What Should Happen in
Rule #6: Scholarly writing changes the readers' world, and its conclusions have
consequences. In an academic paper, never, ever, merely restate what you believe you have proven.
Take seriously the demand your writing has made on your readers and consider the
consequences of their agreement with your thesis.
Conclusions, like introductions, often require serious and deep thinking before
writers can undertake their revision. Anyone can slap together a simple
but it takes time to end a document with a logical appraisal of the next
necessary steps readers must take. Give your writing time to cool
down. Get another opinion of your thesis and support. Talk about
possibilities and probabilities that occur to you if the thesis is correct, and
persuasive. What will readers probably do if they believe you? What might they do? What
should they do? These are questions which can help to develop conclusions
which grow organically from the arguments they conclude.
Here are some
functions conclusions can serve, depending on what kind of argument you are
thesis beyond the immediate context into some distant or wider context.
- from a thesis about
anencephalic transplants in the U.S. A. to its implications for all transplants
in the U.S.A.;
- from a thesis about killing in self
defense to its implications for all violent self defense;
- from a thesis about Providence gun
shops to its implications for all gun shops in the nation;
- from a thesis about
fan-fiction novels to its implications for creative web-based short films
based on pre-existing movies
specific corrective action and/or name the parties with the greatest
responsibility or benefit to take that action.
- Parents should
be informed about the possibility of infant organ donation and hospitals should inform them;
or, parents should be informed but it's
in the recipient parents' best interests to do it.
- Gunshops deserve
special protection and police should protect them; or they deserve protection but the
police are too slow, so shop owners should share the burden to create
property law should respect the rights of anyone who creates a new work that
contributes "significant, new and independently developed content or
treatment" to a previous novel or film (defining carefully "significant,"
"new," and "independently developed," as well as giving tests for
distinguishing "content" from "treatment").
research to make possible the next step toward solving the problem your thesis
has identified or helped to explain.
shortages of anencephalic donors mean a replacement must be found, so more
research in xenotransplants (from other species) and in artificial organ
growth/manufacture must be pursued.
gunshops from criminals is an expensive and uncertain proposition, but
research to prevent criminal behavior could make crimes against gunshops
- Even if we
cannot currently solve the problem of whose rights to protect, the original
works' authors' rights or the rights of the "fan" works' authors, we still
could help clarify the debate if we could determine what would constitute
"significant independently developed content or treatment," because those
terms are crucial to both groups' of authors' claims to have invented
something new that deserves protection (vs.
all of them being
"knockoffs" of some prior work!)