Drawing Conclusions

Why do the closing remarks in speeches always begin with the phrase, "In conclusion"? It's remarkably the same thought process that occurs when a group of astronomers look at a blip on a computer screen and soon announce the discovery of some distant celestial object. How is that possible? Well, the person concluding their speech and the enthusiastic astronomer are satisfied that their work is coming to an end. They have done their duty to the best of their ability and are confident that they have covered all the bases, and it is safe to conclude proceedings. In the case of the astronomer, though, the process is a bit more scientifically rigorous. In this article, we will discuss what it means to draw a conclusion and how it can be done, scientifically.

Drawing Conclusions Drawing Conclusions

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Table of contents

    The definition of drawing a conclusion

    An experimenter aims to test a hypothesis (which is a statement about what the experimenter expects will happen in the experiment) and possibly answer some larger, important question. At the end of each experiment, an experimenter makes a statement that summarizes what they have learnt from the conducted observation. This is called a conclusion, and we can define the drawing of a conclusion as follows.

    We can define the drawing of a conclusion as stating the insight gained from experimenting.

    All that is learned during an investigation can be summarised in a concluding statement, called the conclusion. In simple terms, the conclusion of any research should be based purely on the findings of that research. It is supported by facts and proof from the research conducted.

    The steps involved in drawing conclusions

    In conducting scientific research, an experimenter will follow the scientific method described in the steps below. The experimenter will:

    1. ask a question and formulate a hypothesis,
    2. conduct an experiment or investigation,
    3. collect, represent and analyse information,
    4. interpret the results,
    5. and draw a conclusion.

    The steps above outline the scientific method very briefly. As scientists, we must first formulate a hypothesis or a research question. This will determine the path that our research journey will take. Next, we will conduct an experiment or investigation to test our hypothesis. The results from our investigation will be collected, analysed and interpreted. We should have gained enough information to answer our research question, and the final step in conducting research is then to draw a conclusion. We'll discuss the scientific method in more detail in the next section. The figure below shows a simple representation of the steps involved in conducting research and arriving at a conclusion.

    Drawing conclusions Steps of drawing conclusions StudySmarterFig. 1: This figure loosely outlines the scientific method. These are all of the steps involved in conducting scientific research. A hypothesis is tested by observations and a conclusion is finally achieved based on the results of those observations.

    Using the scientific method to draw a conclusion

    The steps above, from creating a hypothesis to drawing a conclusion, form the scientific method, as we've just mentioned. There are other steps in the scientific method that we have omitted for brevity (e.g. communicating findings), but for now, we'll deal with the experiment and its immediate outcomes. The figure below shows how this process can be repeated to continuously refute science with better science.

    Drawing conclusions The scientific method StudySmarterFig. 2: This image shows a flow diagram highlighting the important steps of the scientific method.

    Ideally, the conclusion of an investigation should prove or disprove the hypothesis and answer the research question. This is not always the case, as the scientific inferences may leave the scientist no nearer to the answer they require.

    An example of drawing a conclusion

    The example below outlines the steps involved in the scientific method and eventually reaches the final step, which is the focus of this article; drawing a conclusion.

    Assume Mark and Joseph create a hypothesis regarding the January temperatures in their neighbourhood. They have followed the steps mentioned above to come to a conclusion.

    Step 1: Formulating the hypothesis

    Hypothesis 1: January days are hottest before 14:00, according to Mark.

    Hypothesis 2: The warmest time of January days is after four o'clock in the afternoon, according to Joseph.

    After setting their hypotheses, they want to perform an experiment and gather data to validate them.

    Step 2: Performing an experiment

    They decide to use a digital thermometer to measure the temperature outside at specific times during each day for January.

    Step 3: Collecting and representing the data

    The temperature data is collected for January and then averaged, as indicated in the diagram below.

    Drawing conclusions Simple data representation StudySmarterFig. 3: This bar graph shows the average temperatures by time for January.

    Step 4: Interpretation of results

    By simply looking at the data that is visualized by the vertical bar graph above, one can notice that the temperature increases from 08:00 until 12:00, at which point it reaches a maximum and decreases thereafter.

    Step 5: Drawing conclusions

    Joseph can tell from the graph that the investigation's findings contradict his ideas. Based on the data recorded and the observations, the hottest temperature occurs before 14:00, and not after 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

    The findings corroborate Mark's premise and he can derive the following conclusion that validates his initial hypothesis.

    Conclusion: Winter days are the hottest before 14:00.

    The example above highlights the importance of representing data. Data that is well-collected and well-represented can make analysis and inference much easier. In turn, this can make it easier to draw conclusions.

    Even if you put major efforts into preparing data, analyzing results, and performing observations, the conclusion is crucial in deciding whether the project will succeed or fail.

    On one hand, the results will not be taken seriously if an otherwise good experiment is summarized by a poor conclusion. On the other hand, even if the set-up and the data gathered are valid, but the conclusion drawn is not correct, the experiment will not be valid.

    Keep in mind that whether a theory is accepted or disproven is not a measure of success or failure, because both outcomes contribute to scientific knowledge.

    The differences between inferences and drawing conclusions

    It may seem as if the words are interchangeable but there are differences between inferences and conclusions.

    An inference is a fact that is assumed based on the information that is provided.

    Simply, an inference is an assumed fact based on other facts. Here's an example that will make this idea clearer.

    Imagine that you observe someone slamming a door. You might infer that this person is angry. That is, you used the fact that the door was slammed to assume the fact that this person is angry.

    Inferences are important because scientists can often pose and answer questions about things that are not immediately apparent. Next, we can define a conclusion.

    A conclusion refers to an explanation or interpretation of an observation. It is the next step in the information process and comes after critical thought and logical reasoning.

    Let us revisit the previous example to illustrate the difference between inference and conclusion.

    Imagine that you observe someone slamming a door. You might infer that this person is angry. This cannot be your conclusion, however, since critically you would know that more information is required. A conclusion could be that this person is strong enough to slam a door.

    We can see that there is a clear difference between making an inference and drawing a conclusion. A good scientific example would be the one below.

    Dinosaurs have been extinct for millions of years, so simply observing them is not a possible way of determining their diet. What we can do is study fossils of dinosaur droppings and determine the type of food they ate. The following events would occur in the given order.

    Observation: Studies of some dinosaur droppings show signs of crushed bones.

    Inference: These dinosaurs preyed on herbivores that were smaller than themselves. This is a pretty safe assumption to make but we don't know this for certain.

    Conclusion: These dinosaurs ate animals. However, they could have been predators, scavengers, or maybe even cannibals.

    Drawing Conclusions - Key takeaways

    • Drawing conclusions is the final step in any research or any scientific investigation.
    • We can define the drawing of a conclusion as the insight gained from experimenting. All that is learned during an investigation can be summarised in a concluding statement.
    • Ideally, the conclusion of an investigation should prove or disprove the hypothesis and answer the research question.
    • Steps of the scientific method:
        1. ask a question and formulate a hypothesis,
        2. conduct an experiment or investigation,
        3. collect, represent and analyse information,
        4. interpret the results,
        5. and draw a conclusion.
    • An inference is a fact that is assumed based on the information that is provided.

    • A conclusion refers to an explanation or interpretation of an observation. It is the next step in the information process and comes after critical thought and logical reasoning. It is a fact that follows logically from the information that is provided.

    References

    1. Fig. 1- Four stage scientific method (https://commonswikimedia.org/wiki/File:4_stage_Scientific_Method.jpg) by Brightyellowjeans is licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en).
    2. Fig. 2- The Scientific Method (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Scientific_Method.svg) by Efbrazil is licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en).
    Frequently Asked Questions about Drawing Conclusions

    What is drawing conclusion ?

    The drawing conclusion is a statement, at the end of each experiment, that summarizes what the experimenter have learnt from the conducted observation. This is what we call drawing conclusions.

    What is an example of drawing conclusion ?

    An example of drawing conclusion can be the following situation:

    After repeating the experiment 10 times, we were able to validate the initial hypothesis, and confirm that the distilled water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. This is an example of a conclusion. The process of reaching this conclusion is called drawing a conclusion.

    What are the 3 steps for drawing conclusions? 

    The 3 steps for drawing conclusions are:


    1. Refer to your experiment's hypothesis.
    2. Examine the results of your experiment. Analyze the data, doing any computations or graphs necessary to spot trends or patterns in your findings.
    3. Check to see if your evidence backs up your theory or proves it to be wrong. Make a statement that summarizes your findings.

    How to draw a conclusion in the scientific method ?

    To draw a conclusion in the scientific method, we can follow the next steps:


    1. State if you agree or disagree with your hypothesis. 
    2.  Support your statement with particular facts (proof) from your experiment.
    3. Talk about if the problem/question has been resolved.
    4.  Describe further difficulties or experiments that should be carried out.

    What is the differences between drawing conclusion and inferences?

    The differences between drawing conclusion and interferences are that an inference is a fact that is assumed based on the information provided.  A conclusion is logically and factually based on data that is observed, recorded and well represented.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Drawing conclusions is the last step of the scientific method.

    A conclusion for a scientific experiment can be drawn without collecting data or conducting research.

    Scientists discover crushed bones in the fossils of dinosaur droppings. They decide that the dinosaur had eaten other dinosaurs. In this case, did the scientists provide a conclusion or inference?   

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