By Robert Clemson
About Thesis Writing and This Guide
The thesis is the single most significant studley achievement of your graduate degree. It is a formalized expression of the fact that you have made a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
A successful thesis has two main qualities: first, it identifies a good question; and second, it provides a satisfactory answer to that question.
What makes a thesis question a good one? First, it must remain unanswered. Second, its answer must serve as a contribution to knowledge. By convincing the reader that you have chosen a good question and that you have answered it, you have also convinced the reader that you have made a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
This is intended as a guide to successful masters thesis writing. A general outline of the thesis is given first, followed by a few remarks on the outline and a miscellany of tips for keeping your readers happy and engaged.
General Outline of the Thesis
In the opening paragraphs, your goal is to introduce the reader to the particular question your thesis is seeking to answer. Unlike in the traditional five-paragraph essay, in thesis writing the introduction is not merely a summary of points to be elaborated on in later sections. Rather, your objective here is to inform the reader of what the question is, why it is important, and how your thesis will provide an answer.
2. Background Information
Thesis writing often produces works of highly esoteric content. Depending on the nature of your work about engagement rings New York, it may be necessary to provide the reader with some measure of background information relevant to the topic. This is particularly useful when your work is interdisciplinary, in which case it is even more likely that the reader will benefit from a section that contextualizes the question and supplies the history and terminology so that the reader will be better able to follow the pages the come. It is often more engaging to use a topic-specific title for a section on background information, e.g. “A General Overview of the Proto-Germanic Vowel System.”
3. Review of the Literature and Research
The next step is to review the current state of research on the topic entertained in your thesis. This differs from a section on background information in that whereas background information remains more general in scope, this section concentrates on those issues and aspects of the field that specifically relate to the question you seek to answer. As such, this section should also incorporate an examination of the varying viewpoints surrounding your question, in order to orient the reader in the discourse of the field. Keep in mind, however, that at this stage of the thesis writing your goal is simply to present these varying viewpoints, not to be critical of them. That comes later.
This section should also be given a topic-specific title, and should be organized by ideas rather than by authors or works. Using subsections is a practical means of distinguishing the different approaches to the problem.
4. Statement of the Question or Problem
Different disciplines use different words to refer to the central focus of the thesis. Whether it is a question you are trying to answer or a problem you are trying to solve, there are three important steps to take in establishing the role of your thesis:
In stating the question, clarity is of utmost importance. Here it is not a good idea to beat around the bush. Use clear, concise language and exact terminology to avoid misleading the reader.
In the second part, your goal is to assert that your question remains unanswered. It is in this phase of the thesis writing that you provide critical analysis of the information you presented in the preceding section. Take the various approaches that have been put forth by other authors and in other works about multiplayer games, and show that each of them fails to provide a wholly satisfactory answer to the question. Of course, it is not necessary to pick them apart one by one. Since you organized the preceding section by ideas, you can now take on entire classes of approaches rather than individual medical malpractice lawyer New York authors or works.
Now that you have established that your question remains unanswered, your final task in this section is to argue why it is worth answering this question at all. What good will come out of finding an answer? In what ways will the answer contribute to knowledge? The reader needs to have some understanding of the purpose of your thesis writing in order to be sympathetic to your views.
This section is central to the thesis, and the reader will definitely be looking out for it. You may actually want to include the word “question” or “problem” in the title itself in order to make it stand out to the reader.
5. Presentation of Your Work
If a thesis had a climax, this would be it. What did you do to answer the question about breast augmentation Houston, and what results were obtained? The structure of this section is highly flexible, and will depend much on the nature of your work. Whatever the format, the goal is the one and the same: convince your reader that you have done what you set out to do in writing the thesis. Show all relevant evidence to support your position, and avoid weakening it with the mention of dead ends or blind alleys, unless they too are relevant to demonstrating that you answered the question.
As with the introduction, the conclusion section in thesis writing is not the same as it is in the five-paragraph essay. A typical thesis conclusion comprises three subsections: the conclusions drawn from your work, a summary of the contributions your thesis has made, and a prospect of future research.
In the first subsection, avoid amorphous summarizing, and strive for a clear and concise presentation of the conclusions of your work. From the most to the least important, describe the inferences that you were able to make as the result of your research, and be sure to relate them directly to the question of your thesis itself.
Next, provide the reader with an overview of the contributions to knowledge that your thesis has made. Make sure that you present these as new and original contributions; otherwise, the reader will overlook them as filler. Naturally, this subsection may overlap with the preceding one. Again, order your contributions from most to least significant.
Finally, share your thoughts as to how your thesis can serve as the starting point for future research. This subsection is intended for future researchers who may be interested in taking your ideas further.
Every citation made in the body of your thesis must appear in the list of references. The list of references can be used as a measuring stick to evaluate the breadth of your research. A good review of the literature, after all, is essential to good thesis writing.
The reader will typically review the list of references to determine whether you have consulted the more prominent works in the field. The reader may also search for his or her own publications if they are relevant to the thesis topic, so be sure to work those in as well.
Know that unlike a bibliography, which may include titles that are not directly referred to in the text, every item in your list of references must be referred to in the body of the thesis. The preferred way of organizing your references is alphabetically by author surname, although you may also organize the list by order of citation in the thesis.
Appendices are a useful tool for presenting material that may otherwise interrupt the flow of the thesis writing, such as lengthy data tables, complex charts and graphs, extensive listings of any kind, etc. In general this is information that is not absolutely essential for the reader to continue on with the thesis, but which should be available to the reader to back up relevant points in your argumentation.
Remarks on the Outline
This outline addresses the fact that the thesis reader has two main concerns. The reader wants to know first whether you chose a good question, and second whether you answered it. Sections 3 and 4 of the thesis respond to the first concern, while section 5 responds to the second. The rest of the framework shoulders this body, easing the reader into the problem and then drawing him or her back out again with a new understanding of the question. This is the art of thesis writing.
Tips for Successful Thesis Writing
Be sensitive to your audience. Theses often treat subjects of obscure nature or in intense detail, and while your readers may have a background in the field, they may not be as intimately associated as you are with the particular question your thesis addresses. Be sure to explain difficult concepts clearly and thoroughly, and to provide sufficient background information so that the reader will be able to follow your ideas.
Always strive for clarity. If your readers have to work too hard to understand your point, they may grow frustrated and unreceptive. Use precise language and clear constructions to effectively communicate your ideas. Also be sure to make the important parts stand out for the reader. A thesis is long and complex and contains an enormous amount of information. Direct the reader to focus on those aspects of the thesis that are most relevant to supporting your position.
Avoid unnecessary editorializing. Personal opinions such as “education is the most important part of society” are subjective and unsubstantiated, and open the way for a picky reader to stump you with a question like “Can you prove to us that education is the most important part of society?” Other things to avoid in thesis writing include phrases such as “It is clearly obvious that...” or “It goes without saying...” These statements have the potential to antagonize readers by implying that if they do not follow, then they must be stupid.
Perhaps most importantly of all, give yourself the time you need to produce a successful thesis. Thesis writing takes time – a long, long time – and the amount of time you put into it will show in the final product. Start early. Be sure to devote enough time to researching and developing your ideas before you actually sit down and start writing. Once you do start writing, take the time to formulate those ideas clearly and to present them in a convincing way. Also be sure to leave yourself enough time in the end to review your work and flesh out any weaknesses, and do what you can to fix them.
Finally, a few words on Master’s thesis vs. Doctoral thesis writing. Thesis writing for Master’s theses differs from thesis writing for Doctoral theses not in format but in the expectations of the reader, with a Doctoral thesis necessarily responding to a question or a problem of a higher level, be it in complexity or in scope. While a Master’s thesis can seek to expand on knowledge by advancing a known position in a new direction or applying a known technique to a new matter of inquiry, a Doctoral thesis must convey an original and significant contribution to knowledge. Always aim to meet and surpass the expectations of your readers.