Thesis, the word itself evokes a picture of lengthy papers, dull researches, sleep-deprived eyes, frequent yawns, aching fingers from running them over the keyboards, jotting down points and littered mass of empty coffee cups. These images fill the student's mind with dread and a general apathy we feel towards a subject which we wish to avoid but can't. Moreover, the busy schedule and the allure of enjoying college life act as deviators from our path. But, rather than giving in to the ease of procrastination we should get to it and write that killer thesis that makes all the right waves.
A thesis, in basic layman's terms, is a claim or a hypothesis that one presents. A thesis contains the claim that one is making, the hypothesis on the topic, all the supporting arguments one has to offer in favour of the evidence, to substantiate and back up the hypothesis. Suppose you are a lawyer and you are presenting your case to the jury. The hypothesis that you are submitting to the jury along with your evidence is your thesis.
Thesis vs Dissertations
Now comes the part where most people get confused, thesis and dissertations. There are some similarities but the differences outnumber them three to one.
Scope and Scale
First and foremost, they vary in scope and scale. Both the scope and scale of a dissertation is much bigger and is much more extensive. A thesis is quite like an article or an essay, only a bit lengthier than the general ones, whereas a dissertation more or less can resemble a book.
This is the main and the most important difference. In a thesis, you make a claim and provide arguments and evidence in support of the claim. The thesis ends there, and from that point, the dissertation picks up the baton. A dissertation will then go ahead to prove the hypothesis using the evidence and to interpret them through critical analysis and evaluation.
This is another substantial difference between thesis and dissertation. A dissertation, due to its very nature, is definitive for it proves the hypothesis by reasoning, interpretation and critical & logical analysis of the pieces of evidence. At the end of a dissertation, new knowledge or facts come to light whereas a thesis adds no such knowledge and adds no new facts. A thesis makes a claim and provides evidence in support of it. Dissertations are decisive whereas theses are not.
To construct a thesis
Now that we have got the confusion between thesis and dissertation out of the way, let's get started with how actually to get on with the construction of the thesis.
Before starting with the thesis, be very clear that the thesis is not a question which will have a typical ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. It is not a fact as well. A claim and the argument in support of the claim is what a thesis is.
Analyse and study your source
Very carefully and deeply analyse your source and topic of the thesis that you have chosen. Only by critically examining and interpreting, you will be able to come up with a substantial thesis. After analysis and scrutiny, you will be able to answer the "why", which is the main purpose of writing the thesis. Once you have got the answers to ‘why’, you would have made substantial progress towards your thesis.
The thesis statement
The thesis statement is what sets up your paper. It's what the name suggests, the statement you want to make through your thesis. Every thesis contains an idea, a hypothesis that you are trying to convey, a statement that you are trying to make and the arguments that you are presenting. That is the subject of your thesis. Your main idea, stance or opinion on the subject is your thesis statement.
A thesis statement should not be more than two to three lines, and the ideal length is two line-long. It should introduce the topic to the reader and clarify to them what your stance and opinion on the topic. It should be concise but precise. It should be not ambiguous for the reader will interpret what the thesis is about, and the statement should intrigue the reader to read on.
Where is your thesis statement placed?
You should mention your thesis statement early in the thesis at the introductory paragraph. It's the statement, which is to hook the readers to go further, and from here only the reader will decide whether to read on or not. Ideally, it should be kept, as a good rule of thumb, at the end of your introductory paragraph. It will rouse the reader's interest and will keep them hooked for the rest.
Is your thesis statement clear and not ambiguous?
Again, your thesis statement is your first point to make a substantial impact on your reader's mind which will keep them glued to the long document you wish them to read. So, by rule, it must be precise and specific to the point without any ambiguity or vagueness. Upon reading it, the reader should be clear about your opinion and the overall premise of the thesis.
Some words of caution
Now that we have clarified how to go about formulating the thesis, we must know some common pitfalls and red flags that render even the best written and formulated thesis to be an ineffective one. These are very common but can be avoided with some precautions.
Your thesis must make an argument.
A thesis is not a question for they don't have arguments. Your argument is what makes the thesis and your claim that you are making in the thesis must be arguable. The claim being definite will also be of help. When the topic is arguable and definite, even if the reader has contradictory views, would urge them to read on to know your side of the matter.
Your thesis should have clarity
Your overall thesis, along with your thesis statement, must have clarity, direction and precision. It must not be vague, for this is the major pitfall and may confuse the reader about the point you are conveying. Your topic should be debatable, but never confrontational, for the reader might feel offended by it and start with a negative impression.
Your thesis must be to the point
A lot of people think volume will make for quality, but that’s not true. A thesis which is to the point, precise, specific and argumentative is much more effective than the one who goes about beating the bushes and showing off linguistic and verbal skills just for the sake of it. Refrain from using phrases and idioms too much, for you are not writing a story. Be very clear about your point and then pass it to the reader. Period.
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