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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?

is writing a thesis difficult

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…


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.  

is writing a thesis difficult

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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Qualitative interview 101



thankfull >>>this is very useful


Thank you, it was really helpful

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.


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


Very rich presentation. Thank you


Thanks Derek Jansen|GRADCOACH, I find it very useful guide to arrange my activities and proceed to research!

Nunurayi Tambala

Thank you so much for such a marvelous teaching .I am so convinced that am going to write a comprehensive and a distinct masters dissertation

Hussein Huwail

It is an amazing comprehensive explanation


This was straightforward. Thank you!


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.


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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Academia Insider

Is writing a masters thesis hard? Tips on how to write a thesis

Graduate school quite often requires its students to create a thesis showcasing the research work they have done throughout their course.

It’s funny that quite often students do not have any practical guidance on how to complete a thesis with the least amount of stress.

Writing a master’s thesis can be incredibly difficult if you try to write it without any structure or knowledge of the process. However, by focusing on structure and story first you’ll be able to significantly cut down the effort required to produce a Masters thesis.

I was able to write my master’s thesis in a couple of months due to the fact I had all of my data already collected and readily available for interpretation.

This article will go through everything you need to know about writing a Masters thesis and how to make it as easy as possible.

What is a master’s thesis?

A master’s thesis is an academic document that is produced in a postgraduate masters degree that demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct independent research within a specific field of study.

It is written and submitted to the University as evidence that the candidate can provide a deeper analysis into the chosen topic than what is expected from undergraduate studies.

It is typically between 30 and 100 pages or 25,000 to 50,000 words in length. However, the exact length can be very different depending on the field of study.

The thesis can include:

  • research and findings from previous studies – in order to provide a background and justification for the current study.
  • original work developed by the student – highlighting the student’s ability to formulate a research question, develop methodology to answer that question, create data and analysis, and present the work in a clear and logical fashion.

A faculty member or academic supervisor typically guides the student throughout the entire Masters process, providing feedback on ideas and drafts and ensuring academic robustness.

In some cases, students may be required to present their thesis to a panel of faculty members for review and evaluation before graduation. For example, when I finish my masters in chemistry I was required to present my computational chemistry research project to my peers and faculty members who then questioned and critiqued my work.

Having their work critiqued in front of others can be quite confronting process for many students, however, this is a normal part of academia and learning to navigate this process will help you in your future career.

Why is writing a thesis or a dissertation hard? Thesis writing tips

There is no doubt that writing a thesis or dissertation is a difficult challenge for many graduate students. That is because they have, quite simply, not done anything quite like this before.

Not only are they required to conduct research, but they must also use their technical writing skills in order to organize their thoughts and turn them into an effective paper. Not something that is explicitly taught in universities.

Quite often we hope that students will absorb the thesis writing skills by a process of osmosis and by doing.

Writing your thesis requires a large amount of time and effort, as it involves:

  • researching and gathering relevant data,
  • formulating an argument,
  • conducting analysis and evaluation, and finally
  • organizing the results into a report.

All of these tasks can be daunting for someone who may not have had much experience with academic writing before.

Most graduate students will also need to learn how to correctly cite sources in order to avoid plagiarism. As such, this is not a task that should be taken lightly and requires significant dedication from the student in order to complete successfully.

In order to complete your thesis successfully this is the order in which I go through tasks:

How is a Masters thesis assessed and examined? Submit a thesis successfully

A Masters thesis is typically submitted to the University for review by an internal review panel or is sent out to experts in the field for a more thorough peer-review.

Exactly what process is used is dependent on the University policy and guidelines.

For example, my chemistry master’s thesis was reviewed internally whereas my friend who went to another UK institution for his masters had his thesis sent out for peer review in other institutions.

Understanding exactly what would happen to your thesis before you submit is important part of having your thesis passed.

Institutions may require different criteria for assessment and examination, such as originality of content and how well it meets the objectives set out in the initial proposal.

Universities may also require submission of supporting evidence if needed by the examiners.

The examiners can:

  • pass the thesis with no corrections
  • pass the thesis with minor corrections – common in academia
  • suggest a major rewrite of the thesis – this happens if there are major scientific or research-based mistakes throughout the thesis
  • rejected the thesis – if the examiners are not confident that the thesis provides enough evidence for submission into the degree the reviewers may outright reject and suggest that it gets downgraded.

Your supervisor should do everything in their power to ensure that you are passing with minor or no corrections.

If you want to know more about a Masters’s thesis you can check out my other articles:

  • How Long is a Masters Thesis? [Your writing guide]
  • How to write a masters thesis in 2 months [Easy steps to start writing]

How long should a thesis or a dissertation be? Effective tips 

A Masters thesis should be an original work of research and writing, typically between 30 and 100 pages in length.

Whereas a PhD thesis can be anywhere between 50 and 450 pages and between 60,000 and 80,000 words.

The exact length will vary significantly depending on the subject and specific requirements set by your university or department.

While a thesis may be shorter than a dissertation, it will still require a significant amount of research and analysis. And sometimes it is easier to write words than to try and condense what you are trying to say into a smaller thesis.

If you want to know more about how long a thesis or dissertation as you can check out my other article – click here – it will give you all of the juicy data.

It is important to thoroughly develop your argument and provide sufficient detail to support your claims. To ensure that you have covered all necessary information, it is best to consult with faculty members or colleagues who have gone through the dissertation or thesis process before.

How long should a master’s thesis be? Tips on how to write

A master’s thesis can be a huge undertaking and should not be taken lightly.

It is important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all answer for how long a Masters thesis should be. My thesis is 60 pages long however a more theoretical thesis may be much shorter.

It is much better to break down the thesis into sections and make sure that you provide enough information to satisfy a reviewer. That focus on length rather focus on making pass peer-review for your subject.

It should include:

  • a title page,
  • table of contents,
  • introduction, including a literature review
  • main body, presenting all of your results and findings in a logical fashion
  • conclusion and discussions
  • references.
  • Appendices (optional)

Depending on the subject matter and the research methodology used, some theses may be longer than others.

As a general rule of thumb, most master’s theses are between 50 and 100 pages in length including citations.

Writing a master’s thesis can be an intimidating task but it doesn’t have to be too daunting if you start writing early and break down your project into smaller chunks.

I always start with the heading outline and you can check out my exact process in my YouTube video, below.

Make sure you review all guidelines given by your supervisor or instructor before starting your thesis so that you will have an idea of what needs to be included in order to fulfill all criteria successfully.

What is writing a masters thesis like? 

From experience I can tell you that writing a master’s thesis can be both exciting and daunting.

That is because the skills to complete a thesis without losing your mind are not specifically taught in undergraduate.

It requires dedication, focus, and hard work to complete a successful thesis. Many students find themselves combating imposter syndrome as they write because there are many stages where you feel like your writing is rubbish and you are not clever enough.

However, with continual improvements and feedback from your supervisor, you’ll be able to overcome this hurdle and if it is good enough you supervisor – it is good enough for you.

The general steps of a Masters means that you’ll need to identify your research topic, develop an outline of your project, write drafts of each chapter, edit your work thoroughly, and potentially defend the final product in front of a panel of experts.

During this process it is important to stay organized, keep track of deadlines, and remember to take time for yourself while also staying focused on your studies.

With determination and effort you can successfully complete a master’s thesis that will be rewarding not only academically but also personally as you reflect on all the hard work that went into it.

Can I finish masters thesis in 2 months? Your advisor will be the road block

Completing a master’s thesis in two months is an ambitious goal, but it is not impossible.

As long as you are able to work continuously little by little breaking up the big goal into small achievable chance you can get there.

I wrote my master’s thesis in two months by locking myself in the University library and fuelling myself with chocolate and V (caffeine energy drink).

I’m not saying that this is the best way to do it – I just needed to get it done and this was how I survived.

No matter what the path you choose writing a Masters thesis in two months requires determination, organization, and dedication to make it happen.

You will need to create a detailed plan which incorporates the research process, writing style and pace, and any necessary revisions.

It’s very important that you also set aside time for self-care so you don’t become overwhelmed or exhausted with the task and it remains manageable. 

Additionally, enlisting the help of friends, and any other academic that you trust (even outside of your field) to provide feedback on your drafts can be very beneficial in ensuring that your final product meets your expectations.

With careful planning and hard work it is possible to finish a master’s thesis in two months.

Wrapping up

This article has been through everything you need to know about how hard it is to write a Masters thesis.

The skills required to complete your thesis are not explicitly taught in universities, but following a process of setting out the headings and chapters, placing bullet points under each heading and chapter with data, turning the bullet points into words and sentences, seems to be the only way to ensure that you complete your thesis without going insane.

Remember to factor in some time for self-care so you don’t become overwhelmed.

is writing a thesis difficult

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.

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is writing a thesis difficult

Developing a Thesis Statement

Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you’ll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.

Keep in mind that not all papers require thesis statements . If in doubt, please consult your instructor for assistance.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement . . .

  • Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
  • Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
  • Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Is generally located near the end of the introduction ; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
  • Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

Not all papers require thesis statements! Ask your instructor if you’re in doubt whether you need one.

Identify a topic

Your topic is the subject about which you will write. Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic; or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper.

Consider what your assignment asks you to do

Inform yourself about your topic, focus on one aspect of your topic, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts, generate a topic from an assignment.

Below are some possible topics based on sample assignments.

Sample assignment 1

Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II.

Identified topic

Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis

This topic avoids generalities such as “Spain” and “World War II,” addressing instead on Franco’s role (a specific aspect of “Spain”) and the diplomatic relations between the Allies and Axis (a specific aspect of World War II).

Sample assignment 2

Analyze one of Homer’s epic similes in the Iliad.

The relationship between the portrayal of warfare and the epic simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64.

This topic focuses on a single simile and relates it to a single aspect of the Iliad ( warfare being a major theme in that work).

Developing a Thesis Statement–Additional information

Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic, or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper. You’ll want to read your assignment carefully, looking for key terms that you can use to focus your topic.

Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II

After you’ve identified the key words in your topic, the next step is to read about them in several sources, or generate as much information as possible through an analysis of your topic. Obviously, the more material or knowledge you have, the more possibilities will be available for a strong argument. For the sample assignment above, you’ll want to look at books and articles on World War II in general, and Spain’s neutrality in particular.

As you consider your options, you must decide to focus on one aspect of your topic. This means that you cannot include everything you’ve learned about your topic, nor should you go off in several directions. If you end up covering too many different aspects of a topic, your paper will sprawl and be unconvincing in its argument, and it most likely will not fulfull the assignment requirements.

For the sample assignment above, both Spain’s neutrality and World War II are topics far too broad to explore in a paper. You may instead decide to focus on Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis , which narrows down what aspects of Spain’s neutrality and World War II you want to discuss, as well as establishes a specific link between those two aspects.

Before you go too far, however, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts. Try to avoid topics that already have too much written about them (i.e., “eating disorders and body image among adolescent women”) or that simply are not important (i.e. “why I like ice cream”). These topics may lead to a thesis that is either dry fact or a weird claim that cannot be supported. A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times . Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Derive a main point from topic

Once you have a topic, you will have to decide what the main point of your paper will be. This point, the “controlling idea,” becomes the core of your argument (thesis statement) and it is the unifying idea to which you will relate all your sub-theses. You can then turn this “controlling idea” into a purpose statement about what you intend to do in your paper.

Look for patterns in your evidence

Compose a purpose statement.

Consult the examples below for suggestions on how to look for patterns in your evidence and construct a purpose statement.

  • Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis
  • Franco turned to the Allies when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from the Axis

Possible conclusion:

Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: Franco’s desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power.

Purpose statement

This paper will analyze Franco’s diplomacy during World War II to see how it contributed to Spain’s neutrality.
  • The simile compares Simoisius to a tree, which is a peaceful, natural image.
  • The tree in the simile is chopped down to make wheels for a chariot, which is an object used in warfare.

At first, the simile seems to take the reader away from the world of warfare, but we end up back in that world by the end.

This paper will analyze the way the simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64 moves in and out of the world of warfare.

Derive purpose statement from topic

To find out what your “controlling idea” is, you have to examine and evaluate your evidence . As you consider your evidence, you may notice patterns emerging, data repeated in more than one source, or facts that favor one view more than another. These patterns or data may then lead you to some conclusions about your topic and suggest that you can successfully argue for one idea better than another.

For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.

Sometimes you won’t be able to find a focus or identify your “spin” or specific argument immediately. Like some writers, you might begin with a purpose statement just to get yourself going. A purpose statement is one or more sentences that announce your topic and indicate the structure of the paper but do not state the conclusions you have drawn . Thus, you might begin with something like this:

  • This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
  • I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.

At some point, you can turn a purpose statement into a thesis statement. As you think and write about your topic, you can restrict, clarify, and refine your argument, crafting your thesis statement to reflect your thinking.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Compose a draft thesis statement

If you are writing a paper that will have an argumentative thesis and are having trouble getting started, the techniques in the table below may help you develop a temporary or “working” thesis statement.

Begin with a purpose statement that you will later turn into a thesis statement.

Assignment: Discuss the history of the Reform Party and explain its influence on the 1990 presidential and Congressional election.

Purpose Statement: This paper briefly sketches the history of the grassroots, conservative, Perot-led Reform Party and analyzes how it influenced the economic and social ideologies of the two mainstream parties.


If your assignment asks a specific question(s), turn the question(s) into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.

Assignment : What do Aylmer and Rappaccini have to be proud of? Why aren’t they satisfied with these things? How does pride, as demonstrated in “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” lead to unexpected problems?

Beginning thesis statement: Alymer and Rappaccinni are proud of their great knowledge; however, they are also very greedy and are driven to use their knowledge to alter some aspect of nature as a test of their ability. Evil results when they try to “play God.”

Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main idea: The reason some toys succeed in the market is that they appeal to the consumers’ sense of the ridiculous and their basic desire to laugh at themselves.

Make a list of the ideas that you want to include; consider the ideas and try to group them.

  • nature = peaceful
  • war matériel = violent (competes with 1?)
  • need for time and space to mourn the dead
  • war is inescapable (competes with 3?)

Use a formula to arrive at a working thesis statement (you will revise this later).

  • although most readers of _______ have argued that _______, closer examination shows that _______.
  • _______ uses _______ and _____ to prove that ________.
  • phenomenon x is a result of the combination of __________, __________, and _________.

What to keep in mind as you draft an initial thesis statement

Beginning statements obtained through the methods illustrated above can serve as a framework for planning or drafting your paper, but remember they’re not yet the specific, argumentative thesis you want for the final version of your paper. In fact, in its first stages, a thesis statement usually is ill-formed or rough and serves only as a planning tool.

As you write, you may discover evidence that does not fit your temporary or “working” thesis. Or you may reach deeper insights about your topic as you do more research, and you will find that your thesis statement has to be more complicated to match the evidence that you want to use.

You must be willing to reject or omit some evidence in order to keep your paper cohesive and your reader focused. Or you may have to revise your thesis to match the evidence and insights that you want to discuss. Read your draft carefully, noting the conclusions you have drawn and the major ideas which support or prove those conclusions. These will be the elements of your final thesis statement.

Sometimes you will not be able to identify these elements in your early drafts, but as you consider how your argument is developing and how your evidence supports your main idea, ask yourself, “ What is the main point that I want to prove/discuss? ” and “ How will I convince the reader that this is true? ” When you can answer these questions, then you can begin to refine the thesis statement.

Refine and polish the thesis statement

To get to your final thesis, you’ll need to refine your draft thesis so that it’s specific and arguable.

  • Ask if your draft thesis addresses the assignment
  • Question each part of your draft thesis
  • Clarify vague phrases and assertions
  • Investigate alternatives to your draft thesis

Consult the example below for suggestions on how to refine your draft thesis statement.

Sample Assignment

Choose an activity and define it as a symbol of American culture. Your essay should cause the reader to think critically about the society which produces and enjoys that activity.

  • Ask The phenomenon of drive-in facilities is an interesting symbol of american culture, and these facilities demonstrate significant characteristics of our society.This statement does not fulfill the assignment because it does not require the reader to think critically about society.
Drive-ins are an interesting symbol of American culture because they represent Americans’ significant creativity and business ingenuity.
Among the types of drive-in facilities familiar during the twentieth century, drive-in movie theaters best represent American creativity, not merely because they were the forerunner of later drive-ins and drive-throughs, but because of their impact on our culture: they changed our relationship to the automobile, changed the way people experienced movies, and changed movie-going into a family activity.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast-food establishments, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize America’s economic ingenuity, they also have affected our personal standards.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast- food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize (1) Americans’ business ingenuity, they also have contributed (2) to an increasing homogenization of our culture, (3) a willingness to depersonalize relationships with others, and (4) a tendency to sacrifice quality for convenience.

This statement is now specific and fulfills all parts of the assignment. This version, like any good thesis, is not self-evident; its points, 1-4, will have to be proven with evidence in the body of the paper. The numbers in this statement indicate the order in which the points will be presented. Depending on the length of the paper, there could be one paragraph for each numbered item or there could be blocks of paragraph for even pages for each one.

Complete the final thesis statement

The bottom line.

As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:

  • Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
  • As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind . You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
  • Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable ; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
  • Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.

In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper’s purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track–well able to understand and appreciate your argument.

is writing a thesis difficult

Writing Process and Structure

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Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Generating Ideas for Your Paper



Developing Strategic Transitions


Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

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is writing a thesis difficult

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

is writing a thesis difficult

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.

is writing a thesis difficult

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is writing a thesis difficult

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.


Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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UMGC Effective Writing Center Designing an Effective Thesis

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  • Writing Resources

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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4 midterm mistakes to avoid.

4 Midterm Mistakes to Avoid

Midterm season can be a stressful time. You’ve made your study guide, attended study groups, and flipped through your flashcards one last time. However, on exam day, there are mistakes students often make when tackling the test. These mistakes can cost you points that may affect your overall grade in the course. Midterm exam mistakes can include poor time management, spending too much time on individual questions, and not showing your work.  Your midterm exam grade can be crucial to your success in the course. So set yourself up for success—here are four midterm mistakes to avoid:  Midterm mistake #1: Failing to read th ... Read More About 4 Midterm Mistakes to Avoid

5 Books to Read With Your Family to Celebrate World Book and Copyright Day

5 Books to Read With Your Family to Celebrate World Book and Copyright Day

Did you know that World Book and Copyright Day falls on Thursday, April 23? Hosted by the United Nations, World Book and Copyright Day celebrates the joys and connections of reading and literacy. Here are five books to read with your family to join in on the worldwide celebration: 1. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña Written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson, Last Stop on Market Street chronicles a bus ride through the city with CJ and his grandmother. It’s a rainy Sunday. CJ is inquisitive; no question is too big or too small for him. “How come we gotta wait for the bus in all thi ... Read More About 5 Books to Read With Your Family to Celebrate World Book and Copyright Day

8 Books to Read With Your Kids While Social Distancing

8 Books to Read With Your Kids While Social Distancing

As many schools have closed in response to COVID-19 and nearly everyone is social distancing, we’re all reworking our routines and reimagining what it means to learn from home. There are excellent online resources for students—a number of zoos and museums have opened their virtual doors, for example. But for an analog break, consider creating a reading list with your child. Here are eight books to get you started. Books to read with elementary school students Reading is built into elementary-age students’ school days, and it’s important for them to incorporate it into their home learning in order to keep up with fluen ... Read More About 8 Books to Read With Your Kids While Social Distancing

How to Stay Focused When You’re Working from Home

How to Stay Focused When You’re Working from Home

If you’re accustomed to doing your job in an office setting, transitioning to working from home can feel unexpectedly difficult. Often, it’s easy to envision how simple working from your home might be. Once you start to do it, however, you may find yourself struggling to stay focused and to keep up with your work at the same pace as you could before. With the uncertainty COVID-19 brings in regards to when you’ll return to the office, it’s vital to find strategies to thrive while working from home. Here are five: Choose a specific work area It can be tempting to sit on your couch or in bed while working from home. This ... Read More About How to Stay Focused When You’re Working from Home

Caltech Admissions Information

CalTech, a world-renowned institution for science and technology, has a highly competitive admissions process. Here is important information about the admission process for CalTech. When to Apply and Early Application CalTech operates on a regular decision application deadline for most applicants. The regular decision deadline is typically in early January, with admissions decisions released in late March. CalTech also offers Restrictive Early Action (REA), which is a non-binding early admissions process for students who are confident that Caltech is their first-choice university. REA applications are due in early November and applicants wil ... Read More About Caltech Admissions Information

Columbia University Admissions Information

Columbia University is a highly esteemed institution with a competitive admissions process. To give you a comprehensive overview of the admissions process for Columbia University, here are the key details you need to know: Application Deadlines: Columbia University operates on a regular decision application deadline for most undergraduate programs. The deadline for regular decision applications is typically in early January. However, it's important to note that Columbia also offers an Early Decision (ED) program for students who have a strong preference for attending Columbia and are ready to commit to enrolling if admitted. The Early Decisi ... Read More About Columbia University Admissions Information

Duke University Admissions Information

Duke University is a highly selective institution with a competitive admissions process. When applying to Duke, it's important to showcase your academic achievements, personal qualities, and fit with the university. Here's some comprehensive information about the admissions process for Duke University: Application Deadlines: Regular Decision: The regular decision deadline is typically in early January. Admissions decisions are released by late March. Early Decision: Duke offers an Early Decision (ED) program, which is binding. The deadline for ED is usually in early November, and decisions are released by mid-December. Application Require ... Read More About Duke University Admissions Information

Princeton Admissions Information

As a highly competitive Ivy League institution, Princeton University is known for its rigorous academic environment and prestigious reputation. The admissions process is thorough and selective, and it's important to approach it with both preparation and genuine passion for what Princeton has to offer. When to Apply Princeton University has two main admissions cycles: Early Action and Regular Decision. The Early Action deadline is typically November 1st, and this is non-binding, meaning you can still apply to and accept offers from other universities if you're accepted. The Regular Decision deadline is usually January 1st. Application Requir ... Read More About Princeton Admissions Information

Swarthmore College Admissions Information

Swarthmore College is a highly selective liberal arts institution known for its rigorous academics and diverse intellectual community. To provide you with a comprehensive overview of the admissions process for Swarthmore College, here are the key details you need to know: When to Apply and Early Application: Swarthmore College operates on a regular decision application deadline for most applicants. The regular decision deadline is typically in early January, with admissions decisions released in late March. However, Swarthmore also offers an Early Decision (ED) program, which is a binding commitment to enroll if admitted. The Early Decision ... Read More About Swarthmore College Admissions Information

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9.1 Developing a Strong, Clear Thesis Statement

Learning objectives.

  • Develop a strong, clear thesis statement with the proper elements.
  • Revise your thesis statement.

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 Statement

A strong thesis statement 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.

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.

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

Examples of Appropriate Thesis Statements

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:

A thesis is weak when it is simply a declaration of your subject or a description of what you will discuss in your essay.

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

A thesis is weak when it makes an unreasonable or outrageous claim or insults the opposing side.

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

A thesis is weak when it contains an obvious fact or something that no one can disagree with or provides a dead end.

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

A thesis is weak when the statement is too broad.

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

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.

Thesis Statement Revision

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. Remember from Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” that 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.

The best way to revise your thesis statement is to ask questions about it and then examine the answers to those questions. By challenging your own ideas and forming definite reasons for those ideas, you grow closer to a more precise point of view, which you can then incorporate into your thesis statement.

Ways to Revise Your Thesis

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 the first section of Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , you determined your purpose for writing and your audience. You then completed a freewriting exercise about an event you recently experienced and chose a general topic to write about. Using that general topic, you then narrowed it down by answering the 5WH questions. After you answered these questions, you chose one of the three methods of prewriting and gathered possible supporting points for your working thesis statement.

Now, on a separate sheet of paper, write down your working thesis statement. Identify any weaknesses in this sentence and revise the statement to reflect the elements of a strong thesis statement. Make sure it is specific, precise, arguable, demonstrable, forceful, and confident.


Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

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.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Revealing the Treasures of McGill’s Writing Centre: A Discussion with Dr. Yvonne Hung

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Embark on a journey to uncover the lesser-known treasures of the McGill Writing Centre and Graphos as Dr. Yvonne Hung, the director and coordinator of Graphos, sheds light on the enriching experiences awaiting students. Most students, unbeknownst to them, are yet to explore the multifaceted nature of this academic tool.

Unlocking the Writing Centre's Secrets

Q:  What is some general information about the writing centre and graphos that most students who have not accessed the service before may not know? What are some of the main features of the services? How can students best access the services?

YH: Most people don’t know that the McGill Writing Centre is an academic department that also has a strong service mandate! We offer a nice set of undergraduate classes that are on academic writing, creative writing, digital communication, and science communication, as well as a slate of graduate courses on academic writing and communication. On the service side, we have a robust tutorial service whereby students can access up to 7 hours of individualized consults on their writing, and a comprehensive set of graduate writing workshops , writing sessions, and specialized support for thesis and fellowship writing through Graphos. To access our courses, students would register in Minerva. For our non-credit offerings, e.g., writing tutorials, workshops, and other support, students can register by following the links on our website .

Mastering the Art of Writing Applications

Q:  What are some common Do's or Don'ts for students either writing an essay or writing personal statements/research proposals for grad school applications? Are there any general tips you have for students writing applications for grad school?

YH: One common pitfall I’ve noticed is that students take the “personal” part of the “personal statement” too literally. Writing a personal statement can be tricky because you have share specific aspects about your background and experience but in service of telling a story about how going to that specific graduate program is a key part of continuing your academic trajectory and advancing your research and professional goals. One tip I would offer is to build in time to write, time to receive feedback (from trusted advisors or others in your network), and time to polish so that there are no little slipups. You don’t want to accidentally list another university’s name or the wrong professor! Ideally, you will also work backwards from the deadline to ensure you have given adequate time for referees to write good letters and for you to assemble supporting documents in line with the application requirements.

Q: Are there services that at the centre they can best utilize for this?

YH: The Tutorial Service would be an excellent way to get another set of eyes on your application. Other people can spot missteps in logic or structure or grammar far more easily than we can (especially if we’re tired or in a rush). Don’t forget, 7 hours per term! In addition, I urge all students to consider taking a writing or oral communication course during their studies so that they can benefit from structured teaching, regular feedback, and a supportive environment to continue honing their skills and craft.

Overcoming Writer's Block and Finding Your Muse

​​​​​​​Q:  Is there any general advice you would give to students who are experiencing writers block or just don't know where to start with an assignment?

YH: Set a timer for 20 minutes and start writing. You’ll be astonished at how giving yourself a fixed start and finish time can help to jolt oneself to get ideas onto the page. If you feel unsure of where to start, you can book an appointment with a writing tutor who can help you at any stage of the project. And if you’re a graduate student, you can sign up for one of our regular writing retreats, which are led by an experienced facilitator who will guide you to set reasonable writing goals, offer nature or stretch breaks, and be a source of good cheer as you lean into the difficult and rewarding work of communicating ideas in a clear and precise manner.

If you are interested in utilizing this service, there are multiple upcoming resources including:

- presentation tutoring pilot for May-June:

- Their work with First Peoples’ House whereby our dedicated writing tutor has been working with the first ever indigenous valedictorian.

- Their writing support for applicants to the prestigious Vanier and Banting awards in the summer. More details to come!

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How ‘Young Sheldon’ Finally Got to That Heartbreaking Moment: ‘Endings Are Always Really Difficult’

By Jim Halterman

Jim Halterman

  • ‘Young Sheldon’ Stars Iain Armitage and Annie Potts on Jim Parsons’ Finale Return and the Show’s Surprise End: ‘We Were Completely Ambushed by This’ 3 weeks ago
  • How ‘The Conners’ Went From Nearly DOA to a Milestone 100th Episode — and What’s Next: ‘There’s So Much More to Do’ 1 month ago
  • ‘When We Rise’ EP Dustin Lance Black: ‘This Is Going to Be More Timely Than I Thought’ 7 years ago

“A New Home and a Traditional Texas Torture” - George Sr. gets an exciting job offer, and Sheldon prepares for his move to California, on YOUNG SHELDON, Thursday, May 9 (8:31-9:01 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the episode airs)*.   Pictured: Iain Armitage as Sheldon   Photo Credit: Bill Inoshita / 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

SPOILER ALERT: The following interview discusses events from the “ Young Sheldon ” episode “A New Home and a Traditional Texas Torture,” streaming on Paramount+ as of May 10.

We knew it was going to happen — since it was foretold on “The Big Bang Theory” — but that didn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to one of “Young Sheldon’s” original cast members. In the final moments in the second of two episodes airing back-to-back on May 9, the Cooper family received word that curmudgeon patriarch George Cooper (Lance Barber) had died of a heart attack.

Now that this heartbreaking loss has happened, “Young Sheldon” will next say goodbye itself in back-to-back episodes airing on May 16, as well as facing the tasks of saying goodbye to the rest of the cast (though its spin-off “Georgie and Mandy’s First Marriage”is set to air this fall on CBS ) — and send Sheldon off to his future at Caltech. “The way we brought this show to an end here, it’s emotional,” says executive producer Steve Holland . “I was emotional doing it. It’s emotional for the characters. It’s emotional watching it back.”

Here, Holland also shares how the writers figured out how (and when) to portray George’s death, how Barber took the news about his character dying and what other information from “The Big Bang Theory” needed to be honored.

You guys have done this before, when you wrapped up “The Big Bang Theory.”But how challenging was it to land all the points you wanted before the end of the series?  

Since you’ve been asked about it for the last seven years, planning George’s death, did you guys know this is how you wanted to play it? Or was it something you kept going back and forth on?

We always knew we were going to address it this season. We always knew we were going to get to the funeral this season. And we always knew that George’s death would happen off screen, that we didn’t want to witness it. It was just a question of when. There was a version of this, as we talked about it earlier on, where it would have been: The finale would have been the death and the funeral. I think it was Chuck [Lorre, executive producer] who said, “This is mostly a positive, uplifting show. Let’s not leave the audience deep in their grief. Let’s watch the family start to piece itself back together, and let’s end with a little hope.” So then that re-shifted when we were going to do it.

And then also, just because we know some people are expecting it, I know there’s a lot of talk of whether it’s going to happen or not going to happen, but people who know “Big Bang” are expecting it. We wanted to do it in a way that was hopefully a little surprising. So that’s why it happens at the end of [Episode 12] — we thought maybe we can catch people off guard. Even though they know it’s going to come, maybe they won’t see it coming then.

Touching on “Big Bang,” we’ve known that George died when Sheldon is 14, but were there other details from the show that you had to live up to?

It was pretty much just his age. And to be honest, even “Big Bang” canon isn’t entirely consistent. It got more consistent. We know it was 14 and we know that Sheldon goes to Caltech right afterwards and leaves Georgie and the rest of the family behind grieving. Those were the two pieces that we knew.

Was it a tough conversation to have with Lance Barber, since he knew this could be coming?

He’s known since the beginning of the show that George Sr. had an expiration date. We slowed time down a little bit. Like, we extended it because the kids, our actual cast members Raegan and Iain, are 16 in real life. We stretched one year out into a couple seasons to keep Lance alive as far as long as we could. But he always knew this was coming.

And I think also it being the last season made it a little easier on him that there wasn’t going to be seasons going forward that he wasn’t going to get to be a part of, but he was great because he really wanted to be there.

In Episode 12, George gets a college coaching job offer that would take him and the family to Houston. What did that story say for the character and the family?

Talk to me about the last time we and the family sees George alive. He’s just going to work like an ordinary morning without any grand moment. Why?

We really talked a lot about that. It was interesting how much work we put into a scene where nothing exciting happened, and we kept making sure that was the case. We thought a lot about the reality of the situation is that you don’t recognize that these are big moments going into them. You only recognize that these are big moments in retrospect. And dad leaving for work is a thing that happens every day. There was no reason for anyone to stop and think, you know, this moment is special. We also thought that moving forward it left them with a little bit more regret that they didn’t appreciate those moments, but it just really felt like that was very real.

We even pulled out where no one says goodbye to him. We kept pulling things away [from the scene] so no one had a moment. For Missy, he offers her a ride to school and she says she’ll take the bus. Sheldon doesn’t even look up. Mary’s on him about making sure he’s not going to be late later on. No one even says goodbye to him.

We see a few people come back in episode 712, like Sheldon’s childhood friend, Tam (Ryan Phuong) and we see a couple of the teachers at the school. Was there a lot of talk about who you would bring back?

Yeah, definitely. There were certainly some characters that we wanted to acknowledge because they’ve been such an important part of the show. It would have been great to bring back Jason Alexander [who played Sheldon’s teacher Gene Lundy in five episodes], who we love. Some things just didn’t work out logistically, and it didn’t make sense in the story. But Tam had been such a big part of the story, and with Sheldon’s friend — and also trying to keep alive “Big Bang” canon when Sheldon goes off to Caltech, and Tam stays behind with his girlfriend. So trying to make a nod that to Sheldon, they’re still best friends. And then Mr. Givens, and we love Brian Stepanek who plays him.

In the last scene of the episode when the family gets the news that George has died, of course, Missy, Mary and Connie just break down immediately. But was there a lot of discussion about how Sheldon would react? Or was that an easy choice given the character, and how he deals with emotion?

We knew that Sheldon would process things internally, that Sheldon is not an outward emotive person. So it was really just about the details like, is he standing and does he sit or is he already sitting? It was really fine tuning those small details to get the exact right moment for him. But no, the thought that he would not outwardly express his grief was always baked into the character.

Was it a challenge for Iain Armitage not to just unload his emotions because this big moment’s happening that they’ve all known was coming?

What should we expect in those final two episodes airing next Thursday?

You know, the Coopers have to deal with their grief over the death of George Sr. And Sheldon has to prepare to start his life journey onto Caltech in California.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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A bright pink and red sky with green lights underneath.

Why are auroras so hard to predict? And when can we expect more?

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Associate Professor, RMIT University

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ARC Future Fellow, University of Newcastle

Disclosure statement

Brett Carter receives funding from the Australian Research Council and the Department of Industry, Science and Resources. He is also currently serving as an Editor for the American Geophysical Union's journal Space Weather.

Hannah Schunker receives funding from the Australian Government in an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship Award (project number FT220100330) 'Closing the Solar Cycle'.

RMIT University provides funding as a strategic partner of The Conversation AU.

University of Newcastle provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

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On Saturday evening before Mother’s Day, Australians witnessed a rare celestial spectacle: a breathtaking display of aurora australis, also known as the southern lights.

Social media was flooded with photos of the vivid pinks, greens and blues lighting up the skies from local beaches and backyards all over the country.

Auroras are normally visible near Earth’s north and south poles. In Australia, they are typically only seen in Tasmania. However, due to rare and special space weather conditions, this time people could see them as far north as Queensland .

The Australian Space Weather Forecasting Centre first issued a potential extreme ( G5 , most severe level) geomagnetic storm warning on Saturday morning .

Lucky Australians who received this warning, and those who happened to look outside that evening, were rewarded with an amazing spectacle. However, by sunset on Sunday, the chance of aurora had subsided, leaving many hopeful viewers in the dark.

What happened? Why are auroras so hard to predict, and how reliable are aurora forecasts? To answer this, we need to know a bit more about space weather.

What is space weather?

Auroras on Earth are related to the Sun’s magnetic field. The Sun’s activity increases and decreases over an 11-year period called the solar cycle. We are currently approaching the solar cycle maximum , meaning there’s a higher number of sunspots on the Sun’s surface.

is writing a thesis difficult

These sunspot regions have intense magnetic fields, which can lead to huge explosions of electromagnetic radiation called “solar flares”, and eruptions of material into space, called “coronal mass ejections”.

When this material is directed towards Earth, it collides with Earth’s protective magnetic field, kicking off a series of complex interactions between the magnetic field and the plasma in the ionosphere, part of Earth’s upper atmosphere.

The charged particles resulting from these interactions then interact with the upper atmosphere , causing beautiful and dynamic auroras. The conditions in space produced by this chain of events are what we call “space weather”.

Everyday space weather generally poses no threat, but these events – known as geomagnetic storms – can impact power supply , satellites , communications and GPS, potentially leaving lasting damage .

Saturday’s dazzling display was produced by the most intense geomagnetic storm since November 2003. Fortunately, this time there have been no reports of major disruptions to power grids, but SpaceX’s Starlink constellation was reportedly impacted.

Why are geomagnetic storms hard to predict?

Last weekend’s geomagnetic storm was caused by a large and complex region of sunspots that launched a series of solar flares and a train of coronal mass ejections.

Space weather prediction is challenging, and the physics is complex. Even when we see an eruption on the Sun, it’s not clear if or when it will hit Earth, or how strong the effects might be.

Predicted arrival times can be off by up to 12 hours, and it is only when the eruption arrives at monitoring spacecraft close to our planet that can we can gauge the strength of an impending geomagnetic storm.

As a result, aurora hunters really only have up to a few hours advanced notice to decide whether venturing outside is worthwhile or not.

Can we expect more auroras soon?

At the time of writing, the sunspot region responsible for the recent display is still spitting out X-class flares and eruptions, but it’s no longer facing Earth directly. It is possible this region will still be active when it faces Earth again, but this remains to be seen.

However, as we approach solar cycle maximum, other large complex sunspot regions are likely to form and, if the conditions are right, produce more spectacular aurora displays.

A pink and green sky reflected in still water, stars visible at the top.

How to check for aurora forecasts?

Thousands of Australians lined the beaches looking towards the horizon on Sunday night hoping for a second show, only to be disappointed. Official space weather and aurora forecasts provide a wide range of possibilities that must be communicated with the appropriate nuance.

The most reliable sources of information about space weather and aurora are agencies such as the Bureau of Meteorology’s Australian Space Weather Forecasting Centre or the United States NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center .

Not only do they provide aurora forecasts , but they also play a vital role in safeguarding infrastructure from the negative impacts of space weather.

Space weather research

Looking ahead, scientists in Australia and around the world are working hard to improve our understanding and prediction of space weather events.

By studying the Sun’s magnetic activity and developing advanced forecasting models of the complex processes that happen between the Sun and Earth, we can better predict and prepare for future space weather events.

A better understanding will help protect important technologies that we rely upon. It will also alert people to step outside and witness a phenomenon that not only lights up the sky, but ignites a profound sense of wonder.

Correction: this article was amended to correct the name of the Australian Space Weather Forecasting Centre.

  • Magnetosphere
  • Solar maximum
  • Solar activity
  • Space weather
  • Aurora borealis
  • Aurora Australis
  • Solar minimum
  • solar cycle

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What one thing do you remember most about Donald Trump’s presidency?

In April as part of the New York Times/Siena College survey, we called about 1,000 voters across the country and asked for their most prominent memory of the Trump years. Here’s what they said, in their own words.

“ His honesty ”

Trump supporter in 2024

“ His lies ”

Biden supporter

“ He had the country headed in the right direction ”

Trump supporter

“ America was going in the wrong direction ”

“ He was a crook ”

“ He couldn’t be bought ”

“ Efficient ”

“ Incompetent ”

“ Less division ”

“ Divided the country ”

The One Thing Voters Remember About Trump

By Christine Zhang ,  Sean Catangui and Alex Lemonides

The 2024 election will be in part a battle over memories, perhaps more than in previous presidential races because it’s a rare rematch. And memories aren’t necessarily static — what is happening today can influence those memories.

Two of the biggest U.S. news events in decades, the Covid pandemic and the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, are seldom the first thing on people’s minds when it comes to their memories of the Trump administration, for example, according to an April Times/Siena survey of registered voters nationwide .

When asked to describe the one thing they remembered most from Donald J. Trump’s presidency, only 5 percent of respondents referred to Jan. 6, and only 4 percent to Covid.

“It’s the salience of issues today that color the memories that people have of Trump,” said John Sides, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt.

The importance of issues of the moment may explain the large number of responses about the economy as opposed to Covid or Jan. 6, which have largely receded from the headlines.

Thinking back to when Donald Trump was president, what one thing do you remember most about Donald Trump’s presidency?

Trump’s behavior

The economy


Foreign policy

Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of 1,059 registered voters conducted April 7 to 11, 2024.

Top six categories shown.

Because of recency bias — a tendency to focus on recent events instead of past ones — people typically feel their current problems most sharply. And they tend to have a warmer recall of past experiences, which can lead to a sense of nostalgia. Like past presidents, Mr. Trump has enjoyed a higher approval rating of his time in office in retrospect.

Voters who shared negative memories of the Trump years overwhelmingly mentioned aspects of his behavior and personality, while the bulk of positive memories were about the economy.

Over a third of voters shared a positive memory. The same percentage shared a negative one. (Some memories could not be clearly categorized.) The Trump and Biden campaigns are sure to try to emphasize and remind voters of the memories favorable to them.

Here’s a closer look at some of the respondents’ most common memories of Mr. Trump’s years in office.

Comments from voters who said what they remembered most was Trump’s behavior

“ He was the biggest liar ever ”

Biden supporter in 2024

“ His dislike for Black people ”

“ The terrible things he did to women ”

“ Chaos and corruption ”

“ The disgrace he brought to this country ”

“ His direct way of doing business ”

“ I remember him using Twitter a lot ”

“ He got things done and fulfilled campaign promises ”

Selected responses from a New York Times/Siena College poll of 1,059 registered voters conducted April 7 to 11, 2024.

About two-thirds of the comments about Mr. Trump’s behavior and personality came from voters who said they would support President Biden in November.

Voters tended to speak about Mr. Trump’s personality traits in general terms, rather than recalling specific memories. These respondents were most likely using the question as a vehicle to express their views of Mr. Trump, in addition to or instead of calling to mind a specific memory, Mr. Sides said. Their answers are “a mixture of opinion and, maybe, memory,” he said.

For example, some referred to him as a liar. Others said they remembered him as sexist or racist. Dozens of voters simply replied “chaos.”

Biden supporters were far more likely to cite Mr. Trump’s behavior and personality than any specific issue. Some of them may have spoken about Mr. Trump generally because of the multitude of controversies during his time in office, Mr. Sides said. “If you don’t like Trump and your memory of Trump is essentially a negatively colored memory, it’s easier to sum it up in this fairly broad way by just critiquing him as a person,” he said.

Relatively few voters cited positive memories of Mr. Trump’s behavior and personality. Those who did typically used a common refrain: that he “got things done” or “did what he set out to do.”

This could, again, be a way for voters to express an opinion without a specific memory.

It could also reflect a persona that Mr. Trump has honed at rallies and in campaign communications, said Seth Masket, a professor of political science at the University of Denver. These recollections are not necessarily “bound by reality,” he said. “They’re images. They’re reputations.”

Comments from voters who said what they remembered most was the economy

“ The economy ”

“ The economy was a little better than it is now ”

“ The economy was in a lot better shape than it is now ”

“ Gas was cheap and we were using our own oil ”

“ That he gave out the stimulus checks ”

“ Tax cuts for the rich ”

“ The tax cuts ”

“ Good economy, no wars ”

Voters who cited the economy as their top memory largely looked back on the Trump years as a time of prosperity. A large share of these comments came from Trump supporters, many of whom said, generically, “the economy.”

“A lot of that is kind of a response to what people perceive as a not good economy now,” Mr. Masket said. Memories of a thriving Trump-era economy could reflect the salience of lingering inflation as an issue faced by President Biden today.

Presidents don’t have as much influence over the economy as many voters assume. For example, most rich countries like the U.S. experienced inflation spikes and then declines in inflation as the pandemic wound down, and economists have generally praised the U.S. recovery . But many voters are typically worried about economic signals right in front of them in the moment.

The many responses mentioning lower gas prices under Mr. Trump, for example, were a way for voters to draw a contrast between the two candidates. “In 2020, when no one could travel, gas prices were very low,” Mr. Masket said. Higher gas prices were “one of the most notable features of inflation” during the pandemic recovery, he added.

Comments from voters who said what they remembered most was immigration

“ He saved our country and closed the border ”

“ The wall ”

“ Started the wall on the border ”

“ His promise to build a wall ”

“ He did attempt to start building the wall ”

“ He did something about the border ”

“ Putting children in cages ”

The Biden administration has grappled with the surge in illegal crossings along the border with Mexico, making it an issue with higher salience. Trump supporters who remembered Mr. Trump’s immigration politics tended to cite his promises to build a wall along the border and his hard-line approach to border security, things they saw as standing in contrast with Mr. Biden’s approach.

The small number of Biden supporters in the survey whose main memory of Mr. Trump was about immigration almost all mentioned Trump-era policies that led to family separations at the border.

Comments from voters who said what they remembered most was Covid or Jan. 6

“ When he refused to turn over power ”

“ He should be in jail for the Jan. 6 incident ”

“ Involvement with the Jan. 6 riot attack on the capital ”

“ Jan. 6 and his unwillingness to accept the election results ”

“ His anti-science views; he called Covid a liberal hoax ”

“ He called Covid-19 a hoax and was a constant liar ”

“ Total incompetence in handling the Covid-19 crisis ”

“ Negligence in providing accurate Covid information ”

The fading of Covid and Jan. 6 from people’s memories about Mr. Trump — less than 10 percent of survey respondents mentioned them — is still surprising, Mr. Masket said. “In many ways, the most recent things about his presidency are not the things that people remember about him,” he said.

Voters may be loath to revisit unpleasant memories of the pandemic, he said. This helps Mr. Trump in some ways. “Trump almost gets a pass,” he said, adding, “He just gets, ‘Well, the first three years were good and the fourth year wasn’t his fault.’”

Thoughts of Covid and Jan. 6 could have informed other answers, even if voters didn’t cite them specifically, Mr. Sides said. For instance, voters could have been thinking of these events when giving responses mentioning Mr. Trump’s lies or chaos and division during his time in office.

Comments from voters who said what they remembered most was foreign policy

“ No new wars ”

“ Knew how to talk to foreign people and keep peace with everyone ”

“ Peace in the Middle East ”

“ World peace ”

“ Stability among nations ”

“ Opening up communication with North Korea ”

“ Threatening nuclear war against North Korea ”

“ Probably when he made peace with North Korea and he was the first president to step foot on Korean soil ”

A handful of voters in the survey, mostly Trump supporters, looked back on the Trump years as a time of peace. This may be because of the two major international conflicts — the Israel-Hamas war and the Russia-Ukraine war — that are dominant in the public consciousness today. As with responses about the economy and immigration, these responses may reflect an implicit critique of Mr. Biden’s handling of foreign policy.

A few voters — both Biden and Trump supporters — specifically mentioned North Korea in their top memory of Mr. Trump as president, in particular his meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, at the Demilitarized Zone.

More About the Times/Siena Poll

is writing a thesis difficult

You Ask, We Answer: How The Times/Siena Poll Is Conducted

The New York Times/Siena College Poll has earned a reputation for accuracy and transparency. But as with any poll, there are limits to just how much you can derive.

By The New York Times

There is time for perceptions to shift before November, and for other issues to take hold. (The survey was conducted before the start of Mr. Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial.)

In the battle over memories, the Biden campaign will be trying to remind voters of some older ones that reflect poorly on Mr. Trump.

In April, Mr. Biden shared a video on social media of Mr. Trump’s suggestion to inject disinfectant during the early days of the pandemic. And on Tuesday, the Biden campaign released a digital ad that interspersed Mr. Trump’s criticism of immigrants along with images of crying women and children.

“If people are mostly thinking about the economy, that seems to be helping Trump right now, and what the Biden team is going to try and do is keep raising other issues, keep raising, you know, Jan. 6 as an issue or chaos and Covid as an issue,” Mr. Masket said.

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  1. 25 Thesis Statement Examples (2024)

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  1. Developing A Thesis

    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.

  2. 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.

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    3. Fill out with data - ensure that the flow of the day to make sense. 4. Expand the bullet point prompts into sentences. 5. As soon as a section is complete send it to your supervisor for corrections and suggestions. 6. Write abstract and conclusions to bookend the thesis.

  4. 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.

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    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 ...

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    Step 2: Write your initial answer. After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process. The internet has had more of a positive than a negative effect on education.

  7. Developing a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement . . . Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic. Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper. Is focused and specific enough to be "proven" within the boundaries of your paper. Is generally located near the end ...

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    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 ...

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    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.

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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 ...

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    This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel's argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel's argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis. Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence)

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