Skip Nav

How to Write Your Thesis

Language & Lit

❶I've been searching on the net for resources or writing guides that will help me put my research proposal together in order to start working on my thesis as soon as the semester commences.

Navigation: Main Content Sections

How to Write a Thesis Statement
How to Cite
Navigation: Quick Links

The outline will be beneficial to you to "see where you're going" as you move forward in your project, but also to give your committee members an idea of what you want to accomplish and how you plan to do so. Know what to include. You should check with your university for the exact requirements, which are often strict and institutionally specific.

However, most Master's theses should include the following: Part 3 Quiz True or False: You should show your outline to your committee members.

One approach that works for many people is to use a reverse calendar, where you plan your writing schedule from the due date and work backward. Write a little every day. Writing a page thesis can be a daunting task, but if you write 1, words every day over the course of 2 months, for example, then you will be able to meet that deadline with ease. Your exact timeframe will differ, but you should try to give yourself as much time as possible to write, and no less than a month.

Try not to get frustrated and put off your work because then it will pile up and become unmanageable. Try the Pomodoro Technique. This breaks your work into manageable chunks and can cut down on the feeling of being overwhelmed that often accompanies a large, long-term project.

It is important, especially when working on a large-scale project, to give your brain a break every now and then. You'll catch mistakes you didn't see before and come up with new answers you couldn't think of before. Find a writing time that works for you. Some people work best in the morning, while others are able to focus more effectively at night. If you are unsure of when you are most productive, try different approaches and see what seems to work the best for you.

You may find that your thesis proposal is a useful jumping off point for writing your introduction. You may want to revisit and revise your introduction at several points throughout your writing process, perhaps even each time you finish a large section or chapter.

Incorporate the review of literature. If you were required to write a review of literature prior to beginning your thesis, good news: Again, you may need to reshape and revise the work, and you will likely also find occasion to add to the review as you move forward with your work. The remainder of the thesis varies greatly by field. A science-based thesis will involve few secondary sources as the remainder of your work will involve describing and presenting the results of a study.

A literary thesis, on the other hand, will likely continue to cite secondary scholarship as it builds an analysis or reading of a particular text or texts.

Write a powerful conclusion. Your conclusion should detail the importance of this Master's thesis to the subject community and may suggest the direction that future researchers might follow to continue with relevant information on the subject.

Be sure to include relevant charts, graphs, and figure as appropriate. You may also need to add appendices at the end of your work that are germane to your work but tangential to the central question of your Master's thesis. Be sure that all aspects of your work are formatted in accordance with the guidelines of your institutional and discipline expectations.

Part 4 Quiz How can you make sure your schedule is reasonable? By making sure you finish with plenty of time to spare. By making sure you're working 2 hours every day. By creating a reverse schedule. Compare your draft with your university's requirements.

The formatting requirements for theses and dissertations are notoriously tedious and complicated. Make sure that your documents adhere to all of the requirements laid out by your department, in general, and by your committee chair, in specific.

Many departments or programs provide a document template for theses and dissertations. If you have one of these, it may be easiest to use such a template from the beginning of your work rather than copying and pasting your writing into it.

Re-read the entire thesis for correctness. Take a week or so off, if possible, once you have finished writing and give your brain a break. Then, go back with fresh eyes to catch any grammatical errors or typos you may have made.

When you are so deep in the writing process, it is easy to just read what you mean instead of what you actually wrote. So it is important to take a step back so that you can evaluate your work and your writing more effectively. Follow all printing guidelines according to your department's policies. You will probably have to pay out of pocket to print one or more copies of your Master's thesis for your university, as well as any other personal copies you may want for yourself.

Make sure you abide by these guidelines to avoid any potential setbacks during this final stage. Prepare for your thesis defense. After completing the written portion of your Master's thesis, you will probably have to participate in a defense involving you presenting the ideas discussed in your thesis to your committee members.

This is a great opportunity to show what you have learned during the process and to give your committee members a chance to bring up any questions or concerns they might have.

Your institution likely has very specific guidelines for submitting your thesis. Most universities require you to upload your thesis to Pro Quest for electronic publication or at least tracking through their dissertation and thesis archive. Some institutions require you to submit your thesis for a formatting check prior to uploading the document to ProQuest. Be aware of thesis submission deadlines, which are often well in advance of your graduation date.

Late submission of your thesis may force you to push back your graduation date, which may affect your employment or continuing graduate studies. Part 5 Quiz What is a thesis defense? The introduction, where you tell your reader why your thesis is correct. When you present your thesis ideas to your committee members.

An argument between you and your thesis head. Start by getting a theme. Then, structure your proposal in steps: Introduction, information about the topic, an elaboration on your studies, a conclusion, and a collection of links and books that you used for your studying. Not Helpful 3 Helpful It depends on your specific school, and the program that you are in. You can reach out to your academic counselor to find out specifically what is expected in your thesis.

Not Helpful 9 Helpful 9. How can I tell if I need to do a qualitative or quantitative master's thesis? Answer this question Flag as Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Quick Summary To write a master's thesis, make it a goal to write words every day, which will help you meet your deadline without having to rush at the last minute.

Did this summary help you? Tips An exhaustive review of the literature and research available on similar topics will save you from time consuming revisions before presenting your work. Remember why you are writing a Master's thesis and who will want to read and use the material.

You write a Master's thesis for members of your community, so keep in mind that they will have extensive knowledge and experience before reading your work. Don't bore them with unnecessary material. Choosing the perfect question before starting research will prevent frustration and save time. Rigorous effort on finding the perfect question is probably the most important task when learning how to write a Master's thesis.

When you have some data, start making plots and tables of the data. These will help you to visualize the data and to see gaps in your data collection. If time permits, you should go back and fill in the gaps. You are finished when you have a set of plots that show a definite trend or lack of a trend. Be sure to make adequate statistical tests of your results. Once you have a complete set of plots and statistical tests, arrange the plots and tables in a logical order.

Write figure captions for the plots and tables. As much as possible, the captions should stand alone in explaining the plots and tables. Many scientists read only the abstract, figures, figure captions, tables, table captions, and conclusions of a paper. Be sure that your figures, tables and captions are well labeled and well documented. Once your plots and tables are complete, write the results section.

Writing this section requires extreme discipline. You must describe your results, but you must NOT interpret them. If good ideas occur to you at this time, save them at the bottom of the page for the discussion section. Be factual and orderly in this section, but try not to be too dry.

Once you have written the results section, you can move on to the discussion section. This is usually fun to write, because now you can talk about your ideas about the data. Many papers are cited in the literature because they have a good cartoon that subsequent authors would like to use or modify. In writing the discussion session, be sure to adequately discuss the work of other authors who collected data on the same or related scientific questions.

Be sure to discuss how their work is relevant to your work. If there were flaws in their methodology, this is the place to discuss it. After you have discussed the data, you can write the conclusions section. In this section, you take the ideas that were mentioned in the discussion section and try to come to some closure. If some hypothesis can be ruled out as a result of your work, say so. If more work is needed for a definitive answer, say that.

The final section in the paper is a recommendation section. This is really the end of the conclusion section in a scientific paper. Make recommendations for further research or policy actions in this section.

If you can make predictions about what will be found if X is true, then do so. You will get credit from later researchers for this. After you have finished the recommendation section, look back at your original introduction. Your introduction should set the stage for the conclusions of the paper by laying out the ideas that you will test in the paper. Now that you know where the paper is leading, you will probably need to rewrite the introduction.

You must write your abstract last. All figures and tables should be numbered and cited consecutively in the text as figure 1, figure 2, table 1, table 2, etc. Include a caption for each figure and table, citing how it was constructed reference citations, data sources, etc. Include an index figure map showing and naming all locations discussed in paper. You are encouraged to make your own figures, including cartoons, schematics or sketches that illustrate the processes that you discuss.

Examine your figures with these questions in mind: Is the figure self-explanatory? Are your axes labeled and are the units indicated? Show the uncertainty in your data with error bars. If the data are fit by a curve, indicate the goodness of fit.

Could chart junk be eliminated? Could non-data ink be eliminated? Could redundant data ink be eliminated? Could data density be increased by eliminating non-data bearing space? Is this a sparse data set that could better be expressed as a table? Does the figure distort the data in any way? Are the data presented in context? Does the figure caption guide the reader's eye to the "take-home lesson" of the figure?

Figures should be oriented vertically, in portrait mode, wherever possible. If you must orient them horizontally, in landscape mode, orient them so that you can read them from the right, not from the left, where the binding will be. If there are no data provided to support a given statement of result or observation, consider adding more data, or deleting the unsupported "observation. Final Thesis Make 3 final copies: Final thesis should be bound. Printed cleanly on white paper.

Double-spaced using point font. Resources The Barnard Writing Room provides assistance on writing senior theses. Look at other theses on file in the Environmental Science department, they will give you an idea of what we are looking for.

Of course do not hesitate to ask us, or your research advisor for help. The Barnard Environmental Science Department has many books on scientific writing, ask the departmental administrator for assistance in locating them.

Also see additional books listed as Resources. Copy Editing Proof read your thesis a few times. Make sure that you use complete sentences Check your grammar: Give it to others to read and comment. Content Editing logic repetition, relevance style. Avoiding ambiguity Do not allow run-on sentences to sneak into your writing; try semicolons. Avoid clauses or phrases with more than two ideas in them. Do not use double negatives. Do not use dangling participles i.

Make sure that the antecedent for every pronoun it, these, those, that, this, one is crystal clear. If in doubt, use the noun rather than the pronoun, even if the resulting sentence seems a little bit redundant. Ensure that subject and verb agree in number singular versus plural. Be especially careful with compound subjects. Avoid qualitative adjectives when describing concepts that are quantifiable "The water is deep.

Do not use unexplained acronyms. Spell out all acronyms the first time that you use them. Thesis length Write for brevity rather than length. Every paper you write should have a main point, a main idea, or central message. The argument s you make in your paper should reflect this main idea. The sentence that captures your position on this main idea is what we call a thesis statement. A thesis statement focuses your ideas into one or two sentences.

It should present the topic of your paper and also make a comment about your position in relation to the topic. Your thesis statement should tell your reader what the paper is about and also help guide your writing and keep your argument focused. You should provide a thesis early in your essay -- in the introduction, or in longer essays in the second paragraph -- in order to establish your position and give your reader a sense of direction. Your thesis statement should be as clear and specific as possible.

Normally you will continue to refine your thesis as you revise your argument s , so your thesis will evolve and gain definition as you obtain a better sense of where your argument is taking you. Your thesis should be limited to what can be accomplished in the specified number of pages.

Shape your topic so that you can get straight to the "meat" of it. Being specific in your paper will be much more successful than writing about general things that do not say much.

Don't settle for three pages of just skimming the surface. The opposite of a focused, narrow, crisp thesis is a broad, sprawling, superficial thesis.

Compare this original thesis too general with three possible revisions more focused, each presenting a different approach to the same topic:. Your thesis statement is no exception to your writing: By being as clear as possible in your thesis statement, you will make sure that your reader understands exactly what you mean. These words tell the reader next to nothing if you do not carefully explain what you mean by them. Never assume that the meaning of a sentence is obvious.

To avoid misunderstandings, be as specific as possible. Compare the original thesis not specific and clear enough with the revised version much more specific and clear:. Do not expect to come up with a fully formulated thesis statement before you have finished writing the paper. The thesis will inevitably change as you revise and develop your ideas—and that is ok!

Start with a tentative thesis and revise as your paper develops. Avoid, avoid, avoid generic arguments and formula statements. They work well to get a rough draft started, but will easily bore a reader. Keep revising until the thesis reflects your real ideas.


Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Do not interpret results - save that for the discussion. Lay out the case as for a jury. Present sufficient details so that others can draw their own inferences and construct their own explanations. Use S.I. units (m, s, kg, W, etc.) throughout the thesis.

Privacy FAQs

Or do the two statements imply a fuzzy unfocused thesis? If so, settle on one single focus and then proceed with further development. Is your thesis statement too general? Your thesis should be limited to what can be accomplished in the specified number of pages. Shape your topic so that you can get straight to the "meat" of it.

About Our Ads

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 . A thesis is not a topic; nor is it a fact; nor is it an opinion. "Reasons for the fall of communism" is a topic. "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" is a fact known by educated people.

Cookie Info

A thesis can be found in many places—a debate speech, a lawyer’s closing argument, even an advertisement. But the most common place for a thesis statement (and probably why you’re reading this article) is in an essay. How to Write a Thesis Statement What is a Thesis Statement? Almost all of us—even if we don’t do it consciously—look early in an essay for a one- or two-sentence condensation of .