Creating and Writing A Strong Thesis
A thesis is the central focus and main argument of a research paper developed from your observations, investigations and analysis of an issue.
A thesis is not a summary of your topic. In other words, you must make an assertion or contestable claim with which a reasonable person (usually in academia) might disagree.
The art and science of coherently crystallizing all these processes has been the bane of most students. From my experience in teaching both undergraduate and graduate students, writing a strong thesis has been the trickiest task to master, particularly, in the under-graduate programme. Students often battle for months when formulating a well-constructed project work. The following would assist all final-year students in formulating a good thesis.
How To Create a Thesis
Once you have chosen the topic of your project and completed the necessary research, start thinking about the underlying themes and connections between your findings and the larger issues at stake. If you are having trouble establishing an argument, here are some common approaches to help you build your thesis:
- Make a Connection: Compare your subject with something else you have learned in your class or something else you know about, or write a project that asks the reader to look at a subject in light of something else he/she would not necessarily have connected it to.
- Refute an Accepted Idea: This can be an interesting approach if you either have new evidence or can interpret existing evidence in a new way.
- Consider Different Angles: Look at a subject from a new perspective, or find an aspect of the subject that's been overlooked.
- Define: Offer a definition of a key term that will get readers to see a controversial issue in a new way.
- Evaluate: Make an assessment about something's quality or utility.
- Argue Cause and Effect: You can argue that X will happen if we do Y, or X happened because we did Y. Remember, it has to be a statement of causation and not merely a correlation. Just because X happens prior to Y, does not mean that X is the cause of Y.
- Propose a Change: Suggest that something new be done to improve or resolve a specific problem.
How To Make Your Thesis Strong
How do you know if your thesis is strong? Here are some components and questions to think about when revising your thesis statement:
- The Claim: Your thesis must be more than a summary of your findings regarding a specific topic. To make sure your thesis is making a contestable claim, answer the questions how and/or why? Why are your observations and analyses significant? How does your argument cover new ground or move the conversation forward within your discipline? Does it compel the reader to think differently or act?
- The Scope: Is it focused enough? Are you tackling computer security in a five-page thesis? Focus on a sufficiently narrow aspect of your subject area so that you can make a complete argument. Consider whether your research will support your argument, and adjust your thesis accordingly.
- The Tone: Be aware that you are writing for an academic setting so adjust your tone and style accordingly. Avoid using overly informal or discriminatory language, both of which are inappropriate for academic writing. Will the reader believe your thesis? More importantly, do you believe your thesis? Avoid hedging phrases and words like "I think," "I believe," "might," "maybe," and "possibly." Be sure of yourself and take a clear stance.
- The Focus: Your thesis should map out your argument. The major sections of your thesis should correspond to the logical progression you plan to use to support the argument. Explain those steps to the reader in the introduction so that he or she can find them easily in your thesis. This will help you to maintain focus throughout as well clarify your argument for the reader.
The Myths: First, a thesis does not have to be confined to one sentence. You want to keep your thesis statement/title as concise as possible, but sometimes you need more than one sentence to do that. Second, your thesis is not cast in stone. Don’t be afraid to change your thesis. If while writing your thesis, you realise you have started arguing something different from what your thesis says, and you think it is better than what you had originally planned on doing, stick with it and revise the thesis, BUT, this should be done under the guidance and agreement of your supervisor . Get rid of what doesn’t work, or is impracticable within your time frame and find a way of researching and expressing what you really want to talk about.