A. Meaning and Features: A thesis is a detailed knowledge and information about the research problem. It can also be called as a dissertation. In a research study, thesis writing is the final and most critical part. It is also considered to be the final requirement for an academic degree. Some of the features and characteristics of a thesis are:
- A thesis is usually in the form of a very long detailed essay divided into chapters.
- It is an original piece of work based on primary or secondary data.
- Although every thesis is unique in content and intent, yet they share a few common elements.
- These elements can vary from one discipline to another and one institution to another.
- Every thesis is considered to be an important formal document that adds to the existing body of knowledge.
- It is different from research papers, term papers and journal articles.
B. Considerations for Thesis Writing
It is important to consider the following points before a researcher starts working on a thesis:
1. Structure and Style: A thesis should be well structured and organised. It should follow three basic principles- unity, coherence and development. That is, one needs to check whether the structure of the thesis has a logical flow. Unity goes hand in hand with coherence. A well-structured thesis fits all the elements together in a convincing way.
2. Language and Tone: In a thesis, one is expected to demonstrate good grammar, formal academic tone, and thoughtful consideration about the topic. A well-presented thesis starts with good sentences. Each sentence should present a different idea. Do not make sentences look similar in meaning. One should also avoid using fancy words. It is good to say precisely what one means and avoid using superfluous statements.
- In terms of tenses, most academic writing uses the present tense.
- Past tense is used to refer to only past events. Future tense may be used when one is giving a recommendation or presenting plans and events to happen with a high degree of certainty. Make sure the language and tone are consistent throughout the article.
3. Editing: Plan to prepare two full drafts. This allows you to see the errors by yourselves. Make your academic friends or fellow researchers read at least the introduction part to gather some constructive feedback. Also, set yourself a deadline for submission (before the actual one) because revisions can go on and on. Prepare a checklist for editing which answers these concerns:
- Does your argument remain the same and clear throughout the thesis?
- Is your tone appropriate?
- Have you presented contemporary knowledge about the topic or just relying on classical theories and concepts?
- Is your literature review helping to contextualise the topic for the readers?
- Does the introduction present the idea and plan of your thesis clearly?
Maintaining this checklist will help you revise your thesis by yourself, time and again.
4. Supervision: If you don’t know where you are going, you are likely to end up where you don’t want to be.
- A constant supervision is needed for the desired piece of research work.
- It is very important to consult your supervisor regularly about the structure, references, literature and so on.
- Indicate all the sections and sub-sections properly and be guided by an outline or plan. After small accomplishments, consult your supervisor timely and make prompt revisions. Keeping yourself on the toes helps you to synthesise your piece of writing into a coherent and well-articulated thesis.
C. Format of the Thesis
The format of a thesis is usually specified by the supervisor or the institution. Nonetheless, thesis writing will follow a general format consisting of the following elements:
- Title: The title must give the sense of what you are examining. It must condense what you are doing and has to short (less than 15 words) but catchy.
- Acknowledgement: This section should be present in the simplest way by acknowledging the contribution of supervisors, institution, fellow research scholars, friends and family.
- Table of contents: Table of contents should give a sense of the organisation and logical arrangement of your work. Each chapter and section should be properly marked with page numbers.
- Introduction: This is the most widely read section of a thesis. Therefore, it should be interesting, logical, short, to the point, informative and complete. An introduction gives a fair idea of whether your thesis has been well presented or not.
- Abstract: Some thesis would have an abstract also, usually at the beginning of the chapters, introduction and conclusion. An abstract should provide a good and clear summary of your work. This is important because this will be the most widely read section if you ever think of getting your separate chapters published in journals.
- Methods: Usually, there is a separate chapter dedicated to the discussion on methods. With regard to methods, you must provide a justification for the method you have used. Discuss alternative methods also and then justify why you chose one method over others and how the choice of this method is relevant to your topic.
- Literature Review: This is another important element of a thesis and is also presented in a separate chapter. This part should highlight your knowledge of the existing literature. One should use recent debates to contextualise the topic and make sure that your debate or commentary fits in the larger topic. Show the outcomes of the other researchers’ works. It is vital that you include concepts and ideas by experts in this section.
- Referencing: It is a very important part of a thesis and should be error-free. Make sure to follow the correct reference format. There is a general preference for the APA (American Psychological Association) style. However, it varies between the disciplines; make sure you know which format is being used in your department or college. Good referencing within chapters is important because it allows the readers to differentiate between the previous knowledge and your original idea, argument and thought.
Other than these points, the thesis will also include footnotes, tables, figures, bibliography, appendix and index.
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