Chapter 6: One Last Time Before You Go: The Conclusion and Final Review

Bottom Bun

Conclusion as Bottom Bun

It is safe to say that nobody gets particularly excited about the bottom bun of a hamburger. It is a lesser version of the decorative top bun, does not add anything in the way of flavour, and functions only to give form to the burger. If you ordered a burger at a restaurant and received one with two bottom buns you would return it and demand a top bun, would you not? The bottom bun is unremarkable and unwanted. It needs to be there but it needs to do little beyond take its place.

When writing a five-paragraph essay, students use the conclusion as little more than the bottom of their essay—a paragraph that simply  marks the end of the essay. If you are familiar with the five-paragraph essay, you will most likely be familiar with this scenario: after finishing the third body paragraph we go back to the introduction and copy or paraphrase the entire thing into our conclusion and add  empty transitional phrases such as “To summarize…,” or “In conclusion…,” or, most egregious, “As I wrote in my introduction….” The progress through the essay has changed nothing and the conclusion, rather than providing a space for reflection or final judgement, does nothing but reiterate the vague claim made in the introduction and repeated through the body paragraphs. So is the purpose and the opportunity of the conclusion in analytical writing in analytical writing often missed and misinterpreted.

Now watch Video 6.1 on what conclusions can and should do.