Writing a thesis is part of earning many degrees. A master's thesis is similar to a dissertation for a Ph.D., however, it is typically much shorter. Although a thesis is shorter than a dissertation, it is still a hefty research paper that requires a lot of work and preparation. Use these tips for creating a great thesis and not overwhelming yourself.
There are many different types of thesis statements that you can write. In order to draft an appropriate thesis, you will need to know the format of the essay you will write before you begin. Most often, these papers have three primary forms — expository, analytical and argumentative.
Expository papers explain a topic to the reader as thoroughly as possible. This type of paper will mention the central theme and create an outline of the points described. The order you address the topics in your paper needs to correlate to their position in your paper's body.
Expository essays delve deeply into a subject, giving information from a neutral perspective. Think of an encyclopedia article that presents facts without commentary or analysis. Such a writing piece serves as an example of an expository essay. Because your paper only mentions concrete evidence, you will not have an opinion in your paper. For opinion-based pieces, consider writing an argumentative essay instead.
As an argumentative thesis, this type of essay serves to both explain the subject of the essay and your opinion on the topic. Incorporating your viewpoint into the paper differentiates this type of essay from an analytical type, which merely explains in-depth information about the subject of the paper.
Despite the name, argumentative papers have a neutral tone aside from stating your opinion. The argument must stand on your facts and not on disparaging those who disagree. In this type of thesis, you must give both the main point of the essay and your perspective on it using facts to back up your viewpoint.
Arguably, analytical and expository papers could merge into the category of explanatory theses because both use facts to give the reader information about the paper and its organization. Subtle differences between these essay types allow for them to have their own categories.
Compared to an expository paper, an analytical essay introduces a topic and analyzes the idea throughout the paper. Just as in a descriptive essay, your analytical introduction must present its points in the same order you will discuss them in your writing.
The outline for your essay depends on the type of thesis you will write. To pen a thesis, start by creating the framework for your essay. Since your main idea should reflect the organization of your essay, outlining first will make composing the main idea statement more straightforward.
First, evaluate the type of paper you want to write. This information will make research faster and the essay easier to organize. Once you've conducted enough research to have your basic points, you can begin drafting your outline, after which you will be able to author your main idea statement.
When writing an outline, start with roman numerals for each paragraph. Below each, create subsections for each point you need to cover. Include any data you collect to back up those points in the outline. The more information you have in the framework, the faster your paper will be to write.
While creating your outline, work on it throughout the academic program. Most thesis papers are between 40 and 80 pages, so starting early and working constantly on it will reduce the workload at the end of the program. Also, get help throughout the process. You don't want to find out you need a complete rewrite of your 80-page paper the day before you submit it.
You don't need to write the complete introduction for your outline. You only need to have a spot for your main idea statement under the introduction heading. This part of your paper will introduce the topic with the main idea toward the end and a transition sentence into the body paragraphs.
Each section in the body of the paper needs to address a different point. Most essays have a minimum of three body paragraphs, but you can write more if needed. In each part, you will introduce an idea and use information to back up or explain the idea in greater detail.
In an expository essay, you will use each body paragraph to explain parts of the main topic. These may be events in chronological order when discussing development. You may instead mention important people in each part if writing about a group. Each paragraph in the body will explain a more about the main theme by breaking the topic down into smaller, easier-to-understand parts.
In an analytical essay, the paragraphs in the body will analyze the topic. Each analytical idea can have its paragraph. Be sure to explain how the analysis relates to the subject and connect everything to the main point.
For argumentative essays, the purpose of the body paragraphs is giving reasons why your view is correct. All pieces of your argument must support your main point. If your opinion has strong opposition, consider integrating why the opposing view is incorrect and why your standpoint is better.
Research-based papers tend to have a formulaic body, following the scientific method. Start by explaining the purpose and what you hope your research will contribute to the field, which generally takes the first chapter. The next chapter or part of the paper will include what previous studies have to say about the topic. This review of previous literature should connect with why you chose the topic for your paper. Follow up with information on how you set up and conducted your study. Include variables, control, development of the method, data gathered and analyzed.
After describing your study method, you will have a section in which you discuss the findings. Lastly, your discussion section will evaluate the importance of the findings and whether your data supported or reputed your theory. This last part of the thesis is where you describe why your information is relevant. You must also point out any limitations your research had or potential conflicts of interest.
Because every paper has a different structure depending on your field of study, you may not necessarily follow this exact outline.
The conclusion summarizes your essay. Often, you will rephrase your thesis in the concluding paragraph. This point will be the last thing your readers see, so you want your thesis to contribute to a strong conclusion. A conclusion typically does not need to be long, only a couple of sentences to wrap up the discussion in the paper. If you have a scientific thesis, you conclude your paper in the discussion section.
Once you have your outline, you can create your thesis statement. Remember, your thesis statement will introduce the topic and give readers a preview of your paper. For argumentative essays, you should include your viewpoint on the subject in the main idea. Analytical or expository essays, however, should not have opinions in them as these types of papers explain or analyze from a neutral standpoint.
Writing a thesis requires a systematic approach, regardless of the type of paper you craft. Surprisingly, drafting the thesis statement will be one of the last steps you take when writing your essay. Waiting until the end ensures you have enough information to create a specific and compelling thesis statement for your paper.
When creating your thesis, ensure it follows the thesis outline examples based on the type of paper you are writing. For instance, you will need to state your opinion on a topic in an argumentative thesis but refrain from opining on the topic in an explanatory essay.
After you have written your thesis, you need to assess its strength and effectiveness with a series of questions. The answers to these will guide you in amending your thesis to make it a memorable paper.
First, your paper must be easy for the reader to understand. Watch out for these issues:
Your thesis must have a specific focus without being too narrow. A paper that only relates a single idea should serve as a detail for one of the body paragraphs, not the main idea. A topic that has too narrow of scope does not give you enough information to expound on it. You want a balance between narrow and broad ideas for your paper.
A thesis that lacks a strong focus also creates problems. A too-broad topic does not relate which aspect of the subject you will discuss in the paper. Thesis papers that could be generic for any field are too broad. You need a paper tailored to precisely what you will present in your writing.
Formulaic main ideas sound canned and trite. You want to interest the reader with the prospect of new and essential information, not bore them in the first paragraph. Following a formula for a thesis will not help your task. Instead, doing so will make your statement seem too generic.
By composing your theme statement to carefully reflect your paper while tying the information tightly together, you will avoid the problems of a staid formula. Penning the main idea means creating a sentence that does more than fill in the blanks from a template, so avoid phrases such as "My paper is about," or "I will write about." Write something that forms to your paper rather than making your essay conform to a formula-based thesis.
Verify that your paper matches the type of essay you write. If you have an argument presented in the paper, use data that supports your view on the topic. For expository or analytical essays, connect all information to the central theme.
Your reader should have an interest in learning more about the topic your thesis discusses. However, they should not have questions about how or why your main idea connects to the rest of the paper. Your thesis needs to convey why you are writing and how you will support your ideas.
Ask someone to read your thesis for you and get their feedback. Did they have how or why questions about your essay? The more questions created, the more you need to improve your paper. To better the thesis, you should tighten the wording and the information to be more specific to the topic you chose and more evident to the reader.
On the other hand, your thesis needs to answer the central questions of what your paper will cover and how it will address the topic. The answers to these questions can apply to all essay types. In argumentative papers, you will discuss the subject from the viewpoint of supporting your opinion on the matter. For explanatory essays, you must include a map for the reader to follow the course of your paper's details.
Another way to think of this aspect of your essay is that it answers how and why questions rather than presenting them. By giving enough information to keep the reader from questioning your purpose, you will create a coherent thesis paper.
Use concise, precise writing throughout your paper. Read through the thesis and look for words or phrases that you could replace with more straightforward options. For example, instead of writing "years and years ago," use "years ago". Avoid using wordiness to boost the page count of your paper. Poor writing will only reflect negatively on your paper and the ideas presented in it.
When it comes to making your writing less wordy and more enjoyable, avoid passive voice wherever possible and opt for active voice instead. The latter form lets you know who or what does the action at the beginning of the sentence, making it more apparent, and the structure uses fewer words than passive voice. This form requires more words and creates a less-clear sentence than when using active voice. Here are some examples:
Spell-checking software may not spot wordiness or use of passive voice in your paper or thesis statement. To get a better appraisal of your writing, you may need to consult with an expert or tutor. Doing so will give you personalized tips for drafting a high-quality thesis statement.
Writing well-drafted essays is the basis for any academic career. Regardless of your field of study, you need to know how to write a thesis statement that gives the reader a clear indication of the topic of your paper. During the process of writing your essay and thesis, you may need to request support along the way.
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