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How to Create an Effective Thesis Statement in 5 Easy Steps

Creating a thesis statement can be a daunting task. It’s one of the most important sentences in your paper, and it needs to be done right. But don’t worry — with these five easy steps, you’ll be able to create an effective thesis statement in no time.

Step 1: Brainstorm Ideas

The first step is to brainstorm ideas for your paper. Think about what you want to say and write down any ideas that come to mind. This will help you narrow down your focus and make it easier to create your thesis statement.

Step 2: Research Your Topic

Once you have some ideas, it’s time to do some research on your topic. Look for sources that support your ideas and provide evidence for the points you want to make. This will help you refine your argument and make it more convincing.

Step 3: Formulate Your Argument

Now that you have done some research, it’s time to formulate your argument. Take the points you want to make and put them into one or two sentences that clearly state what your paper is about. This will be the basis of your thesis statement.

Step 4: Refine Your Thesis Statement

Once you have formulated your argument, it’s time to refine your thesis statement. Make sure that it is clear, concise, and specific. It should also be arguable so that readers can disagree with it if they choose.

Step 5: Test Your Thesis Statement

The last step is to test your thesis statement. Does it accurately reflect the points you want to make? Is it clear and concise? Does it make an arguable point? If not, go back and refine it until it meets all of these criteria.

Creating an effective thesis statement doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With these five easy steps, you can create a strong thesis statement in no time at all.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


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Innovative Dissertations

Learn more about planning and evaluating innovative dissertations:  Next-Generation Dissertations : New Approaches to Humanities Scholarship  (Syracuse University) and  Next-Generation Dissertations—New Projects for an Engaged Academy (virtual roundtable).

Pitt has a variety of innovative scholarship resources and support for projects.

Humanities and Humanistic Social Sciences, 1999–2021

Digital-only or hybrid digital/analog dissertations, video / multimedia, audio (including podcast, rap albums, etc.), comics / graphic novels, portfolio / thesis by practice, artifacts & installations, experimental texts, collaborative and/or community-engaged dissertations, geospatial visualizations / gis database.

  • Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Dissertation format: “Her dissertation will incorporate ethnographic storytelling and visual methodologies to create an interactive web-based platform” ( 2020 Digital Dissertation Fellow )
  • Ph.D. candidate in Linguistics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Dissertation format: Will include “a webspace to house interviews with Karen refugees from Burma” to expand cultural and historical record and educate general public ( 2019 Digital Dissertation Fellow )
  • Ph.D. in American Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2021
  • Current position: Project Manager , Tribesourcing Southwest Film Project
  • Dissertation format: Multimedia dissertation ( 2018 Digital Dissertation Fellow )
  • Ph.D. in History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh, 2022
  • Dissertation format: Two complementary equally weighted components: 1) A website  Weaponized Landscapes  to contain an exhibit and archive of multimodal artworks by Mary Kavanagh, which will serve as a blueprint for future issues of a journal and case studies; and 2) a 100-page intellectual package containing a metacritical essay that contextualizes the theoretical and technical decisions and offering the mission statement for  Weaponized Landscapes  that will support the intellectual mission moving forward.
  • Ph.D. in Humanities, York University, Canada, 2021
  • Current position: Assistant Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies , Brock University, Canada
  • Dissertation format: “poetics, the ready-made avant-garde and hypertext in an interdisciplinary process Henay calls mash-up methodology” Article including Henay
  • Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Computer Science (Human Computer Interaction), Bath Spa University, 2021
  • Current position: Narrative Experience Designer , Bonfire Dog
  • Dissertation format: Academic thesis and two complementary artworks : one text-based, the other a real-time computer simulation
  • Ph.D. in American Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2019
  • Current position: Unknown
  • Dissertation format: Documentary website with essays, oral history clips, audio-visual materials, including a map, archival materials, and embedded footnotes. Fryar ’s essay about dissertation process
  • Ph.D. in English, University of Virginia, 1999
  • Current position: Professor , University of Maryland
  • Dissertation format: “ five interrelated electronic essays (plus a VRML installation)” (abstract)
  • Ph.D. in English, City University of New York, 2019
  • Current position: Director of the Digital Media Lab , Bard Graduate Center
  • Dissertation format: Location-based mobile experience game and blog about dissertation
  • Ph.D. in History, George Mason University, 2019
  • Current position: Assistant Professor of Religious Studies , University of Alabama
  • Dissertation format: Digital dissertation , including a Model Browser, Essays, Notebooks for code and data, Bibliography, Process Statement, etc
  • Ph.D. in History of Art, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 2018
  • Current position: Heritage Account Manager , Noho Dublin
  • Dissertation format: Written thesis with “ practice-based component , the art-historical thematic research collection… to investigate paintings…” (not currently accessible). 
  • Ph.D. in French Literature, Princeton University, 2018
  • Current position: Academic Manager , SAE Institute Paris
  • Dissertation format: Three primary methodologies: 1) Literary, 2) Historical, and 3) “Digital Humanities, using exploratory programming to understand the effect that electronic literature has on a reader as well as leading the transcription and encoding of the Oulipo archives.” More details on her methodology and her experience .
  • Ph.D. in English, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2018
  • Current position: Educational Client Manager and product owner for Pressbooks
  • Dissertation format: “Print analogue” and “a public-facing website which includes additional interactive and multimedia resources” (viii, " The ‘Objectivists’ ")
  • Ph.D. in History, Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon (ENS-Lyon), France, 2017
  • Current position: Postdoctoral Researcher , European Research Council (ERC)
  • Dissertation format: “a two-faced dissertation, with a digital platform on the one hand, and a rather conventional text, on the other hand, which connects to the platform through a simple system of hyperlinks” (123,  Shaping the Digital Dissertation )
  • Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, City University of New York, 2017
  • Current position: Digital Humanities researcher at Villa I Tatti, Harvard University
  • Dissertation format: “interdisciplinary digital humanities project that included source code for data visualizations, text mining and a static website ” (165-66,  Shaping the Digital Dissertation )
  • Ph.D. in History, George Mason University, 2016
  • Current position: Academic Technologist for Instructional Technology , Information Technology Services, Carleton College
  • Dissertation format: “This project is presented through the digital publishing platform Scalar in an alternate structure for the elements required of a historical dissertation—historiography, artifacts, data, analysis, citations.” Dissertation is password-protected due to image permissions
  • Ph.D. in English Language and Literature, University of Waterloo, Canada, 2016
  • Current position: Assistant Professor , Game Design and Development, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Dissertation format: Text with accompanying video game . More information i n his abstract .
  • Ph.D in Artistic Research, Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University, 2016
  • Current position:  Senior Scientist , Doctoral School for Artistic Research, University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz
  • Dissertation format:  Website (natively digital dissertation) (Chapter 15,  Shaping the Digital Dissertation )
  • Ph.D. in English, University of Maryland, College Park, 2015
  • Current position: Managing Director of the Scholars’ Lab , University of Virginia Library
  • Dissertation format: Website "How can you love a work, if you don't know it?": Critical Code and Design toward Participatory Digital Editions and “actual digital edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses with various experimental interface features”
  • Ph.D. in Communication, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2015
  • Current position: Associate Director of Digital Learning Projects and Assessment at Center for Teaching and Learning, LaGuardia Community College CUNY
  • Dissertation format: Written thesis with Tumblr archive and “digital performance piece” (not currently available online)
  • Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology, Duke University, 2014
  • Current position: Teaching Assistant Professor of Asian Studies , The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Dissertation format: “ electronic and non-linear ” using Scalar
  • Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 2013
  • Current position: Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies , Fordham University
  • Dissertation format: Involved “collaborative design of an open source social network” with New Yorkers ages 14-19 as co-researchers and archived online content .  Public dissertation defense
  • Ph.D. in English Language and Literature, University of Maryland, 2012
  • Current position: Deputy Director of Digital Initiatives , Director of Digital Fellowship Programs, City University of New York
  • Dissertation format: “Part II introduces a digital humanities project called “ Revising Ekphrasis ,” which establishes best practices for using LDA topic modeling and social network analysis to read the ekphrastic genre at scale using a curated dataset of more than 4700 poems” (abstract).
  • Ph.D. in English, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2005
  • Current position: Professor of Cinema , Media Arts + Practice Division, University of Southern California
  • Dissertation format: Used TK3, a hypertext-based program. More descriptions in this article : “My dissertation included more than two hundred “pages” filled with words as well as still and moving images, hyperlinks, and densely layered annotations.”
  • Ph.D. in Human Development, Virginia Tech, 2001
  • Current position: Associate Professor, Marriage and Family Therapy, Mercy College
  • Dissertation format: A “dissertation web”
  • Ph.D. in English, City University of New York, 1999
  • Associate Professor of English , Lehman College
  • Dissertation format: “This is a two-part dissertation: an electronic, multi-media CD-ROM edition of Pound's Italian cantos; and a paper which serves as a textual companion and explores my theoretical approach to this material” (iv) (ProQuest document ID: 304497855)
  • Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada, 1999
  • Position:  Assistant Dean , Faculty of Graduate Studies and College for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2000-2009
  • Dissertation format: CD-ROM that includes “full transcripts and video clips of participant conversations and work spaces; extensive field notes; five multi-voiced tales created out of, and linked back to, transcripts; analyses of the public performance of organizational discourses; participant and examiner critiques of study framework and content; connections to past studies of the same organization; and conversations made possible by electronic notes added by readers to the computer network” (abstract). (ProQuest document ID: 304572397)
  • Ph.D. in Music, York University, 1999
  • Professor of Communication , Concordia University 1999-2016
  • Dissertation format: Written document with a CD-ROM that includes “a website and an interactive installation”
  • Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Communication, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1998
  • Current position: VP - Lead UX Architect, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Dissertation format: A “hypertextual performance in nonlinear form”
  • Ph.D. in Archaeological Theory , University of Wales, Lampeter, 1998
  • Current position: Professor , Linnaeus University
  • Dissertation format: "electronic monograph that includes a searchable multimedia database of megaliths in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, links to related topics and ideas which are published elsewhere on the WWW, an extensive bibliography, and numerous colour images and maps" (abstract). Abbreviated version
  • Ph.D. in Semiotics, University of Delaware, 1997
  • Current position: Head of Client Experience Strategy , Nasdaq
  • Dissertation format: CD-ROM for Macintosh: “a hypermedia volume about hypermedia” (abstract) (ProQuest document ID: 304343613).
  • Description in Electronic Theses and Dissertations:   A Sourcebook for Educators: Students, and Librarians (eds. Fox, Feizabadi, Moxley, and Weisser.)
  • Ph.D. in Art History, University of Virginia, 1997
  • Dissertation format: Hypertextual presentation
  • Ph.D. in History, University of Virginia, 1996
  • Position:  Senior Associate Editor at the Papers of George Washington
  • Dissertation format: Written document with an “electronic database consist[ing] of 1,750 manuscript documents” ( abstract )
  • Ph.D. candidate in Music, University of Pittsburgh
  • Dissertation format: Written document with public-facing documentary film.
  • Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2021
  • Ph.D. candidate in English and Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Dissertation format: Will include three distinct video essays to make her research more accessible ( 2020 Digital Dissertation Fellow )
  • Ph.D. candidate in Hispanic Languages and Literatures, University of Pittsburgh
  • Dissertation format: Documentary film,  Doyenne , and written component
  • Ph.D. in Anthropology, City University of New York, 2020
  • Current position: Lecturer , Pratt Institute
  • Dissertation format: Written document with two ancillary digital components: “One is a video slideshow , designed to be projected as a visual background to performative reading versions of material from the text…The other consists of webpages with interactive and non-interactive demonstrations of potential functionalities offered through digital document metadata” (xviii).
  • Ed.D. in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2020
  • Current position: Associate Professor at Defense Language Institute
  • Dissertation format: “The dissertation contains a series of videos and the website format allows readers to watch the videos directly on the page, side-by-side with the text without having to leave this site.”
  • Interview of Sonia Estima, Ivan Gonzalez-Soto, Justin Schell, and Anna Williams .
  • Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada, 2019
  • Dissertation format: Interactive multimedia installation, “ Still Life with a Suitcase ” and written text. CAGS profile on Gan .
  • Ph.D. in Radio-Film-Television, University of Texas, Austin, 2010
  • Current position: Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of the Department of Communication’s Media & Gaming Lab, Texas A&M
  • Dissertation format: Written document and published online with video chapters
  • Ph.D. in History, Michigan State University, 2017
  • Current position: Digital Scholarship Librarian, University of Delaware
  • Dissertation format: Written thesis with a documentary film and a platform for “digitizing all of his sources and developing an online persona around the work he was doing” ( Galarza profile article  and C hronicle of Higher Education article )
  • Ph.D. in Communications and Culture, Ryerson University and York University, Canada, 2015
  • Current position: Assistant Professor of Education , California State University, Sacramento
  • Dissertation format: “This dissertation is in mixed media format to present half of the content in American Sign Language (ASL) in the form of videos held at online forums within the TerpTube website and the rest in English text in the form of .pdf, also located at the same website.”  Article on Hibbard thesis
  • Ph.D. in Education, Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada, 2014
  • Dissertation format: F ive videos and a self-reflexive blog
  • Ph.D. in Education, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, 2010
  • Current position: Principal Research Fellow (Research Associate Professor) in the School of Education and the Design and Creative Practice ECP, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Dissertation format: Seven films (six co-participant films and my own reflexive film) and text exegesis 
  • Ph.D. in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago, 2008
  • Current position: Adjunct Lecturer of Theology and Religious Studies , Georgetown University
  • Dissertation format: This “digital, multimedia dissertation explores Indian visual culture of the last two thousand years; it traverses ritual, classical dance-drama, folk theatre, sculpture, film and television narratives and creates a new version of the Hindu epic, The Mahabharata.” A rticle on Tiwari
  • Ph.D. in Politics, Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics, University of Brighton, UK, 2020
  • Current position: Independent Researcher
  • Dissertation format: Written thesis with a companion soundtrack composed from her 143 field recordings. “Some tracks are to be listened to with full attention, others are to accompany the reading of parts of the written thesis. She uses poetic writing, improvisation, and music-making as both practices and themes in her thesis, and also uses photographs to illustrate her work” (Helen Kara  blog ).
  • Ph.D. in English, University of Iowa, 2019
  • Current position: Producer, “What's Ahead with Steve Forbes” podcast
  • Dissertation format: Podcast .
  • Interview of Sonia Estima, Ivan Gonzalez-Soto, Justin Schell, and Anna Williams  
  • Ph.D. in Rhetorics, Communication and Information Design, Clemson University, 2017
  • Current position: Assistant professor in Hip-Hop and the Global South , University of Virginia and performance artist
  • Dissertation format: A  digital archive that features a 34-track rap album and website 
  • Article about first peer-reviewed hip-hop album published by an academic press, University of Michigan Press.
  • Ph.D. in Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society, University of Minnesota, 2013
  • Current position: Learning Design Specialist , University of Michigan Library
  • Dissertation format: Multimodal scholarship that uses embedded media (photos, audio, and video); documentary components of the dissertation
  • Ph.D. Candidate in English, Stony Brook University
  • Dissertation: “a graphic autoethnography,” “in simple terms, it is a long comic book that extensively talks about race, illness and sexuality from a personal perspective” Article by Kumar . 
  • Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2021 . Sample pages .
  • Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition, Texas Christian University, 2021
  • Current position: Doctoral Teaching Lecturer , English Department, Texas Christian University
  • Dissertation format: Almost entirely a comic. MLA Article and profile on Brown
  • Ph.D. in English, City University of New York, 2020
  • Current position: Digital Scholarship Specialist , NYU Libraries
  • Dissertation format: Book of drawings
  • Interviews and more information
  • Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2017
  • Current position: Cartoonist | Ethnographer | Teacher
  • Dissertation format: “dissertation as a comic (mostly)”
  • Ph.D. in Education, Sheffield Hallam University, UK, 2017
  • Current position: Lecturer in Education , Sheffield Hallam University, UK
  • Dissertation format: Contains a comic strip version of the abstract and several comic figures to present data excerpts
  • Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Sussex, UK, 2016
  • Current position: Senior Fellow , Department of Development Studies, SOAS University of London, and Founder and Executive Director, PositiveNegatives , which produces literary comics, animations and podcasts about contemporary social and humanitarian issues
  • Dissertation format: Graphic novel accompanied by written text . CAGS profile on Dix .
  • Ph.D. in Visual Art and Education, University of Granada, Spain, 2014
  • Current position: Senior Lecturer in Animation, Sheffield Hallam University; graphic artist
  • Dissertation format: “The overall structure of the dissertation was traditional, and included an abstract, a theoretical framework, a description of the research methodology and results, and an interpretation and conclusion. The format was highly unusual, however: It was published online in three volumes similar to a graphic novel trilogy, it incorporated many forms of visual data (including photos and watercolour illustrations) and was in part presented in the forms of a comic book, graphic novel, and story book” (Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS), “ The Doctoral Dissertation – Purpose, Content, Structure, Assessment ,” 9). A/r/tography  article on Madrid-Manrique .
  • Ed.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, 2014
  • Current position: Associate professor of Humanities & Liberal Studies , San Francisco State University, comics artist and educator
  • Dissertation format : Unflattening , a published comics book and website  
  • Ph.D. in Rhetorics, Communication and Information Design, Clemson University, 2010
  • Current position: Associate Professor of Rhetoric , Texas Christian University
  • Dissertation format: “This dissertation combines Gregory Ulmer's post-criticism with multimodal composition resulting in a work that critiques the medium of comics in comics format. Six traditional text chapters forge a theoretical and practical foundation; punctuated within and without by occasional visual interludes and three comic sections. I advocate teaching multimodal composition through comics' interplay of image and text" (abstract). 
  • Also published Rhizcomics: Rhetoric, Technology, and New Media Composition (2017), an open access “digital monograph that composes multimodal arguments about rhetoric and comics”
  • Ph.D. in Education, University of Melbourne, Australia, 2017
  • Current position: Senior Lecturer in Art Education , University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Dissertation format: Curated portfolio : “This site is both a digital Phd thesis … a living a/r/tographic digital exhibition and digital object.”
  • Ph.D. in Art, Goldsmiths University of London, UK, 2017
  • Current position: unknown
  • Dissertation format: “Cristina created the open platform http://www.desarquivo.org , which give access to documents, articles and images around the production of collective and common artistic and non artistic practices in Brazil. Her practice in the broadest sense provokes articulations between cartography, memory, history, archives, politics and the common.” Goldsmiths description
  • Ph.D. in Art, Goldsmiths University of London, UK, 2016
  • Current position: Lecturer, School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment , Nottingham Trent University, UK
  • Dissertation format: Includes “practice is made up of videos, text-based pieces, installations, image manipulations and lecture-performances; these have been presented in the UK, Europe and Colombia.” G oldsmiths description .
  • Ph.D. in Art, Goldsmiths University of London, UK, 2014
  • Current position: Postgraduate theory supervisor , Wintec - Waikato Institute of Technology
  • Dissertation format: Includes “practice engages with archival material and the dispersal of images, through the mass media, working with multi-media technologies such as video and three dimensional printing processes” ( Goldsmiths description ).  Kerr's  website .
  • Ph.D. in Environmental Studies, York University, Canada, 2021
  • Current position: Assistant Professor , School of the Arts, McMaster University, Canada. 
  • Dissertation format: Twenty 12-foot by five-foot graphite portraits of disabled arts activists and an exegesis of scholarly articles about critical race theory and reflections on disabled arts in Canada. Article including Ware  
  • Ph.D. in Language and Literacy Education Department, The University of Georgia, 2018
  • Current position: Assistant Professor of Literacy Education , Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, The University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Dissertation format: “written solely outside the written word in the form of a museum exhibition” (from her abstract).  [Text]ure exhibition description .
  • Ph.D. in Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, University of Toronto Harrison, Canada, 2014
  • Current position: Unknown, but he has been instructor in the Department of Drawing and Painting at OCAD University; Director of Camp fYrefly, a camp for LGBTQ2S&A youth
  • Dissertation format: A “full-sized painted circus tent [that] forms the basis of the research and the accompanying written thesis is in the form of an artist's catalogue” (abstract); written thesis is presented in a storied form to make it accessible to a broad range of readers and to leave space for readers to consider their own stories. Through this research I came to understand how I made sense of my world, ways my community can change the narratives that are told about them through telling their own, and the value of art as a mechanism for social change. This research contributes to fields of art for social change, history of sexual and gender minority people, notions of belonging, and furthers Arts-informed and Autoethnographic methodologies.
  • Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, University of Michigan, 2020
  • Current position: ESOL Faculty at Baltimore City Public Schools
  • Dissertation format: “series of essays focused largely on her public-facing work, which included building a translators’ collective that prints books and creating translation workshops for immigrant high schoolers learning English. She hopes to place the pieces in broad-audience publications rather than academic journals.” From Chronical of Higher Ed article
  • Ph.D. in English, City University of New York, 2018
  • Current position: Senior Developer Educator , Digital Ocean
  • Dissertation format: “Though the final form of the dissertation appears much like any traditional, print-oriented dissertation (apart from its afterword and appendix detailing the #SocialDiss process), it was profoundly influenced by the experimental use of different digital writing and networking technologies” (153,  Shaping the Digital Dissertation ). She solicited public peer review throughout her dissertation writing through #SocialDiss
  • Ph.D. from Performance and Cultural Industries School, The University of Leeds, UK, 2017
  • Current position: Stand-up poet, broadcaster and speaker
  • Dissertation format: “The thesis sometimes takes the form of a dialogue- with an interrupting, comedic voice pointing out the limitations of academic monologue” and includes original poetry.  Description from Fox's  website .
  • Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies, University of British Columbia, Canada, 2015
  • Current position: Architect
  • Dissertation format: His 52,438-word dissertation contains almost no punctuation or uppercase letters: “For the writing style to not follow standard or conventional academic English, the formatting and punctuation or lack thereof, has grown out of my need to privilege Indigenous knowledge in resistance to the colonizing provincial education system that continue to traumatize indigenous peoples in this province” (xi, “ Indigenous architecture ").
  • Ph.D. in English, CUNY Graduate Center, 2011
  • Current position: Assistant Professor , Hostos Community College
  • Dissertation format: Uses “rules and procedures (such as: a chapter written entirely in interrogatives; a chapter written using aleatory procedures; a recorded and edited transcription of my dissertation defense) in order to write poetic and autobiographical criticism about works of literary constraint”
  • Ph.D. in Educational Studies, McGill University, Canada, 1999
  • Current position: Poet, Creativity Coach, & Dancer
  • Dissertation format: “structure as a set of letters between Hussey and H.D., whose letters were written by Hussey based on Doolittle’s theories about poetry and the poetic imagination” (Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS), “ The Doctoral Dissertation – Purpose, Content, Structure, Assessment ,” 8).
  • Ph.D. in English with Specialization in Rhetoric and Writing, Bowling Green State University, 2015
  • Current position: Assistant Professor of Communication , The University of Findlay and Founder + CCO, Homeplace Creative
  • Dissertation: Multimedia dissertation using participatory, digitally-driven methods incorporated into a documentary project with media input directly into her dissertation for audiences to experience the stories of community members as they articulated them. Article on Adams .
  • Ph.D. in Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Birmingham, UK, 2014
  • Current position: Head of Collections & Interiors at the National Trust for Scotland
  • Dissertation format: Collaborative Dissertation; applied, practice-based, quantitative research in the humanities; practitioners in independent charity organization as non-traditional mentors/collaborators. CAGS profile on Hopes .
  • Dissertation format: Includes an online, interactive story map ( 2019 Digital Dissertation Fellow )
  • Dissertation format: Will use digital technologies to manage, map, analyze, and present this large quantity of data ( 2020 Digital Dissertation Fellow )
  • Ph.D. candidate in History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Dissertation format: Will digitally map parades for analysis and to make her research more publicly accessible ( 2020 Digital Dissertation Fellow )
  • Ph.D. in English, University of Pittsburgh, 2021
  • Current position: Assistant Professor of English, United States Naval Academy.
  • Dissertation format: Written thesis with a digital memorial
  • Ph.D. in American Studies, University of Iowa, 2019
  • Current position: Assistant Teaching Professor , University of Notre Dame
  • Dissertation format: Digital humanities dissertation using data analysis, visualization, and mapping
  • Current position: Adjunct Assistant Professor , Queen’s College, CUNY
  • Dissertation format: Written document and a digital component containing “interactive and static maps, charts of quantitative data, written text, and images.”
  • Ph.D. in American History, Stanford University, 2015
  • Current position: Assistant Professor, History Department , Northeastern University
  • Dissertation format: “The written narrative of Chapter One is based on an online visualization that allows ‘readers’ to interact with the underlying data by mapping the geography…. Taken together, Chapter One and the online visualization offer both a synthesis and a starting point” (20). Online visualization: “ The Geography of the Post ”
  • Ph.D. in History of Art and Architecture, University of Virginia, 2015
  • Current position: Lecturing Fellow of Art, Art History & Visual Studies and a member of the Wired! Lab for Digital Art History & Visual Culture , Duke University
  • Dissertation format: Chapter two discusses “two digital projects created as part of this dissertation”: a geospatial database and a GIS database

We welcome you to  reach out to us  with additional dissertations to add to this list.

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  • The Arris  Akdeniz, Aziza Lucia ( University of Oregon , 2010-09 ) A collection of poems.
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  • If I Am a Stranger  Biebelle, Patricia Z., 1979- ( University of Oregon , 2010-06 ) I. If I Am a Stranger -- II. Mystery -- III. Census -- IV. The New You -- V. Feet -- VI. Pillar -- VII. Obligation -- VIII. Hide Your Fires -- IX. Something to Believe
  • Equal And Opposite  Fleming, William, 1972- ( University of Oregon , 2009-09 ) Fiction
  • Magic Circle: A Novel  Kepka, Jennifer A., 1979- ( University of Oregon , 2009-06 ) Chapter I. Prologue -- Chapter II. The Gerhardts -- Chapter III. Frank and Evelyn
  • Sanctuary  Brown, Andrea, 1979- ( University of Oregon , 2008-09 ) sermon for a believer -- the gospel -- sanctuary -- me an punkin an alla'dem -- ninth ward -- before the war of the righteous everybody go get saved -- meditation on a little black dress -- from the purple letters -- how ...
  • What Adults Do: Stories  Bushnell, John Thompson, 1980- ( University of Oregon , 2007-12 ) The Evacuation -- What adults do -- Bricks -- Townie -- Listening -- The Uncertainty principle

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  • Thesis with creative works

With approval from your advisory committee your thesis may include a creative work or non-traditional research output (NTRO) component alongside a dissertation to fulfil the requirements of the degree. This is more common in some degrees and disciplines than others.

Both the dissertation and creative work must be passed, and a final version including a durable record of all components of your thesis must be submitted to the University’s digital repository, in order for you to be awarded the degree.

All theses must be presented as a unified whole and address a significant research question.

The creative work may take a variety of forms including:

  • a performance,
  • an exhibition,
  • writing (poetry, fiction, script or other written literary forms),
  • musical composition,
  • e-portfolio or website,
  • multimedia, or
  • other new media technologies and modes of presentation.

If the creative work is not in writing it must be comprehensively documented. The work itself, or the documentation must be submitted with the dissertation through the Thesis Examination System (TES). If your thesis file consists of multiple files, upload the main file as part of the thesis submission process and upload the additional files via a cloud storage platform. Then add the shared link to TES as part of your submission.

The dissertation and documentation of the work  (where needed) must adhere to the Preparation of Graduate Research Theses Rules .  You must include a description of the form and presentation of the creative work in the Abstract and in your Preface, note the relative weighting of the creative work and dissertation.

The combined volume of work of the creative works and dissertation for a doctoral thesis would be equivalent to approximately 80,000 -100,000 words.  For a masters degree, the combined volume of work would be equivalent to approximately 40,000-50,000 words.

Any thesis that exceeds the maximum limit requires permission to proceed to examination, which must be sought via the  Graduate Research Examinations Office prior to submission.

Relationship between the Dissertation and Creative Work

The dissertation and the creative work should be considered as complementary, mutually reinforcing parts of a single project.  You may argue, however, that the relationship between the two parts contributes to the originality and creativity of the whole.

The dissertation is required to do more than simply describe the creative work and how it was undertaken.

The dissertation must:

  • present the research questions address, and
  • contextualise the research as new knowledge within the field of its production.

The dissertation may:

  • include information on the materials and methodology used,
  • elucidate the creative work, and
  • place the creative work in an artistic, intellectual, or cultural context.

The weighting given to the components of the thesis describes the proportion of the research which is demonstrated through the creative component/s and the proportion which is demonstrated in the written dissertation. The relative weighting will inform the examiners’ assessment of the work so must be clearly explained in your Preface.  When registering your intention to submit via the Thesis Examination System (TES), include the weighting in your 80-word summary.

The weighting of the dissertation and creative work, and the expected word length of the dissertation should be agreed at Confirmation. Check the Handbook description for your course to see if the weighting is specified for the course. If not, the minimum weighting for the dissertation that can be agreed at Confirmation is 25%.


Where the creative work includes a performance or exhibition of visual art works, the examiners may be required to travel to the site of the performance or exhibition. Your Chair of Examiners will make the necessary arrangements for your examiners to attend the viewing of the performance/exhibition. In this situation, if the dissertation is not submitted at or around the same time, you must provide an extended abstract of 1000-3000 words to your Chair of Examiners two weeks prior to the viewing. You must then submit your dissertation by logging into the Thesis Examination System (TES) no more than six calendar months after the performance/exhibition. The role of Chair of Examiners is normally undertaken by the head of department/school or nominee. To find out your Chair of Examiners, contact your supervisor or the Examinations Office .

If one or more components of your thesis is a live website or content hosted online, there should be no alterations made to the website or online content while the examination is in progress.

As graduate researchers submitting creative works in the form of a performance, an exhibition, an e-portfolio, or a website have an obligation to avoid identifying their examiners, the following  Creative Works: Examiner Confidentiality Declaration form should be completed and submitted along with your thesis. Once you have submitted your thesis via TES, return the signed confidentiality declaration to the Examinations Office .

Additional criteria are specified for examiners who are examining creative works.

Final archival version of your thesis

To meet the University's digital repository (Minerva Access) requirements, once examiner comments and amendments have been incorporated, you will need to deposit a durable record of all components of your thesis. Methods of capturing and providing this durable representation of your creative work component vary widely depending on the nature and presentation of your creative component.  It is important for you, in discussion with your supervisor, to decide and capture your desired best quality representation.

If your thesis included a website, you must provide a durable copy of the website as it was during the examination with any amendments requested by the examiners.  You may also provide a link to the live website and have readers directed to that while it remains available,  in addition to the archived copy.

You can find further information about requirements for deposit, as well as options and implications of choosing some options at My thesis in the library and  Depositing multiple files for your final thesis record . You can request technical assistance for submitting the thesis to  Minerva Access .

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Writing and research

creative dissertation

Getting Creative With Your Thesis Or Dissertation

draft thesis pic

In recent years some doctoral students in non-arts disciplines have begun to take a creative approach to their theses or dissertations. For example, Anne Harris from Australia, an education researcher, was awarded her doctorate in 2010. She presented seven video films as part of her thesis on the educational experiences of Sudanese refugee women in Australia. Each film accompanies and complements one chapter of her written thesis.

Nick Sousanis , another education researcher, studied the importance of visual thinking in teaching and learning at Columbia University in New York. He was awarded his doctorate in 2014, and chose to present his doctoral dissertation as a 132-page graphic novel called Unflattening , which was published in 2015 by Harvard University Press . Benjamin Dix, a British visual ethnographer, also used the graphic novel format for presenting his thesis on complex human rights testimonies. He was awarded his PhD in 2016 and has received Arts Council funding to convert his thesis into a graphic novel .

From Canada, Patrick Stewart , a First Nation architect, wrote a doctoral dissertation called Indigenous Architecture through Indigenous Knowledge with almost no capital letters or punctuation , as a form of resistance to the unthinking acceptance of English language conventions. He received his doctorate in 2015.

Even some hard scientists are taking a creative approach to writing their dissertations or theses. For example, Piper Harron , a doctoral mathematician at Princeton University in the US, was awarded her PhD in 2016. She named her dissertation The Liberated Mathematician , and included in each chapter a section for ‘the layperson’, another for ‘the initiated’, and a third for ‘the mathematician’ – and a whole lot of jokes.

(I didn’t know all this till I asked on social media. From Facebook, thanks to Research Companion members Rebecca Ashley for information about the work of Benjamin Dix, and Melissa Terras for pointing me to Piper Harron’s dissertation. From Twitter, thanks to @librarykris for reminding me about Nick Sousanis, @ndarney for highlighting Patrick Stewart’s work, and @meganjmcpherson for directing me to the work of Anne Harris. Which just goes to show that social media is awesome.)

If you’re going to take some kind of creative approach to the presentation of your thesis or dissertation, it’s best to plan ahead if possible. However, some doctoral students may not realise until late in the process that they both want to, and can, do something a little different from the norm. If this applies to you, depending on what the difference is that you have in mind, it may still be possible. Producing a whole graphic novel at a late stage might be too big an ask – though if you are a talented artist and writer, maybe not. However, options such as weaving data excerpts in with your writing, or using a particular kind of format or structure for your dissertation or thesis, could be implemented in the last months of doctoral study.

Also, if you want to be just a little bit creative, it may be possible to take an experimental approach to a single chapter or section of your thesis or dissertation. I did this with my thesis : I wrote a chapter, on reflexivity, as a fictional story. That was an interesting challenge for me, and my examiners appreciated the change of pace. Alternatively, you could use a metaphor to draw your argument together. For example, Australian education researcher Deborah Netolicky , who was awarded her PhD in 2016, used themes and characters Alice in Wonderland as an extended metaphor to help structure her thesis . Or, again, you could do this in a smaller way, in a single chapter or section.

I would have liked to use a fictional style for my whole thesis, but my supervisors deemed it too risky. This was over 10 years ago, before I could ask social media – and even if I had been able to ask, I doubt many examples would have been available. Maybe not any. So I have drawn together the examples in this blog post in case any doctoral student feels creative but needs some evidence of precedent to comfort a nervous supervisor. If you know of other relevant examples, please share details in the comments.

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13 thoughts on “ getting creative with your thesis or dissertation ”.

Rebecca Zak in Canada did her dissertation in Youtube videos. http://davezak.com/questioneducation/

Like Liked by 1 person

Thanks mzopera2u that looks fascinating, I’ll check it out.

Hi! I really want to start a creative research study regarding museum. I have this title in mind. Mind Museum: Millenials Interst and Attitude in patronizing Museum. But since this is my first researchstudy. I really wanna seek help, hope you can advise me things to start it up. Thank you and more power to you!

Hi Fruzan, thanks for your comment. You need more advice than I can fit in a reply here; the second edition of my book ‘Research and Evaluation for Busy Students and Practitioners’ (out last month) will provide a good starting point. Also read other museum research studies which you can find through Google Scholar and the Directory of Open Access Journals online. Good luck!

I’m enlightened. I am still in the first sem in my doctotal program in education. I am thinking of how am do my D in the most creative way. So much of the many lessons learned in my MA. Hahaha.

So sorry, Jeffrey, I missed your comment when you wrote it. Thank you for taking the time to comment here, and I wish you the best of luck with your doctoral study.

Pingback: How to Organize Your Dissertation Research If You Don’t Know – Albert Barkley’s Personal Blog

Hi Helen As you know I am starting a PhD by publication, thanks for your advice.I am using phenomenography as my research method. Please keep blogging and publishing books to keep helping people like me!

Hi Denyse, I will! If you subscribe to this blog, you’ll get each new post in your inbox. Thank you for reading 🙂

Thanks! Very helpful. I would like to create a film as the primary element of a dissertation with a companion written document. I know of one precedence, by Canadian Dorothy G Rosenberg (must confirm spelling) who created a film focused on breast cancer and environmental exposures. I believe the title of the film was “Exposure”. It was hosted by Olivia Newton John. Surely there must be others film-centric dissertations.

Hi Donna and thanks for your comment. Indeed there are, such as Anne Harris who is mentioned in – and whose work is linked to from – the post above.

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The Creative Journey to Dissertation: Finding Your Voice, Making Your Mark

Course description.

The “Creative Journey to Dissertation” is a 1-week intensive designed by our Dean of Graduate Studies Dr. Gyorgyi Szabo. The course introduces students to tactics for planning, writing, and revising their research to produce polished, clear and highly efficient academic writing.

Spending time together in this focused way provides you with the opportunity for in-depth discussion with both the faculty and your peers, and a chance to receive valuable ideas and feedback from the group. Students frequently report back to us that this is one of the most energizing and inspiring courses they have taken.

creative dissertation

Testimonials of Students

Wow! The Creative Journey class vastly exceeded my expectations. I now have a new point of view and approach to my dissertation. Self-doubt was replaced by in-depth curiosity and even self-confidence. I learned to be confident, clear and to trust my intuition. The diversity & intelligence of my classmates was also inspirational. Five-star review!

Tally Rhoades

MA in Wisdom studies student

The course is interactive and participative. When taking the course I had no idea whatsoever what my thesis would be about. I feel the course is suited not only to people writing a dissertation, but to anyone who loves writing or would like to start doing so.

Rudolf Städelin

The Creative Journey to Dissertation course integrates practical and creative tactics through which one can better define and craft their unique wisdom into a valuable thesis. Deep personal exercises and scholarly guidance helped me better understand myself and tap the courage to create a more profound, globally beneficial, and succinct research topic. I highly recommend this course to guide course planning and the dissertation process.

Cynthia Bledsoe

MA graduate

How it works

During this virtual intensive, students will familiarize themselves with the writing and research methods specific to the Wisdom School, where the focus is not only on the rational understanding of material but also on the students’ interior journey. Such methods combine objective and subjective elements, joining rigorous analysis with personal introspection, encouraging both intellectual understanding of the material at hand and self-awareness about the proclivities and perspectives that one brings to it.

By exploring both sides of this objective/subjective dynamic, the course aims to help students determine dissertation topics that are suited to their personal journeys, as well as develop strategies that will enrich and advance their projects. They will engage in exercises intended to help them tap their interior wisdom as they hone a topic and give shape to a proposal. In an ambience of mutual support, students will share their dissertation ideas, plans and concerns with student peers and faculty. They will review dissertation requirements, discuss different research methods, and become familiar with helpful resources for the American Psychological Association style of writing, which is required for all dissertations at the University.

Academic Credit

Masters – 4 credits; Doctoral – 4 credits

*After once taking the course for credit, matriculated students are welcome to repeat it as auditors for a small administrative fee, should they feel it helpful in the ongoing preparation of their dissertations.

This course is available to enrolled MA and PhD students only. Registration is capped at 15.

creative dissertation

Gyorgyi Szabo PhD

Core faculty of dissertation writing.

creative dissertation

Jim Garrison PhD

Founder, president, chief academic officer, faculty, course learning objectives.

Hone one’s dissertation ideas within a creative crucible of shared inquiry.

Develop strategies to promote the process of writing and completing the dissertation.

Tap one’s own inner wisdom to help shape and refine a dissertation topic.

Identify the ontological and epistemological perspectives of various research methodologies.

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Jim Garrison, PhD, has had a lifetime of social and political activism beginning in the 1960s with the anti-war, anti-nuclear, citizen diplomacy and environmental movements. He founded Ubiquity University having served as President of Wisdom University from 2005 – 2012 which was acquired by Ubiquity in 2013. He has spent his entire professional life in executive leadership, including as co-founder and president of the Gorbachev Foundation/USA (1992 – 1995) and State of the World Forum (1995 – 2004) with Mikhail Gorbachev serving as convening chairman. Jim received his BA in History from the University of Santa Clara, an MA in History of Religion from Harvard University, and a PhD in Philosophical Theology from the University of Cambridge. He has written numerous books, including “The Plutonium Culture,” “The Darkness of God: Theology after Hiroshima,” “The Russian Threat,” “Civilization and The Transformation of Power,” and, “America as Empire.” Jim teaches a range of courses at Ubiquity in philosophy, history and global affairs.

Gyorgyi is Dean of Graduate Studies at Ubiquity University. She was a Co-Founder and Academic Dean of the ‘Ervin Laszlo Center for Advanced Study’ (ELCAS). She served as the Director of Research and Development of the Center’s Exploratoria Program. She was co-creator of the WorldShift International Foundation, and the WorldShift 2012 organizations, and currently serves as the Executive Director at the Laszlo Institute of New Paradigm Research and a Member of the Advisory Board of the Memnosyne Foundation. She lectures worldwide and has published two books; papers in The Scientific and Medical Network’s Review, The Shift Network, and World Futures: The Journal of New Paradigm Research. Gyorgyi Szabo holds a PhD in Sociology – Summa Cum Laude awarded by the Sorbonne, University of Paris. She is also a trained Reiki and Reconnective Healing practitioner. Her holistic approach to metaphysics and interest in conscious evolution serves as foundation for her work in facilitating cooperative evolution toward a peaceful and regenerative world.

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Creative Research Option for the PhD Dissertation

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The creative research option is available to cultural producers with an established practice and/or academic qualifications in relevant disciplines (music, theatre, creative writing, visual arts, etc.) who are interested in engaging their practice with rigorous humanities-based theory and scholarship. The mandate of Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto is to engage in theoretically informed research that not only crosses linguistic and cultural divisions but also works across media and disciplines. Our PhD program thus supports projects involving creative research methods that engage with critical inquiry and investigation at the doctoral level.

Applicants should signal their interest in this option and indicate the preparation they have for it in the letter of intent accompanying their application to the PhD program. An advisory committee of faculty with expertise in creative research methods will review the application. This committee will be available to discuss the plan with the student before the end of the first year of the PhD, in order to provide support for developing a feasible project. Students who have chosen to pursue this creative research option will produce a dissertation that incorporates a creative process (work of art, performance, film, play, text, etc.) as one of the investigative methods. Their supervisory committee will include at least one member of the university community working in the relevant field of creative practice.

From conception, through qualifying exam and proposal defence, oral defence, and final dissertation, students choosing this option are encouraged to think about ways to dynamically integrate creative processes or projects into their research methodologies. . Much as a conventional dissertation contains research of publishable quality, the thesis project involving research creation methods must meet academic expectations and the standards of disciplinary or artistic rigour in the sphere(s) in which they operate.

Creative research is defined with reference to the “Research Creation” approach to research that combines creative and academic research practices and supports the development of knowledge and innovation through artistic expression, scholarly investigation, and experimentation. The relation between the creation process and the research activity should be put into question and produce critically informed work. Fields of research-creation may include, but are not limited to: architecture, design, creative writing, visual arts, performance, film, video, interdisciplinary arts, media and electronic arts, and new artistic practices (including experiments with the hard and social sciences). 

(This definition of Research Creation is taken from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, accessed 2019)

April 2, 2020

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Creative Writing Dissertation ENGLIT4118P

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 40
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

The course, offered as an alternative to the Honours English Literature Dissertation, focuses on developing the writing techniques and critical faculties involved in undertaking an individual research project through creative writing. Delivered through workshops and supervisions, topics covered include planning, experimentation and idea generation, structure, voice, process, procedure and strategies for editing and redrafting material. The specifics of the course respond to the individual creative projects of students enrolled.

2 x 2hr  workshops, as scheduled on MyCampus , and 3 x  30 min  supervision sessions, TBA

Requirements of Entry

Successful completion of Junior Honours English Literature , English Language or Scottish Literature  and completion of ENGLIT9001P   Portfolio  application for Creative Writing Dissertation .

Excluded Courses

ENGLIT4024P Creative Writing Dissertation (30 credits)

ENGLIT4080 and ENGLIT4120 Hybrid Forms

Dissertation, taking the form of a p ortfolio of creative writing (12,000 words): 90%

Portfolio proposal (2,000 words): 10%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non -H onours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below.  

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■  undertake a sustained piece of creative writing (or sequence of shorter works)

■  become familiar with key decisions regarding genre, form and structure of creative writing

■  provide constructive feedback to peers through writing workshops

■  work closely with a practicing writer as a supervisor

■  experiment with writing processes and methodologies

■  d evelop  close reading skills from a writer's perspective.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■  plan and structure an extended creative text (or a sequence of shorter works)

■  use  the forms, structures and techniques of effective creative writing

■  edit their own work using skills and techniques developed through the workshops

■  develop  individual processes and methodologies of writing appropriate to the project undertaken.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.


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