Thesis Writing

Effective Strategies for Thesis Writing

1. Introduction

A thesis is the final requirement in order to graduate, either in a master’s or doctoral program. It is a final project that is carried out after a student has studied a lot of things and gained knowledge throughout their studies. There are a few types of theses, depending on the level of study and the thesis requirements. For example, in the UK, the most common type of thesis is a master’s final project, which is smaller than other types of theses. Additionally, there is another type of thesis called a PhD thesis, which is normally larger than a master’s thesis because it requires a lot of new knowledge and practical work from the researcher. The last main type of thesis is a project thesis, which is often for master’s students in scientific or technology fields because it focuses more on applying knowledge to create something. A successful thesis contributes a lot to the final academic score. The topic of a thesis is actually the subject of the essay that is discussed or researched in the thesis. The discussion in the thesis should be logical and well-organized. It is commonly broken into chapters, such as the introduction chapter, body chapters, and conclusion. The content should be complete in order for the thesis to receive a high score, be accepted by the academic college, and be published in a research journal. That is the common knowledge and acceptance nowadays. However, formatting a thesis is subjective, as every university has its own specific guidelines. Therefore, it is advisable to read and become familiar with the university guidelines before starting to write the thesis. The introduction section should make the reader aware of the thesis and provide the background and purpose of the thesis. The introduction should let the reader know what the essay is about and also help the reader understand the main point of the essay. The thesis statement is written in the last sentence of the introduction. The thesis statement is a sentence that describes the content of the essay and is the main point of the essay’s discussion. Every sentence in the introduction should support the thesis statement.

2. Choosing a Topic

Your thesis topic is the critical starting point of any research project. It starts with a broad interest, narrows that down, and chooses a specific “able to be done” project, which you can feasibly complete over the next few years. When you think about a potential topic, ask yourself: What can I do that will be interesting and feasible? What do I need to acquire (skills, software, resources), and what are the resources I have? Depending on your discipline, it could be more than feasible to research areas that you may not have intimate knowledge in, and that’s OK. As your project develops, so will your understanding of a particular area. However, it is generally not professional to research areas that you are not able to effectively engage in. Be realistic in your research interests. Personally, I found something that really interested me in college and then distilled that down into a suitable title that I could research. It is easier to spend time on something that you are passionate about and interested in. One of the biggest pitfalls in choosing a topic is falling for the perpetually popular and restarting the research process. Passion comes up again and again because it is very important. You don’t need to have a crystal clear idea when you start. It is great if you do, but it is also OK to be searching for that “Eureka!” moment. Also, it can be very rewarding being able to share ideas about your research. If someone wants to engage in conversations about your work, that can be a big motivator and source of guidance. Engage with your academic or professional community; they may also provide support. It is a good idea to discuss your interests with members of the academic community before you start. If you don’t get the opportunity to do this, it could make a great point in your personal statement at the beginning of your research proposal when applying for funding. Writing something like “I’ve pinpointed my research interests after discussion with Dr. X, who is an expert in the field” can carry a lot of weight. A top tip is to make sure you adhere to any guidelines. If they want you to write about a certain topic, then write about that topic – don’t go rogue unless you have the option to. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, work closely with your supervisor. They know what makes a good project, and nothing is set in stone; they are there to provide guidance, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Every week it seems we have a new provision or limit, and quite often tests and studies travel. It is essential to have developed a long-running research tone about something that contributes to a particular area of knowledge, but then there is going to be a really detailed history of research in that field, and each new proviso is going to change that and suggest. Gain the benefit of new knowledge but avoid editing your research every week to meet different criteria! It will be worth keeping a log of the references that you consult during your research as well as the references that you think you might use. A lot of tools exist to help with literature management. For example, if you create a free account with Mendeley, then they will provide 2 gigabytes of free web storage, which can be upgraded for a fee, and add in lots of other helpful features. If you opt for a literature-based project, as I did, these are vital. Also, protect yourself from losing any of your hard work: with Mendeley, whenever a PDF is downloaded to the program, it will be uploaded and available on the web.

3. Conducting Research

Next, it’s time to choose a research strategy and begin finding sources! You should choose at least three types of sources to use in your paper. For each type of source, it’s good to give yourself a bit of a head start by learning what to look for. For example, when using a library catalogue, you can take advantage of the various sorting options to help you narrow down a topic. Electronic databases allow you to search for all kinds of material, from journals to historic newspapers. This is also the point at which your thesis statement can start to take shape; we have a webpage in our section about Finding Sources that can help you refine your thesis statement. And finally, instruction is a growing presence on the internet, and continues to change the way academic research is done. So it’s an important skill that’s worth developing not only for your academic essays, but for your professional career as well. By now, which hopefully won’t have gotten a month of time, you should have a good amount of notes and possibly a set of note cards. It’s time to start sorting these notes into one of the three chosen resources. This will make writing your paper a lot easier later on. And from where you are in the process, this stage will definitely take the longest. Well, there’s not simply struggling anymore. You can do a lot to make this change go more smoothly and quickly. For example, you can go exploring sources very early, before you have settled on a topic, and then nurture and map your inquiries within a knowledge of what’s out there. Also, it’s never too early to begin putting the pieces together in a rough draft. It’s actually a good idea before you even begin taking notes to learn the methods of a few surrounding disciplines. For instance, history is a discipline based on interpretation of primary sources. By learning how scholars in history use these sources, you can apply some of these same skills to aid your understanding of a given historical event by looking at sources and opinions from inventors. Such scholarly research is also a valuable tool in occupational fields. Ergonomists use this information to help better design systems and procedures such as work environments, to minimize negative side effects on a person’s body or mind. Computer science and technology scholars use peer-reviewed sources, a measure applied to ensure that only the highest quality research which is novel and innovative is considered published in a given journal or conference. As noted earlier about the chemical engineering department, faculty researchers and students collaborate on investigative projects. And the study of Chinese language and literature is also included in such capability of the department. Professors and peers can offer relevant feedback for your discoveries and give suggestions about new directions as well. So, again, there shouldn’t be a struggle with locating and obtaining sources. Rather, the process of doing research and developing an interpretative mind is an exciting joint opportunity for students and faculty alike. As you incorporate others’ ideas into your argument, you should render those ideas accurately. If it’s clear from the context of your work, you might not need to include a formal documentation note. This should also be reflected in your works cited.

4. Structuring Your Thesis

As you gradually work on crafting your thesis, you will develop and fine-tune your structure as you go. By the time you write it, those structuring your thesis ideas have become concrete. In a well-structured thesis, every claim is given the space to build and develop; each paragraph and each chapter builds and develops in its own right. To first-class the structure in your essay, construct each paragraph around a key idea that relates to the thesis. Provide your interpretations and evidence to support your points in each paragraph. Each paragraph should begin with a signpost sentence that sets out the main point you are going to explore in that section. It is sometimes helpful in the early stages of your writing to produce a reverse outline, a simple list of the topics in the order they appear, noting words. This can help you to understand the structure and direction of your argument. As the writer, you can use the thesis statement as a guide in developing a coherent argument. At the place in your writing where it seems most appropriate, use your thesis statement to best purpose; that is, to give it full force, you need to find the one main idea it concerns and keep reminding yourself of it and using it as a guide.

5. Conclusion and Finalizing

Given the precarious nature of thesis writing, invoking a principle of doubt is an effective strategy for the writer; it almost always produces a fruitful critical posture. In conformity with that principle, the first sentence of the conclusion is, paradoxically, a premise: “No doubt after reading the above, you have received a rough draft in your mind.” The first impression is almost positive and leads the readers to follow the suggestion unconsciously. But after a deeper reflection, it presents a contrast against “common belief” in order to indicate some future philosophical thinking. In this way, readers are pushed to doubt and hence a full consideration on what the writer wants to express later on in the conclusion can be produced. It is not until the last sentence of this paragraph that the principle of doubt is suspended. A powerful piece of knowledge or advice is loaded in each sentence of this paragraph, manifesting the functionality of the principle of doubt is not only for creating doubts itself, but also for leading the readers to prepare for conceding to the writer – as a professor I know said – it is the time for students to teach and lecturers to learn. Also, it is undoubtedly a vital stage in compare and contrast; but this final summary always requires the utmost critical thinking as this is the part allowing optional values and a personal voice to cast over the entire piece of writing. Referring to and following the preceding second paragraph, the first sentence continues to expand the question to the academic field; and it cleverly shifts from a personal comfort created by the principle of doubt to a mainstream critic. Realizing that my personal belief is now easily and naturally established in the reader’s mind, here starts the second implication. It brings the personal well (the suspension of the principle of doubt) to the public well (a broader vision to the academic society). This kind of logical coherence effectively elevates the essay to an upper level, in terms of a deep and compelling control. Then the “efficacy” of my method, in which there is an objective confirmation on the functionality of this philosophical writing strategy. It logically flows through the last evidential sentence of the second paragraph – “my method of invoking a principle of doubt provides a synergy in which both interactive dynamics and reflective conclusion can be reached” and suggests an alternative ending to “my principle of leading a delve worth journey” by using Wittgenstein’s term and requiring an opening part to bridge the earthly life and academic esteem as listed. The writing, especially the ending, is substantial as a foretaste satisfaction of completion. It is much like a plot in a storyline, twist and turn are vital. And the principle of doubt, as well as other philosophical writing strategies, contributes a core part in enhancing the plot. Albery and Musolff (2014) state that providing a “sensible reason” and “in-depth analysis on case studies” are effectively facilitating the final interpretation and assessment of a piece. I have been carefully following their instruction throughout the essay, keenly incorporating the geographic case studies data analysis within the main body of the essay and eventually outputting an interactive “journey” for the readers to experience.

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