further research on the different outcome measures and their potential for the detection of exacerbations is needed due to the limitations of the current study.

Checklist: Conclusion

I have clearly and concisely answered the main research question .

I have summarized my overall argument or key takeaways.

I have mentioned any important limitations of the research.

I have given relevant recommendations .

I have clearly explained what my research has contributed to my field.

I have  not introduced any new data or arguments.

You've written a great conclusion! Use the other checklists to further improve your dissertation.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

Research bias

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In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.

The conclusion is more shorter and more general: it concisely answers your main research question and makes recommendations based on your overall findings.

While it may be tempting to present new arguments or evidence in your thesis or disseration conclusion , especially if you have a particularly striking argument you’d like to finish your analysis with, you shouldn’t. Theses and dissertations follow a more formal structure than this.

All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the discussion section and results section .) The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.

For a stronger dissertation conclusion , avoid including:

  • Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the discussion section and results section
  • Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion …”)
  • Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g., “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.

The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.

The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation should include the following:

  • A restatement of your research question
  • A summary of your key arguments and/or results
  • A short discussion of the implications of your research

Cite this Scribbr article

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George, T. & McCombes, S. (2023, November 20). How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Conclusion. Scribbr. Retrieved April 2, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/write-conclusion/

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How to Write a Conclusion for Research Papers (with Examples)

How to Write a Conclusion for Research Papers (with Examples)

The conclusion of a research paper is a crucial section that plays a significant role in the overall impact and effectiveness of your research paper. However, this is also the section that typically receives less attention compared to the introduction and the body of the paper. The conclusion serves to provide a concise summary of the key findings, their significance, their implications, and a sense of closure to the study. Discussing how can the findings be applied in real-world scenarios or inform policy, practice, or decision-making is especially valuable to practitioners and policymakers. The research paper conclusion also provides researchers with clear insights and valuable information for their own work, which they can then build on and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field.

The research paper conclusion should explain the significance of your findings within the broader context of your field. It restates how your results contribute to the existing body of knowledge and whether they confirm or challenge existing theories or hypotheses. Also, by identifying unanswered questions or areas requiring further investigation, your awareness of the broader research landscape can be demonstrated.

Remember to tailor the research paper conclusion to the specific needs and interests of your intended audience, which may include researchers, practitioners, policymakers, or a combination of these.

Table of Contents

What is a conclusion in a research paper, summarizing conclusion, editorial conclusion, externalizing conclusion, importance of a good research paper conclusion, how to write a conclusion for your research paper, research paper conclusion examples.

  • How to write a research paper conclusion with Paperpal? 

Frequently Asked Questions

A conclusion in a research paper is the final section where you summarize and wrap up your research, presenting the key findings and insights derived from your study. The research paper conclusion is not the place to introduce new information or data that was not discussed in the main body of the paper. When working on how to conclude a research paper, remember to stick to summarizing and interpreting existing content. The research paper conclusion serves the following purposes: 1

  • Warn readers of the possible consequences of not attending to the problem.
  • Recommend specific course(s) of action.
  • Restate key ideas to drive home the ultimate point of your research paper.
  • Provide a “take-home” message that you want the readers to remember about your study.

conclusion and recommendation in case study example

Types of conclusions for research papers

In research papers, the conclusion provides closure to the reader. The type of research paper conclusion you choose depends on the nature of your study, your goals, and your target audience. I provide you with three common types of conclusions:

A summarizing conclusion is the most common type of conclusion in research papers. It involves summarizing the main points, reiterating the research question, and restating the significance of the findings. This common type of research paper conclusion is used across different disciplines.

An editorial conclusion is less common but can be used in research papers that are focused on proposing or advocating for a particular viewpoint or policy. It involves presenting a strong editorial or opinion based on the research findings and offering recommendations or calls to action.

An externalizing conclusion is a type of conclusion that extends the research beyond the scope of the paper by suggesting potential future research directions or discussing the broader implications of the findings. This type of conclusion is often used in more theoretical or exploratory research papers.

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The conclusion in a research paper serves several important purposes:

  • Offers Implications and Recommendations : Your research paper conclusion is an excellent place to discuss the broader implications of your research and suggest potential areas for further study. It’s also an opportunity to offer practical recommendations based on your findings.
  • Provides Closure : A good research paper conclusion provides a sense of closure to your paper. It should leave the reader with a feeling that they have reached the end of a well-structured and thought-provoking research project.
  • Leaves a Lasting Impression : Writing a well-crafted research paper conclusion leaves a lasting impression on your readers. It’s your final opportunity to leave them with a new idea, a call to action, or a memorable quote.

conclusion and recommendation in case study example

Writing a strong conclusion for your research paper is essential to leave a lasting impression on your readers. Here’s a step-by-step process to help you create and know what to put in the conclusion of a research paper: 2

  • Research Statement : Begin your research paper conclusion by restating your research statement. This reminds the reader of the main point you’ve been trying to prove throughout your paper. Keep it concise and clear.
  • Key Points : Summarize the main arguments and key points you’ve made in your paper. Avoid introducing new information in the research paper conclusion. Instead, provide a concise overview of what you’ve discussed in the body of your paper.
  • Address the Research Questions : If your research paper is based on specific research questions or hypotheses, briefly address whether you’ve answered them or achieved your research goals. Discuss the significance of your findings in this context.
  • Significance : Highlight the importance of your research and its relevance in the broader context. Explain why your findings matter and how they contribute to the existing knowledge in your field.
  • Implications : Explore the practical or theoretical implications of your research. How might your findings impact future research, policy, or real-world applications? Consider the “so what?” question.
  • Future Research : Offer suggestions for future research in your area. What questions or aspects remain unanswered or warrant further investigation? This shows that your work opens the door for future exploration.
  • Closing Thought : Conclude your research paper conclusion with a thought-provoking or memorable statement. This can leave a lasting impression on your readers and wrap up your paper effectively. Avoid introducing new information or arguments here.
  • Proofread and Revise : Carefully proofread your conclusion for grammar, spelling, and clarity. Ensure that your ideas flow smoothly and that your conclusion is coherent and well-structured.

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Remember that a well-crafted research paper conclusion is a reflection of the strength of your research and your ability to communicate its significance effectively. It should leave a lasting impression on your readers and tie together all the threads of your paper. Now you know how to start the conclusion of a research paper and what elements to include to make it impactful, let’s look at a research paper conclusion sample.

conclusion and recommendation in case study example

How to write a research paper conclusion with Paperpal?

A research paper conclusion is not just a summary of your study, but a synthesis of the key findings that ties the research together and places it in a broader context. A research paper conclusion should be concise, typically around one paragraph in length. However, some complex topics may require a longer conclusion to ensure the reader is left with a clear understanding of the study’s significance. Paperpal, an AI writing assistant trusted by over 800,000 academics globally, can help you write a well-structured conclusion for your research paper. 

  • Sign Up or Log In: Create a new Paperpal account or login with your details.  
  • Navigate to Features : Once logged in, head over to the features’ side navigation pane. Click on Templates and you’ll find a suite of generative AI features to help you write better, faster.  
  • Generate an outline: Under Templates, select ‘Outlines’. Choose ‘Research article’ as your document type.  
  • Select your section: Since you’re focusing on the conclusion, select this section when prompted.  
  • Choose your field of study: Identifying your field of study allows Paperpal to provide more targeted suggestions, ensuring the relevance of your conclusion to your specific area of research. 
  • Provide a brief description of your study: Enter details about your research topic and findings. This information helps Paperpal generate a tailored outline that aligns with your paper’s content. 
  • Generate the conclusion outline: After entering all necessary details, click on ‘generate’. Paperpal will then create a structured outline for your conclusion, to help you start writing and build upon the outline.  
  • Write your conclusion: Use the generated outline to build your conclusion. The outline serves as a guide, ensuring you cover all critical aspects of a strong conclusion, from summarizing key findings to highlighting the research’s implications. 
  • Refine and enhance: Paperpal’s ‘Make Academic’ feature can be particularly useful in the final stages. Select any paragraph of your conclusion and use this feature to elevate the academic tone, ensuring your writing is aligned to the academic journal standards. 

By following these steps, Paperpal not only simplifies the process of writing a research paper conclusion but also ensures it is impactful, concise, and aligned with academic standards. Sign up with Paperpal today and write your research paper conclusion 2x faster .  

The research paper conclusion is a crucial part of your paper as it provides the final opportunity to leave a strong impression on your readers. In the research paper conclusion, summarize the main points of your research paper by restating your research statement, highlighting the most important findings, addressing the research questions or objectives, explaining the broader context of the study, discussing the significance of your findings, providing recommendations if applicable, and emphasizing the takeaway message. The main purpose of the conclusion is to remind the reader of the main point or argument of your paper and to provide a clear and concise summary of the key findings and their implications. All these elements should feature on your list of what to put in the conclusion of a research paper to create a strong final statement for your work.

A strong conclusion is a critical component of a research paper, as it provides an opportunity to wrap up your arguments, reiterate your main points, and leave a lasting impression on your readers. Here are the key elements of a strong research paper conclusion: 1. Conciseness : A research paper conclusion should be concise and to the point. It should not introduce new information or ideas that were not discussed in the body of the paper. 2. Summarization : The research paper conclusion should be comprehensive enough to give the reader a clear understanding of the research’s main contributions. 3 . Relevance : Ensure that the information included in the research paper conclusion is directly relevant to the research paper’s main topic and objectives; avoid unnecessary details. 4 . Connection to the Introduction : A well-structured research paper conclusion often revisits the key points made in the introduction and shows how the research has addressed the initial questions or objectives. 5. Emphasis : Highlight the significance and implications of your research. Why is your study important? What are the broader implications or applications of your findings? 6 . Call to Action : Include a call to action or a recommendation for future research or action based on your findings.

The length of a research paper conclusion can vary depending on several factors, including the overall length of the paper, the complexity of the research, and the specific journal requirements. While there is no strict rule for the length of a conclusion, but it’s generally advisable to keep it relatively short. A typical research paper conclusion might be around 5-10% of the paper’s total length. For example, if your paper is 10 pages long, the conclusion might be roughly half a page to one page in length.

In general, you do not need to include citations in the research paper conclusion. Citations are typically reserved for the body of the paper to support your arguments and provide evidence for your claims. However, there may be some exceptions to this rule: 1. If you are drawing a direct quote or paraphrasing a specific source in your research paper conclusion, you should include a citation to give proper credit to the original author. 2. If your conclusion refers to or discusses specific research, data, or sources that are crucial to the overall argument, citations can be included to reinforce your conclusion’s validity.

The conclusion of a research paper serves several important purposes: 1. Summarize the Key Points 2. Reinforce the Main Argument 3. Provide Closure 4. Offer Insights or Implications 5. Engage the Reader. 6. Reflect on Limitations

Remember that the primary purpose of the research paper conclusion is to leave a lasting impression on the reader, reinforcing the key points and providing closure to your research. It’s often the last part of the paper that the reader will see, so it should be strong and well-crafted.

  • Makar, G., Foltz, C., Lendner, M., & Vaccaro, A. R. (2018). How to write effective discussion and conclusion sections. Clinical spine surgery, 31(8), 345-346.
  • Bunton, D. (2005). The structure of PhD conclusion chapters.  Journal of English for academic purposes ,  4 (3), 207-224.

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  • Introduction
  • About Case Study Reports
  • Section A: Overview
  • Section B: Planning and Researching

Section C: Parts of a Case Study

  • Section D: Reviewing and Presenting
  • Section E: Revising Your Work
  • Section F: Resources
  • Your Workspace
  • Guided Writing Tools

Reflective Writing guide

  • About Lab Reports
  • Section C: Critical Features
  • Section D: Parts of a Lab Report

Reflective Writing guide

  • About Literature Review
  • Section C: Parts of a Literature Review
  • Section D: Critical Writing Skills

Lab Report writing guide

  • About Reflective Writing
  • Section B: How Can I Reflect?
  • Section C: How Do I Get Started?
  • Section D: Writing a Reflection

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Case Study Report Prepared by University of Guelph

In this section, we will take a closer look at the common components of case study reports and what readers expect to find in them.

What Will I Learn?

By successfully completing this section, you should be able to:

  • analyze the purpose and features of the sections of a case study report,
  • develop writing and organization strategies for writing each section, and
  • examine a case study report for strengths and weaknesses.

Female student studying with a partner.

Prepared by

University of Guelph

What Do I Need to Include in Each Section?

Each section of the case study report serves a unique purpose and includes key elements. While reports will vary from case to case and course to course, there are some “moves” that you will typically see writers make in each section.

In this part of the guide, we will help you learn what these moves are and how you can make them in your own case study report.

Worksheet: Case Study Report Outline

You were introduced to the Case Study Report Outline Template in Section A of this guide. It contains an outline of the major components of a case study report that you can consider using as a template when completing case study reports. If you haven’t already, it is recommended that you download the template now.

Case Study Report Outline Template

This outline sample of a Case Study Report should serve as a useful guide to help you get started.

Download PDF

Download the Case Study Report Outline Template .

Preview: PDF Worksheet

Case Study Sample: Cover Page

Tip: The components of a case study report will vary depending on the preferences of your institution and instructor. Be sure to refer to your assignment instructions in order to find out exactly what will be required when it comes to sections as well as formatting requirements for your report.

The Executive Summary

What is the purpose of an executive summary.

An executive summary typically provides a one-page snapshot of the entire report, focusing on the main highlights. It is usually included at the start of a case report before the main text. Depending on the preferences of your instructor and institution, the executive summary can be written in either paragraph- or point-form.

What should be included in an executive summary?

The executive summary of a case study report should include the following:

  • Problem statement

Tell readers in 1–2 sentences what the issue at hand is.

Example: The main problem facing Company XYZ is that sales are declining and employee morale is low. Without addressing these concerns, Company XYZ will be in serious trouble and may not be able to regain their standing as an industry leader.

Recommendation

What should be done to address the problem?

Example : In order to solve this problem it is recommended that Company XYZ undergo a change in strategy, structure, and culture. Specifically, it is recommended that Company XYZ

  • pursue a strategy that places a high level of importance on innovation;
  • restructure the organization so that it is flexible, innovative, and appropriate for the size of the organization; and
  • begin to reshape the company’s organizational culture and the way in which day-to-day business is conducted; managers at all levels of Company XYZ will need to emphasize the values of ethics, creativity, and trust.

Supporting arguments and evidence

Summary of all of the major sections of your report, highlighting the arguments and evidence that support your recommendation.

What is the key message you want readers to take away? Why is it important to solve this problem and what do you anticipate the outcomes will be if the recommendations are followed?

Tip: Keep these arguments in the same order they appear in the main text.

What Tips And Strategies Can I Employ to Write the Executive Summary?

The following is a list of tips and strategies for writing the executive summary section of a case study report:

  • Write the executive summary after all of the other sections of the report have been written.
  • Consider your role. Write from the perspective that you are asked to adopt; for example, did the case instructions ask you to assume the role of an internal organizational member? An external organizational consultant? Some other stakeholder? How will this influence the tone and content of the summary?
  • Avoid repeating case facts in detail. There can be a more general, summative opening sentence but the remainder of your executive summary should focus on going beyond the case information that was provided.
  • Clearly state and justify the specific recommendation that will solve the problem that is being encountered. Imagine a skeptical audience: Why should they believe you?
  • Include only key financial numbers and associated costing information.
  • Make the executive summary can stand alone. Readers should be able to understand the Executive Summary even if they don’t read the rest of the report.

Example: Annotated Case Study Report

Learn more about writing strategies for The Executive Summary section of your paper.

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Case Study Sample: Executive Summary

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Case Study Sample: Executive Summary

The Introduction

What is the purpose of the introduction.

The introduction should briefly introduce the report to the reader and should then clearly, succinctly, and accurately identify the main problem being faced by the key decision-maker.

What Should Be Included In An Introduction?

The introduction of a case study report should include the following:

  • Introductory sentence
  • Details about the problem (stick to details that relate to your recommendation)
  • Who are the most important decision-makers? Stakeholders?
  • What are the most important issues?
  • Why is this problem occurring? What are the root causes? Underlying factors?
  • When does this decision need to be made by? What is the decision timeline? Due date?
  • Recommendation: “It is recommended in the current report that [Company XYZ] pursue [this course of action] to address [these issues].”
  • Outline or road map of the remainder of the report

What Tips And Strategies Can I Employ to Write the Introduction?

The following is a list of tips and strategies for writing the introduction section of a case study report:

  • Avoid repeating case facts in detail and unnecessarily summarizing case facts that are already familiar to the reader.
  • State the main problem up front—be as specific and simple as possible.
  • Create a sense of urgency and importance associated with the situation by identifying the key stakeholders, problems, underlying factors, and timeline issues. Engage the reader by explaining the tension and complexity underlying the situation.
  • State your recommendation so that the reader can consider the rest of your report based on the solution being proposed; this will help to provide context for your analysis and other major report sections.
  • Remember: There should be no surprises when the reader gets to the actual recommendation section.

Learn more about writing strategies for the Introduction section of your paper.

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Case Study Sample: Introduction

What Is The Purpose Of An Analysis Section?

The analysis section of your case study report is likely to be a very substantial part of your report. In this section you will examine the problem that you identified in the preceding section through a systematic and thorough application of your course and program content.

What Should Be Included?

The analysis section of a case study report should include the following:

  • Application of course and/or program content to: examine the problem being faced, and to prepare the reader for the justification and specifics of your Recommendation, Implementation Plan
  • References to related exhibits, which are appendices that appear at the end of the report in order to provide further elaboration or evidence regarding your analysis (e.g., graphs, figures, tables, financial documents)

How Should The Analysis Be Structured?

Be sure to check with your instructor to verify whether there is a specific format (e.g., SWOT, PEST) that should be followed. If no format is given, here are some general guidelines:

  • Begin with an examination of the problem, highlighting the most important parts. Avoid including unnecessary detail—focus only on the problem and its parts.
  • Apply course concepts or theories to the problem to provide insight into causes and effects, using headings to identify each section.
  • Conclude with a summary of what your analysis has revealed. Think of this final section as an answer to the question “So what?”

What Tips And Strategies Can I Employ to Write The Analysis Section?

The following is a list of tips and strategies for writing the analysis section of a case study report:

  • Use headings to subdivide the section.
  • Show your understanding of the course and/or program content by systematically applying what you have been learning to the specific problem.
  • Avoid using academic jargon. Instead, explain the concepts in your own words while referencing key sources.
  • Only include information that is directly relevant to the problem at hand. Avoid including course and program content that does not relate to the problem that you identified in the preceding section.
  • Be sure to discuss course and program concepts that will have an impact on your recommendation and implementation plan.
  • Use exhibits strategically to elaborate on ideas in the report; however, ensure that the exhibits expand on ideas you’ve already discussed. Avoid introducing exhibits that don’t tie into the main text.

Learn more about writing strategies for the Analysis section of your paper.

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Download the Analysis section of the complete Case Study Report annotated example that you can review and print.

Case Study Sample: Analysis

Alternatives and Decision Criteria

What is the purpose of an alternatives and decision criteria section.

This section helps decision-makers consider all the possible ways they could address the problem by:

  • Presenting all viable, mutually exclusive solutions to the problem.
  • Outlining the criteria that will be systematically applied to determine the best solution to the problem.

What Are “Mutually Exclusive” Alternatives?

Alternatives are mutually exclusive if choosing one alternative rules out the others. Using mutually exclusive alternatives prevents a situation in which an organization has to implement multiple alternatives.

What Are “Decision Criteria”?

Key requirements that the recommendation will need to meet to successfully solve the problem.

The alternatives and decision criteria section of a case study report should include the following:

  • All viable, mutually exclusive alternatives
  • Decision criteria including:
  • Ranking of importance in terms of which decision criterion is the most important factor in order to be confident that the recommendation will solve the problem, second most important, etc.*
  • Weighting in terms of how important each of the decision criteria are in order to be confident that the recommendation will solve the problem.*
  • *Not all instructors or institutions will require ranking and weighting information as it is mostly determined in a subjective manner based on your analysis of the problem; nevertheless, it may assist in helping you to decide in a more systematic manner between two or more viable alternatives.

What Tips And Strategies Can I Employ to Write The Alternatives and Decision Section?

The following is a list of tips and strategies for writing the alternatives and decision section of a case study report:

  • Your instructor may make the alternatives section of a case study report optional; however, if you can think of at least one reasonable and viable alternative in addition to your recommendation, then this section should be included.
  • Be sure to list all reasonable and viable alternatives (including your recommendation).
  • Ensure that the alternatives listed are mutually exclusive.
  • In the decision criteria section, include the criteria that will be most effective for evaluating the alternative solutions to the problem being faced.
  • For a more systematic application of the decision criteria, assign importance and weighting to your decision criteria factors and then apply them to each of the alternatives.
  • Be sure to convincingly demonstrate that your recommendation is in fact the best choice compared with the other alternatives. Be explicit about how the criteria apply to the recommendations—do not assume that the reader will see the connection.

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Case Study Sample: Alternatives and Decision Criteria

Recommendations and Implementation Plan

What is the purpose of the recommendations and implementation plan section.

Although the reader will by now be well aware of your recommendation, in this section you will discuss all of the specifics of the recommendation for solving the problem. Moreover, you should also present a thorough and well thought-out implementation plan for executing the recommendation and ensuring its success.

The recommendations and implementation plan section of a case study report should include the following:

  • Detailed explanation of what your recommendation entails. What is it that will be done? What specific steps will be involved? What equipment or expertise will be needed?
  • Explanation of your implementation plan, including:
  • Who will be responsible for what part of the implementation plan?
  • When will the different parts of the recommendation be implemented? Short-, medium-, and long-term implementation plan?
  • What will the cost be of these required actions?
  • What will the impact of this recommendation be on other parts of the organization?
  • What could go wrong, and what contingency plans are in place?

What Tips And Strategies Can I Employ to Write The Recommendations And Implementation Plan?

The following is a list of tips and strategies for writing the recommendations and implementation plan of a case study report:

  • Be sure to include all of the details of your recommendation. You have already outlined your more general recommendation to the reader earlier in your report but now is your opportunity to provide the more specific details regarding your recommendation.
  • Include a well thought-out implementation plan that includes all of the specifics that an organization would actually require in order to realistically implement your recommendation. Try to put yourself in the mindset of the organizational members responsible for implementing your recommendation; what step-by-step specifics will they need to be aware of in order to take your recommendation and ensure that it is successfully implemented?
  • Including a contingency analysis of the possible problems that could arise from your recommendation. What might go wrong? How will you address these problems should they come up in order to still be able to successfully implement your recommendation?
  • Also be sure to consider the expected as well as the potentially unexpected impact of your recommendation on the people within the organization.
  • A good strategy would be to explain how the organizational leaders will evaluate whether your implementation plan has been successful and whether the recommendation has achieved the desired results. Be specific regarding the evaluation metrics that should be used (e.g., measures of customer satisfaction, measures of employee engagement, profitability analyses)

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Case Study Sample: Recommendations and Implementation Plan

Conclusion and References

What is the purpose of the conclusion.

The purpose of the conclusion section is to leave your reader with one or two last, powerful statements that will help to reinforce the recommendation that you are proposing.

Some instructors and institutions do not require a conclusion section, but if done effectively, it can end your case report on a strong note.

The conclusion section of a case study report should include the following:

  • A summary sentence that explains what we have learned from the report
  • One or two impactful and memorable statements to conclude your report (what is the most important thing that the organization should take away from the report?)

What Tips And Strategies Can I Employ to Write The Conclusion?

The following is a list of tips and strategies for writing the conclusion of a case study report:

  • Avoid an abrupt ending to your written case report. Provide a few sentences to help draw things to a natural close.
  • Persuasively summarize how your recommendation will solve the problem at hand.
  • Ensure that you yourself are persuaded and convinced by the concluding statement; for example, would you believe that this solution will work if you were the person reading your report?

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Case Study Sample: Conclusion and References

Citing Your Sources

What sources should you cite.

You should use in-text citations for any idea that is not your own. Moreover, these citations should be reflected in your references list, which you will be required to provide at the end of your case study report. Your institution will have their own plagiarism and academic misconduct policies, which you should familiarize yourself with; however, a best practice will be to be cautious and ensure that all of the following are appropriately cited and referenced throughout your work:

  • Ideas from sources other than your own thinking
  • Direct quotations, which you should use infrequently in your case study reports
  • Paraphrasing and/or summarizing the work of others
  • Course and/or program specific definitions, theories, models, etc.
  • Information from popular press articles
  • Data, financial documents, etc. from annual reports, company webpages

What Are The Common Citation Styles?

It is likely that your instructor will let you know what his/her preferences are in terms of a citation style; however, some of the most common citation styles include:

  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago)
  • Modern Language Association (MLA)

Key Takeaways and References

Key takeaways.

Now that you've completed this section, keep the following things in mind:

  • The key to most case study reports is logic. There is usually not just one desired correct response to a case study, but rather, there are more and less logical, practical, and reasonable responses. Incorporating sound and strong logic throughout your report is paramount.
  • Ensure that your report is written at a level that would appeal to a business audience rather than an academic one.
  • Lastly, can you confidently stand behind, advocate for, and answer questions regarding your case response? If so, then your work is likely in a good position!
  • The next steps for this set of modules will involve helping you to take all of the work that has gone into your written report in order to prepare a verbal presentation of your work.

American Psychological Association (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Lipson, C. (2011). Cite right: A quick guide to citation styles—MLA, APA, Chicago, the sciences, professions, and more (2nd ed.). Chicago: The University Of Chicago Press.

Modern Language Association (2008). MLA style manual and guide to scholarly publishing (3rd ed.). New York: Modern Language Association of America.

Modern Language Association (2009). The MLA handbook for writers of research papers (7th ed.). New York: Modern Language Association of America.

University of Chicago Press Staff. (2010). The Chicago manual of style: The essential guide for writers, editors, and publishers (16th ed.). Chicago: The University Of Chicago Press.

University of Guelph. (2015). Case Study Report Outline Template .

University of Guelph. (2015). The Executive Summary. Example: Annotated Case Study Report . (Interactive Activity).

University of Guelph. (2015). The Executive Summary. Example: Annotated Case Study Report . (PDF).

University of Guelph. (2015). The Introduction. Example: Annotated Case Study Report . (Interactive Activity).

University of Guelph. (2015). The Introduction. Example: Annotated Case Study Report . (PDF).

University of Guelph. (2015). Analysis. Example: Annotated Case Study Report . (Interactive Activity).

University of Guelph. (2015). Analysis. Example: Annotated Case Study Report . (PDF).

University of Guelph. (2015). Alternatives and Decision Criteria. Example: Annotated Case Study Report . (Interactive Activity).

University of Guelph. (2015). Alternatives and Decision Criteria. Example: Annotated Case Study Report . (PDF).

University of Guelph. (2015). Recommendations and Implementation Plan. Example: Annotated Case Study Report . (Interactive Activity).

University of Guelph. (2015). Recommendations and Implementation Plan. Example: Annotated Case Study Report . (PDF).

University of Guelph. (2015). Conclusion and References. Example: Annotated Case Study Report . (Interactive Activity).

University of Guelph. (2015). Conclusion and References. Example: Annotated Case Study Report . (PDF).

Next Section Overview

In Section D: Reviewing and Presenting , we will explore understanding and meeting your instructor's expectations for the report and presentation.

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How to Successfully Conclude a Case Study

Knowing how to successfully conclude a case study is one of the most important parts of every case interview. A strong conclusion shows how well you summarize the entire case solution into a couple of points. In addition, it proves that you can successfully back up your arguments with both quantitative and qualitative facts. It’s also the very last point of the case, thus the point clients remember the most. 

How to Successfully Conclude a Case Study - Best Practice Approaches 

Take approximately 30 seconds before concluding the case, and use this time to jot down key messages you want to touch on during your recommendation. You want to have your ideas sorted out in advance so that you speak clearly and concisely, covering each point without referring back to your notes. 

Practice the art of the elevator pitch

Ideally, your final recommendation should not exceed more than one minute. It is a way to mimic day-to-day interactions with our clients when we are asked to give them key pointers in a short summary. 

Answer first and answer focused

As you will see more in detail with Prepmatter cases, in many case types, you should start with the answer. However, in certain case types where the client has a business problem yet to be diagnosed (e.g., competitive response strategy, profitability, operations), it’s best to start with your diagnosis and then provide recovery solutions. 

Allocate time correctly

Make sure to allocate most of your time to the delivery of a solution and its supporting evidence. Some candidates spend half - if not more - of their time in delivering risks and next steps, which dilutes the key messages in the recommendation. Conclude the case in the following structure: 

  • Recommendation: Give a one-sentence action-oriented recommendation. 
  • First supporting fact with figures (quantitative) 
  • Second supporting fact with figures (quantitative)
  • Third supporting fact (qualitative)
  • Risks: Comment on the potential risks assessed during the case. Try to mention them in a way supporting your conclusion. 
  • Next steps: Provide direction on how they should act going forward based on the recommendation.

Example of a Strong Conclusion

  • I suggest the client should go ahead with this investment and enter the cosmetics market with their new product.
  • With this investment, the client can make an $800M profit over the next three years, which is higher than our objective of $600M. 
  • The cosmetics market is expected to grow at a 9% annual growth rate over the next 10 years, promising sustainable value in the long term. 
  • We can create synergies by combining our back-end operations with our existing business. 
  • Risks: There is a regulatory risk given that the authorities increase their health restrictions related to cosmetics products. The client should make sure that they spend additional effort to comply with all regulations. 
  • Next steps: As the next step, I suggest the client design a detailed production plan for the new product. 

How to Practice Case Conclusions

There are various ways to practice concluding a case. Practice with the Prepmatter cases or any other case you may have. You can change the numbers in the case to create hypothetical facts and draw a new conclusion. By doing so, you can also change the recommendation if the numbers change significantly. For instance, if you change the 3-year profits to $400M from $800M in the example above, the recommendation would change from ‘Go’ to ‘No-go’. 

Knowing how to successfully conclude a case study is a critical part of each case interview, so we recommend you set aside specific time to review it with your coach or case partner. Take time to solve as many cases as possible to improve how well you summarize, support, and present your conclusion.

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How to Write Effective Case Study Conclusions

Table of Contents

Not many people realize that the conclusion is vital to writing your case study. It should summarize the entire study, clarify all the research points, and focus on a few key takeaways.

There are several ways how to write case study conclusion . And we’re here to guide you with some easy and effective steps.

A good conclusion is interesting and captures the essence of your case. It needs to reflect your information and help the reader adopt your conclusion and act on it. Keep reading to learn how to do just that.

Pencils and smartphone on top of books

Importance of Your Case Study Conclusion

Your conclusion is an opportunity for you to summarize your findings and highlight what this study has taught you.

It should also summarize and draw out the main points you’ve discussed and reinforce the importance of your work. Remember, your last impression needs to be just as good as your first. You want to leave readers with something to think about or act on.

Types of Case Studies

Before we proceed on  how to write case study conclusion , let’s take a brief look at the different types of case studies.

There are different types of case studies depending on how they are structured, what is the target audience, and the research methodology used. And your conclusion may vary depending on the nature of the case study.

Some of the most common case studies are:

  • Historical:  Historical events have a multitude of sources offering different perspectives. These perspectives can be applied, compared, and thoroughly analyzed in the modern world.
  • Problem-oriented:  This type of case study is used for solving problems. You can use theoretical situations where you immerse yourself in a situation. Through this, you can thoroughly examine a problem and find ways to resolve it.
  • Cumulative:  In a cumulative study, you gather information and offer comparisons. An example of this is a business case study that tells people about a product’s value.
  • Critical:  Critical case studies focus on exploring the causes and effects of a particular situation. To do this, you can have varying amounts of research and various interviews.
  • Illustrative:  In this case study, certain events are described, as well as the lessons learned.

How to Write Case Study Conclusion Effectively

Writing your conclusion doesn’t need to be complicated. Follow these steps to help you get started on an effective conclusion.

1. Inform the reader precisely why your case study and your findings are relevant

Your conclusion is where you point out the significance of your study. You can cite a specific case in your work and explain how it applies to other relevant cases.

2. Restate your thesis and your main findings

Remind your readers of the thesis statement you made in your introduction but don’t just copy it directly. Also, make sure to mention your main findings to back up your thesis.

3. Give a summary of previous case studies you reviewed

What did you discover that was different about your case? How was previous research helpful? Include this in your conclusion so readers can understand your work and how it contributes to expanding current knowledge.

4. End with recommendations

Wrap up your paper by explaining how your case study and findings could form part of future research on the topic. You can also express your recommendations by commenting on how certain studies, programs, or policies could be improved.

Make sure everything you write in your conclusion section is convincing enough to tell the reader that your case is an effective solution. And if the purpose of your case is complicated, make sure to sum it up in point form. This will help the reader review the case again before approaching the conclusion.

How Long Should Your Conclusion Be?

The length of your conclusion may vary depending on whether you’re writing a thesis or a dissertation. At least 5-9 percent of your overall word count should be dedicated to your conclusion.

Often, empirical scientific studies have brief conclusions describing the main findings and recommendations for future research. On the other hand, humanities topics or systematic reviews may require more space to conclude their analysis. They will need to integrate all the previous sections into an overall argument.

Wrapping Up

Your conclusion is an opportunity to translate and amplify the information you have put in the body of the paper.

More importantly, it is an opportunity to leave a lasting positive impression . Make the right impression by following these quick steps on  how to write case study conclusion  effectively.

How to Write Effective Case Study Conclusions

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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National Academies Press: OpenBook

Conducting Biosocial Surveys: Collecting, Storing, Accessing, and Protecting Biospecimens and Biodata (2010)

Chapter: 5 findings, conclusions, and recommendations, 5 findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

A s the preceding chapters have made clear, incorporating biological specimens into social science surveys holds great scientific potential, but also adds a variety of complications to the tasks of both individual researchers and institutions. These complications arise in a number of areas, including collecting, storing, using, and distributing biospecimens; sharing data while protecting privacy; obtaining informed consent from participants; and engaging with Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). Any effort to make such research easier and more effective will need to address the issues in these areas.

In considering its recommendations, the panel found it useful to think of two categories: (1) recommendations that apply to individual investigators, and (2) recommendations that are addressed to the National Institute on Aging (NIA) or other institutions, particularly funding agencies. Researchers who wish to collect biological specimens with social science data will need to develop new skills in a variety of areas, such as the logistics of specimen storage and management, the development of more diverse informed consent forms, and ways of dealing with the disclosure risks associated with sharing biogenetic data. At the same time, NIA and other funding agencies must provide researchers the tools they need to succeed. These tools include such things as biorepositories for maintaining and distributing specimens, better guidance on informed consent policies, and better ways to share data without risking confidentiality.

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF EXISTING EXPERTISE

Although working with biological specimens will be new and unfamiliar to many social scientists, it is an area in which biomedical researchers have a great deal of expertise and experience. Many existing documents describe recommended procedures and laboratory practices for the handling of biospecimens. These documents provide an excellent starting point for any social scientist who is interested in adding biospecimens to survey research.

Recommendation 1: Social scientists who are planning to add biological specimens to their survey research should familiarize themselves with existing best practices for the collection, storage, use, and distribution of biospecimens. First and foremost, the design of the protocol for collec tion must ensure the safety of both participants and survey staff (data and specimen collectors and handlers).

Although existing best-practice documents were not developed with social science surveys in mind, their guidelines have been field-tested and approved by numerous IRBs and ethical oversight committees. The most useful best-practice documents are updated frequently to reflect growing knowledge and changing opinions about the best ways to collect, store, use, and distribute biological specimens. At the same time, however, many issues arising from the inclusion of biospecimens in social science surveys are not fully addressed in the best-practice documents intended for biomedical researchers. For guidance on these issues, it will be necessary to seek out information aimed more specifically at researchers at the intersection of social science and biomedicine.

COLLECTING, STORING, USING, AND DISTRIBUTING BIOSPECIMENS

As described in Chapter 2 , the collection, storage, use, and distribution of biospecimens and biodata are tasks that are likely to be unfamiliar to many social scientists and that raise a number of issues with which even specialists are still grappling. For example, which biospecimens in a repository should be shared, given that in most cases the amount of each specimen is limited? And given that the available technology for cost-efficient analysis of biospecimens, particularly genetic analysis, is rapidly improving, how much of any specimen should be used for immediate research and analysis, and how much should be stored for analysis at a later date? Collecting, storing, using, and distributing biological specimens also present significant practical and financial challenges for social scientists. Many of the questions they must address, such as exactly what should be held, where it should be held, and what should be shared or distributed, have not yet been resolved.

Developing Data Sharing Plans

An important decision concerns who has access to any leftover biospecimens. This is a problem more for biospecimens than for biodata because in most cases, biospecimens can be exhausted. Should access be determined according to the principle of first funded, first served? Should there be a formal application process for reviewing the scientific merits of a particular investigation? For studies that involve international collaboration, should foreign investigators have access? And how exactly should these decisions be made? Recognizing that some proposed analyses may lie beyond the competence of the original investigators, as well as the possibility that principal investigators may have a conflict of interest in deciding how to use any remaining biospecimens, one option is for a principal investigator to assemble a small scientific committee to judge the merits of each application, including the relevance of the proposed study to the parent study and the capacities of the investigators. Such committees should publish their review criteria to help prospective applicants. A potential problem with such an approach, however, is that many projects may not have adequate funding to carry out such tasks.

Recommendation 2: Early in the planning process, principal investigators who will be collecting biospecimens as part of a social science survey should develop a complete data sharing plan.

This plan should spell out the criteria for allowing other researchers to use (and therefore deplete) the available stock of biospecimens, as well as to gain access to any data derived therefrom. To avoid any appearance of self-interest, a project might empower an external advisory board to make decisions about access to its data. The data sharing plan should also include provisions for the storage and retrieval of biospecimens and clarify how the succession of responsibility for and control of the biospecimens will be handled at the conclusion of the project.

Recommendation 3: NIA (or preferably the National Institutes of Health [NIH]) should publish guidelines for principal investigators containing a list of points that need to be considered for an acceptable data sharing plan. In addition to staff review, Scientific Review Panels should read and comment on all proposed data sharing plans. In much the same way as an unacceptable human subjects plan, an inadequate data sharing plan should hold up an otherwise acceptable proposal.

Supporting Social Scientists in the Storage of Biospecimens

The panel believes that many social scientists who decide to add the collection of biospecimens to their surveys may be ill equipped to provide for the storage and distribution of the specimens.

Conclusion: The issues related to the storage and distribution of biospecimens are too complex and involve too many hidden costs to assume that social scientists without suitable knowledge, experience, and resources can handle them without assistance.

Investigators should therefore have the option of delegating the storage and distribution of biospecimens collected as part of social science surveys to a centralized biorepository. Depending on the circumstances, a project might choose to utilize such a facility for immediate use, long-term or archival storage, or not at all.

Recommendation 4: NIA and other relevant funding agencies should support at least one central facility for the storage and distribution of biospecimens collected as part of the research they support.

PROTECTING PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY: SHARING DIGITAL REPRESENTATIONS OF BIOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL DATA

Several different types of data must be kept confidential: survey data, data derived from biospecimens, and all administrative and operational data. In the discussion of protecting confidentiality and privacy, this report has focused on biodata, but the panel believes it is important to protect all the data collected from survey participants. For many participants, for example, data on wealth, earnings, or sexual behavior can be as or more sensitive than genetic data.

Conclusion: Although biodata tend to receive more attention in discussions of privacy and confidentiality, social science and operational data can be sensitive in their own right and deserve similar attention in such discussions.

Protecting the participants in a social science survey that collects biospecimens requires securing the data, but data are most valuable when they are made available to researchers as widely as possible. Thus there is an inherent tension between the desire to protect the privacy of the participants and the desire to derive as much scientific value from the data as possible, particularly since the costs of data collection and analysis are so high. The following recommendations regarding confidentiality are made in the spirit of balancing these equally important needs.

Genomic data present a particular challenge. Several researchers have demonstrated that it is possible to identify individuals with even modest amounts of such data. When combined with social science data, genomic data may pose an even greater risk to confidentiality. It is difficult to know how much or which genomic data, when combined with social science data, could become critical identifiers in the future. Although the problem is most significant with genomic data, similar challenges can arise with other kinds of data derived from biospecimens.

Conclusion: Unrestricted distribution of genetic and other biodata risks violating promises of confidentiality made to research participants.

There are two basic approaches to protecting confidentiality: restricting data and restricting access. Restricting data—for example, by stripping individual and spatial identifiers and modifying the data to make it difficult or impossible to trace them back to their source—usually makes it possible to release social science data widely. In the case of biodata, however, there is no answer to how little data is required to make a participant uniquely identifiable. Consequently, any release of biodata must be carefully managed to protect confidentiality.

Recommendation 5: No individual-level data containing uniquely identify ing variables, such as genomic data, should be publicly released without explicit informed consent.

Recommendation 6: Genomic data and other individual-level data con taining uniquely identifying variables that are stored or in active use by investigators on their institutional or personal computers should be encrypted at all times.

Even if specific identifying variables, such as names and addresses, are stripped from data, it is still often possible to identify the individuals associated with the data by other means, such as using the variables that remain (age, sex, marital status, family income, etc.) to zero in on possible candidates. In the case of biodata that do not uniquely identify individuals and can change with time, such as blood pressure and physical measurements, it may be possible to share the data with no more protection than stripping identifying variables. Even these data, however, if known to intruders, can increase identification disclosure risk when combined with enough other data. With sufficient characteristics to match, intruders can uniquely identify individuals in shared data if given access to another data source that contains the same information plus identifiers.

Conclusion: Even nonunique biodata, if combined with social science data, may pose a serious risk of reidentification.

In the case of high-dimensional genomic data, standard disclosure limitation techniques, such as data perturbation, are not effective with respect to preserving the utility of the data because they involve such extreme alterations that they would severely distort analyses aimed at determining gene–gene and gene–environment interactions. Standard disclosure limitation methods could be used to generate public-use data sets that would enable low-dimensional analyses involving genes, for example, one gene at a time. However, with several such public releases, it may be possible for a key match to be used to construct a data set with higher-dimensional genomic data.

Conclusion: At present, no data restriction strategy has been demonstrated to protect confidentiality while preserving the usefulness of the data for drawing inferences involving high-dimensional interactions among genomic and social science variables, which are increasingly the target of research. Providing public-use genomic data requires such intense data masking to protect confidentiality that it would distort the high-dimensional analyses that could result in ground-breaking research progress.

Recommendation 7: Both rich genomic data acquired for research and sensitive and potentially identifiable social science data that do not change (or change very little) with time should be shared only under restricted circumstances, such as licensing and (actual or virtual) data enclaves.

As discussed in Chapter 3 , the four basic ways to restrict access to data are licensing, remote execution centers, data enclaves, and virtual data enclaves. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. 1 Licensing, for example, is the least restrictive for a researcher in terms of access to the data, but the licensing process itself can be lengthy and burdensome. Thus it would be useful if the licensing process could be facilitated.

Recommendation 8: NIA (or preferably NIH) should develop new stan dards and procedures for licensing confidential data in ways that will maximize timely access while maintaining security and that can be used by data repositories and by projects that distribute data.

Ways to improve the other approaches to restricted access are needed as well. For example, improving the convenience and availability of virtual data enclaves could increase the use of combined social science and biodata without

a significant increase in risk to confidentiality. The panel notes that much of the discussion of the confidentiality risk posed by the various approaches is theoretical; no one has a clear idea of just what disclosure risks are associated with the various ways of sharing data. It is important to learn more about these disclosure risks for a variety of reasons—determining how to minimize the risks, for instance, or knowing which approaches to sharing data pose the least risk. It would also be useful to be able to describe disclosure risks more accurately to survey participants.

Recommendation 9: NIA and other funding agencies should assess the strength of confidentiality protections through periodic expert audits of confidentiality and computer security. Willingness to participate in such audits should be a condition for receipt of NIA support. Beyond enforce ment, the purpose of such audits would be to identify challenges and solutions.

Evaluating risks and applying protection methods, whether they involve restricted access or restricted data, is a complex process requiring expertise in disclosure protection methods that exceeds what individual principal investigators and their institutions usually possess. Currently, not enough is known to be able to represent these risks either fully or accurately. The NIH requirement for data sharing necessitates a large investment of resources to anticipate which variables are potentially available to intruders and to alter data in ways that reduce disclosure risks while maintaining the utility of the data. Such resources are better spent by principal investigators on collecting and analyzing the data.

Recommendation 10: NIH should consider funding Centers of Excellence to explore new ways of protecting digital representations of data and to assist principal investigators wishing to share data with others. NIH should also support research on disclosure risks and limitations.

Principal investigators could send digital data to these centers, which would organize and manage any restricted access or restricted data policies or provide advisory services to investigators. NIH would maintain the authority to penalize those who violated any confidentiality agreements, for example, by denying them or their home institution NIH funding. Models for these centers include the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and its projects supported by NIH and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the UK data sharing archive. The centers would alleviate the burden of data sharing as mandated of principal investigators by NIH and place it in expert hands. However, excellence in the design of data access and control systems

is likely to require intimate knowledge of each specific data resource, so data producers should be involved in the systems’ development.

INFORMED CONSENT

As described in Chapter 4 , informed consent is a complex subject involving many issues that are still being debated; the growing power of genetic analysis techniques and bioinformatics has only added to this complexity. Given the rapid pace of advances in scientific knowledge and in the technology used to analyze biological materials, it is impossible to predict what information might be gleaned from biological specimens just a few years hence; accordingly, it is impossible, even in theory, to talk about perfectly informed consent. The best one can hope for is relatively well-informed consent from a study’s participants, but knowing precisely what that means is difficult. Determining the scope of informed consent adds another layer of complexity. Will new analyses be covered under the existing consent, for example? There are no clear guidelines on such questions, yet specific details on the scope of consent will likely affect an IRB’s reaction to a study proposal.

What Individual Researchers Need to Know and Do Regarding Informed Consent

To be sure, there is a wide range of views about the practicality of providing adequate protection to participants while proceeding with the scientific enterprise, from assertions that it is simply not possible to provide adequate protection to offers of numerous procedural safeguards but no iron-clad guarantees. This report takes the latter position—that investigators should do their best to communicate adequately and accurately with participants, to provide procedural safeguards to the extent possible, and not to promise what is not possible. 2 Social science researchers need to know that adding the collection of biospecimens to social science surveys changes the nature of informed consent. Informed consent for a traditional social science survey may entail little more than reading a short script over the phone and asking whether the participant is willing to continue; obtaining informed consent for the collection and use of biospecimens and biodata is generally a much more involved process.

Conclusion: Social scientists should be made aware that the process of obtaining informed consent for the use of biospecimens and biodata typically differs from social science norms.

If participants are to provide truly informed consent to taking part in any study, they must be given a certain minimum amount of information. They should be told, for example, what the purpose of the study is, how it is to be carried out, and what participants’ roles are. In addition, because of the unique risks associated with providing biospecimens, participants in a social science survey that involves the collection of such specimens should be provided with other types of information as well. In particular, they should be given detail on the storage and use of the specimens that relates to those risks and can assist them in determining whether to take part in the study.

Recommendation 11: In designing a consent form for the collection of biospecimens, in addition to those elements that are common to social science and biomedical research, investigators should ensure that certain other information is provided to participants:

how long researchers intend to retain their biospecimens and the genomic and other biodata that may be derived from them;

both the risks associated with genomic data and the limits of what they can reveal;

which other researchers will have access to their specimens, to the data derived therefrom, and to information collected in a survey questionnaire;

the limits on researchers’ ability to maintain confidentiality;

any potential limits on participants’ ability to withdraw their speci mens or data from the research;

the penalties 3 that may be imposed on researchers for various types of breaches of confidentiality; and

what plans have been put in place to return to them any medically relevant findings.

Researchers who fail to properly plan for and handle all of these issues before proceeding with a study are in essence compromising assurances under informed consent. The literature on informed consent emphasizes the importance of ensuring that participants understand reasonably well what they are consenting to. This understanding cannot be taken for granted, particularly as it pertains to the use of biological specimens and the data derived therefrom.

While it is not possible to guarantee that participants have a complete understanding of the scientific uses of their specimens or all the possible risks of their participation, they should be able to make a relatively well-informed decision about whether to take part in the study. Thus the ability of various participants to understand the research and the informed consent process must be considered. Even impaired individuals may be able to participate in research if their interests are protected and they can do so only through proxy consent. 4

Recommendation 12: NIA should locate and publicize positive examples of the documentation of consent processes for the collection of biospeci mens. In particular, these examples should take into account the special needs of certain individuals, such as those with sensory problems and the cognitively impaired.

Participants in a biosocial survey are likely to have different levels of comfort concerning how their biospecimens and data will be used. Some may be willing to provide only answers to questions, for example, while others may both answer questions and provide specimens. Among those who provide specimens, some may be willing for the specimens to be used only for the current study, while others may consent to their use in future studies. One effective way to deal with these different comfort levels is to offer a tiered approach to consent that allows participants to determine just how their specimens and data will be used. Tiers might include participating in the survey, providing specimens for genetic and/or nongenetic analysis in a particular study, and allowing the specimens and data to be stored for future uses (genetic and/or nongenetic). For those participants who are willing to have their specimens and data used in future studies, researchers should tell them what sort of approval will be obtained for such use. For example, an IRB may demand reconsent, in which case participants may have to be contacted again before their specimens and data can be used. Ideally, researchers should design their consent forms to avoid the possibility that an IRB will demand a costly or infeasible reconsent process.

Recommendation 13: Researchers should consider adopting a tiered approach to obtaining consent. Participants who are willing to have their specimens and data used in future studies should be informed about the process that will be used to obtain approval for such uses.

What Institutions Should Do Regarding Informed Consent

Because the details of informed consent vary from study to study, individual investigators must bear ultimate responsibility for determining the details of informed consent for any particular study. Thus researchers must understand the various issues and concerns surrounding informed consent and be prepared to make decisions about the appropriate approach for their research in consultation with staff of survey organizations. These decisions should be addressed in the training of survey interviewers. As noted above, however, the issues surrounding informed consent are complex and not completely resolved, and researchers have few options for learning about informed consent as it applies to social science studies that collect biospecimens. Thus it makes sense for agencies funding this research, the Office for Human Research Protection (OHRP), or other appropriate organizations (for example, Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research [PRIM&R]) to provide opportunities for such learning, taking into account the fact that the issues arising in biosocial research do not arise in the standard informed consent situations encountered in social science research. It should also be made clear that the researchers’ institution is usually deemed (e.g., in the courts) to bear much of the responsibility for informed consent.

Recommendation 14: NIA, OHRP, and other appropriate organizations should sponsor training programs, create training modules, and hold informational workshops on informed consent for investigators, staff of survey organizations, including field staff, administrators, and mem bers of IRBs who oversee surveys that collect social science data and biospecimens.

The Return of Medically Relevant Information

An issue related to informed consent is how much information to provide to survey participants once their biological specimens have been analyzed and in particular, how to deal with medically relevant information that may arise from the analysis. What, for example, should a researcher do if a survey participant is found to have a genetic disease that does not appear until later in life? Should the participant be notified? Should participants be asked as part of the initial interview whether they wish to be notified about such a discovery? At this time, there are no generally agreed-upon answers to such questions, but researchers should expect to have to deal with these issues as they analyze the data derived from biological specimens.

Recommendation 15: NIH should direct investigators to formulate a plan in advance concerning the return of any medically relevant findings to

survey participants and to implement that plan in the design and conduct of their informed consent procedures.

INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS

Investigators seeking IRB approval for biosocial research face a number of challenges. Few IRBs are familiar with both social and biological science; thus, investigators may find themselves trying to justify standard social science protocols to a biologically oriented IRB or explaining standard biological protocols to an IRB that is used to dealing with social science—or sometimes both. Researchers can expect these obstacles, which arise from the interdisciplinary nature of their work, to be exacerbated by a number of other factors that are characteristic of IRBs in general (see Chapter 4 ).

Recommendation 16: In institutions that have separate biomedical and social science IRBs, mechanisms should be created for sharing expertise during the review of biosocial protocols. 5

What Individual Researchers Need to Do Regarding IRBs

Because the collection of biospecimens as part of social science surveys is still relatively unfamiliar to many IRBs, researchers planning such a study can expect their interactions with the IRB overseeing the research to involve a certain learning curve. The IRB may need extra time to become familiar and comfortable with the proposed practices of the survey, and conversely, the researchers will need time to learn what the IRB will require. Thus it will be advantageous if researchers conducting such studies plan from the beginning to devote additional time to working with their IRBs.

Recommendation 17: Investigators considering collecting biospecimens as part of a social science survey should consult with their IRBs early and often.

What Research Agencies Should Do Regarding IRBs

One way to improve the IRB process would be to give members of IRBs an opportunity to learn more about biosocial research and the risks it entails.

This could be done by individual institutions, but it would be more effective if a national funding agency took the lead (see Recommendation 14).

It is the panel’s hope that its recommendations will support the incorporation of social science and biological data into empirical models, allowing researchers to better document the linkages among social, behavioral, and biological processes that affect health and other measures of well-being while avoiding or minimizing many of the challenges that may arise. Implementing these recommendations will require the combined efforts of both individual investigators and the agencies that support them.

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Recent years have seen a growing tendency for social scientists to collect biological specimens such as blood, urine, and saliva as part of large-scale household surveys. By combining biological and social data, scientists are opening up new fields of inquiry and are able for the first time to address many new questions and connections. But including biospecimens in social surveys also adds a great deal of complexity and cost to the investigator's task. Along with the usual concerns about informed consent, privacy issues, and the best ways to collect, store, and share data, researchers now face a variety of issues that are much less familiar or that appear in a new light.

In particular, collecting and storing human biological materials for use in social science research raises additional legal, ethical, and social issues, as well as practical issues related to the storage, retrieval, and sharing of data. For example, acquiring biological data and linking them to social science databases requires a more complex informed consent process, the development of a biorepository, the establishment of data sharing policies, and the creation of a process for deciding how the data are going to be shared and used for secondary analysis--all of which add cost to a survey and require additional time and attention from the investigators. These issues also are likely to be unfamiliar to social scientists who have not worked with biological specimens in the past. Adding to the attraction of collecting biospecimens but also to the complexity of sharing and protecting the data is the fact that this is an era of incredibly rapid gains in our understanding of complex biological and physiological phenomena. Thus the tradeoffs between the risks and opportunities of expanding access to research data are constantly changing.

Conducting Biosocial Surveys offers findings and recommendations concerning the best approaches to the collection, storage, use, and sharing of biospecimens gathered in social science surveys and the digital representations of biological data derived therefrom. It is aimed at researchers interested in carrying out such surveys, their institutions, and their funding agencies.

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Case Study Conclusion

The end is sometimes the most visible piece of academic writing. The conclusion of the case study is an ignored portion. Several students make case study research papers every year on the demand of their tutors. But, very few of them realize the importance of every segment of it. From the introduction to the case study conclusion, every single thing matters. As it’s a matter of your future academic success, it is equally beneficial for the students to craft valuable endings for their case studies.

Students may question themselves about, what makes a brilliant conclusion? Well, there are plenty of rules that should be applied while making one. For example, there are a few things to be kept in mind for writing the introductions. Similarly, extensive research is required to make an impactful conclusion for a case study.

Importance OF A Conclusion In The Case Study For A Student  

It’s a years-long pattern that the last part of any content gets neglected. The reasons are quite clear, either you lose interest in your topic, or you want to finish it in a hurry. But whatever the reason it is, it’s not ideal to ignore the end of your case study solutions writing. Various elements define the importance of the concluding part.

The ending is the most read portion of the content as it summarizes all the vital points of the introduction of your case study. So if you have not paid much attention to your conclusions, there are high chance that your case study will not look impressive.

The Common Sample OF Conclusion And Recommendation In The Case Study 

Students can feasibly go through our site to get samples of the conclusion of a case study. However, the most common things you can find in a case study sample are the proper solutions to your argued problems. Not to forget the requirements of the deep analysis on how to overcome them.

A good case study is nothing without the relevant samples and recommendations. Hence, it’s the most crucial part of the writings to list the proper recommendations for your tutors. Students are advised that all of their suggestions must include specific reports of all the emerging limitations. They can address all of the issues with the possible solutions to them that would be helpful for future work.

It doesn’t matter if you are concluding a long report or a short one. The recommendations should be listed in pointers to avoid any confusion and add more to the clarity.

What Case Study Conclusions Should Look Like?

Your conclusion is the most integral part of your research papers. If a good conclusion has been provided to the case study, there are high chances that your not-so-good point in the middle of the starting sections gets blurred. The conclusion part of the case study that brings closure to your story is the reformed way. All of your researched data can have more impact if the ending part of your case study states the solutions to the key issues.

Example OF The Case Studies Conclusion   

Students can list what they have learned from this particular topic in their conclusion. It can make you wiser in comparison to the next applicant. For example, you can discuss any special category of the users related to the company you are conducting a case study on. You can highlight the new products which they are interested in launching. You can also discuss something that is cutting-edge and advances the boundaries of practice or science.

As you can see, there are various ways by which you can create a lasting impact on your conclusions.

Get Our Help To Write An Impressive Conclusion For Your Case Study

Writing an excellent case study is not an easy task to accomplish. Moreover, its different sections from the beginning to the conclusion demand immense intensity and research. But, we assure our students that our case study writers can deliver quality case studies to you. They are experts in creating unique content. Hence, you can freely rely on our case study services to attain the utmost satisfaction.

How Do You Write A Conclusion?

The conclusion of a case study comprises of the following important steps:

  • Look out for the logical connections.
  • Make sure your conclusion has a direct link to your introduction.
  • Keep the basic logic in mind.
  • Encourage the reader to draw their own conclusions.
  • Provide recommendations.
  • Conclusions should be definite.
  • The recommendations should directly adhere to your conclusion.

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  • How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Conclusion

How to Write a Dissertation Conclusion | Checklist and Examples

Published on 9 September 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes. Revised on 10 October 2022.

The conclusion is the very last part of your thesis or dissertation . It should be concise and engaging, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your main findings, as well as the answer to your research question .

In it, you should:

  • Clearly state the answer to your main research question
  • Summarise and reflect on your research process
  • Make recommendations for future work on your topic
  • Show what new knowledge you have contributed to your field
  • Wrap up your thesis or dissertation

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Table of contents

Discussion vs. conclusion, how long should your conclusion be, step 1: answer your research question, step 2: summarise and reflect on your research, step 3: make future recommendations, step 4: emphasise your contributions to your field, step 5: wrap up your thesis or dissertation, full conclusion example, conclusion checklist, frequently asked questions about conclusion sections.

While your conclusion contains similar elements to your discussion section , they are not the same thing.

Your conclusion should be shorter and more general than your discussion. Instead of repeating literature from your literature review , discussing specific research results , or interpreting your data in detail, concentrate on making broad statements that sum up the most important insights of your research.

As a rule of thumb, your conclusion should not introduce new data, interpretations, or arguments.

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Depending on whether you are writing a thesis or dissertation, your length will vary. Generally, a conclusion should make up around 5–7% of your overall word count.

An empirical scientific study will often have a short conclusion, concisely stating the main findings and recommendations for future research. A humanities topic or systematic review , on the other hand, might require more space to conclude its analysis, tying all the previous sections together in an overall argument.

Your conclusion should begin with the main question that your thesis or dissertation aimed to address. This is your final chance to show that you’ve done what you set out to do, so make sure to formulate a clear, concise answer.

  • Don’t repeat a list of all the results that you already discussed
  • Do synthesise them into a final takeaway that the reader will remember.

An empirical thesis or dissertation conclusion may begin like this:

A case study –based thesis or dissertation conclusion may begin like this:

In the second example, the research aim is not directly restated, but rather added implicitly to the statement. To avoid repeating yourself, it is helpful to reformulate your aims and questions into an overall statement of what you did and how you did it.

Your conclusion is an opportunity to remind your reader why you took the approach you did, what you expected to find, and how well the results matched your expectations.

To avoid repetition , consider writing more reflectively here, rather than just writing a summary of each preceding section. Consider mentioning the effectiveness of your methodology , or perhaps any new questions or unexpected insights that arose in the process.

You can also mention any limitations of your research, but only if you haven’t already included these in the discussion. Don’t dwell on them at length, though – focus on the positives of your work.

  • While x limits the generalisability of the results, this approach provides new insight into y .
  • This research clearly illustrates x , but it also raises the question of y .

You may already have made a few recommendations for future research in your discussion section, but the conclusion is a good place to elaborate and look ahead, considering the implications of your findings in both theoretical and practical terms.

  • Based on these conclusions, practitioners should consider …
  • To better understand the implications of these results, future studies could address …
  • Further research is needed to determine the causes of/effects of/relationship between …

When making recommendations for further research, be sure not to undermine your own work. Relatedly, while future studies might confirm, build on, or enrich your conclusions, they shouldn’t be required for your argument to feel complete. Your work should stand alone on its own merits.

Just as you should avoid too much self-criticism, you should also avoid exaggerating the applicability of your research. If you’re making recommendations for policy, business, or other practical implementations, it’s generally best to frame them as ‘shoulds’ rather than ‘musts’. All in all, the purpose of academic research is to inform, explain, and explore – not to demand.

Make sure your reader is left with a strong impression of what your research has contributed to the state of your field.

Some strategies to achieve this include:

  • Returning to your problem statement to explain how your research helps solve the problem
  • Referring back to the literature review and showing how you have addressed a gap in knowledge
  • Discussing how your findings confirm or challenge an existing theory or assumption

Again, avoid simply repeating what you’ve already covered in the discussion in your conclusion. Instead, pick out the most important points and sum them up succinctly, situating your project in a broader context.

The end is near! Once you’ve finished writing your conclusion, it’s time to wrap up your thesis or dissertation with a few final steps:

  • It’s a good idea to write your abstract next, while the research is still fresh in your mind.
  • Next, make sure your reference list is complete and correctly formatted. To speed up the process, you can use our free APA citation generator .
  • Once you’ve added any appendices , you can create a table of contents and title page .
  • Finally, read through the whole document again to make sure your thesis is clearly written and free from language errors. You can proofread it yourself , ask a friend, or consider Scribbr’s proofreading and editing service .

Here is an example of how you can write your conclusion section. Notice how it includes everything mentioned above:

V. Conclusion

The current research aimed to identify acoustic speech characteristics which mark the beginning of an exacerbation in COPD patients.

The central questions for this research were as follows: 1. Which acoustic measures extracted from read speech differ between COPD speakers in stable condition and healthy speakers? 2. In what ways does the speech of COPD patients during an exacerbation differ from speech of COPD patients during stable periods?

All recordings were aligned using a script. Subsequently, they were manually annotated to indicate respiratory actions such as inhaling and exhaling. The recordings of 9 stable COPD patients reading aloud were then compared with the recordings of 5 healthy control subjects reading aloud. The results showed a significant effect of condition on the number of in- and exhalations per syllable, the number of non-linguistic in- and exhalations per syllable, and the ratio of voiced and silence intervals. The number of in- and exhalations per syllable and the number of non-linguistic in- and exhalations per syllable were higher for COPD patients than for healthy controls, which confirmed both hypotheses.

However, the higher ratio of voiced and silence intervals for COPD patients compared to healthy controls was not in line with the hypotheses. This unpredicted result might have been caused by the different reading materials or recording procedures for both groups, or by a difference in reading skills. Moreover, there was a trend regarding the effect of condition on the number of syllables per breath group. The number of syllables per breath group was higher for healthy controls than for COPD patients, which was in line with the hypothesis. There was no effect of condition on pitch, intensity, center of gravity, pitch variability, speaking rate, or articulation rate.

This research has shown that the speech of COPD patients in exacerbation differs from the speech of COPD patients in stable condition. This might have potential for the detection of exacerbations. However, sustained vowels rarely occur in spontaneous speech. Therefore, the last two outcome measures might have greater potential for the detection of beginning exacerbations, but further research on the different outcome measures and their potential for the detection of exacerbations is needed due to the limitations of the current study.

Checklist: Conclusion

I have clearly and concisely answered the main research question .

I have summarized my overall argument or key takeaways.

I have mentioned any important limitations of the research.

I have given relevant recommendations .

I have clearly explained what my research has contributed to my field.

I have  not introduced any new data or arguments.

You've written a great conclusion! Use the other checklists to further improve your dissertation.

In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.

The conclusion is more shorter and more general: it concisely answers your main research question and makes recommendations based on your overall findings.

While it may be tempting to present new arguments or evidence in your thesis or disseration conclusion , especially if you have a particularly striking argument you’d like to finish your analysis with, you shouldn’t. Theses and dissertations follow a more formal structure than this.

All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the discussion section and results section .) The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.

For a stronger dissertation conclusion , avoid including:

  • Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
  • Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.

The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5-7% of your overall word count.

The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation should include the following:

  • A restatement of your research question
  • A summary of your key arguments and/or results
  • A short discussion of the implications of your research

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

George, T. & McCombes, S. (2022, October 10). How to Write a Dissertation Conclusion | Checklist and Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 2 April 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/thesis-dissertation/conclusion/

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Evans D, Coad J, Cottrell K, et al. Public involvement in research: assessing impact through a realist evaluation. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2014 Oct. (Health Services and Delivery Research, No. 2.36.)

Cover of Public involvement in research: assessing impact through a realist evaluation

Public involvement in research: assessing impact through a realist evaluation.

Chapter 9 conclusions and recommendations for future research.

  • How well have we achieved our original aim and objectives?

The initially stated overarching aim of this research was to identify the contextual factors and mechanisms that are regularly associated with effective and cost-effective public involvement in research. While recognising the limitations of our analysis, we believe we have largely achieved this in our revised theory of public involvement in research set out in Chapter 8 . We have developed and tested this theory of public involvement in research in eight diverse case studies; this has highlighted important contextual factors, in particular PI leadership, which had not previously been prominent in the literature. We have identified how this critical contextual factor shapes key mechanisms of public involvement, including the identification of a senior lead for involvement, resource allocation for involvement and facilitation of research partners. These mechanisms then lead to specific outcomes in improving the quality of research, notably recruitment strategies and materials and data collection tools and methods. We have identified a ‘virtuous circle’ of feedback to research partners on their contribution leading to their improved confidence and motivation, which facilitates their continued contribution. Following feedback from the HS&DR Board on our original application we did not seek to assess the cost-effectiveness of different mechanisms of public involvement but we did cost the different types of public involvement as discussed in Chapter 7 . A key finding is that many research projects undercost public involvement.

In our original proposal we emphasised our desire to include case studies involving young people and families with children in the research process. We recruited two studies involving parents of young children aged under 5 years, and two projects involving ‘older’ young people in the 18- to 25-years age group. We recognise that in doing this we missed studies involving children and young people aged under 18 years; in principle we would have liked to have included studies involving such children and young people, but, given the resources at our disposal and the additional resource, ethical and governance issues this would have entailed, we regretfully concluded that this would not be feasible for our study. In terms of the four studies with parental and young persons’ involvement that we did include, we have not done a separate analysis of their data, but the themes emerging from those case studies were consistent with our other case studies and contributed to our overall analysis.

In terms of the initial objectives, we successfully recruited the sample of eight diverse case studies and collected and analysed data from them (objective 1). As intended, we identified the outcomes of involvement from multiple stakeholders‘ perspectives, although we did not get as many research partners‘ perspectives as we would have liked – see limitations below (objective 2). It was more difficult than expected to track the impact of public involvement from project inception through to completion (objective 3), as all of our projects turned out to have longer time scales than our own. Even to track involvement over a stage of a case study research project proved difficult, as the research usually did not fall into neatly staged time periods and one study had no involvement activity over the study period.

Nevertheless, we were able to track seven of the eight case studies prospectively and in real time over time periods of up to 9 months, giving us an unusual window on involvement processes that have previously mainly been observed retrospectively. We were successful in comparing the contextual factors, mechanisms and outcomes associated with public involvement from different stakeholders‘ perspectives and costing the different mechanisms for public involvement (objective 4). We only partly achieved our final objective of undertaking a consensus exercise among stakeholders to assess the merits of the realist evaluation approach and our approach to the measurement and valuation of economic costs of public involvement in research (objective 5). A final consensus event was held, where very useful discussion and amendment of our theory of public involvement took place, and the economic approach was discussed and helpfully critiqued by participants. However, as our earlier discussions developed more fully than expected, we decided to let them continue rather than interrupt them in order to run the final exercise to assess the merits of the realist evaluation approach. We did, however, test our analysis with all our case study participants by sending a draft of this final report for comment. We received a number of helpful comments and corrections but no disagreement with our overall analysis.

  • What were the limitations of our study?

Realist evaluation is a relatively new approach and we recognise that there were a number of limitations to our study. We sought to follow the approach recommended by Pawson, but we acknowledge that we were not always able to do so. In particular, our theory of public involvement in research evolved over time and initially was not as tightly framed in terms of a testable hypothesis as Pawson recommends. In his latest book Pawson strongly recommends that outcomes should be measured with quantitative data, 17 but we did not do so; we were not aware of the existence of quantitative data or tools that would enable us to collect such data to answer our research questions. Even in terms of qualitative data, we did not capture as much information on outcomes as we initially envisaged. There were several reasons for this. The most important was that capturing outcomes in public involvement is easier the more operational the focus of involvement, and more difficult the more strategic the involvement. Thus, it was relatively easy to see the impact of a patient panel on the redesign of a recruitment leaflet but harder to capture the impact of research partners in a multidisciplinary team discussion of research design.

We also found it was sometimes more difficult to engage research partners as participants in our research than researchers or research managers. On reflection this is not surprising. Research partners are generally motivated to take part in research relevant to their lived experience of a health condition or situation, whereas our research was quite detached from their lived experience; in addition people had many constraints on their time, so getting involved in our research as well as their own was likely to be a burden too far for some. Researchers clearly also face significant time pressures but they had a more direct interest in our research, as they are obliged to engage with public involvement to satisfy research funders such as the NIHR. Moreover, researchers were being paid by their employers for their time during interviews with us, while research partners were not paid by us and usually not paid by their research teams. Whatever the reasons, we had less response from research partners than researchers or research managers, particularly for the third round of data collection; thus we have fewer data on outcomes from research partners‘ perspectives and we need to be aware of a possible selection bias towards more engaged research partners. Such a bias could have implications for our findings; for example payment might have been a more important motivating factor for less engaged advisory group members.

There were a number of practical difficulties we encountered. One challenge was when to recruit the case studies. We recruited four of our eight case studies prior to the full application, but this was more than 1 year before our project started and 15 months or more before data collection began. In this intervening period, we found that the time scales of some of the case studies were no longer ideal for our project and we faced the choice of whether to continue with them, although this timing was not ideal, or seek at a late moment to recruit alternative ones. One of our case studies ultimately undertook no involvement activity over the study period, so we obtained fewer data from it, and it contributed relatively little to our analysis. Similarly, one of the four case studies we recruited later experienced some delays itself in beginning and so we had a more limited period for data collection than initially envisaged. Research governance approvals took much longer than expected, particularly as we had to take three of our research partners, who were going to collect data within NHS projects, through the research passport process, which essentially truncated our data collection period from 1 year to 9 months. Even if we had had the full year initially envisaged for data collection, our conclusion with hindsight was that this was insufficiently long. To compare initial plans and intentions for involvement with the reality of what actually happened required a longer time period than a year for most of our case studies.

In the light of the importance we have placed on the commitment of PIs, there is an issue of potential selection bias in the recruitment of our sample. As our sampling strategy explicitly involved a networking approach to PIs of projects where we thought some significant public involvement was taking place, we were likely (as we did) to recruit enthusiasts and, at worst, those non-committed who were at least open to the potential value of public involvement. There were, unsurprisingly, no highly sceptical PIs in our sample. We have no data therefore on how public involvement may work in research where the PI is sceptical but may feel compelled to undertake involvement because of funder requirements or other factors.

  • What would we do differently next time?

If we were to design this study again, there are a number of changes we would make. Most importantly we would go for a longer time period to be able to capture involvement through the whole research process from initial design through to dissemination. We would seek to recruit far more potential case studies in principle, so that we had greater choice of which to proceed with once our study began in earnest. We would include case studies from the application stage to capture the important early involvement of research partners in the initial design period. It might be preferable to research a smaller number of case studies, allowing a more in-depth ethnographic approach. Although challenging, it would be very informative to seek to sample sceptical PIs. This might require a brief screening exercise of a larger group of PIs on their attitudes to and experience of public involvement.

The economic evaluation was challenging in a number of ways, particularly in seeking to obtain completed resource logs from case study research partners. Having a 2-week data collection period was also problematic in a field such as public involvement, where activity may be very episodic and infrequent. Thus, collecting economic data alongside other case study data in a more integrated way, and particularly with interviews and more ethnographic observation of case study activities, might be advantageous. The new budgeting tool developed by INVOLVE and the MHRN may provide a useful resource for future economic evaluations. 23

We have learned much from the involvement of research partners in our research team and, although many aspects of our approach worked well, there are some things we would do differently in future. Even though we included substantial resources for research partner involvement in all aspects of our study, we underestimated how time-consuming such full involvement would be. We were perhaps overambitious in trying to ensure such full involvement with the number of research partners and the number and complexity of the case studies. We were also perhaps naive in expecting all the research partners to play the same role in the team; different research partners came with different experiences and skills, and, like most of our case studies, we might have been better to be less prescriptive and allow the roles to develop more organically within the project.

  • Implications for research practice and funding

If one of the objectives of R&D policy is to increase the extent and effectiveness of public involvement in research, then a key implication of this research is the importance of influencing PIs to value public involvement in research or to delegate to other senior colleagues in leading on involvement in their research. Training is unlikely to be the key mechanism here; senior researchers are much more likely to be influenced by peers or by their personal experience of the benefits of public involvement. Early career researchers may be shaped by training but again peer learning and culture may be more influential. For those researchers sceptical or agnostic about public involvement, the requirement of funders is a key factor that is likely to make them engage with the involvement agenda. Therefore, funders need to scrutinise the track record of research teams on public involvement to ascertain whether there is any evidence of commitment or leadership on involvement.

One of the findings of the economic analysis was that PIs have consistently underestimated the costs of public involvement in their grant applications. Clearly the field will benefit from the guidance and budgeting tool recently disseminated by MHRN and INVOLVE. It was also notable that there was a degree of variation in the real costs of public involvement and that effective involvement is not necessarily costly. Different models of involvement incur different costs and researchers need to be made aware of the costs and benefits of these different options.

One methodological lesson we learned was the impact that conducting this research had on some participants’ reflection on the impact of public involvement. Particularly for research staff, the questions we asked sometimes made them reflect upon what they were doing and change aspects of their approach to involvement. Thus, the more the NIHR and other funders can build reporting, audit and other forms of evaluation on the impact of public involvement directly into their processes with PIs, the more likely such questioning might stimulate similar reflection.

  • Recommendations for further research

There are a number of gaps in our knowledge around public involvement in research that follow from our findings, and would benefit from further research, including realist evaluation to extend and further test the theory we have developed here:

  • In-depth exploration of how PIs become committed to public involvement and how to influence agnostic or sceptical PIs would be very helpful. Further research might compare, for example, training with peer-influencing strategies in engendering PI commitment. Research could explore the leadership role of other research team members, including research partners, and how collective leadership might support effective public involvement.
  • More methodological work is needed on how to robustly capture the impact and outcomes of public involvement in research (building as well on the PiiAF work of Popay et al. 51 ), including further economic analysis and exploration of impact when research partners are integral to research teams.
  • Research to develop approaches and carry out a full cost–benefit analysis of public involvement in research would be beneficial. Although methodologically challenging, it would be very useful to conduct some longer-term studies which sought to quantify the impact of public involvement on such key indicators as participant recruitment and retention in clinical trials.
  • It would also be helpful to capture qualitatively the experiences and perspectives of research partners who have had mixed or negative experiences, since they may be less likely than enthusiasts to volunteer to participate in studies of involvement in research such as ours. Similarly, further research might explore the (relatively rare) experiences of marginalised and seldom-heard groups involved in research.
  • Payment for public involvement in research remains a contested issue with strongly held positions for and against; it would be helpful to further explore the value research partners and researchers place on payment and its effectiveness for enhancing involvement in and impact on research.
  • A final relatively narrow but important question that we identified after data collection had finished is: what is the impact of the long periods of relative non-involvement following initial periods of more intense involvement for research partners in some types of research, particularly clinical trials?

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  • Cite this Page Evans D, Coad J, Cottrell K, et al. Public involvement in research: assessing impact through a realist evaluation. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2014 Oct. (Health Services and Delivery Research, No. 2.36.) Chapter 9, Conclusions and recommendations for future research.
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