Think of yourself as a member of a jury, listening to a lawyer who is presenting an opening argument. You'll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument. After reading your thesis statement, the reader should think, "This essay is going to try to convince me of something. I'm not convinced yet, but I'm interested to see how I might be."

An effective thesis cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." A thesis is not a topic; nor is it a fact; nor is it an opinion. "Reasons for the fall of communism" is a topic. "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" is a fact known by educated people. "The fall of communism is the best thing that ever happened in Europe" is an opinion. (Superlatives like "the best" almost always lead to trouble. It's impossible to weigh every "thing" that ever happened in Europe. And what about the fall of Hitler? Couldn't that be "the best thing"?)

A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should "telegraph" how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay.

Steps in Constructing a Thesis

First, analyze your primary sources.  Look for tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy, and/or complication. Does the author contradict himself or herself? Is a point made and later reversed? What are the deeper implications of the author's argument? Figuring out the why to one or more of these questions, or to related questions, will put you on the path to developing a working thesis. (Without the why, you probably have only come up with an observation—that there are, for instance, many different metaphors in such-and-such a poem—which is not a thesis.)

Once you have a working thesis, write it down.  There is nothing as frustrating as hitting on a great idea for a thesis, then forgetting it when you lose concentration. And by writing down your thesis you will be forced to think of it clearly, logically, and concisely. You probably will not be able to write out a final-draft version of your thesis the first time you try, but you'll get yourself on the right track by writing down what you have.

Keep your thesis prominent in your introduction.  A good, standard place for your thesis statement is at the end of an introductory paragraph, especially in shorter (5-15 page) essays. Readers are used to finding theses there, so they automatically pay more attention when they read the last sentence of your introduction. Although this is not required in all academic essays, it is a good rule of thumb.

Anticipate the counterarguments.  Once you have a working thesis, you should think about what might be said against it. This will help you to refine your thesis, and it will also make you think of the arguments that you'll need to refute later on in your essay. (Every argument has a counterargument. If yours doesn't, then it's not an argument—it may be a fact, or an opinion, but it is not an argument.)

This statement is on its way to being a thesis. However, it is too easy to imagine possible counterarguments. For example, a political observer might believe that Dukakis lost because he suffered from a "soft-on-crime" image. If you complicate your thesis by anticipating the counterargument, you'll strengthen your argument, as shown in the sentence below.

Some Caveats and Some Examples

A thesis is never a question.  Readers of academic essays expect to have questions discussed, explored, or even answered. A question ("Why did communism collapse in Eastern Europe?") is not an argument, and without an argument, a thesis is dead in the water.

A thesis is never a list.  "For political, economic, social and cultural reasons, communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" does a good job of "telegraphing" the reader what to expect in the essay—a section about political reasons, a section about economic reasons, a section about social reasons, and a section about cultural reasons. However, political, economic, social and cultural reasons are pretty much the only possible reasons why communism could collapse. This sentence lacks tension and doesn't advance an argument. Everyone knows that politics, economics, and culture are important.

A thesis should never be vague, combative or confrontational.  An ineffective thesis would be, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because communism is evil." This is hard to argue (evil from whose perspective? what does evil mean?) and it is likely to mark you as moralistic and judgmental rather than rational and thorough. It also may spark a defensive reaction from readers sympathetic to communism. If readers strongly disagree with you right off the bat, they may stop reading.

An effective thesis has a definable, arguable claim.  "While cultural forces contributed to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the disintegration of economies played the key role in driving its decline" is an effective thesis sentence that "telegraphs," so that the reader expects the essay to have a section about cultural forces and another about the disintegration of economies. This thesis makes a definite, arguable claim: that the disintegration of economies played a more important role than cultural forces in defeating communism in Eastern Europe. The reader would react to this statement by thinking, "Perhaps what the author says is true, but I am not convinced. I want to read further to see how the author argues this claim."

A thesis should be as clear and specific as possible.  Avoid overused, general terms and abstractions. For example, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because of the ruling elite's inability to address the economic concerns of the people" is more powerful than "Communism collapsed due to societal discontent."

Copyright 1999, Maxine Rodburg and The Tutors of the Writing Center at Harvard University

HOW TO WRITE A THESIS: Steps by step guide

how to write your thesis

Introduction

In the academic world, one of the hallmark rites signifying mastery of a course or academic area is the writing of a thesis . Essentially a thesis is a typewritten work, usually 50 to 350 pages in length depending on institutions, discipline, and educational level which is often aimed at addressing a particular problem in a given field.

While a thesis is inadequate to address all the problems in a given field, it is succinct enough to address a specialized aspect of the problem by taking a stance or making a claim on what the resolution of the problem should be. Writing a thesis can be a very daunting task because most times it is the first complex research undertaking for the student. The lack of research and writing skills to write a thesis coupled with fear and a limited time frame are factors that makes the writing of a thesis daunting. However, commitment to excellence on the part of the student combined with some of the techniques and methods that will be discussed below gives a fair chance that the student will be able to deliver an excellent thesis regardless of the subject area, the depth of the research specialization and the daunting amount of materials that must be comprehended(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

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What is a thesis?

A thesis is a statement, theory, argument, proposal or proposition, which is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved. It explains the stand someone takes on an issue and how the person intends to justify the stand. It is always better to pick a topic that will be able to render professional help, a topic that you will be happy to talk about with anybody, a topic you have personal interest and passion for, because when writing a thesis gets frustrating personal interest, happiness and passion coupled with the professional help it will be easier to write a great thesis (see you through the thesis). One has to source for a lot of information concerning the topic one is writing a thesis on in order to know the important question, because for you to take a good stand on an issue you have to study the evidence first.

Qualities of a good thesis

A good thesis has the following qualities

  • A good thesis must solve an existing problem in the society, organisation, government among others.
  • A good thesis should be contestable, it should propose a point that is arguable which people can agree with or disagree.
  • It is specific, clear and focused.
  •   A good thesis does not use general terms and abstractions.  
  • The claims of a good thesis should be definable and arguable.
  • It anticipates the counter-argument s
  • It does not use unclear language
  • It avoids the first person. (“In my opinion”)
  • A strong thesis should be able to take a stand and not just taking a stand but should be able to justify the stand that is taken, so that the reader will be tempted to ask questions like how or why.
  • The thesis should be arguable, contestable, focused, specific, and clear. Make your thesis clear, strong and easy to find.
  • The conclusion of a thesis should be based on evidence.

Steps in writing a Thesis

  • First, think about good topics and theories that you can write before writing the thesis, then pick a topic. The topic or thesis statement is derived from a review of existing literature in the area of study that the researcher wants to explore. This route is taken when the unknowns in an area of study are not yet defined. Some areas of study have existing problems yearning to be solved and the drafting of the thesis topic or statement revolves around a selection of one of these problems.
  • Once you have a good thesis, put it down and draw an outline . The outline is like a map of the whole thesis and it covers more commonly the introduction, literature review, discussion of methodology, discussion of results and the thesis’ conclusions and recommendations. The outline might differ from one institution to another but the one described in the preceding sentence is what is more commonly obtainable. It is imperative at this point to note that the outline drew still requires other mini- outlines for each of the sections mentioned. The outlines and mini- outlines provide a graphical over- view of the whole project and can also be used in allocating the word- count for each section and sub- section based on the overall word- count requirement of the thesis(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
  • Literature search. Remember to draw a good outline you need to do literature search to familiarize yourself with the concepts and the works of others. Similarly, to achieve this, you need to read as much material that contains necessary information as you can. There will always be a counter argument for everything so anticipate it because it will help shape your thesis. Read everything you can–academic research, trade literature, and information in the popular press and on the Internet(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
  • After getting all the information you need, the knowledge you gathered should help in suggesting the aim of your thesis.

Remember; a thesis is not supposed to be a question or a list, thesis should specific and as clear as possible. The claims of a thesis should be definable and also arguable.

  • Then collecting and analyzing data, after data analysis, the result of the analysis should be written and discussed, followed by summary, conclusion, recommendations, list of references and the appendices
  • The last step is editing of the thesis and proper spell checking.

Structure of a Thesis

A conventional thesis has five chapters – chapter 1-5 which will be discussed in detail below. However, it is important to state that a thesis is not limited to any chapter or section as the case may be. In fact, a thesis can be five, six, seven or even eight chapters.  What determines the number of chapters in a thesis includes institution rules/ guideline, researcher choice, supervisor choice, programme or educational level. In fact, most PhD thesis are usually more than 5 chapters(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

Preliminaries Pages: The preliminaries are the cover page, the title page, the table of contents page, and the abstract.

The introduction: The introduction is the first section and it provides as the name implies an introduction to the thesis. The introduction contains such aspects as the background to the study which provides information on the topic in the context of what is happening in the world as related to the topic. It also discusses the relevance of the topic to society, policies formulated success and failure. The introduction also contains the statement of the problem which is essentially a succinct description of the problem that the thesis want to solve and what the trend will be if the problem is not solved. The concluding part of the statement of problem ends with an outline of the research questions. These are the questions which when answered helps in achieving the aim of the thesis. The third section is the outline of research objectives. Conventionally research objectives re a conversion the research questions into an active statement form. Other parts of the introduction are a discussion of hypotheses (if any), the significance of the study, delimitations, proposed methodology and a discussion of the structure of the study(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

The main body includes the following; the literature review, methodology, research results and discussion of the result, the summary, conclusion and recommendations, the list of references and the appendices.

The literature review : The literature review is often the most voluminous aspects of a thesis because it reviews past empirical and theoretical literature about the problem being studied. This section starts by discussing the concepts relevant to the problem as indicated in the topic, the relationship between the concepts and what discoveries have being made on topic based on the choice of methodologies. The validity of the studies reviewed are questioned and findings are compared in order to get a comprehensive picture of the problem. The literature review also discusses the theories and theoretical frameworks that are relevant to the problem, the gaps that are evident in literature and how the thesis being written helps in resolving some of the gaps.

The major importance of Literature review is that it specifies the gap in the existing knowledge (gap in literature). The source of the literature that is being reviewed should be specified. For instance; ‘It has been argued that if the rural youth are to be aware of their community development role they need to be educated’ Effiong, (1992). The author’s name can be at the beginning, end or in between the literature. The literature should be discussed and not just stated (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

The methodology: The third section is a discussion of the research methodology adopted in the thesis and touches on aspects such as the research design, the area, population and sample that will be considered for the study as well as the sampling procedure. These aspects are discussed in terms of choice, method and rationale. This section also covers the sub- section of data collection, data analysis and measures of ensuring validity of study. It is the chapter 3. This chapter explains the method used in data collection and data analysis. It explains the methodology adopted and why it is the best method to be used, it also explains every step of data collection and analysis. The data used could be primary data or secondary data. While analysing the data, proper statistical tool should be used in order to fit the stated objectives of the thesis. The statistical tool could be; the spearman rank order correlation, chi square, analysis of variance (ANOVA) etc (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

The findings and discussion of result : The next section is a discussion of findings based on the data collection instrumentation used and the objectives or hypotheses of study if any. It is the chapter 4. It is research results. This is the part that describes the research. It shows the result gotten from data that is collected and analysed. It discusses the result and how it relates to your profession.

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation: This is normally the chapter 5. The last section discusses the summary of the study and the conclusions arrived at based on the findings discussed in the previous section. This section also presents any policy recommendations that the researcher wants to propose (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

References: It cite all ideas, concepts, text, data that are not your own. It is acceptable to put the initials of the individual authors behind their last names. The way single author is referenced is different from the way more than one author is referenced (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

The appendices; it includes all data in the appendix. Reference data or materials that is not easily available. It includes tables and calculations, List of equipment used for an experiment or details of complicated procedures. If a large number of references are consulted but all are not cited, it may also be included in the appendix. The appendices also contain supportive or complementary information like the questionnaire, the interview schedule, tables and charts while the references section contain an ordered list of all literature, academic and contemporary cited in the thesis. Different schools have their own preferred referencing styles(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).   

Follow the following steps to achieve successful thesis writing

Start writing early. Do not delay writing until you have finished your project or research. Write complete and concise “Technical Reports” as and when you finish each nugget of work. This way, you will remember everything you did and document it accurately, when the work is still fresh in your mind. This is especially so if your work involves programming.

Spot errors early. A well-written “Technical Report” will force you to think about what you have done, before you move on to something else. If anything is amiss, you will detect it at once and can easily correct it, rather than have to re-visit the work later, when you may be pressured for time and have lost touch with it.

Write your thesis from the inside out. Begin with the chapters on your own experimental work. You will develop confidence in writing them because you know your own work better than anyone else. Once you have overcome the initial inertia, move on to the other chapters.

End with a bang, not a whimper. First things first, and save the best for last. First and last impressions persist. Arrange your chapters so that your first and last experimental chapters are sound and solid.

Write the Introduction after writing the Conclusions. The examiner will read the Introduction first, and then the Conclusions, to see if the promises made in the former are indeed fulfilled in the latter. Ensure that your introduction and Conclusions match.

“No man is an Island”. The critical review of the literature places your work in context. Usually, one third of the PhD thesis is about others’ work; two thirds, what you have done yourself. After a thorough and critical literature review, the PhD candidate must be able to identify the major researchers in the field and make a sound proposal for doctoral research. Estimate the time to write your thesis and then multiply it by three to get the correct estimate. Writing at one stretch is very demanding and it is all too easy to underestimate the time required for it; inflating your first estimate by a factor of three is more realistic.

Punctuating your thesis

Punctuation Good punctuation makes reading easy. The simplest way to find out where to punctuate is to read aloud what you have written. Each time you pause, you should add a punctuation symbol. There are four major pause symbols, arranged below in ascending order of “degree of pause”:

  • Comma. Use the comma to indicate a short pause or to separate items in a list. A pair of commas may delimit the beginning and end of a subordinate clause or phrase. Sometimes, this is also done with a pair of “em dashes” which are printed like this:
  • Semi-colon. The semi-colon signifies a longer pause than the comma. It separates segments of a sentence that are “further apart” in position, or meaning, but which are nevertheless related. If the ideas were “closer together”, a comma would have been used. It is also used to separate two clauses that may stand on their own but which are too closely related for a colon or full stop to intervene between them.
  • Colon. The colon is used before one or more examples of a concept, and whenever items are to be listed in a visually separate fashion. The sentence that introduced the itemized list you are now reading ended in a colon. It may also be used to separate two fairly—but not totally—independent clauses in a sentence.
  • Full stop or period. The full stop ends a sentence. If the sentence embodies a question or an exclamation, then, of course, it is ended with a question mark or exclamation mark, respectively. The full stop is also used to terminate abbreviations like etc., (for et cetera), e.g., (for exempli gratia), et al., (for et alia) etc., but not with abbreviations for SI units. The readability of your writing will improve greatly if you take the trouble to learn the basic rules of punctuation given above.

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how to write your thesis

How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement: 4 Steps + Examples

how to write your thesis

What’s Covered:

What is the purpose of a thesis statement, writing a good thesis statement: 4 steps, common pitfalls to avoid, where to get your essay edited for free.

When you set out to write an essay, there has to be some kind of point to it, right? Otherwise, your essay would just be a big jumble of word salad that makes absolutely no sense. An essay needs a central point that ties into everything else. That main point is called a thesis statement, and it’s the core of any essay or research paper.

You may hear about Master degree candidates writing a thesis, and that is an entire paper–not to be confused with the thesis statement, which is typically one sentence that contains your paper’s focus. 

Read on to learn more about thesis statements and how to write them. We’ve also included some solid examples for you to reference.

Typically the last sentence of your introductory paragraph, the thesis statement serves as the roadmap for your essay. When your reader gets to the thesis statement, they should have a clear outline of your main point, as well as the information you’ll be presenting in order to either prove or support your point. 

The thesis statement should not be confused for a topic sentence , which is the first sentence of every paragraph in your essay. If you need help writing topic sentences, numerous resources are available. Topic sentences should go along with your thesis statement, though.

Since the thesis statement is the most important sentence of your entire essay or paper, it’s imperative that you get this part right. Otherwise, your paper will not have a good flow and will seem disjointed. That’s why it’s vital not to rush through developing one. It’s a methodical process with steps that you need to follow in order to create the best thesis statement possible.

Step 1: Decide what kind of paper you’re writing

When you’re assigned an essay, there are several different types you may get. Argumentative essays are designed to get the reader to agree with you on a topic. Informative or expository essays present information to the reader. Analytical essays offer up a point and then expand on it by analyzing relevant information. Thesis statements can look and sound different based on the type of paper you’re writing. For example:

  • Argumentative: The United States needs a viable third political party to decrease bipartisanship, increase options, and help reduce corruption in government.
  • Informative: The Libertarian party has thrown off elections before by gaining enough support in states to get on the ballot and by taking away crucial votes from candidates.
  • Analytical: An analysis of past presidential elections shows that while third party votes may have been the minority, they did affect the outcome of the elections in 2020, 2016, and beyond.

Step 2: Figure out what point you want to make

Once you know what type of paper you’re writing, you then need to figure out the point you want to make with your thesis statement, and subsequently, your paper. In other words, you need to decide to answer a question about something, such as:

  • What impact did reality TV have on American society?
  • How has the musical Hamilton affected perception of American history?
  • Why do I want to major in [chosen major here]?

If you have an argumentative essay, then you will be writing about an opinion. To make it easier, you may want to choose an opinion that you feel passionate about so that you’re writing about something that interests you. For example, if you have an interest in preserving the environment, you may want to choose a topic that relates to that. 

If you’re writing your college essay and they ask why you want to attend that school, you may want to have a main point and back it up with information, something along the lines of:

“Attending Harvard University would benefit me both academically and professionally, as it would give me a strong knowledge base upon which to build my career, develop my network, and hopefully give me an advantage in my chosen field.”

Step 3: Determine what information you’ll use to back up your point

Once you have the point you want to make, you need to figure out how you plan to back it up throughout the rest of your essay. Without this information, it will be hard to either prove or argue the main point of your thesis statement. If you decide to write about the Hamilton example, you may decide to address any falsehoods that the writer put into the musical, such as:

“The musical Hamilton, while accurate in many ways, leaves out key parts of American history, presents a nationalist view of founding fathers, and downplays the racism of the times.”

Once you’ve written your initial working thesis statement, you’ll then need to get information to back that up. For example, the musical completely leaves out Benjamin Franklin, portrays the founding fathers in a nationalist way that is too complimentary, and shows Hamilton as a staunch abolitionist despite the fact that his family likely did own slaves. 

Step 4: Revise and refine your thesis statement before you start writing

Read through your thesis statement several times before you begin to compose your full essay. You need to make sure the statement is ironclad, since it is the foundation of the entire paper. Edit it or have a peer review it for you to make sure everything makes sense and that you feel like you can truly write a paper on the topic. Once you’ve done that, you can then begin writing your paper.

When writing a thesis statement, there are some common pitfalls you should avoid so that your paper can be as solid as possible. Make sure you always edit the thesis statement before you do anything else. You also want to ensure that the thesis statement is clear and concise. Don’t make your reader hunt for your point. Finally, put your thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph and have your introduction flow toward that statement. Your reader will expect to find your statement in its traditional spot.

If you’re having trouble getting started, or need some guidance on your essay, there are tools available that can help you. CollegeVine offers a free peer essay review tool where one of your peers can read through your essay and provide you with valuable feedback. Getting essay feedback from a peer can help you wow your instructor or college admissions officer with an impactful essay that effectively illustrates your point.

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How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper

How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper

4-minute read

  • 26th July 2023

A strong thesis statement is the foundation of a successful research paper . The thesis gives focus to your ideas, engages readers, and sets the tone for the rest of the paper. You’ve spent substantial time and effort to craft a well-written and effective study , so you want your thesis statement to accurately reflect the impact of your work.

However, writing a thesis is often easier said than done. So if you’ve already got the arguments, the data, and the conclusions, keep scrolling for our straightforward guide on how to write a thesis statement for a research paper.

What Is a Thesis Statement?

A thesis statement is a clear and succinct assertion that presents the main argument or central idea of a research paper or other academic work. You usually find the thesis, which serves as a road map for the entire piece of writing, at the end of the introductory paragraph. The thesis also highlights the importance and relevance of the research topic , explaining why it’s worth studying and what impact it may have.

A good thesis statement also invites critical discussion and debate. Although your statement should provide a compelling argument , it should also inspire readers to engage with your ideas and potentially challenge or explore alternative viewpoints.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement should outline the scope and boundaries of the paper and indicate what aspects of the topic you’ll cover. But now that you know what a good thesis statement entails, where should you start? Check out our series of steps below for help on writing an impactful thesis statement that accurately summarizes your research and arguments.

Understand the Purpose of Your Research

Before you can write a thesis statement, you need to understand the purpose and scope of your research. Pinpoint the specific topic or issue you’ll be exploring and the main objective of your paper. You should also familiarize yourself with the existing literature and research related to your topic because these will help you refine your focus and identify gaps in the existing knowledge that your research can address.

Consider the Impact of Your Research

Your thesis statement should answer the question, What is the relevance? – meaning it should tell the reader what the practical implications of your research are, why the research is significant, and what it adds to the broader academic landscape.

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Make a Concise Claim or Argument

Your statement should be clear, specific, and concise, conveying the main point of your research in one or two sentences. It should present a claim or argument that you’ll go on to support and defend in your paper, so avoid purely factual or self-evident statements. Be precise in your wording and tailor your thesis statement to the scope of your research – don’t introduce a new or unrelated topic that you don’t expressly address in your paper. The thesis statement is meant to indicate what the reader can expect to find in your paper, and you must support the thesis with evidence throughout.

Revise and Refine the Statement

Crafting a strong thesis statement may require multiple attempts, so take the time to revise and edit it until you’re satisfied that it meets your requirements.

Example Thesis Statement

Below is an example of a strong thesis statement that clearly emphasizes the main points of a research topic:

In this example, the thesis statement clearly identifies the main topic (technology’s impact on education) and presents a strong argument about technology’s positive effects. The thesis conveys the essential message of the research concisely in one sentence, leaving no doubt about the position of the author and what they’ll address in the paper.

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How To Write A Dissertation Or Thesis

8 straightforward steps to craft an a-grade dissertation.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Expert Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020

Writing a dissertation or thesis is not a simple task. It takes time, energy and a lot of will power to get you across the finish line. It’s not easy – but it doesn’t necessarily need to be a painful process. If you understand the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis, your research journey will be a lot smoother.  

In this post, I’m going to outline the big-picture process of how to write a high-quality dissertation or thesis, without losing your mind along the way. If you’re just starting your research, this post is perfect for you. Alternatively, if you’ve already submitted your proposal, this article which covers how to structure a dissertation might be more helpful.

How To Write A Dissertation: 8 Steps

  • Clearly understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is
  • Find a unique and valuable research topic
  • Craft a convincing research proposal
  • Write up a strong introduction chapter
  • Review the existing literature and compile a literature review
  • Design a rigorous research strategy and undertake your own research
  • Present the findings of your research
  • Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications

Start writing your dissertation

Step 1: Understand exactly what a dissertation is

This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but all too often, students come to us for help with their research and the underlying issue is that they don’t fully understand what a dissertation (or thesis) actually is.

So, what is a dissertation?

At its simplest, a dissertation or thesis is a formal piece of research , reflecting the standard research process . But what is the standard research process, you ask? The research process involves 4 key steps:

  • Ask a very specific, well-articulated question (s) (your research topic)
  • See what other researchers have said about it (if they’ve already answered it)
  • If they haven’t answered it adequately, undertake your own data collection and analysis in a scientifically rigorous fashion
  • Answer your original question(s), based on your analysis findings

 A dissertation or thesis is a formal piece of research, reflecting the standard four step academic research process.

In short, the research process is simply about asking and answering questions in a systematic fashion . This probably sounds pretty obvious, but people often think they’ve done “research”, when in fact what they have done is:

  • Started with a vague, poorly articulated question
  • Not taken the time to see what research has already been done regarding the question
  • Collected data and opinions that support their gut and undertaken a flimsy analysis
  • Drawn a shaky conclusion, based on that analysis

If you want to see the perfect example of this in action, look out for the next Facebook post where someone claims they’ve done “research”… All too often, people consider reading a few blog posts to constitute research. Its no surprise then that what they end up with is an opinion piece, not research. Okay, okay – I’ll climb off my soapbox now.

The key takeaway here is that a dissertation (or thesis) is a formal piece of research, reflecting the research process. It’s not an opinion piece , nor a place to push your agenda or try to convince someone of your position. Writing a good dissertation involves asking a question and taking a systematic, rigorous approach to answering it.

If you understand this and are comfortable leaving your opinions or preconceived ideas at the door, you’re already off to a good start!

 A dissertation is not an opinion piece, nor a place to push your agenda or try to  convince someone of your position.

Step 2: Find a unique, valuable research topic

As we saw, the first step of the research process is to ask a specific, well-articulated question. In other words, you need to find a research topic that asks a specific question or set of questions (these are called research questions ). Sounds easy enough, right? All you’ve got to do is identify a question or two and you’ve got a winning research topic. Well, not quite…

A good dissertation or thesis topic has a few important attributes. Specifically, a solid research topic should be:

Let’s take a closer look at these:

Attribute #1: Clear

Your research topic needs to be crystal clear about what you’re planning to research, what you want to know, and within what context. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity or vagueness about what you’ll research.

Here’s an example of a clearly articulated research topic:

An analysis of consumer-based factors influencing organisational trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms.

As you can see in the example, its crystal clear what will be analysed (factors impacting organisational trust), amongst who (consumers) and in what context (British low-cost equity brokerage firms, based online).

Need a helping hand?

how to write your thesis

Attribute #2:   Unique

Your research should be asking a question(s) that hasn’t been asked before, or that hasn’t been asked in a specific context (for example, in a specific country or industry).

For example, sticking organisational trust topic above, it’s quite likely that organisational trust factors in the UK have been investigated before, but the context (online low-cost equity brokerages) could make this research unique. Therefore, the context makes this research original.

One caveat when using context as the basis for originality – you need to have a good reason to suspect that your findings in this context might be different from the existing research – otherwise, there’s no reason to warrant researching it.

Attribute #3: Important

Simply asking a unique or original question is not enough – the question needs to create value. In other words, successfully answering your research questions should provide some value to the field of research or the industry. You can’t research something just to satisfy your curiosity. It needs to make some form of contribution either to research or industry.

For example, researching the factors influencing consumer trust would create value by enabling businesses to tailor their operations and marketing to leverage factors that promote trust. In other words, it would have a clear benefit to industry.

So, how do you go about finding a unique and valuable research topic? We explain that in detail in this video post – How To Find A Research Topic . Yeah, we’ve got you covered 😊

Step 3: Write a convincing research proposal

Once you’ve pinned down a high-quality research topic, the next step is to convince your university to let you research it. No matter how awesome you think your topic is, it still needs to get the rubber stamp before you can move forward with your research. The research proposal is the tool you’ll use for this job.

So, what’s in a research proposal?

The main “job” of a research proposal is to convince your university, advisor or committee that your research topic is worthy of approval. But convince them of what? Well, this varies from university to university, but generally, they want to see that:

  • You have a clearly articulated, unique and important topic (this might sound familiar…)
  • You’ve done some initial reading of the existing literature relevant to your topic (i.e. a literature review)
  • You have a provisional plan in terms of how you will collect data and analyse it (i.e. a methodology)

At the proposal stage, it’s (generally) not expected that you’ve extensively reviewed the existing literature , but you will need to show that you’ve done enough reading to identify a clear gap for original (unique) research. Similarly, they generally don’t expect that you have a rock-solid research methodology mapped out, but you should have an idea of whether you’ll be undertaking qualitative or quantitative analysis , and how you’ll collect your data (we’ll discuss this in more detail later).

Long story short – don’t stress about having every detail of your research meticulously thought out at the proposal stage – this will develop as you progress through your research. However, you do need to show that you’ve “done your homework” and that your research is worthy of approval .

So, how do you go about crafting a high-quality, convincing proposal? We cover that in detail in this video post – How To Write A Top-Class Research Proposal . We’ve also got a video walkthrough of two proposal examples here .

Step 4: Craft a strong introduction chapter

Once your proposal’s been approved, its time to get writing your actual dissertation or thesis! The good news is that if you put the time into crafting a high-quality proposal, you’ve already got a head start on your first three chapters – introduction, literature review and methodology – as you can use your proposal as the basis for these.

Handy sidenote – our free dissertation & thesis template is a great way to speed up your dissertation writing journey.

What’s the introduction chapter all about?

The purpose of the introduction chapter is to set the scene for your research (dare I say, to introduce it…) so that the reader understands what you’ll be researching and why it’s important. In other words, it covers the same ground as the research proposal in that it justifies your research topic.

What goes into the introduction chapter?

This can vary slightly between universities and degrees, but generally, the introduction chapter will include the following:

  • A brief background to the study, explaining the overall area of research
  • A problem statement , explaining what the problem is with the current state of research (in other words, where the knowledge gap exists)
  • Your research questions – in other words, the specific questions your study will seek to answer (based on the knowledge gap)
  • The significance of your study – in other words, why it’s important and how its findings will be useful in the world

As you can see, this all about explaining the “what” and the “why” of your research (as opposed to the “how”). So, your introduction chapter is basically the salesman of your study, “selling” your research to the first-time reader and (hopefully) getting them interested to read more.

How do I write the introduction chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this post .

The introduction chapter is where you set the scene for your research, detailing exactly what you’ll be researching and why it’s important.

Step 5: Undertake an in-depth literature review

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll need to do some initial review of the literature in Steps 2 and 3 to find your research gap and craft a convincing research proposal – but that’s just scratching the surface. Once you reach the literature review stage of your dissertation or thesis, you need to dig a lot deeper into the existing research and write up a comprehensive literature review chapter.

What’s the literature review all about?

There are two main stages in the literature review process:

Literature Review Step 1: Reading up

The first stage is for you to deep dive into the existing literature (journal articles, textbook chapters, industry reports, etc) to gain an in-depth understanding of the current state of research regarding your topic. While you don’t need to read every single article, you do need to ensure that you cover all literature that is related to your core research questions, and create a comprehensive catalogue of that literature , which you’ll use in the next step.

Reading and digesting all the relevant literature is a time consuming and intellectually demanding process. Many students underestimate just how much work goes into this step, so make sure that you allocate a good amount of time for this when planning out your research. Thankfully, there are ways to fast track the process – be sure to check out this article covering how to read journal articles quickly .

Dissertation Coaching

Literature Review Step 2: Writing up

Once you’ve worked through the literature and digested it all, you’ll need to write up your literature review chapter. Many students make the mistake of thinking that the literature review chapter is simply a summary of what other researchers have said. While this is partly true, a literature review is much more than just a summary. To pull off a good literature review chapter, you’ll need to achieve at least 3 things:

  • You need to synthesise the existing research , not just summarise it. In other words, you need to show how different pieces of theory fit together, what’s agreed on by researchers, what’s not.
  • You need to highlight a research gap that your research is going to fill. In other words, you’ve got to outline the problem so that your research topic can provide a solution.
  • You need to use the existing research to inform your methodology and approach to your own research design. For example, you might use questions or Likert scales from previous studies in your your own survey design .

As you can see, a good literature review is more than just a summary of the published research. It’s the foundation on which your own research is built, so it deserves a lot of love and attention. Take the time to craft a comprehensive literature review with a suitable structure .

But, how do I actually write the literature review chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this video post .

Step 6: Carry out your own research

Once you’ve completed your literature review and have a sound understanding of the existing research, its time to develop your own research (finally!). You’ll design this research specifically so that you can find the answers to your unique research question.

There are two steps here – designing your research strategy and executing on it:

1 – Design your research strategy

The first step is to design your research strategy and craft a methodology chapter . I won’t get into the technicalities of the methodology chapter here, but in simple terms, this chapter is about explaining the “how” of your research. If you recall, the introduction and literature review chapters discussed the “what” and the “why”, so it makes sense that the next point to cover is the “how” –that’s what the methodology chapter is all about.

In this section, you’ll need to make firm decisions about your research design. This includes things like:

  • Your research philosophy (e.g. positivism or interpretivism )
  • Your overall methodology (e.g. qualitative , quantitative or mixed methods)
  • Your data collection strategy (e.g. interviews , focus groups, surveys)
  • Your data analysis strategy (e.g. content analysis , correlation analysis, regression)

If these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these in plain language in other posts. It’s not essential that you understand the intricacies of research design (yet!). The key takeaway here is that you’ll need to make decisions about how you’ll design your own research, and you’ll need to describe (and justify) your decisions in your methodology chapter.

2 – Execute: Collect and analyse your data

Once you’ve worked out your research design, you’ll put it into action and start collecting your data. This might mean undertaking interviews, hosting an online survey or any other data collection method. Data collection can take quite a bit of time (especially if you host in-person interviews), so be sure to factor sufficient time into your project plan for this. Oftentimes, things don’t go 100% to plan (for example, you don’t get as many survey responses as you hoped for), so bake a little extra time into your budget here.

Once you’ve collected your data, you’ll need to do some data preparation before you can sink your teeth into the analysis. For example:

  • If you carry out interviews or focus groups, you’ll need to transcribe your audio data to text (i.e. a Word document).
  • If you collect quantitative survey data, you’ll need to clean up your data and get it into the right format for whichever analysis software you use (for example, SPSS, R or STATA).

Once you’ve completed your data prep, you’ll undertake your analysis, using the techniques that you described in your methodology. Depending on what you find in your analysis, you might also do some additional forms of analysis that you hadn’t planned for. For example, you might see something in the data that raises new questions or that requires clarification with further analysis.

The type(s) of analysis that you’ll use depend entirely on the nature of your research and your research questions. For example:

  • If your research if exploratory in nature, you’ll often use qualitative analysis techniques .
  • If your research is confirmatory in nature, you’ll often use quantitative analysis techniques
  • If your research involves a mix of both, you might use a mixed methods approach

Again, if these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these concepts and techniques in other posts. The key takeaway is simply that there’s no “one size fits all” for research design and methodology – it all depends on your topic, your research questions and your data. So, don’t be surprised if your study colleagues take a completely different approach to yours.

The research philosophy is at the core of the methodology chapter

Step 7: Present your findings

Once you’ve completed your analysis, it’s time to present your findings (finally!). In a dissertation or thesis, you’ll typically present your findings in two chapters – the results chapter and the discussion chapter .

What’s the difference between the results chapter and the discussion chapter?

While these two chapters are similar, the results chapter generally just presents the processed data neatly and clearly without interpretation, while the discussion chapter explains the story the data are telling  – in other words, it provides your interpretation of the results.

For example, if you were researching the factors that influence consumer trust, you might have used a quantitative approach to identify the relationship between potential factors (e.g. perceived integrity and competence of the organisation) and consumer trust. In this case:

  • Your results chapter would just present the results of the statistical tests. For example, correlation results or differences between groups. In other words, the processed numbers.
  • Your discussion chapter would explain what the numbers mean in relation to your research question(s). For example, Factor 1 has a weak relationship with consumer trust, while Factor 2 has a strong relationship.

Depending on the university and degree, these two chapters (results and discussion) are sometimes merged into one , so be sure to check with your institution what their preference is. Regardless of the chapter structure, this section is about presenting the findings of your research in a clear, easy to understand fashion.

Importantly, your discussion here needs to link back to your research questions (which you outlined in the introduction or literature review chapter). In other words, it needs to answer the key questions you asked (or at least attempt to answer them).

For example, if we look at the sample research topic:

In this case, the discussion section would clearly outline which factors seem to have a noteworthy influence on organisational trust. By doing so, they are answering the overarching question and fulfilling the purpose of the research .

Your discussion here needs to link back to your research questions. It needs to answer the key questions you asked in your introduction.

For more information about the results chapter , check out this post for qualitative studies and this post for quantitative studies .

Step 8: The Final Step Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications

Last but not least, you’ll need to wrap up your research with the conclusion chapter . In this chapter, you’ll bring your research full circle by highlighting the key findings of your study and explaining what the implications of these findings are.

What exactly are key findings? The key findings are those findings which directly relate to your original research questions and overall research objectives (which you discussed in your introduction chapter). The implications, on the other hand, explain what your findings mean for industry, or for research in your area.

Sticking with the consumer trust topic example, the conclusion might look something like this:

Key findings

This study set out to identify which factors influence consumer-based trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms. The results suggest that the following factors have a large impact on consumer trust:

While the following factors have a very limited impact on consumer trust:

Notably, within the 25-30 age groups, Factors E had a noticeably larger impact, which may be explained by…

Implications

The findings having noteworthy implications for British low-cost online equity brokers. Specifically:

The large impact of Factors X and Y implies that brokers need to consider….

The limited impact of Factor E implies that brokers need to…

As you can see, the conclusion chapter is basically explaining the “what” (what your study found) and the “so what?” (what the findings mean for the industry or research). This brings the study full circle and closes off the document.

In the final chapter, you’ll bring your research full circle by highlighting the key findings of your study and the implications thereof.

Let’s recap – how to write a dissertation or thesis

You’re still with me? Impressive! I know that this post was a long one, but hopefully you’ve learnt a thing or two about how to write a dissertation or thesis, and are now better equipped to start your own research.

To recap, the 8 steps to writing a quality dissertation (or thesis) are as follows:

  • Understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is – a research project that follows the research process.
  • Find a unique (original) and important research topic
  • Craft a convincing dissertation or thesis research proposal
  • Write a clear, compelling introduction chapter
  • Undertake a thorough review of the existing research and write up a literature review
  • Undertake your own research
  • Present and interpret your findings

Once you’ve wrapped up the core chapters, all that’s typically left is the abstract , reference list and appendices. As always, be sure to check with your university if they have any additional requirements in terms of structure or content.  

how to write your thesis

Psst... there’s more!

This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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20 Comments

Romia

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Madhu

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Elhadi Abdelrahim

unquestionably, this amazing simplified way of teaching. Really , I couldn’t find in the literature words that fully explicit my great thanks to you. However, I could only say thanks a-lot.

Derek Jansen

Great to hear that – thanks for the feedback. Good luck writing your dissertation/thesis.

Writer

This is the most comprehensive explanation of how to write a dissertation. Many thanks for sharing it free of charge.

Sam

Very rich presentation. Thank you

Hailu

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Nunurayi Tambala

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Ken

I can say that your explanations are simple and enlightening – understanding what you have done here is easy for me. Could you write more about the different types of research methods specific to the three methodologies: quan, qual and MM. I look forward to interacting with this website more in the future.

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions 🙂

Osasuyi Blessing

Hello, your write ups is quite educative. However, l have challenges in going about my research questions which is below; *Building the enablers of organisational growth through effective governance and purposeful leadership.*

Dung Doh

Very educating.

Ezra Daniel

Just listening to the name of the dissertation makes the student nervous. As writing a top-quality dissertation is a difficult task as it is a lengthy topic, requires a lot of research and understanding and is usually around 10,000 to 15000 words. Sometimes due to studies, unbalanced workload or lack of research and writing skill students look for dissertation submission from professional writers.

Nice Edinam Hoyah

Thank you 💕😊 very much. I was confused but your comprehensive explanation has cleared my doubts of ever presenting a good thesis. Thank you.

Sehauli

thank you so much, that was so useful

Daniel Madsen

Hi. Where is the excel spread sheet ark?

Emmanuel kKoko

could you please help me look at your thesis paper to enable me to do the portion that has to do with the specification

my topic is “the impact of domestic revenue mobilization.

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Writing Studio

How do i write a thesis statement.

This page is Part 1 of a two-part handout that continues with our Thesis Statement Checklist .

What is a Thesis Statement?

In an effort to make our handouts more accessible, we have begun converting our PDF handouts to web pages. Download this page as a PDF: See p. 1 of How Do I Write a Thesis Statement Return to Writing Studio Handouts

A thesis statement is a very specific argument that guides your paper. Generally, a thesis statement consists of two parts :

  • A clearly identifiable topic or subject matter
  • A succinct summary of what you have to say about that topic

For your reader, a thesis functions like the case a lawyer has to make to the judge and jury in a courtroom. An effective thesis statement explains to your reader the case you are going to make and how you are going to make it.

For you as the author, your thesis can also help you to stay focused as a writer and determine what information you do (and don’t) need to include in your analysis.

Traditionally, the thesis statement is found near the end of your introduction , though this may change depending on the assignment and context. Don’t be afraid to draft a thesis statement that is more than one sentence.

A Note on Writing Process

You do not need a perfect thesis statement before you draft the rest of the paper. In fact, you will likely need to modify your thesis once you have a complete draft to make sure that your draft and your thesis match one another. If your argument evolves in productive ways as you write, your thesis should, too.

Honing and tweaking a thesis statement during the revision process is ultimately more important than having it exact and precise during the drafting process.

Characteristics of a WEAK thesis statement

  • Vague: Raises an interesting topic or question but doesn’t specify an argument
  • Offers plot summary, statement of fact, or obvious truths instead of an argument
  • Offers opinion or conjecture rather than an argument (cannot be proven with textual evidence)
  • Is too broad or too complex for the length of the paper
  • Uses meaningful-sounding words, but doesn’t actually say anything of substance

Disclaimer: This is not a complete list! You can probably think of many more characteristics of a weak thesis statement.

Characteristics of a STRONG thesis statement

  • Answers a specific question
  • Takes a distinct position on the topic
  • Is debatable (a reasonable person could argue an alternative position)
  • Appropriately focused for the page length of the assignment
  • Allows your reader to anticipate the organization of your argument

Having trouble drafting a thesis? Try filling in the blanks in these template statements:

  • In this paper, I argue that _____, because/by _____.
  • While critics argue _____, I argue _____, because _____.
  • By looking at _____, I argue that _____, which is important because _____.
  • The text, _____, defines _____ as _____, in order to argue _____.

Disclaimer: These are only models. They’ll be useful to help you to get started, but you’ll have to do quite a bit of tweaking before your thesis is ready for your paper.

For more on thesis statements, check out part 2: Our Thesis Statement Checklist .

Last revised: 07/15/2008 | Adapted for web delivery: 5/2021

In order to access certain content on this page, you may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader or an equivalent PDF viewer software.

Reference management. Clean and simple.

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How to Write a Thesis Statement

Last Updated: February 27, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was reviewed by Gerald Posner . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,202,407 times.

Whether you’re writing a short essay or a doctoral dissertation, your thesis statement can be one of the trickiest sentences to formulate. Fortunately, there are some basic rules you can follow to ensure your thesis statement is effective and interesting, including that it must be a debatable analytical point, not a general truism.

Crafting Great Thesis Statements

Step 1 Start with a question -- then make the answer your thesis.

  • Thesis: "Computers allow fourth graders an early advantage in technological and scientific education."
  • ' Thesis: "The river comes to symbolize both division and progress, as it separates our characters and country while still providing the best chance for Huck and Jim to get to know one another."
  • Thesis: "Through careful sociological study, we've found that people naturally assume that "morally righteous" people look down on them as "inferior," causing anger and conflict where there generally is none."

Step 2 Tailor your thesis to the type of paper you're writing.

  • Ex. "This dynamic between different generations sparks much of the play’s tension, as age becomes a motive for the violence and unrest that rocks King Lear."
  • Ex. "The explosion of 1800s philosophies like Positivism, Marxism, and Darwinism undermined and refuted Christianity to instead focus on the real, tangible world."
  • Ex. "Without the steady hand and specific decisions of Barack Obama, America would never have recovered from the hole it entered in the early 2000s."

Step 3 Take a specific stance to make your thesis more powerful.

  • "While both sides fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery, the North fought for moral reasons while the South fought to preserve its own institutions."
  • "The primary problem of the American steel industry is the lack of funds to renovate outdated plants and equipment."
  • "Hemingway's stories helped create a new prose style by employing extensive dialogue, shorter sentences, and strong Anglo-Saxon words."

Step 4 Make the argument you've never seen before.

  • "After the third and fourth time you see him beat himself, one finally realizes that Huck Finn is literature's first full-blown sadomasochist."
  • "The advent of internet technology has rendered copyright laws irrelevant -- everyone can and should get writing, movies, art, and music for free."
  • "Though they have served admirably for the past two centuries, recent research shows that America needs to ditch the two-party system, and quickly."

Step 5 Ensure your thesis is provable.

  • "By owning up to the impossible contradictions, embracing them and questioning them, Blake forges his own faith, and is stronger for it. Ultimately, the only way for his poems to have faith is to temporarily lose it."
  • "According to its well-documented beliefs and philosophies, an existential society with no notion of either past or future cannot help but become stagnant."
  • "By reading “Ode to a Nightingale” through a modern deconstructionist lens, we can see how Keats viewed poetry as shifting and subjective, not some rigid form."
  • "The wrong people won the American Revolution." While striking and unique, who is "right" and who is "wrong" is exceptionally hard to prove, and very subjective.
  • "The theory of genetic inheritance is the binding theory of every human interaction." Too complicated and overzealous. The scope of "every human interaction" is just too big
  • "Paul Harding's novel Tinkers is ultimately a cry for help from a clearly depressed author." Unless you interviewed Harding extensively, or had a lot of real-life sources, you have no way of proving what is fact and what is fiction."

Getting it Right

Step 1 State your thesis statement correctly.

  • is an assertion, not a fact or observation. Facts are used within the paper to support your thesis.
  • takes a stand, meaning it announces your position towards a particular topic.
  • is the main idea and explains what you intend to discuss.
  • answers a specific question and explains how you plan to support your argument.
  • is debatable. Someone should be able to argue an alternate position, or conversely, support your claims.

Step 2 Get the sound right.

  • "Because of William the Conqueror's campaign into England, that nation developed the strength and culture it would need to eventually build the British Empire."
  • "Hemingway significantly changed literature by normalizing simplistic writing and frank tone."

Step 3 Know where to place a thesis statement.

Finding the Perfect Thesis

Step 1 Pick a topic that interests you.

  • A clear topic or subject matter
  • A brief summary of what you will say
  • [Something] [does something] because [reason(s)].
  • Because [reason(s)], [something] [does something].
  • Although [opposing evidence], [reasons] show [Something] [does something].
  • The last example includes a counter-argument, which complicates the thesis but strengthens the argument. In fact, you should always be aware of all counter-arguments against your thesis. Doing so will refine your thesis, and also force you to consider arguments you have to refute in your paper.

Step 5 Write down your thesis.

  • There are two schools of thought on thesis timing. Some people say you should not write the paper without a thesis in mind and written down, even if you have to alter it slightly by the end. The other school of thought says that you probably won't know where you're going until you get there, so don't write the thesis until you know what it should be. Do whatever seems best to you.

Step 6 Analyze your thesis...

  • Never frame your thesis as a question . The job of a thesis is to answer a question, not ask one.
  • A thesis is not a list. If you're trying to answer a specific question, too many variables will send your paper off-focus. Keep it concise and brief.
  • Never mention a new topic that you do not intend to discuss in the paper.
  • Do not write in the first person. Using sentences such as, "I will show...," is generally frowned upon by scholars.
  • Do not be combative. The point of your paper is to convince someone of your position, not turn them off, and the best way to achieve that is to make them want to listen to you. Express an open-minded tone, finding common ground between different views.

Step 7 Realize that your thesis does not have to be absolute.

Sample Thesis and List of Things to Include

how to write your thesis

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Think of your thesis as a case a lawyer has to defend. A thesis statement should explain to your readers the case you wish to make and how you will accomplish that. You can also think of your thesis as a contract. Introducing new ideas the reader is not prepared for may be alienating. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 1
  • An effective thesis statement controls the entire argument. It determines what you cannot say. If a paragraph does not support your thesis, either omit it or change your thesis. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how to write your thesis

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  • ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/how-to-write-a-thesis-statement.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/thesis_statement_tips.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
  • ↑ http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/planning-and-organizing/thesis-statements
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/writing-a-thesis

About This Article

Gerald Posner

To write an effective thesis statement, choose a statement that answers a general question about your topic. Check that your thesis is arguable, not factual, and make sure you can back it up your with evidence. For example, your thesis statement could be something like "Computers allow fourth graders an early advantage in technological and scientific education." To learn about writing thesis statements for different types of essays or how to incorporate them into your essay, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Research Method

Home » Thesis – Structure, Example and Writing Guide

Thesis – Structure, Example and Writing Guide

Table of contents.

Thesis

Definition:

Thesis is a scholarly document that presents a student’s original research and findings on a particular topic or question. It is usually written as a requirement for a graduate degree program and is intended to demonstrate the student’s mastery of the subject matter and their ability to conduct independent research.

History of Thesis

The concept of a thesis can be traced back to ancient Greece, where it was used as a way for students to demonstrate their knowledge of a particular subject. However, the modern form of the thesis as a scholarly document used to earn a degree is a relatively recent development.

The origin of the modern thesis can be traced back to medieval universities in Europe. During this time, students were required to present a “disputation” in which they would defend a particular thesis in front of their peers and faculty members. These disputations served as a way to demonstrate the student’s mastery of the subject matter and were often the final requirement for earning a degree.

In the 17th century, the concept of the thesis was formalized further with the creation of the modern research university. Students were now required to complete a research project and present their findings in a written document, which would serve as the basis for their degree.

The modern thesis as we know it today has evolved over time, with different disciplines and institutions adopting their own standards and formats. However, the basic elements of a thesis – original research, a clear research question, a thorough review of the literature, and a well-argued conclusion – remain the same.

Structure of Thesis

The structure of a thesis may vary slightly depending on the specific requirements of the institution, department, or field of study, but generally, it follows a specific format.

Here’s a breakdown of the structure of a thesis:

This is the first page of the thesis that includes the title of the thesis, the name of the author, the name of the institution, the department, the date, and any other relevant information required by the institution.

This is a brief summary of the thesis that provides an overview of the research question, methodology, findings, and conclusions.

This page provides a list of all the chapters and sections in the thesis and their page numbers.

Introduction

This chapter provides an overview of the research question, the context of the research, and the purpose of the study. The introduction should also outline the methodology and the scope of the research.

Literature Review

This chapter provides a critical analysis of the relevant literature on the research topic. It should demonstrate the gap in the existing knowledge and justify the need for the research.

Methodology

This chapter provides a detailed description of the research methods used to gather and analyze data. It should explain the research design, the sampling method, data collection techniques, and data analysis procedures.

This chapter presents the findings of the research. It should include tables, graphs, and charts to illustrate the results.

This chapter interprets the results and relates them to the research question. It should explain the significance of the findings and their implications for the research topic.

This chapter summarizes the key findings and the main conclusions of the research. It should also provide recommendations for future research.

This section provides a list of all the sources cited in the thesis. The citation style may vary depending on the requirements of the institution or the field of study.

This section includes any additional material that supports the research, such as raw data, survey questionnaires, or other relevant documents.

How to write Thesis

Here are some steps to help you write a thesis:

  • Choose a Topic: The first step in writing a thesis is to choose a topic that interests you and is relevant to your field of study. You should also consider the scope of the topic and the availability of resources for research.
  • Develop a Research Question: Once you have chosen a topic, you need to develop a research question that you will answer in your thesis. The research question should be specific, clear, and feasible.
  • Conduct a Literature Review: Before you start your research, you need to conduct a literature review to identify the existing knowledge and gaps in the field. This will help you refine your research question and develop a research methodology.
  • Develop a Research Methodology: Once you have refined your research question, you need to develop a research methodology that includes the research design, data collection methods, and data analysis procedures.
  • Collect and Analyze Data: After developing your research methodology, you need to collect and analyze data. This may involve conducting surveys, interviews, experiments, or analyzing existing data.
  • Write the Thesis: Once you have analyzed the data, you need to write the thesis. The thesis should follow a specific structure that includes an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion, and references.
  • Edit and Proofread: After completing the thesis, you need to edit and proofread it carefully. You should also have someone else review it to ensure that it is clear, concise, and free of errors.
  • Submit the Thesis: Finally, you need to submit the thesis to your academic advisor or committee for review and evaluation.

Example of Thesis

Example of Thesis template for Students:

Title of Thesis

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

Chapter 4: Results

Chapter 5: Discussion

Chapter 6: Conclusion

References:

Appendices:

Note: That’s just a basic template, but it should give you an idea of the structure and content that a typical thesis might include. Be sure to consult with your department or supervisor for any specific formatting requirements they may have. Good luck with your thesis!

Application of Thesis

Thesis is an important academic document that serves several purposes. Here are some of the applications of thesis:

  • Academic Requirement: A thesis is a requirement for many academic programs, especially at the graduate level. It is an essential component of the evaluation process and demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct original research and contribute to the knowledge in their field.
  • Career Advancement: A thesis can also help in career advancement. Employers often value candidates who have completed a thesis as it demonstrates their research skills, critical thinking abilities, and their dedication to their field of study.
  • Publication : A thesis can serve as a basis for future publications in academic journals, books, or conference proceedings. It provides the researcher with an opportunity to present their research to a wider audience and contribute to the body of knowledge in their field.
  • Personal Development: Writing a thesis is a challenging task that requires time, dedication, and perseverance. It provides the student with an opportunity to develop critical thinking, research, and writing skills that are essential for their personal and professional development.
  • Impact on Society: The findings of a thesis can have an impact on society by addressing important issues, providing insights into complex problems, and contributing to the development of policies and practices.

Purpose of Thesis

The purpose of a thesis is to present original research findings in a clear and organized manner. It is a formal document that demonstrates a student’s ability to conduct independent research and contribute to the knowledge in their field of study. The primary purposes of a thesis are:

  • To Contribute to Knowledge: The main purpose of a thesis is to contribute to the knowledge in a particular field of study. By conducting original research and presenting their findings, the student adds new insights and perspectives to the existing body of knowledge.
  • To Demonstrate Research Skills: A thesis is an opportunity for the student to demonstrate their research skills. This includes the ability to formulate a research question, design a research methodology, collect and analyze data, and draw conclusions based on their findings.
  • To Develop Critical Thinking: Writing a thesis requires critical thinking and analysis. The student must evaluate existing literature and identify gaps in the field, as well as develop and defend their own ideas.
  • To Provide Evidence of Competence : A thesis provides evidence of the student’s competence in their field of study. It demonstrates their ability to apply theoretical concepts to real-world problems, and their ability to communicate their ideas effectively.
  • To Facilitate Career Advancement : Completing a thesis can help the student advance their career by demonstrating their research skills and dedication to their field of study. It can also provide a basis for future publications, presentations, or research projects.

When to Write Thesis

The timing for writing a thesis depends on the specific requirements of the academic program or institution. In most cases, the opportunity to write a thesis is typically offered at the graduate level, but there may be exceptions.

Generally, students should plan to write their thesis during the final year of their graduate program. This allows sufficient time for conducting research, analyzing data, and writing the thesis. It is important to start planning the thesis early and to identify a research topic and research advisor as soon as possible.

In some cases, students may be able to write a thesis as part of an undergraduate program or as an independent research project outside of an academic program. In such cases, it is important to consult with faculty advisors or mentors to ensure that the research is appropriately designed and executed.

It is important to note that the process of writing a thesis can be time-consuming and requires a significant amount of effort and dedication. It is important to plan accordingly and to allocate sufficient time for conducting research, analyzing data, and writing the thesis.

Characteristics of Thesis

The characteristics of a thesis vary depending on the specific academic program or institution. However, some general characteristics of a thesis include:

  • Originality : A thesis should present original research findings or insights. It should demonstrate the student’s ability to conduct independent research and contribute to the knowledge in their field of study.
  • Clarity : A thesis should be clear and concise. It should present the research question, methodology, findings, and conclusions in a logical and organized manner. It should also be well-written, with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Research-Based: A thesis should be based on rigorous research, which involves collecting and analyzing data from various sources. The research should be well-designed, with appropriate research methods and techniques.
  • Evidence-Based : A thesis should be based on evidence, which means that all claims made in the thesis should be supported by data or literature. The evidence should be properly cited using appropriate citation styles.
  • Critical Thinking: A thesis should demonstrate the student’s ability to critically analyze and evaluate information. It should present the student’s own ideas and arguments, and engage with existing literature in the field.
  • Academic Style : A thesis should adhere to the conventions of academic writing. It should be well-structured, with clear headings and subheadings, and should use appropriate academic language.

Advantages of Thesis

There are several advantages to writing a thesis, including:

  • Development of Research Skills: Writing a thesis requires extensive research and analytical skills. It helps to develop the student’s research skills, including the ability to formulate research questions, design and execute research methodologies, collect and analyze data, and draw conclusions based on their findings.
  • Contribution to Knowledge: Writing a thesis provides an opportunity for the student to contribute to the knowledge in their field of study. By conducting original research, they can add new insights and perspectives to the existing body of knowledge.
  • Preparation for Future Research: Completing a thesis prepares the student for future research projects. It provides them with the necessary skills to design and execute research methodologies, analyze data, and draw conclusions based on their findings.
  • Career Advancement: Writing a thesis can help to advance the student’s career. It demonstrates their research skills and dedication to their field of study, and provides a basis for future publications, presentations, or research projects.
  • Personal Growth: Completing a thesis can be a challenging and rewarding experience. It requires dedication, hard work, and perseverance. It can help the student to develop self-confidence, independence, and a sense of accomplishment.

Limitations of Thesis

There are also some limitations to writing a thesis, including:

  • Time and Resources: Writing a thesis requires a significant amount of time and resources. It can be a time-consuming and expensive process, as it may involve conducting original research, analyzing data, and producing a lengthy document.
  • Narrow Focus: A thesis is typically focused on a specific research question or topic, which may limit the student’s exposure to other areas within their field of study.
  • Limited Audience: A thesis is usually only read by a small number of people, such as the student’s thesis advisor and committee members. This limits the potential impact of the research findings.
  • Lack of Real-World Application : Some thesis topics may be highly theoretical or academic in nature, which may limit their practical application in the real world.
  • Pressure and Stress : Writing a thesis can be a stressful and pressure-filled experience, as it may involve meeting strict deadlines, conducting original research, and producing a high-quality document.
  • Potential for Isolation: Writing a thesis can be a solitary experience, as the student may spend a significant amount of time working independently on their research and writing.

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UMGC Effective Writing Center Designing an Effective Thesis

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Key Concepts

  • A thesis is a simple sentence that combines your topic and your position on the topic.
  • A thesis provides a roadmap to what follows in the paper.
  • A thesis is like a wheel's hub--everything revolves around it and is attached to it.

After your prewriting activities-- such as assignment analysis and outlining--you should be ready to take the next step: writing a thesis statement. Although some of your assignments will provide a focus for you, it is still important for your college career and especially for your professional career to be able to state a satisfactory controlling idea or thesis that unifies your thoughts and materials for the reader.

Characteristics of an Effective Thesis

A thesis consists of two main parts: your overall topic and your position on that topic. Here are some example thesis statements that combine topic and position:

Sample Thesis Statements

Importance of tone.

Tone is established in the wording of your thesis, which should match the characteristics of your audience. For example, if you are a concerned citizen proposing a new law to your city's board of supervisors about drunk driving, you would not want to write this:

“It’s time to get the filthy drunks off the street and from behind the wheel: I demand that you pass a mandatory five-year license suspension for every drunk who gets caught driving. Do unto them before they do unto us!”

However, if you’re speaking at a concerned citizen’s meeting and you’re trying to rally voter support, such emotional language could help motivate your audience.

Using Your Thesis to Map Your Paper for the Reader

In academic writing, the thesis statement is often used to signal the paper's overall structure to the reader. An effective thesis allows the reader to predict what will be encountered in the support paragraphs. Here are some examples:

Use the Thesis to Map

Three potential problems to avoid.

Because your thesis is the hub of your essay, it has to be strong and effective. Here are three common pitfalls to avoid:

1. Don’t confuse an announcement with a thesis.

In an announcement, the writer declares personal intentions about the paper instead stating a thesis with clear point of view or position:

Write a Thesis, Not an Announcement

 2. a statement of fact does not provide a point of view and is not a thesis..

An introduction needs a strong, clear position statement. Without one, it will be hard for you to develop your paper with relevant arguments and evidence.

Don't Confuse a Fact with a Thesis

3. avoid overly broad thesis statements.

Broad statements contain vague, general terms that do not provide a clear focus for the essay.

Use the Thesis to Provide Focus

Practice writing an effective thesis.

OK. Time to write a thesis for your paper. What is your topic? What is your position on that topic? State both clearly in a thesis sentence that helps to map your response for the reader.

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How to Write Your Thesis

I. thesis structure, list of figures, list of tables, introduction.

Be sure to include a hook at the beginning of the introduction. This is a statement of something sufficiently interesting to motivate your reader to read the rest of the paper, it is an important/interesting scientific problem that your paper either solves or addresses. You should draw the reader in and make them want to read the rest of the paper.

Note: Results vs. Discussion Sections

Ii. crosscutting issues, what are we looking for, planning ahead for your thesis, skimming vs. reading, giving credit.

  • direct quotes or illustrations without quotation marks, without attribution
  • direct quotes without quotation marks, with attribution
  • concepts/ideas without attribution
  • concepts/ideas with sloppy attribution
  • omitting or fabricating data or results

III. Editing Your Thesis

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1.3: Develop Thesis

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The previous chapter, on Generating Ideas, emphasized the role of divergent thinking in the writing process. Before beginning a draft, it’s important to draw on a range of personal experiences and observations, as well as critical reading. Brainstorming techniques help collect all of these ideas into a single place. After brainstorming, a writer is ready for the convergent process of selecting the various information and ideas they wish to use in their essay. The goal of this selection process is to develop an overarching thesis statement that captures everything the writer wishes to say. This chapter focuses on that selection process, as well as how to formulate a clear and succinct statement. If this chapter is being used to help begin an essay draft, we recommend that a student first complete the exercises in the previous chapter. The previous chapter asked you to record a few things on a worksheet or document: your purpose and audience, the topic, and related questions. To help brainstorm fresh ideas, that chapter suggested a freewriting exercise, list-making, and/or “idea mapping. The brainstorming exercises should have provided you with possible supporting points for your working thesis statement.

diagram of the writing process

Why are thesis statements necessary?

Have you ever known a person who was not very good at telling stories? You probably had trouble following his train of thought as he jumped around from point to point, either being too brief in places that needed further explanation or providing too many details on a meaningless element. Maybe he told the end of the story first, then moved to the beginning and later added details to the middle. His ideas were probably scattered, and the story did not flow very well. When the story was over, you probably had many questions.

Just as a personal anecdote can be a disorganized mess, an essay can fall into the same trap of being out of order and confusing. That is why writers need a thesis statement to provide a specific focus for their essay and to organize what they are about to discuss in the body.

Just like a topic sentence summarizes a single paragraph, the thesis statement summarizes an entire essay. It tells the reader the point you want to make in your essay, while the essay itself supports that point. It is like a signpost that signals the essay’s destination. You should form your thesis before you begin to organize an essay, but you may find that it needs revision as the essay develops.

Elements of a Thesis Statement

For every essay you write, you must focus on a central idea. This idea stems from a topic you have chosen or been assigned or from a question your teacher has asked. It is not enough merely to discuss a general topic or simply answer a question with a yes or no. You have to form a specific opinion, and then articulate that into a controlling idea—the main idea upon which you build your thesis.

Remember that a thesis is not the topic itself, but rather your interpretation of the question or subject. For whatever topic your professor gives you, you must ask yourself, “What do I want to say about it?” Asking and then answering this question is vital to forming a thesis that is precise, forceful and confident.

A thesis is one sentence long and appears toward the end of your introduction. It is specific and focuses on one to three points of a single idea—points that are able to be demonstrated in the body. It forecasts the content of the essay and suggests how you will organize your information. Remember that a thesis statement does not summarize an issue but rather dissects it.

A strong thesis contains the following qualities:

Specificity . A thesis statement must concentrate on a specific area of a general topic. As you may recall, the creation of a thesis statement begins when you choose a broad subject and then narrow down its parts until you pinpoint a specific aspect of that topic. For example, health care is a broad topic, but a proper thesis statement would focus on a specific area of that topic, such as options for individuals without health care coverage.

Precision. A strong thesis statement must be precise enough to allow for a coherent argument and to remain focused on the topic. If the specific topic is options for individuals without health care coverage, then your precise thesis statement must make an exact claim about it, such as that limited options exist for those who are uninsured by their employers. You must further pinpoint what you are going to discuss regarding these limited effects, such as whom they affect and what the cause is.

Ability to be argued. A thesis statement must present a relevant and specific argument. A factual statement often is not considered arguable. Be sure your thesis statement contains a point of view that can be supported with evidence.

Ability to be demonstrated. For any claim you make in your thesis, you must be able to provide reasons and examples for your opinion. You can rely on personal observations in order to do this, or you can consult outside sources to demonstrate that what you assert is valid. A worthy argument is backed by examples and details.

Forcefulness. A thesis statement that is forceful shows readers that you are, in fact, making an argument. The tone is assertive and takes a stance that others might oppose.

Confidence. In addition to using force in your thesis statement, you must also use confidence in your claim. Phrases such as I feel or I believe actually weaken the readers’ sense of your confidence because these phrases imply that you are the only person who feels the way you do. In other words, your stance has insufficient backing. Taking an authoritative stance on the matter persuades your readers to have faith in your argument and open their minds to what you have to say. If you want to use the first person, phrases such as I argue or I contend sound more authoritative.

Even in a personal essay that allows the use of first person, your thesis should not contain phrases such as in my opinion or I believe . These statements reduce your credibility and weaken your argument. Your opinion is more convincing when you use a firm attitude.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

On a separate sheet of paper, write a thesis statement for each of the following topics. Remember to make each statement specific, precise, demonstrable, forceful and confident.

  • Texting while driving
  • The legal drinking age in the United States
  • Steroid use among professional athletes

Each of the following thesis statements meets several of the following requirements:

  • Specificity
  • Ability to be argued
  • Ability to be demonstrated
  • Forcefulness
  • The societal and personal struggles of Troy Maxon in the play Fences symbolize the challenge of black males who lived through segregation and integration in the United States.
  • Closing all American borders for a period of five years is one solution that will tackle illegal immigration.
  • Shakespeare’s use of dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet spoils the outcome for the audience and weakens the plot.
  • J. D. Salinger’s character in Catcher in the Rye , Holden Caulfield, is a confused rebel who voices his disgust with phonies, yet in an effort to protect himself, he acts like a phony on many occasions.
  • Compared to an absolute divorce, no-fault divorce is less expensive, promotes fairer settlements, and reflects a more realistic view of the causes for marital breakdown.
  • Exposing children from an early age to the dangers of drug abuse is a sure method of preventing future drug addicts.
  • In today’s crumbling job market, a high school diploma is not significant enough education to land a stable, lucrative job.

You can find thesis statements in many places, such as in the news; in the opinions of friends, coworkers or teachers; and even in songs you hear on the radio. Become aware of thesis statements in everyday life by paying attention to people’s opinions and their reasons for those opinions. Pay attention to your own everyday thesis statements as well, as these can become material for future essays.

Now that you have read about the contents of a good thesis statement and have seen examples, take a look at the pitfalls to avoid when composing your own thesis:

Weak thesis statement: My paper will explain why imagination is more important than knowledge.

Weak thesis statement: Religious radicals across America are trying to legislate their Puritanical beliefs by banning required high school books.

Weak thesis statement: Advertising companies use sex to sell their products.

Weak thesis statement: The life of Abraham Lincoln was long and challenging.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{2}\)

Read the following thesis statements. On a separate piece of paper, identify each as weak or strong. For those that are weak, list the reasons why. Then revise the weak statements so that they conform to the requirements of a strong thesis.

  • The subject of this paper is my experience with ferrets as pets.
  • The government must expand its funding for research on renewable energy resources in order to prepare for the impending end of oil.
  • Edgar Allan Poe was a poet who lived in Baltimore during the nineteenth century.
  • In this essay, I will give you lots of reasons why slot machines should not be legalized in Baltimore.
  • Despite his promises during his campaign, President Kennedy took few executive measures to support civil rights legislation.
  • Because many children’s toys have potential safety hazards that could lead to injury, it is clear that not all children’s toys are safe.
  • My experience with young children has taught me that I want to be a disciplinary parent because I believe that a child without discipline can be a parent’s worst nightmare..

Writing at Work

Often in your career, you will need to ask your boss for something through an e-mail. Just as a thesis statement organizes an essay, it can also organize your e-mail request. While your e-mail will be shorter than an essay, using a thesis statement in your first paragraph quickly lets your boss know what you are asking for, why it is necessary, and what the benefits are. In short body paragraphs, you can provide the essential information needed to expand upon your request.

Formulating your thesis statement

When initially formulating a thesis statement, it will help to know that there are a few strategies to choose from.

Enumerative thesis

An enumerative thesis simply lists the main points of your essay. In a traditional five paragraph argument essay from high school, for example, students are taught to write a one-paragraph introduction and conclusion, and the three paragraphs in between should be devoted to three supporting ideas. In this scenario (which is crude and too formulaic for college argument essays), an enumerative thesis statement would include each of the three main points.

Umbrella thesis

In contrast to the list-making tendency of enumerative thesis statements, an umbrella thesis attempts to encompass all of the main points in a concise yet decisive statement.

The previous chapter, “Generating Ideas,” asked you to record a few things on a worksheet or document: your purpose and audience, the topic, and related questions. To help brainstorm fresh ideas, the chapter also suggested a freewriting exercise, list-making, and “idea mapping. The brainstorming exercises should have provided you with possible supporting points for your working thesis statement. To get started on an early draft of your thesis statement, complete the following steps, on the same worksheet or as a separate document:

  • Select all of the main points you wish to address in your essay. Depending on the type of essay you’re writing, you might have two, three, four, or even more ideas. In a persuasive essay, for example, you might first identify key pieces of evidence as well as the ideas (or points) they prove. But you might also want to select potential counterarguments and rebuttals for those points.
  • Attempt an enumerative thesis by simply listing each of the main points you want to hit in your essay.
  • Now develop a more concise umbrella thesis statement by simplifying all of those points into a single position or overarching idea.

Revising your thesis statement

Your thesis will probably change as you write, so you will need to modify it to reflect exactly what you have discussed in your essay. Your thesis statement begins as a working thesis statement, an indefinite statement that you make about your topic early in the writing process for the purpose of planning and guiding your writing.

Working thesis statements often become stronger as you gather information and form new opinions and reasons for those opinions. Revision helps you strengthen your thesis so that it matches what you have expressed in the body of the paper.

You can cut down on irrelevant aspects and revise your thesis by taking the following steps:

1. Pinpoint and replace all nonspecific words, such as people , everything , society , or life , with more precise words in order to reduce any vagueness.

Working thesis: Young people have to work hard to succeed in life.

Revised thesis: Recent college graduates must have discipline and persistence in order to find and maintain a stable job in which they can use and be appreciated for their talents.

The revised thesis makes a more specific statement about success and what it means to work hard. The original includes too broad a range of people and does not define exactly what success entails. By replacing those general words like people and work hard , the writer can better focus his or her research and gain more direction in his or her writing.

2. Clarify ideas that need explanation by asking yourself questions that narrow your thesis.

Working thesis: The welfare system is a joke.

Revised thesis: The welfare system keeps a socioeconomic class from gaining employment by alluring members of that class with unearned income, instead of programs to improve their education and skill sets.

A joke means many things to many people. Readers bring all sorts of backgrounds and perspectives to the reading process and would need clarification for a word so vague. This expression may also be too informal for the selected audience. By asking questions, the writer can devise a more precise and appropriate explanation for joke . The writer should ask himself or herself questions similar to the 5WH questions. (See Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” for more information on the 5WH questions.) By incorporating the answers to these questions into a thesis statement, the writer more accurately defines his or her stance, which will better guide the writing of the essay.

3. Replace any linking verbs with action verbs. Linking verbs are forms of the verb to be , a verb that simply states that a situation exists.

Working thesis: Kansas City schoolteachers are not paid enough.

Revised thesis: The Kansas City legislature cannot afford to pay its educators, resulting in job cuts and resignations in a district that sorely needs highly qualified and dedicated teachers.

The linking verb in this working thesis statement is the word are . Linking verbs often make thesis statements weak because they do not express action. Rather, they connect words and phrases to the second half of the sentence. Readers might wonder, “Why are they not paid enough?” But this statement does not compel them to ask many more questions. The writer should ask himself or herself questions in order to replace the linking verb with an action verb, thus forming a stronger thesis statement, one that takes a more definitive stance on the issue:

  • Who is not paying the teachers enough?
  • What is considered “enough”?
  • What is the problem?
  • What are the results

4. Omit any general claims that are hard to support.

Working thesis: Today’s teenage girls are too sexualized.

Revised thesis: Teenage girls who are captivated by the sexual images on MTV are conditioned to believe that a woman’s worth depends on her sensuality, a feeling that harms their self-esteem and behavior.

It is true that some young women in today’s society are more sexualized than in the past, but that is not true for all girls. Many girls have strict parents, dress appropriately, and do not engage in sexual activity while in middle school and high school. The writer of this thesis should ask the following questions:

  • Which teenage girls?
  • What constitutes “too” sexualized?
  • Why are they behaving that way?
  • Where does this behavior show up?
  • What are the repercussions?

In your career you may have to write a project proposal that focuses on a particular problem in your company, such as reinforcing the tardiness policy. The proposal would aim to fix the problem; using a thesis statement would clearly state the boundaries of the problem and tell the goals of the project. After writing the proposal, you may find that the thesis needs revision to reflect exactly what is expressed in the body. Using the techniques from this chapter would apply to revising that thesis.

Key Takeaways

  • Proper essays require a thesis statement to provide a specific focus and suggest how the essay will be organized.
  • A thesis statement is your interpretation of the subject, not the topic itself.
  • A strong thesis is specific, precise, forceful, confident, and is able to be demonstrated.
  • A strong thesis challenges readers with a point of view that can be debated and can be supported with evidence.
  • A weak thesis is simply a declaration of your topic or contains an obvious fact that cannot be argued.
  • Depending on your topic, it may or may not be appropriate to use first person point of view.
  • Revise your thesis by ensuring all words are specific, all ideas are exact, and all verbs express action.

The chapter above is adapted from University of Minnesota’s Writing for Success , Chapter 9, “Developing a Strong Thesis Statement,” CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0. An introduction has been added, the exercises have been modified, and the section “Formulating a Thesis Statement” has been added.

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Joan Bolker

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Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis

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how to write your thesis

Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis Paperback – August 15, 1998

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Expert writing advice from the editor of the Boston Globe best-seller, The Writer's Home Companion

Dissertation writers need strong, practical advice, as well as someone to assure them that their struggles aren't unique. Joan Bolker, midwife to more than one hundred dissertations and co-founder of the Harvard Writing Center, offers invaluable suggestions for the graduate-student writer. Using positive reinforcement, she begins by reminding thesis writers that being able to devote themselves to a project that truly interests them can be a pleasurable adventure. She encourages them to pay close attention to their writing method in order to discover their individual work strategies that promote productivity; to stop feeling fearful that they may disappoint their advisors or family members; and to tailor their theses to their own writing style and personality needs. Using field-tested strategies she assists the student through the entire thesis-writing process, offering advice on choosing a topic and an advisor, on disciplining one's self to work at least fifteen minutes each day; setting short-term deadlines, on revising and defing the thesis, and on life and publication after the dissertation. Bolker makes writing the dissertation an enjoyable challenge.

  • Print length 184 pages
  • Language English
  • Publication date August 15, 1998
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 0.52 x 8.25 inches
  • ISBN-10 080504891X
  • ISBN-13 978-0805048919
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While some of the book's advice is of interest only to dissertation writers, much of the information--on battling writer's block, for instance--is valuable to anybody engaged in writing. Rather than being filled with rules defining how to become a great writer, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day is about finding the process by which you can be the most productive--it's a set of exercises that you can use to find out more about you and the way you write. Along the way, you'll do a bit of writing. And that's what matters, especially when you experience writer's block--as Bolker says, "Write anything, because writing is writing." With its helpful advice and supportive tone, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day should be required reading for anyone considering writing a dissertation. --C.B. Delaney

About the Author

Editor of the best-selling The Writers Home Companion , Joan Bolker, Ed.D ., has taught writing at Harvard, Wellesley, Brandeis, and Bard colleges. She is currently a psychotherapist whose speciality is working with struggling writers. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Owl Books; First Edition (August 15, 1998)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 184 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 080504891X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0805048919
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Joan Bolker, Ed.D., has taught and counseled writers at Harvard, where she cofounded the Writing Center; at University of Massachusetts, Boston, where she began The Language Place; and at Wellesley, Brandeis, and M.I.T., where she was a psyco-therapist and writing consultant. She has coached the authors of more than one hundred doctoral dissertations and is currently a clinical psychologist who works with many writers in her private practice. She is the author of Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day.

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  1. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement is a sentence that summarizes the central point of your paper or essay. It usually comes near the end of your introduction. Learn how to write a strong thesis statement with four simple steps: start with a question, write your initial answer, develop your answer, and refine your thesis statement. See examples of argumentative and expository thesis statements.

  2. What Is a Thesis?

    Revised on April 16, 2024. A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

  3. Thesis

    Thesis. Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore ...

  4. Developing A Thesis

    Keep your thesis prominent in your introduction. A good, standard place for your thesis statement is at the end of an introductory paragraph, especially in shorter (5-15 page) essays. Readers are used to finding theses there, so they automatically pay more attention when they read the last sentence of your introduction.

  5. HOW TO WRITE A THESIS: Steps by step guide

    A strong thesis should be able to take a stand and not just taking a stand but should be able to justify the stand that is taken, so that the reader will be tempted to ask questions like how or why. The thesis should be arguable, contestable, focused, specific, and clear. Make your thesis clear, strong and easy to find.

  6. How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement: 4 Steps + Examples

    Step 4: Revise and refine your thesis statement before you start writing. Read through your thesis statement several times before you begin to compose your full essay. You need to make sure the statement is ironclad, since it is the foundation of the entire paper. Edit it or have a peer review it for you to make sure everything makes sense and ...

  7. How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

    To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough. Note.

  8. Creating a Thesis Statement, Thesis Statement Tips

    Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement. 1. Determine what kind of paper you are writing: An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.; An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.; An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies ...

  9. How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper

    The thesis gives focus to your ideas, engages readers, and sets the tone for the rest of the paper. You've spent substantial time and effort to craft a well-written and effective study, so you want your thesis statement to accurately reflect the impact of your work. However, writing a thesis is often easier said than done.

  10. How To Write A Dissertation Or Thesis

    Craft a convincing dissertation or thesis research proposal. Write a clear, compelling introduction chapter. Undertake a thorough review of the existing research and write up a literature review. Undertake your own research. Present and interpret your findings. Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications.

  11. How Do I Write a Thesis Statement?

    Generally, a thesis statement consists of two parts: A clearly identifiable topic or subject matter. A succinct summary of what you have to say about that topic. For your reader, a thesis functions like the case a lawyer has to make to the judge and jury in a courtroom. An effective thesis statement explains to your reader the case you are ...

  12. Writing your thesis

    5 tips for writing your thesis conclusion. A good conclusion is crucial to the success of your thesis or dissertation. Read our 5 tips for an outstanding thesis conclusion. ... Getting started with your thesis can feel intimidating. There is no single way to write an introduction that will always work for every topic, but this guide helps you ...

  13. How to Write a Good Thesis: Tips, Suggestions, and Examples

    The prompt wants you to go into detail on a specific topic. 2. Transform your assignment into a research question. At the end of the day, your thesis is an answer to some type of question—so, the key to writing a good thesis is knowing what that question is.

  14. How to Write a Thesis Statement in 4 Steps

    How to Write a Thesis Statement in 4 Steps. If you produce a solid thesis statement to kick off an argumentative essay or piece of academic writing, you instantly frame the objective for yourself as a writer and for your audience as readers. By learning how to write a thesis statement, you will rapidly advance your pedigree as an academic ...

  15. How to Write a Thesis: A Guide for Master's Students

    Tip #2: Begin Work on the Thesis Statement and Break Up the Thesis into Manageable Sections. After selecting an appropriate topic and developing a central research question for the thesis statement, it is then necessary to apply the research and writing skills you have learned throughout your degree program.

  16. How to Write a Thesis Statement (with Pictures)

    Never frame your thesis as a question. The job of a thesis is to answer a question, not ask one. A thesis is not a list. If you're trying to answer a specific question, too many variables will send your paper off-focus. Keep it concise and brief. Never mention a new topic that you do not intend to discuss in the paper.

  17. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates. Published on June 7, 2022 by Tegan George.Revised on November 21, 2023. A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process.It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding the specifics of your dissertation topic and showcasing its relevance to ...

  18. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    Example 1: In a biochemistry class, you've been asked to write an essay explaining the impact of bisphenol A on the human body. Your thesis statement might say, "This essay will make clear the correlation between bisphenol A exposure and hypertension.". Check Circle.

  19. Thesis

    Write the Thesis: Once you have analyzed the data, you need to write the thesis. The thesis should follow a specific structure that includes an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion, and references. ... [The introduction sets the stage for your thesis, providing background information on the topic ...

  20. Designing an Effective Thesis

    Key Concepts. A thesis is a simple sentence that combines your topic and your position on the topic. A thesis provides a roadmap to what follows in the paper. A thesis is like a wheel's hub--everything revolves around it and is attached to it. After your prewriting activities-- such as assignment analysis and outlining--you should be ready to ...

  21. How to Write a Thesis

    The introduction should be focused on the thesis question (s). All cited work should be directly relevent to the goals of the thesis. This is not a place to summarize everything you have ever read on a subject. Explain the scope of your work, what will and will not be included.

  22. 1.3: Develop Thesis

    Your thesis will probably change as you write, so you will need to modify it to reflect exactly what you have discussed in your essay. Your thesis statement begins as a working thesis statement, an indefinite statement that you make about your topic early in the writing process for the purpose of planning and guiding your writing.

  23. How to Write a Dissertation & Thesis Conclusion (+ Examples)

    How to write a dissertation and thesis conclusion. 1. Remind readers of the research purpose. For an empirical paper, start your conclusion by revisiting your research question or hypotheses stated earlier in your research. This reminds readers of your study's main focus and sets the stage for findings. Following is an example: "This study ...

  24. Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

    Mission. The Purdue On-Campus Writing Lab and Purdue Online Writing Lab assist clients in their development as writers—no matter what their skill level—with on-campus consultations, online participation, and community engagement. The Purdue Writing Lab serves the Purdue, West Lafayette, campus and coordinates with local literacy initiatives.

  25. Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting

    Using field-tested strategies she assists the student through the entire thesis-writing process, offering advice on choosing a topic and an advisor, on disciplining one's self to work at least fifteen minutes each day; setting short-term deadlines, on revising and defing the thesis, and on life and publication after the dissertation.

  26. [Video] Ali M K Hindi on LinkedIn: How to write for your PhD thesis

    How to write for your PhD thesis? 🎓 Here's 5 key things to make your PhD thesis stand out. 👀 Share this video to help someone with writing their thesis…