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How to Write a Thesis


Because not all students who undertake thesis projects know how to write a thesis, some principles may help aid the writing process.

The primary task for someone who is learning how to write a thesis is simply to think critically and well about the thesis's subject. Good writing stems from good thinking, so a student who has carefully considered all available information and possible arguments on his or her subject has already solidly begun the writing process. By extension, students who have not settled on their opinions or have not completed the majority of their research may benefit from spending some more time on pre-writing tasks before they attempt writing.

Second, students who wish to learn how to write theses should remind themselves that academic writing is largely a synthesis between preexisting information and opinions and one's own opinions or contribution to the discussion. Therefore, for most academic disciplines, the student who understands how to write a thesis will combine his or her own ideas smoothly with research material; such a student will not write unsubstantiated opinions nor include information that does not tie in with the thesis's argument in a clearly stated way. An example paragraph, then, may in the first sentence state its main idea, which is some aspect of the author's opinion on the thesis subject, and then include three or four sentences that begin with phrases like, "contrary to Smith," or, "according to McDonald." These phrases that show relationships between the thesis writer's opinion and the opinions of authorities in the field are the hallmark of good academic writing and, by their showing similarities and differences with the work of other experts, will improve the clarity of the writer's argument.

Third, once students understand how to write theses that synthesize their original thoughts with those of other experts in the field, they should be sure to cite all sources properly and to format their theses according to the department's wishes. The department's style manual should provide excellent direction in all such matters.


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