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Thesis Proposal


Students submit thesis proposals to their major professors in order to show the intended direction and scope of the theses. Thesis proposals are very important, because they give professors a chance to approve the work before the students thoroughly invest themselves in their topics.

Thesis proposals may take any of various formats; if the professor does not have a preferred format, a bulleted list or an outline may serve the purpose well, because the student can provide the general ideas of the project without having to explain them fully. It is not a problem if, when beginning to write the proposal, the student does not know the entire argumentative trajectory of the thesis; the proposal's goal is only to put something on paper from which the student can begin to work in earnest.

The student may profitably follow these steps in developing a thesis proposal. First, the student should identify the topic. Second, the student should note what he or she intends to say about that topic; this element should take the form of a strong thesis statement that clearly defines the thesis's hypothesis or line of argument. Third, the student should write a list of the points he or she wishes to make to support that hypothesis. While these points should be as specific and viable as possible, the student will probably modify, add to, or subtract from them during the writing of the actual thesis. Fourth, the student should comment on how he or she plans to ground this thesis in academic reality, such as through the conducting of a certain series of experiments, through extensive reading, or through other methods. Finally, the student should propose a target date for the completion of the thesis.

Students should take care to draft useful thesis proposals. A professor is likely to approve a strong thesis proposal but to show doubts about a weak or vague one. If the student writes a good thesis proposal, it will help guide him or her through the vast labyrinth of the thesis project and will promote the full development of a sound, defensible thesis.


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