The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is a sentence in a paper or essay (in the opening paragraph) that introduces the main topic to the reader. As one of the first things your reader sees, your thesis statement is one of the most important sentences in your entire paper—but also one of the hardest to write!
In this article, we explain how to write a thesis statement in the best way possible. We look at what to include and the steps to take for writing your own, along with plenty of thesis statement examples to guide you.
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What is a thesis statement?
The goal of a thesis statement is to let your reader know what your paper or essay is about. It helps your reader understand the greater context and scope of your topic, plus it lets your readers know what to expect from the rest of the work.
A secondary benefit of a thesis statement is that it makes it easier to search for papers on a particular topic, especially in the realm of academic writing like research papers and thesis papers (which are sometimes known as dissertations when written for doctoral degrees). For example, if you’re writing a paper of your own, you’ll want to look up other papers to use as evidence and sources . You can simply scan the thesis statements of several papers to see which match your topic and could be worthwhile sources to cite.
How to write a thesis statement: Basics
Before we get into details, here are the basic steps for how to write a thesis statement:
- Develop the best topic to cover in your paper
- Phrase your topic as a question-and-answer
- Add some polish
We ’ ll describe each of those steps in more detail below, but we wanted to share a quick guide. Also, we ’ ll provide some thesis statement examples and talk about how to write a thesis statement for different kinds of essays: persuasive, compare-and-contrast, expository, and argumentative essays.
The thesis statement is located at the beginning of a paper, in the opening paragraph, making it an essential way to start an essay . A thesis statement isn’t necessarily the first sentence in an essay; typically you’ll want to hook the reader in an engaging way in the opening sentence before inserting your central idea or argument later in the first paragraph. A thesis statement is often confused with a topic sentence , the first sentence in a paragraph, because they both introduce the central idea of what follows. You can think of thesis statements as the topic sentence of your entire paper.
What to include in a thesis statement (with examples)
Thesis statements are a necessary part of paper and essay writing , but different formats have different rules and best practices. Below, we break down how to write a thesis statement for the most common types of papers.
How to write a thesis statement for expository and argumentative essays
Expository and argumentative essays are some of the most common types of academic papers. Because they don’t have a formal abstract like research papers, they rely on their thesis statements to provide an overview of what’s discussed.
Thesis statements for argumentative and expository essays should use strong and decisive language; don’t be wishy-washy or uncertain. You want to take a stand right in the opening so that your readers understand what your paper is trying to show.
Moreover, thesis statements for these essays should be specific, with some minor details to hint at the rest of the paper. It’s not enough to merely make your point; you also want to provide some basic evidence or background context to paint a full picture.
If your paper dives into different subtopics or categories, try to fit them into the thesis statement if you can. You don’t have to get into details here, but it’s nice to mention the different sections at the top so that the reader knows what to expect.
Thesis statement examples
Despite the taboo, insects make an excellent food source and could stem humanity’s looming food shortage, based on both their protein output and the sustainability of farming them.
The backlash to rock ’n’ roll music in the ’50s by religious groups and traditionalists actually boosted the genre’s popularity instead of diminishing it as intended.
How to write a thesis statement for persuasive essays
Similar to argumentative essays, persuasive essays follow many of the same guidelines for their thesis statements: decisive language, specific details, and mentions of subtopics.
However, the main difference is that, while the thesis statements for argumentative and expository essays state facts, the thesis statements for persuasive essays state clear opinions . Still, the format is the same, and the opinions are often treated like facts, including conclusive language and citing evidence to support your claims.
Furthermore, unlike with other essays, it’s appropriate to make emotional connections in a thesis statement in persuasive essays. This can actually be a clever strategy to start your essay off on a more personal, impactful note.
Advertising should not be allowed in public schools because it’s a distraction from studies and may lead to misguided priorities among the school board, to say nothing of the materialist culture it promotes.
Exotic pets provide the same love and companionship as conventional pets, so the laws regulating which animals can and cannot be kept as pets should be more relaxed.
How to write a thesis statement for compare-and-contrast essays
Thesis statements for compare-and-contrast essays are tricky because you have at least two topics to touch on instead of just one. The same general guidelines apply (decisive language, details, etc.), but you need to give equal attention to both your topics—otherwise, your essay will seem biased from the start.
As always, your thesis statement should reflect what’s written in the rest of your essay. If your essay spends more time comparing than contrasting, your thesis statement should focus more on similarities than differences.
It sometimes helps to give specific examples as well, but keep them simple and brief. Save the finer details for the body of your essay.
Sean Connery and Daniel Craig are the two most popular actors to portray James Bond, but both have their own distinct and at times contradictory interpretations of the character.
How to write a thesis statement in 3 steps
Now that you know what you’re aiming for, it’s time to sit down and write your own thesis statement. To keep you on track, here are three easy steps to guide you.
1 Brainstorm the best topic for your essay
You can’t write a thesis statement until you know what your paper is about, so your first step is choosing a topic.
If the topic is already assigned, great ! That’s all for this step. If not, consider the tips below for choosing the topic that’s best for you:
- Pick a topic that you’re passionate about. Even if you don’t know much about it, it’ll be easier to learn about it while writing if you’re genuinely interested.
- Narrow down your topic to something specific; otherwise, your paper will be too broad and perhaps too long. Just make sure it’s not too specific, or you won’t have enough to write about. Try to find a happy medium.
- Check beforehand that there are enough strong, credible sources to use for research. You don’t want to run out of referential material halfway through.
Once you’ve chosen a topic—and the angle or stance you want to take—then it’s time to put the idea for your thesis sentence into words.
2 Phrase your topic as a question and then answer it
It’s not always easy to fit your entire thesis into just one sentence, let alone one that’s written clearly and eloquently. Here’s a quick technique to help you get started.
First, phrase your topic as a question. For example, if you want to write about Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy, ask yourself, “What influences did Gandhi have on society after his death?”
If you already know the answer, write it down—that’s a good start for your thesis statement. If you don’t know the answer, do some preliminary research to find out; you can certainly use what you discover as evidence and sources in your essay’s body paragraphs .
3 Add some polish
Chances are, your first attempt at a thesis statement won’t be perfect. To get it to its best, try revising , editing , and adding what’s missing.
Remember the core traits for thesis statements we mentioned above: decisive language, a happy medium of specific but not too specific details, and mention of subtopics. If you’re struggling to contain everything in a single sentence, feel free to move the secondary information to the following sentence. The thesis statement itself should only have what’s most necessary.
If you’re in doubt, read your thesis statement to a friend and ask them what they think your paper is about. If they answer correctly, your thesis statement does its job.
Next comes the hard part—writing the rest! While the bulk of the writing lies ahead, at least you’ve nailed down your central idea. To plot out your supporting argument, follow our advice on essay structure and let your ideas flow.
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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 the argument or analysis that is to follow. We refer to that condensation as a thesis statement.
Why Should Your Essay Contain a Thesis Statement?
- to test your ideas by distilling them into a sentence or two
- to better organize and develop your argument
- to provide your reader with a “guide” to your argument
In general, your thesis statement will accomplish these goals if you think of the thesis as the answer to the question your paper explores.
How Can You Write a Good Thesis Statement?
Here are some helpful hints to get you started. You can either scroll down or select a link to a specific topic.
How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One
How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned
Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is, “Write a report to the local school board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class,” turn the request into a question like, “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” After you’ve chosen the question your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question.
Q: “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” A: “The potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class are . . .”
A: “Using computers in a fourth-grade class promises to improve . . .”
The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.
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How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned
Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to write about.
A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes:
- take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree
- deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment
- express one main idea
- assert your conclusions about a subject
Let’s see how to generate a thesis statement for a social policy paper.
Brainstorm the topic . Let’s say that your class focuses upon the problems posed by changes in the dietary habits of Americans. You find that you are interested in the amount of sugar Americans consume.
You start out with a thesis statement like this:
This fragment isn’t a thesis statement. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Furthermore, your reader doesn’t know what you want to say about sugar consumption.
Narrow the topic . Your readings about the topic, however, have led you to the conclusion that elementary school children are consuming far more sugar than is healthy.
You change your thesis to look like this:
Reducing sugar consumption by elementary school children.
This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one segment of the population: elementary school children. Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that children consume more sugar than they used to, not everyone would agree on what should be done or who should do it. You should note that this fragment is not a thesis statement because your reader doesn’t know your conclusions on the topic.
Take a position on the topic. After reflecting on the topic a little while longer, you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that something should be done to reduce the amount of sugar these children consume.
You revise your thesis statement to look like this:
More attention should be paid to the food and beverage choices available to elementary school children.
This statement asserts your position, but the terms more attention and food and beverage choices are vague.
Use specific language . You decide to explain what you mean about food and beverage choices , so you write:
Experts estimate that half of elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar.
This statement is specific, but it isn’t a thesis. It merely reports a statistic instead of making an assertion.
Make an assertion based on clearly stated support. You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this:
Because half of all American elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, schools should be required to replace the beverages in soda machines with healthy alternatives.
Notice how the thesis answers the question, “What should be done to reduce sugar consumption by children, and who should do it?” When you started thinking about the paper, you may not have had a specific question in mind, but as you became more involved in the topic, your ideas became more specific. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights.
How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One
1. a strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand..
Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements:
There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement.
This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague.
Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers.
This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it's specific.
2. A strong thesis statement justifies discussion.
Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion. If your assignment is to write a paper on kinship systems, using your own family as an example, you might come up with either of these two thesis statements:
My family is an extended family.
This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. Your reader won’t be able to tell the point of the statement, and will probably stop reading.
While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family.
This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point.
3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea.
Readers need to be able to see that your paper has one main point. If your thesis statement expresses more than one idea, then you might confuse your readers about the subject of your paper. For example:
Companies need to exploit the marketing potential of the Internet, and Web pages can provide both advertising and customer support.
This is a weak thesis statement because the reader can’t decide whether the paper is about marketing on the Internet or Web pages. To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become more clear. One way to revise the thesis would be to write:
Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should exploit this potential by using Web pages that offer both advertising and customer support.
This is a strong thesis because it shows that the two ideas are related. Hint: a great many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like because , since , so , although , unless , and however .
4. A strong thesis statement is specific.
A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about, and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, if you're writing a seven-to-ten page paper on hunger, you might say:
World hunger has many causes and effects.
This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger can’t be discussed thoroughly in seven to ten pages. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. A revised thesis might look like this:
Hunger persists in Glandelinia because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable.
This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger.
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Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore needs your careful analysis of the evidence to understand how you arrived at this claim. You arrive at your thesis by examining and analyzing the evidence available to you, which might be text or other types of source material.
A thesis will generally respond to an analytical question or pose a solution to a problem that you have framed for your readers (and for yourself). When you frame that question or problem for your readers, you are telling them what is at stake in your argument—why your question matters and why they should care about the answer . If you can explain to your readers why a question or problem is worth addressing, then they will understand why it’s worth reading an essay that develops your thesis—and you will understand why it’s worth writing that essay.
A strong thesis will be arguable rather than descriptive , and it will be the right scope for the essay you are writing. If your thesis is descriptive, then you will not need to convince your readers of anything—you will be naming or summarizing something your readers can already see for themselves. If your thesis is too narrow, you won’t be able to explore your topic in enough depth to say something interesting about it. If your thesis is too broad, you may not be able to support it with evidence from the available sources.
When you are writing an essay for a course assignment, you should make sure you understand what type of claim you are being asked to make. Many of your assignments will be asking you to make analytical claims , which are based on interpretation of facts, data, or sources.
Some of your assignments may ask you to make normative claims. Normative claims are claims of value or evaluation rather than fact—claims about how things should be rather than how they are. A normative claim makes the case for the importance of something, the action that should be taken, or the way the world should be. When you are asked to write a policy memo, a proposal, or an essay based on your own opinion, you will be making normative claims.
Here are some examples of possible thesis statements for a student's analysis of the article “The Case Against Perfection” by Professor Michael Sandel.
Descriptive thesis (not arguable)
While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.
This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.
Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence)
Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.
This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.
Arguable thesis with analytical claim
While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.
This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.
Arguable thesis with normative claim
Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.
This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.
Questions to ask about your thesis
- Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?
- Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?
- Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?
- Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?
- Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
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Developing Strong Thesis Statements
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These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.
The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable
An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.
Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:
This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution implies that something is bad or negative in some way. Furthermore, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is unambiguously good.
Example of a debatable thesis statement:
This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.
Another example of a debatable thesis statement:
In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.
The thesis needs to be narrow
Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.
Example of a thesis that is too broad:
There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.
Example of a narrow or focused thesis:
In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.
We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:
Narrowed debatable thesis 1:
This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.
Narrowed debatable thesis 2:
This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.
Qualifiers such as " typically ," " generally ," " usually ," or " on average " also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.
Types of claims
Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, or, in other words, what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.
Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:
Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:
Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:
Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:
Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.
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How to Write a Good Thesis
Last Updated: May 10, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Bryce Warwick, JD and by wikiHow staff writer, Janice Tieperman . Bryce Warwick is currently the President of Warwick Strategies, an organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area offering premium, personalized private tutoring for the GMAT, LSAT and GRE. Bryce has a JD from the George Washington University Law School. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 101,551 times.
Do you have a big term paper or essay on your academic horizons? Before diving into your assignment, you’ll need a thesis: a clear, sentence-long explanation at the end of your first/introductory paragraph that defines what your paper will be analyzing, explaining, or arguing.  X Research source A good thesis is easy to write if you know what to include—that’s why we’re here to walk you through everything you need to know. Read on for plenty of tips, explanations, and examples to help take your thesis-writing game to the next level.
How do you write a strong thesis statement?
- Argumentative prompt example: Technology helps students succeed in school. The prompt wants you to state whether you agree or disagree with this stance, and why.
- Analytical prompt example: Do video games influence the thoughts and actions of teenagers? The prompt wants you to research both sides of this controversial topic and come up with an analysis.
- Expository prompt example: Why is a calorie deficit diet plan effective for weight loss? The prompt wants you to go into detail on a specific topic.
- The prompt “Genetically-modified foods provide an essential service to society” could be changed to “Do genetically-modified foods provide an essential service to society?”
- The prompt “Many people are divided over the advantages and disadvantages of wearing masks” could be adjusted to “What are the pros and cons of wearing masks?”
- Example: GMOs provide a high volume of delicious, long-lasting food, making them an essential service to society.
- Example: Although politicians debate the practicality of masks in a post-pandemic society, evidence suggests that regular masking helps prevent the transmission of harmful illnesses.
- Remember—your thesis is a work in progress! You’re welcome to tweak, adjust, and completely change your thesis so it accurately represents your research.
- If your professor or teacher assigns an essay or paper with a pre-assigned topic, you might not have to do as much research.
What makes a thesis statement good or effective?
- Bad thesis: Pollution is harmful.
- Better thesis: Pollution risks harming millions of people through the spread of toxins in the air and waterways.
- Bad thesis: Pineapple is a pizza topping.
- Better thesis: Pineapple’s sweet flavor profile makes it an unsavory choice as a pizza topping.
- Bad thesis: Drunk driving is bad.
- Better thesis: Alcohol impairs a person’s mental functions, making it difficult and dangerous for them to drive a vehicle.
- Bad thesis: Twitter is good and bad.
- Better thesis: Twitter offers greater visibility to important issues at the risk of imparting a heavy bias.
- Bad thesis: The rise of technology has pros and cons.
- Better thesis: The rise of technology improves digital literacy, but limits opportunities for in-person interactions.
- Bad thesis: The 1970s served as a turning point for women’s rights, LGBT rights, and environmental awareness.
- Better thesis: The 1970s launched a new era for women’s rights that has continued on into the 21st century.
Examples of Thesis Statements
- Eliminate passive verbs like “is” or “was”—they don’t paint a very clear picture for your reader.
- A list format works well for expository thesis statements! List out the different topics you’ll be discussing, and then dedicate different sections of your paper to each point.
- Ask your professor or teacher for a second opinion once you’ve drafted your thesis. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/process/thesis_or_purpose/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/writing-a-thesis
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
- ↑ https://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/thesisstmt.html
- ↑ https://www.norwellschools.org/cms/lib02/MA01001453/Centricity/Domain/206/Thesis%20Statement.pdf
- ↑ https://clas.uiowa.edu/history/teaching-and-writing-center/guides/argumentation
- ↑ http://www.u.arizona.edu/~sung/pdf/thesis.pdf
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How To Write A Dissertation Or Thesis
8 straightforward steps to craft an a-grade dissertation.
By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Expert Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020
Writing a dissertation or thesis is not a simple task. It takes time, energy and a lot of will power to get you across the finish line. It’s not easy – but it doesn’t necessarily need to be a painful process. If you understand the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis, your research journey will be a lot smoother.
In this post, I’m going to outline the big-picture process of how to write a high-quality dissertation or thesis, without losing your mind along the way. If you’re just starting your research, this post is perfect for you. Alternatively, if you’ve already submitted your proposal, this article which covers how to structure a dissertation might be more helpful.
How To Write A Dissertation: 8 Steps
- Clearly understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is
- Find a unique and valuable research topic
- Craft a convincing research proposal
- Write up a strong introduction chapter
- Review the existing literature and compile a literature review
- Design a rigorous research strategy and undertake your own research
- Present the findings of your research
- Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications
Step 1: Understand exactly what a dissertation is
This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but all too often, students come to us for help with their research and the underlying issue is that they don’t fully understand what a dissertation (or thesis) actually is.
So, what is a dissertation?
At its simplest, a dissertation or thesis is a formal piece of research , reflecting the standard research process . But what is the standard research process, you ask? The research process involves 4 key steps:
- Ask a very specific, well-articulated question (s) (your research topic)
- See what other researchers have said about it (if they’ve already answered it)
- If they haven’t answered it adequately, undertake your own data collection and analysis in a scientifically rigorous fashion
- Answer your original question(s), based on your analysis findings
In short, the research process is simply about asking and answering questions in a systematic fashion . This probably sounds pretty obvious, but people often think they’ve done “research”, when in fact what they have done is:
- Started with a vague, poorly articulated question
- Not taken the time to see what research has already been done regarding the question
- Collected data and opinions that support their gut and undertaken a flimsy analysis
- Drawn a shaky conclusion, based on that analysis
If you want to see the perfect example of this in action, look out for the next Facebook post where someone claims they’ve done “research”… All too often, people consider reading a few blog posts to constitute research. Its no surprise then that what they end up with is an opinion piece, not research. Okay, okay – I’ll climb off my soapbox now.
The key takeaway here is that a dissertation (or thesis) is a formal piece of research, reflecting the research process. It’s not an opinion piece , nor a place to push your agenda or try to convince someone of your position. Writing a good dissertation involves asking a question and taking a systematic, rigorous approach to answering it.
If you understand this and are comfortable leaving your opinions or preconceived ideas at the door, you’re already off to a good start!
Step 2: Find a unique, valuable research topic
As we saw, the first step of the research process is to ask a specific, well-articulated question. In other words, you need to find a research topic that asks a specific question or set of questions (these are called research questions ). Sounds easy enough, right? All you’ve got to do is identify a question or two and you’ve got a winning research topic. Well, not quite…
A good dissertation or thesis topic has a few important attributes. Specifically, a solid research topic should be:
Let’s take a closer look at these:
Attribute #1: Clear
Your research topic needs to be crystal clear about what you’re planning to research, what you want to know, and within what context. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity or vagueness about what you’ll research.
Here’s an example of a clearly articulated research topic:
An analysis of consumer-based factors influencing organisational trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms.
As you can see in the example, its crystal clear what will be analysed (factors impacting organisational trust), amongst who (consumers) and in what context (British low-cost equity brokerage firms, based online).
Need a helping hand?
Attribute #2: Unique
Your research should be asking a question(s) that hasn’t been asked before, or that hasn’t been asked in a specific context (for example, in a specific country or industry).
For example, sticking organisational trust topic above, it’s quite likely that organisational trust factors in the UK have been investigated before, but the context (online low-cost equity brokerages) could make this research unique. Therefore, the context makes this research original.
One caveat when using context as the basis for originality – you need to have a good reason to suspect that your findings in this context might be different from the existing research – otherwise, there’s no reason to warrant researching it.
Attribute #3: Important
Simply asking a unique or original question is not enough – the question needs to create value. In other words, successfully answering your research questions should provide some value to the field of research or the industry. You can’t research something just to satisfy your curiosity. It needs to make some form of contribution either to research or industry.
For example, researching the factors influencing consumer trust would create value by enabling businesses to tailor their operations and marketing to leverage factors that promote trust. In other words, it would have a clear benefit to industry.
So, how do you go about finding a unique and valuable research topic? We explain that in detail in this video post – How To Find A Research Topic . Yeah, we’ve got you covered 😊
Step 3: Write a convincing research proposal
Once you’ve pinned down a high-quality research topic, the next step is to convince your university to let you research it. No matter how awesome you think your topic is, it still needs to get the rubber stamp before you can move forward with your research. The research proposal is the tool you’ll use for this job.
So, what’s in a research proposal?
The main “job” of a research proposal is to convince your university, advisor or committee that your research topic is worthy of approval. But convince them of what? Well, this varies from university to university, but generally, they want to see that:
- You have a clearly articulated, unique and important topic (this might sound familiar…)
- You’ve done some initial reading of the existing literature relevant to your topic (i.e. a literature review)
- You have a provisional plan in terms of how you will collect data and analyse it (i.e. a methodology)
At the proposal stage, it’s (generally) not expected that you’ve extensively reviewed the existing literature , but you will need to show that you’ve done enough reading to identify a clear gap for original (unique) research. Similarly, they generally don’t expect that you have a rock-solid research methodology mapped out, but you should have an idea of whether you’ll be undertaking qualitative or quantitative analysis , and how you’ll collect your data (we’ll discuss this in more detail later).
Long story short – don’t stress about having every detail of your research meticulously thought out at the proposal stage – this will develop as you progress through your research. However, you do need to show that you’ve “done your homework” and that your research is worthy of approval .
So, how do you go about crafting a high-quality, convincing proposal? We cover that in detail in this video post – How To Write A Top-Class Research Proposal . We’ve also got a video walkthrough of two proposal examples here .
Step 4: Craft a strong introduction chapter
Once your proposal’s been approved, its time to get writing your actual dissertation or thesis! The good news is that if you put the time into crafting a high-quality proposal, you’ve already got a head start on your first three chapters – introduction, literature review and methodology – as you can use your proposal as the basis for these.
Handy sidenote – our free dissertation & thesis template is a great way to speed up your dissertation writing journey.
What’s the introduction chapter all about?
The purpose of the introduction chapter is to set the scene for your research (dare I say, to introduce it…) so that the reader understands what you’ll be researching and why it’s important. In other words, it covers the same ground as the research proposal in that it justifies your research topic.
What goes into the introduction chapter?
This can vary slightly between universities and degrees, but generally, the introduction chapter will include the following:
- A brief background to the study, explaining the overall area of research
- A problem statement , explaining what the problem is with the current state of research (in other words, where the knowledge gap exists)
- Your research questions – in other words, the specific questions your study will seek to answer (based on the knowledge gap)
- The significance of your study – in other words, why it’s important and how its findings will be useful in the world
As you can see, this all about explaining the “what” and the “why” of your research (as opposed to the “how”). So, your introduction chapter is basically the salesman of your study, “selling” your research to the first-time reader and (hopefully) getting them interested to read more.
How do I write the introduction chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this post .
Step 5: Undertake an in-depth literature review
As I mentioned earlier, you’ll need to do some initial review of the literature in Steps 2 and 3 to find your research gap and craft a convincing research proposal – but that’s just scratching the surface. Once you reach the literature review stage of your dissertation or thesis, you need to dig a lot deeper into the existing research and write up a comprehensive literature review chapter.
What’s the literature review all about?
There are two main stages in the literature review process:
Literature Review Step 1: Reading up
The first stage is for you to deep dive into the existing literature (journal articles, textbook chapters, industry reports, etc) to gain an in-depth understanding of the current state of research regarding your topic. While you don’t need to read every single article, you do need to ensure that you cover all literature that is related to your core research questions, and create a comprehensive catalogue of that literature , which you’ll use in the next step.
Reading and digesting all the relevant literature is a time consuming and intellectually demanding process. Many students underestimate just how much work goes into this step, so make sure that you allocate a good amount of time for this when planning out your research. Thankfully, there are ways to fast track the process – be sure to check out this article covering how to read journal articles quickly .
Literature Review Step 2: Writing up
Once you’ve worked through the literature and digested it all, you’ll need to write up your literature review chapter. Many students make the mistake of thinking that the literature review chapter is simply a summary of what other researchers have said. While this is partly true, a literature review is much more than just a summary. To pull off a good literature review chapter, you’ll need to achieve at least 3 things:
- You need to synthesise the existing research , not just summarise it. In other words, you need to show how different pieces of theory fit together, what’s agreed on by researchers, what’s not.
- You need to highlight a research gap that your research is going to fill. In other words, you’ve got to outline the problem so that your research topic can provide a solution.
- You need to use the existing research to inform your methodology and approach to your own research design. For example, you might use questions or Likert scales from previous studies in your your own survey design .
As you can see, a good literature review is more than just a summary of the published research. It’s the foundation on which your own research is built, so it deserves a lot of love and attention. Take the time to craft a comprehensive literature review with a suitable structure .
But, how do I actually write the literature review chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this video post .
Step 6: Carry out your own research
Once you’ve completed your literature review and have a sound understanding of the existing research, its time to develop your own research (finally!). You’ll design this research specifically so that you can find the answers to your unique research question.
There are two steps here – designing your research strategy and executing on it:
1 – Design your research strategy
The first step is to design your research strategy and craft a methodology chapter . I won’t get into the technicalities of the methodology chapter here, but in simple terms, this chapter is about explaining the “how” of your research. If you recall, the introduction and literature review chapters discussed the “what” and the “why”, so it makes sense that the next point to cover is the “how” –that’s what the methodology chapter is all about.
In this section, you’ll need to make firm decisions about your research design. This includes things like:
- Your research philosophy (e.g. positivism or interpretivism )
- Your overall methodology (e.g. qualitative , quantitative or mixed methods)
- Your data collection strategy (e.g. interviews , focus groups, surveys)
- Your data analysis strategy (e.g. content analysis , correlation analysis, regression)
If these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these in plain language in other posts. It’s not essential that you understand the intricacies of research design (yet!). The key takeaway here is that you’ll need to make decisions about how you’ll design your own research, and you’ll need to describe (and justify) your decisions in your methodology chapter.
2 – Execute: Collect and analyse your data
Once you’ve worked out your research design, you’ll put it into action and start collecting your data. This might mean undertaking interviews, hosting an online survey or any other data collection method. Data collection can take quite a bit of time (especially if you host in-person interviews), so be sure to factor sufficient time into your project plan for this. Oftentimes, things don’t go 100% to plan (for example, you don’t get as many survey responses as you hoped for), so bake a little extra time into your budget here.
Once you’ve collected your data, you’ll need to do some data preparation before you can sink your teeth into the analysis. For example:
- If you carry out interviews or focus groups, you’ll need to transcribe your audio data to text (i.e. a Word document).
- If you collect quantitative survey data, you’ll need to clean up your data and get it into the right format for whichever analysis software you use (for example, SPSS, R or STATA).
Once you’ve completed your data prep, you’ll undertake your analysis, using the techniques that you described in your methodology. Depending on what you find in your analysis, you might also do some additional forms of analysis that you hadn’t planned for. For example, you might see something in the data that raises new questions or that requires clarification with further analysis.
The type(s) of analysis that you’ll use depend entirely on the nature of your research and your research questions. For example:
- If your research if exploratory in nature, you’ll often use qualitative analysis techniques .
- If your research is confirmatory in nature, you’ll often use quantitative analysis techniques
- If your research involves a mix of both, you might use a mixed methods approach
Again, if these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these concepts and techniques in other posts. The key takeaway is simply that there’s no “one size fits all” for research design and methodology – it all depends on your topic, your research questions and your data. So, don’t be surprised if your study colleagues take a completely different approach to yours.
Step 7: Present your findings
Once you’ve completed your analysis, it’s time to present your findings (finally!). In a dissertation or thesis, you’ll typically present your findings in two chapters – the results chapter and the discussion chapter .
What’s the difference between the results chapter and the discussion chapter?
While these two chapters are similar, the results chapter generally just presents the processed data neatly and clearly without interpretation, while the discussion chapter explains the story the data are telling – in other words, it provides your interpretation of the results.
For example, if you were researching the factors that influence consumer trust, you might have used a quantitative approach to identify the relationship between potential factors (e.g. perceived integrity and competence of the organisation) and consumer trust. In this case:
- Your results chapter would just present the results of the statistical tests. For example, correlation results or differences between groups. In other words, the processed numbers.
- Your discussion chapter would explain what the numbers mean in relation to your research question(s). For example, Factor 1 has a weak relationship with consumer trust, while Factor 2 has a strong relationship.
Depending on the university and degree, these two chapters (results and discussion) are sometimes merged into one , so be sure to check with your institution what their preference is. Regardless of the chapter structure, this section is about presenting the findings of your research in a clear, easy to understand fashion.
Importantly, your discussion here needs to link back to your research questions (which you outlined in the introduction or literature review chapter). In other words, it needs to answer the key questions you asked (or at least attempt to answer them).
For example, if we look at the sample research topic:
In this case, the discussion section would clearly outline which factors seem to have a noteworthy influence on organisational trust. By doing so, they are answering the overarching question and fulfilling the purpose of the research .
For more information about the results chapter , check out this post for qualitative studies and this post for quantitative studies .
Step 8: The Final Step Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications
Last but not least, you’ll need to wrap up your research with the conclusion chapter . In this chapter, you’ll bring your research full circle by highlighting the key findings of your study and explaining what the implications of these findings are.
What exactly are key findings? The key findings are those findings which directly relate to your original research questions and overall research objectives (which you discussed in your introduction chapter). The implications, on the other hand, explain what your findings mean for industry, or for research in your area.
Sticking with the consumer trust topic example, the conclusion might look something like this:
This study set out to identify which factors influence consumer-based trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms. The results suggest that the following factors have a large impact on consumer trust:
While the following factors have a very limited impact on consumer trust:
Notably, within the 25-30 age groups, Factors E had a noticeably larger impact, which may be explained by…
The findings having noteworthy implications for British low-cost online equity brokers. Specifically:
The large impact of Factors X and Y implies that brokers need to consider….
The limited impact of Factor E implies that brokers need to…
As you can see, the conclusion chapter is basically explaining the “what” (what your study found) and the “so what?” (what the findings mean for the industry or research). This brings the study full circle and closes off the document.
Let’s recap – how to write a dissertation or thesis
You’re still with me? Impressive! I know that this post was a long one, but hopefully you’ve learnt a thing or two about how to write a dissertation or thesis, and are now better equipped to start your own research.
To recap, the 8 steps to writing a quality dissertation (or thesis) are as follows:
- Understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is – a research project that follows the research process.
- Find a unique (original) and important research topic
- Craft a convincing dissertation or thesis research proposal
- Write a clear, compelling introduction chapter
- Undertake a thorough review of the existing research and write up a literature review
- Undertake your own research
- Present and interpret your findings
Once you’ve wrapped up the core chapters, all that’s typically left is the abstract , reference list and appendices. As always, be sure to check with your university if they have any additional requirements in terms of structure or content.
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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Great to hear that – thanks for the feedback. Good luck writing your dissertation/thesis.
This is the most comprehensive explanation of how to write a dissertation. Many thanks for sharing it free of charge.
Very rich presentation. Thank you
Thanks Derek Jansen|GRADCOACH, I find it very useful guide to arrange my activities and proceed to research!
Thank you so much for such a marvelous teaching .I am so convinced that am going to write a comprehensive and a distinct masters dissertation
It is an amazing comprehensive explanation
This was straightforward. Thank you!
I can say that your explanations are simple and enlightening – understanding what you have done here is easy for me. Could you write more about the different types of research methods specific to the three methodologies: quan, qual and MM. I look forward to interacting with this website more in the future.
Thanks for the feedback and suggestions 🙂
Hello, your write ups is quite educative. However, l have challenges in going about my research questions which is below; *Building the enablers of organisational growth through effective governance and purposeful leadership.*
Just listening to the name of the dissertation makes the student nervous. As writing a top-quality dissertation is a difficult task as it is a lengthy topic, requires a lot of research and understanding and is usually around 10,000 to 15000 words. Sometimes due to studies, unbalanced workload or lack of research and writing skill students look for dissertation submission from professional writers.
Thank you 💕😊 very much. I was confused but your comprehensive explanation has cleared my doubts of ever presenting a good thesis. Thank you.
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Research Paper: A step-by-step guide: 3. Thesis Statement & Outline
- 1. Getting Started
- 2. Topic Ideas
- 3. Thesis Statement & Outline
- 4. Appropriate Sources
- 5. Search Techniques
- 6. Taking Notes & Documenting Sources
- 7. Evaluating Sources
- 8. Citations & Plagiarism
- 9. Writing Your Research Paper
About Thesis Statements
Qualities of a thesis statement.
- state the subject matter and main ideas of a paper.
- appear in the first paragraph and announces what you will discuss in your paper.
- define the scope and focus of your essay, and tells your reader what to expect.
- are not a simple factual statement. It is an assertion that states your claims and that you can prove with evidence.
- should be the product of research and your own critical thinking.
- can be very helpful in constructing an outline for your essay; for each point you make, ask yourself whether it is relevant to the thesis.
Steps you can use to create a thesis statement
1. Start out with the main topic and focus of your essay.
youth gangs + prevention and intervention programs
2. Make a claim or argument in one sentence. It can be helpful to start with a question which you then turn into an argument
Can prevention and intervention programs stop youth gang activities? How? ►►► "Prevention and intervention programs can stop youth gang activities by giving teens something else to do."
3. Revise the sentence by using specific terms.
"Early prevention programs in schools are the most effective way to prevent youth gang involvement by giving teens good activities that offer a path to success."
4. Further revise the sentence to cover the scope of your essay and make a strong statement.
"Among various prevention and intervention efforts that have been made to deal with the rapid growth of youth gangs, early school-based prevention programs are the most effective way to prevent youth gang involvement, which they do by giving teens meaningful activities that offer pathways to achievement and success."
5. Keep your thesis statement flexible and revise it as needed. In the process of researching and writing, you may find new information or refine your understanding of the topic.
You can view this short video for more tips on how to write a clear thesis statement.
An outline is the skeleton of your essay, in which you list the arguments and subtopics in a logical order. A good outline is an important element in writing a good paper. An outline helps to target your research areas, keep you within the scope without going off-track, and it can also help to keep your argument in good order when writing the essay. Once your outline is in good shape, it is much easier to write your paper; you've already done most of the thinking, so you just need to fill in the outline with a paragraph for each point.
To write an outline: The most common way to write an outline is the list format. List all the major topics and subtopics with the key points that support them. Put similar topics and points together and arrange them in a logical order. Include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
A list outline should arrange the main points or arguments in a hierarchical structure indicated by Roman numerals for main ideas (I, II, III...), capital letters for subtopics (A, B, C...), Arabic numerals for details (1,2,3...), and lower-case letters for fine details if needed (a,b,c...). This helps keep things organized.
Here is a shortened example of an outline:
Introduction: background and thesis statement
I. First topic
1. Supporting evidence 2. Supporting evidence
II. Second Topic
III. Third Topic
I. Summarize the main points of your paper II. Restate your thesis in different words III. Make a strong final statement
You can see examples of a few different kinds of outlines and get more help at the Purdue OWL .
- << Previous: 2. Topic Ideas
- Next: 4. Appropriate Sources >>
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What is a thesis statement.
Your thesis statement is one of the most important parts of your paper. It expresses your main argument succinctly and explains why your argument is historically significant. Think of your thesis as a promise you make to your reader about what your paper will argue. Then, spend the rest of your paper–each body paragraph–fulfilling that promise.
Your thesis should be between one and three sentences long and is placed at the end of your introduction. Just because the thesis comes towards the beginning of your paper does not mean you can write it first and then forget about it. View your thesis as a work in progress while you write your paper. Once you are satisfied with the overall argument your paper makes, go back to your thesis and see if it captures what you have argued. If it does not, then revise it. Crafting a good thesis is one of the most challenging parts of the writing process, so do not expect to perfect it on the first few tries. Successful writers revise their thesis statements again and again.
A successful thesis statement:
- makes an historical argument
- takes a position that requires defending
- is historically specific
- is focused and precise
- answers the question, “so what?”
How to write a thesis statement:
Suppose you are taking an early American history class and your professor has distributed the following essay prompt:
“Historians have debated the American Revolution’s effect on women. Some argue that the Revolution had a positive effect because it increased women’s authority in the family. Others argue that it had a negative effect because it excluded women from politics. Still others argue that the Revolution changed very little for women, as they remained ensconced in the home. Write a paper in which you pose your own answer to the question of whether the American Revolution had a positive, negative, or limited effect on women.”
Using this prompt, we will look at both weak and strong thesis statements to see how successful thesis statements work.
While this thesis does take a position, it is problematic because it simply restates the prompt. It needs to be more specific about how the Revolution had a limited effect on women and why it mattered that women remained in the home.
Revised Thesis: The Revolution wrought little political change in the lives of women because they did not gain the right to vote or run for office. Instead, women remained firmly in the home, just as they had before the war, making their day-to-day lives look much the same.
This revision is an improvement over the first attempt because it states what standards the writer is using to measure change (the right to vote and run for office) and it shows why women remaining in the home serves as evidence of limited change (because their day-to-day lives looked the same before and after the war). However, it still relies too heavily on the information given in the prompt, simply saying that women remained in the home. It needs to make an argument about some element of the war’s limited effect on women. This thesis requires further revision.
Strong Thesis: While the Revolution presented women unprecedented opportunities to participate in protest movements and manage their family’s farms and businesses, it ultimately did not offer lasting political change, excluding women from the right to vote and serve in office.
Few would argue with the idea that war brings upheaval. Your thesis needs to be debatable: it needs to make a claim against which someone could argue. Your job throughout the paper is to provide evidence in support of your own case. Here is a revised version:
Strong Thesis: The Revolution caused particular upheaval in the lives of women. With men away at war, women took on full responsibility for running households, farms, and businesses. As a result of their increased involvement during the war, many women were reluctant to give up their new-found responsibilities after the fighting ended.
Sexism is a vague word that can mean different things in different times and places. In order to answer the question and make a compelling argument, this thesis needs to explain exactly what attitudes toward women were in early America, and how those attitudes negatively affected women in the Revolutionary period.
Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a negative impact on women because of the belief that women lacked the rational faculties of men. In a nation that was to be guided by reasonable republican citizens, women were imagined to have no place in politics and were thus firmly relegated to the home.
This thesis addresses too large of a topic for an undergraduate paper. The terms “social,” “political,” and “economic” are too broad and vague for the writer to analyze them thoroughly in a limited number of pages. The thesis might focus on one of those concepts, or it might narrow the emphasis to some specific features of social, political, and economic change.
Strong Thesis: The Revolution paved the way for important political changes for women. As “Republican Mothers,” women contributed to the polity by raising future citizens and nurturing virtuous husbands. Consequently, women played a far more important role in the new nation’s politics than they had under British rule.
This thesis is off to a strong start, but it needs to go one step further by telling the reader why changes in these three areas mattered. How did the lives of women improve because of developments in education, law, and economics? What were women able to do with these advantages? Obviously the rest of the paper will answer these questions, but the thesis statement needs to give some indication of why these particular changes mattered.
Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a positive impact on women because it ushered in improvements in female education, legal standing, and economic opportunity. Progress in these three areas gave women the tools they needed to carve out lives beyond the home, laying the foundation for the cohesive feminist movement that would emerge in the mid-nineteenth century.
When revising your thesis, check it against the following guidelines:
- Does my thesis make an historical argument?
- Does my thesis take a position that requires defending?
- Is my thesis historically specific?
- Is my thesis focused and precise?
- Does my thesis answer the question, “so what?”
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How to write an excellent thesis conclusion [with examples]
At this point in your writing, you have most likely finished your introduction and the body of your thesis, dissertation, or research paper . While this is a reason to celebrate, you should not underestimate the importance of your conclusion. The conclusion is the last thing that your reader will see, so it should be memorable.
A good conclusion will review the key points of the thesis and explain to the reader why the information is relevant, applicable, or related to the world as a whole. Make sure to dedicate enough of your writing time to the conclusion and do not put it off until the very last minute.
This article provides an effective technique for writing a conclusion adapted from Erika Eby’s The College Student's Guide to Writing a Good Research Paper: 101 Easy Tips & Tricks to Make Your Work Stand Out .
While the thesis introduction starts out with broad statements about the topic, and then narrows it down to the thesis statement , a thesis conclusion does the same in the opposite order.
- Restate the thesis.
- Review or reiterate key points of your work.
- Explain why your work is relevant.
- Include a core take-away message for the reader.
- Restate the thesis
Tip: Don’t just copy and paste your thesis into your conclusion. Restate it in different words.
The best way to start a conclusion is simply by restating the thesis statement. That does not mean just copying and pasting it from the introduction, but putting it into different words.
You will need to change the structure and wording of it to avoid sounding repetitive. Also, be firm in your conclusion just as you were in the introduction. Try to avoid sounding apologetic by using phrases like "This paper has tried to show..."
The conclusion should address all the same parts as the thesis while making it clear that the reader has reached the end. You are telling the reader that your research is finished and what your findings are.
I have argued throughout this work that the point of critical mass for biopolitical immunity occurred during the Romantic period because of that era's unique combination of post-revolutionary politics and innovations in smallpox prevention. In particular, I demonstrated that the French Revolution and the discovery of vaccination in the 1790s triggered a reconsideration of the relationship between bodies and the state.
- Review or reiterate key points of your work
Tip: Try to reiterate points from your introduction in your thesis conclusion.
The next step is to review the main points of the thesis as a whole. Look back at the body of of your project and make a note of the key ideas. You can reword these ideas the same way you reworded your thesis statement and then incorporate that into the conclusion.
You can also repeat striking quotations or statistics, but do not use more than two. As the conclusion represents your own closing thoughts on the topic , it should mainly consist of your own words.
In addition, conclusions can contain recommendations to the reader or relevant questions that further the thesis. You should ask yourself:
- What you would ideally like to see your readers do in reaction to your paper?
- Do you want them to take a certain action or investigate further?
- Is there a bigger issue that your paper wants to draw attention to?
Also, try to reference your introduction in your conclusion. You have already taken a first step by restating your thesis. Now, check whether there are other key words, phrases or ideas that are mentioned in your introduction that fit into your conclusion. Connecting the introduction to the conclusion in this way will help readers feel satisfied.
I explored how Mary Wollstonecraft, in both her fiction and political writings, envisions an ideal medico-political state, and how other writers like William Wordsworth and Mary Shelley increasingly imagined the body politic literally, as an incorporated political collective made up of bodies whose immunity to political and medical ills was essential to a healthy state.
- Explain why your work is relevant
Tip: Make sure to explain why your thesis is relevant to your field of research.
Although you can encourage readers to question their opinions and reflect on your topic, do not leave loose ends. You should provide a sense of resolution and make sure your conclusion wraps up your argument. Make sure you explain why your thesis is relevant to your field of research and how your research intervenes within, or substantially revises, existing scholarly debates.
This project challenged conventional ideas about the relationship among Romanticism, medicine, and politics by reading the unfolding of Romantic literature and biopolitical immunity as mutual, co-productive processes. In doing so, this thesis revises the ways in which biopolitics has been theorized by insisting on the inherent connections between Romantic literature and the forms of biopower that characterize early modernity.
- A take-away for the reader
Tip: If you began your thesis with an anecdote or historical example, you may want to return to that in your conclusion.
End your conclusion with something memorable, such as:
- a call to action
- a recommendation
- a gesture towards future research
- a brief explanation of how the problem or idea you covered remains relevant
Ultimately, you want readers to feel more informed, or ready to act, as they read your conclusion.
Yet, the Romantic period is only the beginning of modern thought on immunity and biopolitics. Victorian writers, doctors, and politicians upheld the Romantic idea that a "healthy state" was a literal condition that could be achieved by combining politics and medicine, but augmented that idea through legislation and widespread public health measures. While many nineteenth-century efforts to improve citizens' health were successful, the fight against disease ultimately changed course in the twentieth century as global immunological threats such as SARS occupied public consciousness. Indeed, as subsequent public health events make apparent, biopolitical immunity persists as a viable concept for thinking about the relationship between medicine and politics in modernity.
- More resources on writing thesis conclusions
Need more advice? Read our 5 additional tips on how to write a good thesis conclusion.
- Frequently Asked Questions about writing an excellent thesis conclusion
The conclusion is the last thing that your reader will see, so it should be memorable. To write a great thesis conclusion you should:
The basic content of a conclusion is to review the main points from the paper. This part represents your own closing thoughts on the topic. It should mainly consist of the outcome of the research in your own words.
The length of the conclusion will depend on the length of the whole thesis. Usually, a conclusion should be around 5-7% of the overall word count.
End your conclusion with something memorable, such as a question, warning, or call to action. Depending on the topic, you can also end with a recommendation.
In Open Access: Theses and Dissertations you can find thousands of completed works. Take a look at any of the theses or dissertations for real-life examples of conclusions that were already approved.
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Good Thesis Statement Examples, How to Write, Tips
What is an Example of Good Thesis Statement?
100 good thesis statement examples.
- “The advancement of internet technology has revolutionized modern communication, leading to numerous societal changes, including a more interconnected world and the rise of telecommuting.”
- “Climate change poses a severe threat to global ecosystems, necessitating immediate and substantive action to mitigate its destructive impacts.”
- “The portrayal of women in classic literature often reflects societal norms of their time, offering insights into gender roles and societal expectations.”
- “While many view animal testing as a necessary evil, alternative methods can and should be developed to reduce the reliance on animal cruelty.”
- “The impact of the Industrial Revolution extended beyond economics, reshaping societal structures, living conditions, and even art.”
- “The rise of fast food has played a significant role in the obesity epidemic facing many developed nations.”
- “The ‘American Dream’ in Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ underscores the illusion of prosperity and the decay of moral values in the Roaring Twenties.”
- “Children exposed to violent video games are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior, underscoring the need for parental guidance.”
- “The effects of social media on mental health, particularly among adolescents, is a growing concern that warrants in-depth research and awareness campaigns.”
- “The colonization of Africa had long-lasting effects, including cultural assimilation, resource exploitation, and the reshaping of geopolitical boundaries.”
- “Digital currencies, like Bitcoin, present both significant potential for reshaping global finance and inherent risks related to regulation and stability.”
- “The Renaissance period, while renowned for its artistic achievements, also laid the groundwork for scientific discoveries and the spirit of inquiry.”
- “Adopting a plant-based diet not only promotes personal health but also significantly reduces one’s carbon footprint.”
- “In George Orwell’s ‘1984’, the omnipresent surveillance state serves as a chilling commentary on government overreach and the dangers of unchecked power.”
- “Education reform is essential in addressing systemic inequalities and ensuring every student has access to quality learning.”
- “The use of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, is imperative in combating the detrimental effects of fossil fuels.”
- “The character of Hamlet explores the complex interplay between madness and sanity, revealing deep insights into human nature.”
- “Urbanization, while driving economic growth, also presents challenges like increased pollution and strains on public infrastructure.”
- “Migration patterns in the 21st century are heavily influenced by geopolitical unrest, economic disparities, and climate change.”
- “Childhood vaccinations are crucial in preventing deadly diseases and ensuring the overall health of a community.
- “Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not merely a moral obligation but a strategic move that can provide companies with a competitive edge in the modern business environment.”
- “Despite the advent of e-books and digital reading platforms, physical books remain significant due to their tangible nature and the immersive reading experience they offer.”
- “The prohibition era in the U.S. illustrates the unintended consequences of policies that don’t consider societal behaviors and demands.”
- “Despite its controversial nature, stem cell research holds the key to potential cures for terminal diseases and understanding cellular growth.”
- “Modern education needs to incorporate more emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving rather than rote memorization.”
- “The cultural and societal implications of artificial intelligence will be as impactful, if not more, than its technological advancements.”
- “Language evolves over time, reflecting societal changes, migrations, and cultural mergers, and it’s essential to study these shifts to understand societies better.”
- “Marketing in the age of social media requires a shift from traditional strategies to a more interactive and customer-centric approach.”
- “Elderly populations in developed countries are on the rise, necessitating a comprehensive approach to geriatric care and social support systems.”
- “While globalization has led to more interconnected economies and cultures, it has also resulted in significant cultural homogenization and loss of local identities.”
- “Mental health, once a taboo subject, requires increased awareness and resources, given its impact on overall health, productivity, and societal well-being.”
- “Space exploration, beyond its scientific implications, has profound effects on how humans perceive themselves in the universe.”
- “The concept of heroism in literature has evolved, reflecting societies’ changing values, moral codes, and perceptions of heroics.”
- “Dietary habits are deeply interwoven with culture, traditions, and in many cases, religious beliefs, making them more than mere choices of food.”
- “While urbanization offers numerous opportunities, it also exacerbates challenges like housing shortages, traffic congestion, and environmental pollution.”
- “The global financial crisis of 2008 underscores the need for transparency, regulation, and ethical considerations in banking and investment sectors.”
- “Art movements, from Renaissance to Surrealism, reflect more than aesthetic preferences: they mirror political, social, and cultural evolutions of their times.”
- “The rise of gig economies challenges traditional employment models, necessitating new legal and social frameworks.”
- “Music’s evolution over the decades is not just a progression of genres but a reflection of societal changes, technological advancements, and cultural shifts.”
- “The ethics of gene editing, especially CRISPR technology, needs comprehensive debate, considering its profound implications on human evolution and identity.
- “The emergence of telemedicine, accelerated by the global pandemic, offers a new horizon for healthcare but also prompts significant considerations regarding access, quality, and patient privacy.”
- “Climate change’s implications stretch beyond environmental degradation, influencing migration patterns, geopolitical tensions, and global economic shifts.”
- “The Renaissance’s influence isn’t restricted to art and literature but extends to scientific thinking, societal norms, and the evolution of political thought.”
- “Consumerism’s rise in modern societies doesn’t only influence economies but also molds individual identities, values, and life purposes.”
- “With rising automation, the definition of work is undergoing a transformation, calling for adaptive educational systems and new social structures.”
- “Historically, pandemics have reshaped societies, and COVID-19’s impacts will be seen in domains ranging from international relations to local community structures.”
- “The portrayal of women in media, while slowly changing, has long-term effects on societal gender norms and individual self-perceptions.”
- “The growing popularity of plant-based diets isn’t merely a health trend but a reflection of increasing environmental awareness and ethical considerations.”
- “While nuclear energy presents a solution to fossil fuel dependency, it also poses profound ethical, environmental, and geopolitical challenges.”
- “The transformation of the family unit in contemporary societies reveals broader trends concerning mobility, gender roles, and individualism.”
- “As cryptocurrencies gain traction, they challenge traditional economic systems, question the role of centralized banks, and redefine value.”
- “Migration patterns throughout history don’t merely reflect economic pursuits but are intertwined with cultural exchanges, conflict resolutions, and the global shaping of identities.”
- “The minimalist movement goes beyond aesthetic choices, reflecting a broader societal fatigue with consumerism and a quest for genuine experiences.”
- “The evolution of fashion isn’t just about changing styles but mirrors societal attitudes, economic conditions, and even political movements.”
- “Increased screen time among younger generations necessitates a reevaluation of learning models, social interactions, and the definition of community.”
- “Colonization’s legacies are still evident today, influencing global politics, cultural interactions, and even individual identities.”
- “The pursuit of happiness in modern societies is increasingly tied to material acquisitions, calling for a reevaluation of values and measures of well-being.”
- “Water scarcity, an impending global challenge, will dictate geopolitical strategies, economic models, and demand innovative technological solutions.”
- “Digital privacy concerns in the age of big data don’t just relate to personal safety but challenge fundamental rights and the very nature of democracy.”
- “Urban green spaces, beyond their environmental benefits, play crucial roles in mental well-being, community building, and fostering biodiversity.
- “While space exploration heralds new frontiers for humanity, it brings forth ethical, financial, and existential questions that must be addressed.”
- “The dynamics of global politics are increasingly being shaped by technology, redefining national security, diplomacy, and global citizenry.”
- “The role of folklore in preserving cultural identities is critical in this era of globalization, aiding in understanding shared human experiences.”
- “Declining bee populations are not only an environmental concern but an impending economic crisis due to their crucial role in pollination.”
- “The gig economy, while offering flexibility, poses challenges related to job security, benefits, and the very definition of employment.”
- “Holistic education goes beyond academics, addressing students’ emotional, social, and physical needs, preparing them for the complexities of modern life.”
- “Urbanization, while indicative of progress, also brings forth challenges related to sustainability, social disparities, and cultural preservation.”
- “The resurgence of vinyl in a digital age signifies a longing for tangibility and the intrinsic value of experiences.”
- “Cultural festivals, beyond their entertainment value, serve as bridges for intercultural understanding, fostering peace and global camaraderie.”
- “The debate over artificial intelligence surpassing human intelligence delves into philosophy, ethics, and the potential redefinition of life itself.”
- “Genetic editing, while promising medical breakthroughs, also opens Pandora’s box of ethical considerations related to identity, evolution, and societal norms.”
- “The blending of traditional and western medicine presents opportunities for holistic health solutions, yet raises concerns about authenticity and misuse.”
- “Mental health awareness in contemporary societies is not just a health concern but an economic, social, and cultural imperative.”
- “Craftsmanship in the age of mass production celebrates human ingenuity, authenticity, and a counter-narrative to rampant consumerism.”
- “Language extinction is not merely a linguistic loss but erodes cultural diversity, shared histories, and human perspectives.”
- “The rise of e-sports challenges traditional definitions of sports, athleticism, and physicality, reflecting shifts in entertainment and cultural values.”
- “The ocean’s depths, less explored than outer space, harbor potential solutions to medical, technological, and environmental challenges.”
- “Plant consciousness, while scientifically controversial, encourages a reevaluation of life, inter-species relationships, and our role in the ecosystem.”
- “The philosophy of minimalism, in contrast to modern excess, suggests a life of purpose, clarity, and sustainable choices.”
- “Architectural trends, like the tiny house movement, reflect evolving societal values concerning sustainability, materialism, and the concept of home.
- “The growing popularity of farm-to-table dining isn’t just a culinary trend, but a statement on sustainability, locality, and the personal connection to food sources.”
- “The proliferation of digital detox retreats illustrates society’s increasing acknowledgment of technology’s impact on mental well-being and the yearning for authentic human interactions.”
- “Rise of homeschooling, propelled by customizable learning experiences, showcases an evolution in educational philosophies and parental roles in a child’s academic journey.”
- “The interest in ancestral DNA testing unveils an intrinsic human desire to understand one’s origins, identity, and the interconnectedness of cultures.”
- “Virtual reality, while a technological marvel, forces us to confront and redefine our understanding of experiences, relationships, and reality itself.”
- “Solar energy’s ascension isn’t merely about environmental conservation; it’s a testament to human adaptability and the pivot towards sustainable choices.”
- “Revival of handwritten letters in the digital age signifies a desire for personal connection, authenticity, and the tangible amidst the ephemeral.”
- “Shifts in fashion towards gender-neutral clothing reflect broader societal conversations around gender identities, fluidity, and the deconstruction of stereotypes.”
- “The embrace of urban farming in metropolises worldwide underscores the importance of sustainability, self-sufficiency, and reconnection with nature even within urban landscapes.”
- “The growing trend of unplugged weddings emphasizes the importance of being present, cherishing moments, and prioritizing personal connections over digital documentation.”
- “The movement towards ethical consumerism isn’t just a shopping trend; it’s a societal shift towards responsibility, awareness, and the power of collective impact.”
- “The resurgence of board games in an era dominated by video games underscores the human need for direct interaction, strategy, and tactile experiences.”
- “Sustainable tourism is not merely an industry response; it’s a commitment to preserving culture, environment, and ensuring mutual respect between travelers and local communities.”
- “Intergenerational living, or multiple generations under one roof, challenges the conventional Western living standards and underscores the importance of family, shared responsibilities, and cultural preservation.”
- “The adoption of adult coloring books highlights the universal need for creative outlets, mindfulness, and the therapeutic value of art.”
- “The zero-waste movement is more than an environmental initiative; it’s a global call to action, emphasizing individual responsibility and systemic change.”
- “The increasing importance given to soft skills in professional settings speaks to the evolving understanding of holistic employee value, team dynamics, and long-term organizational success.”
- “The preference for experiences over possessions among younger generations challenges materialistic values and emphasizes the impermanence and value of memories.”
- “The rise of artisanal and handcrafted goods counters the age of mass production and highlights the appreciation for uniqueness, tradition, and human touch.”
- “The embrace of slow living in fast-paced societies underscores the yearning for mindfulness, purpose, and the significance of life’s simple pleasures.
Good Thesis Statement Starter Examples
- “First and foremost, urban development…”
- “At the core of this argument, environmental conservation…”
- “Central to this discussion, global economic trends…”
- “Fundamentally, artistic expression…”
- “The primary consideration, ethical consumption…”
- “An essential perspective, child development…”
- “At the heart of the matter, digital communication…”
- “Rooted in historical context, the Renaissance era…”
- “Pivotal to this debate, the role of artificial intelligence…”
- “Integral to this analysis, cultural integration…”
Good Thesis Statement Examples for Research Paper
- “Recent studies on climate change demonstrate the dire need for renewable energy transition.”
- “Neurological research reveals that bilingualism significantly impacts cognitive ability.”
- “Archaeological evidence from the Mediterranean supports the existence of matriarchal societies in ancient times.”
- “Data-driven marketing strategies have revolutionized e-commerce and consumer behavior.”
- “A review of mental health studies shows a strong correlation between social media usage and anxiety among teenagers.”
- “Genetic research indicates certain mutations as predictive markers for specific cancers.”
- “Recent advancements in AI are tracing the line between human intelligence and machine learning.”
- “Microplastics in marine ecosystems have a detrimental effect, as indicated by recent oceanographic research.”
- “Quantitative analysis of global trade indicates a shift towards service-oriented economies.”
- “Cultural anthropology studies reveal the importance of oral narratives in indigenous societies.”
Good Thesis Statement Examples for Essays
- “Modern parenting challenges differ significantly from those of a generation ago, especially with the rise of technology.”
- “Nostalgia, while a comforting emotion, can sometimes prevent progress and keep us anchored to the past.”
- “The introduction of digital reading is redefining the experience of literature.”
- “Despite its challenges, traveling solo can be an enlightening and transformative experience.”
- “Embracing minimalism can lead to a more fulfilling and less cluttered life.”
- “The transition from childhood to adulthood is marked by significant emotional, social, and psychological changes.”
- “A vegan lifestyle, beyond dietary preferences, represents a choice for health and ethical practices.”
- “Cultural festivals, more than celebrations, are reflections of identity, heritage, and community bonding.”
- “Design, in its essence, isn’t just about aesthetics, but about function, purpose, and intuition.”
- “Music transcends languages, bridging gaps, and resonating emotions universally.”
Good Thesis Statement Examples for Argumentative Essay
- “Compulsory voting ensures a democratic process that truly reflects a nation’s collective decision.”
- “While technology has its advantages, it cannot replace the value of traditional classroom learning.”
- “Animal testing is not only ethically problematic but also scientifically limited and should be replaced with alternative methods.”
- “Legalizing marijuana can provide significant economic benefits and reduce crime rates.”
- “Censorship, under the guise of protection, can often stifle creativity and freedom of expression.”
- “Childhood vaccinations should be mandatory, given their crucial role in preventing outbreaks and ensuring public health.”
- “Fast fashion is not only environmentally harmful but also promotes unethical labor practices.”
- “Privacy in the digital age is not a luxury but a fundamental human right that needs stringent protection.”
- “While sports promote discipline and teamwork, an undue emphasis on winning can deter the essence of play.”
- “Capital punishment, despite its deterrent effect, raises ethical dilemmas and should be reconsidered.”
Good Thesis Statement Examples for Compare and Contrast Essay
- “While both classical and modern music have their merits, they cater to different emotional palettes and generational contexts.”
- “Ancient Greek and Ancient Egyptian civilizations, though contemporaries, had distinctly different cultural and architectural achievements.”
- “Freelancing and traditional employment both have their pros and cons concerning flexibility, job security, and career growth.”
- “While both Apple and Microsoft have impacted computing, their philosophies, aesthetics, and user experiences differ markedly.”
- “Renting and buying a home, each have their financial implications, but also offer varying degrees of freedom and permanence.”
- “Both introversion and extraversion have unique strengths and challenges, influencing how individuals navigate social contexts.”
- “American football and soccer, while both team sports, have different rules, global reach, and cultural significance.”
- “While cats are known for their independence, dogs are often appreciated for their loyalty and companionship.”
- “Novels and short stories, though both literary forms, cater to different attention spans and narrative depths.”
- “Traditional marketing and digital marketing, while aiming for the same goal, employ different mediums and strategies.
Good Thesis Statement Examples About Success
- “Success isn’t merely measured by financial wealth but by personal growth and fulfillment.”
- “True success lies in one’s ability to maintain balance in personal and professional life.”
- “For many, success is the realization of personal freedom and the ability to dictate one’s own pace of life.”
- “Modern society often equates success with material possession, overlooking emotional and spiritual well-being.”
- “The journey, with its challenges and lessons, is as significant as the end-point in defining success.”
- “Success in academics doesn’t always translate to success in real-life scenarios and vice versa.”
- “The parameters of success differ across cultures, reflecting diverse values and priorities.”
- “Individuals who overcome adversity often have a richer understanding of success.”
- “Long-term contentment and understanding of self are underappreciated markers of success.”
- “Success isn’t static; its definition evolves with personal experiences and milestones.”
Good Thesis Statement Examples for College
- “College isn’t merely an academic pursuit but a journey of self-discovery and growth.”
- “The college experience is as much about developing soft skills as it is about academic excellence.”
- “While college provides a structured learning environment, self-motivation remains a critical determinant of success.”
- “Extracurricular activities in college play a pivotal role in shaping an individual’s character and perspective.”
- “The diversity in a college setting fosters cultural appreciation and global-mindedness.”
- “College debts, while burdensome, are investments in one’s future potential and aspirations.”
- “Digital advancements have revolutionized the traditional college experience, making education more accessible.”
- “The challenges faced during college years equip individuals with resilience and adaptability for future endeavors.”
- “Networking in college can pave the way for professional opportunities and lasting friendships.”
- “Critical thinking, a skill honed in college, is indispensable in navigating real-world complexities.”
Good Thesis Statement Examples for Students
- “Balancing academics with extracurriculars equips students with multitasking abilities and time management skills.”
- “For students, failure can be a profound learning experience, shaping resilience and adaptability.”
- “Modern students grapple with the pressures of digital distractions and the advantages of technology-enhanced learning.”
- “International exchange programs provide students with a broader perspective and cultural appreciation.”
- “Students today are more attuned to global issues, thanks to digital interconnectedness.”
- “Peer pressure, while often viewed negatively, can also motivate students to excel and set higher benchmarks.”
- “Real-life education, often neglected in curriculum, is crucial in preparing students for adulthood challenges.”
- “Active participation in student governance instills leadership qualities and a sense of responsibility.”
- “Practical internships and workshops complement theoretical knowledge, giving students an edge in professional realms.”
- “Mental health and well-being are as vital as academic achievements for holistic student development.”
Good Thesis Statement Examples About a Person
- “Nelson Mandela’s resilience against apartheid showcases the power of perseverance in the face of adversity.”
- “Steve Jobs, beyond his technological innovations, exemplified the essence of visionary leadership and creative thinking.”
- “Mother Teresa’s life underscores the profound impact of compassion and selflessness in addressing societal challenges.”
- “Frida Kahlo, through her art, gave voice to pain, love, and the complexities of identity.”
- “Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of non-violence resonates globally, advocating peace over conflict.”
- “Oprah Winfrey’s journey from adversity to global influence underscores the possibilities of determination and a positive mindset.”
- “Leonardo da Vinci, a polymath, exemplifies the limitless potential of human curiosity and innovation.”
- “Malala Yousafzai’s advocacy for girls’ education sheds light on the transformative power of youth activism.”
- “Elon Musk’s ventures span various industries, reflecting an insatiable quest for innovation and progress.”
- “Jane Austen, through her novels, offered incisive commentary on society, love, and individuality.”
Good Thesis Statement Examples About Family
- “The modern family structure has evolved, reflecting societal changes and diverse cultural norms.”
- “Families, beyond biological ties, are bound by shared experiences, values, and unconditional support.”
- “Blended families, with their unique challenges, underscore the universality of love and understanding.”
- “The role of grandparents in families extends beyond tradition, offering wisdom and timeless bonds.”
- “In the digital age, maintaining familial connections requires conscious efforts amidst technological distractions.”
- “The dynamics of sibling relationships play a pivotal role in shaping individual personalities and perspectives.”
- “Families act as safe havens, providing emotional anchorage in an unpredictable world.”
- “The challenges of modern parenting lie in balancing tradition with contemporary realities.”
- “Familial roles are fluid, constantly adapting to changing life stages and circumstances.”
- “Family traditions, while reflective of heritage, also evolve, mirroring changing times and values.”
Good Thesis Statement Examples About Life
- “Life’s unpredictability demands resilience, adaptability, and an undying spirit of exploration.”
- “Digital advancements, while enhancing life’s quality, also present challenges to genuine human connections.”
- “The pursuit of happiness in life is a journey of self-discovery, introspection, and meaningful connections.”
- “Life’s challenges, often viewed as setbacks, are pivotal in shaping character and destiny.”
- “The essence of life lies in cherishing fleeting moments, recognizing their transient nature.”
- “Balancing personal aspirations with societal expectations is a recurring challenge in modern life.”
- “Mindfulness practices, in the hustle of life, offer solace and a deeper connection to the present.”
- “Life, in its essence, is a continuous learning experience, offering lessons in unexpected places.”
- “The concept of success in life is personal, reflecting individual goals, values, and benchmarks.”
- “Life’s beauty lies in its diversity, presenting myriad experiences, emotions, and milestones.
What 3 things should be in a good thesis?
- Clear Focus: The thesis should pinpoint a specific idea or argument rather than being overly broad or vague. It should give the reader a clear understanding of what the paper will discuss.
- Arguable Point: A good thesis often presents an argument that could be challenged. It shouldn’t state a fact but rather a claim that others might dispute.
- Supporting Evidence or Reasoning: While the thesis statement doesn’t need to list all the supporting points, it should hint at or introduce the line of reasoning you’ll use to back up your claim.
How do you write a catchy thesis statement? – Step by Step Guide
- Understand the Assignment: Before crafting your thesis, make sure you comprehend the requirements of the assignment. Is it analytical, argumentative, expository, etc.?
- Research the Topic: A thorough understanding of your subject matter will help you formulate a robust and intriguing thesis. Dive deep into the available literature.
- Identify a Specific Focus: Narrow down your topic to a specific area of interest or argument.
- Draft a Preliminary Statement: Begin with a broad thesis statement, which you can refine as you progress.
- Make it Debatable: Ensure your thesis makes a claim or presents a viewpoint that others could challenge.
- Keep it Concise: While your thesis should be detailed enough to convey your argument, it should also be succinct and free from unnecessary jargon.
- Revise and Refine: As you continue your research and start writing, revisit your thesis. Make sure it remains relevant and adjust as necessary for clarity and precision.
- Seek Feedback: Discuss your thesis with peers, instructors, or mentors to get their insights.
- Finalize with Confidence: Once you’ve honed your thesis to its best form, confidently place it at the beginning of your paper, usually at the end of the introduction.
Tips for Writing a Good Thesis Statement
- Position it Right: Typically, the thesis statement should be at the end of your introduction, setting the tone for the rest of the paper.
- Avoid Ambiguity: Be clear and precise. Vague thesis statements can confuse readers.
- Stay Away from Clichés: While some generic statements can apply to many topics, they often lack depth and originality.
- Use Strong Language: Avoid wishy-washy phrases like “I think” or “I believe.” Be assertive in presenting your argument.
- Stay Relevant: As you progress in your writing, ensure every part of your paper supports or relates back to your thesis.
- Avoid Superlatives: Words like “best,” “most,” “all,” etc., can make your thesis weaker. Stick to more nuanced language.
- Revisit Regularly: As your paper evolves, make sure your thesis remains applicable. Adjust if necessary to reflect your paper’s direction.
- Limit to One or Two Sentences: While this isn’t a strict rule, a concise thesis often makes a stronger point.
- Practice Makes Perfect: The more you practice writing thesis statements, the better you’ll get at crafting compelling and effective ones.
- Stay Passionate: If you’re genuinely interested in your thesis, it’ll reflect in your writing, making your entire paper more engaging.
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How to write a fantastic thesis introduction (+15 examples)
The thesis introduction, usually chapter 1, is one of the most important chapters of a thesis. It sets the scene. It previews key arguments and findings. And it helps the reader to understand the structure of the thesis. In short, a lot is riding on this first chapter. With the following tips, you can write a powerful thesis introduction.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase using the links below at no additional cost to you . I only recommend products or services that I truly believe can benefit my audience. As always, my opinions are my own.
Elements of a fantastic thesis introduction
Open with a (personal) story, begin with a problem, define a clear research gap, describe the scientific relevance of the thesis, describe the societal relevance of the thesis, write down the thesis’ core claim in 1-2 sentences, support your argument with sufficient evidence, consider possible objections, address the empirical research context, give a taste of the thesis’ empirical analysis, hint at the practical implications of the research, provide a reading guide, briefly summarise all chapters to come, design a figure illustrating the thesis structure.
An introductory chapter plays an integral part in every thesis. The first chapter has to include quite a lot of information to contextualise the research. At the same time, a good thesis introduction is not too long, but clear and to the point.
A powerful thesis introduction does the following:
- It captures the reader’s attention.
- It presents a clear research gap and emphasises the thesis’ relevance.
- It provides a compelling argument.
- It previews the research findings.
- It explains the structure of the thesis.
In addition, a powerful thesis introduction is well-written, logically structured, and free of grammar and spelling errors. Reputable thesis editors can elevate the quality of your introduction to the next level. If you are in search of a trustworthy thesis or dissertation editor who upholds high-quality standards and offers efficient turnaround times, I recommend the professional thesis and dissertation editing service provided by Editage .
This list can feel quite overwhelming. However, with some easy tips and tricks, you can accomplish all these goals in your thesis introduction. (And if you struggle with finding the right wording, have a look at academic key phrases for introductions .)
Ways to capture the reader’s attention
A powerful thesis introduction should spark the reader’s interest on the first pages. A reader should be enticed to continue reading! There are three common ways to capture the reader’s attention.
An established way to capture the reader’s attention in a thesis introduction is by starting with a story. Regardless of how abstract and ‘scientific’ the actual thesis content is, it can be useful to ease the reader into the topic with a short story.
This story can be, for instance, based on one of your study participants. It can also be a very personal account of one of your own experiences, which drew you to study the thesis topic in the first place.
Start by providing data or statistics
Data and statistics are another established way to immediately draw in your reader. Especially surprising or shocking numbers can highlight the importance of a thesis topic in the first few sentences!
So if your thesis topic lends itself to being kick-started with data or statistics, you are in for a quick and easy way to write a memorable thesis introduction.
The third established way to capture the reader’s attention is by starting with the problem that underlies your thesis. It is advisable to keep the problem simple. A few sentences at the start of the chapter should suffice.
Usually, at a later stage in the introductory chapter, it is common to go more in-depth, describing the research problem (and its scientific and societal relevance) in more detail.
You may also like: Minimalist writing for a better thesis
Emphasising the thesis’ relevance
A good thesis is a relevant thesis. No one wants to read about a concept that has already been explored hundreds of times, or that no one cares about.
Of course, a thesis heavily relies on the work of other scholars. However, each thesis is – and should be – unique. If you want to write a fantastic thesis introduction, your job is to point out this uniqueness!
In academic research, a research gap signifies a research area or research question that has not been explored yet, that has been insufficiently explored, or whose insights and findings are outdated.
Every thesis needs a crystal-clear research gap. Spell it out instead of letting your reader figure out why your thesis is relevant.
* This example has been taken from an actual academic paper on toxic behaviour in online games: Liu, J. and Agur, C. (2022). “After All, They Don’t Know Me” Exploring the Psychological Mechanisms of Toxic Behavior in Online Games. Games and Culture 1–24, DOI: 10.1177/15554120221115397
The scientific relevance of a thesis highlights the importance of your work in terms of advancing theoretical insights on a topic. You can think of this part as your contribution to the (international) academic literature.
Scientific relevance comes in different forms. For instance, you can critically assess a prominent theory explaining a specific phenomenon. Maybe something is missing? Or you can develop a novel framework that combines different frameworks used by other scholars. Or you can draw attention to the context-specific nature of a phenomenon that is discussed in the international literature.
The societal relevance of a thesis highlights the importance of your research in more practical terms. You can think of this part as your contribution beyond theoretical insights and academic publications.
Why are your insights useful? Who can benefit from your insights? How can your insights improve existing practices?
Formulating a compelling argument
Arguments are sets of reasons supporting an idea, which – in academia – often integrate theoretical and empirical insights. Think of an argument as an umbrella statement, or core claim. It should be no longer than one or two sentences.
Including an argument in the introduction of your thesis may seem counterintuitive. After all, the reader will be introduced to your core claim before reading all the chapters of your thesis that led you to this claim in the first place.
But rest assured: A clear argument at the start of your thesis introduction is a sign of a good thesis. It works like a movie teaser to generate interest. And it helps the reader to follow your subsequent line of argumentation.
The core claim of your thesis should be accompanied by sufficient evidence. This does not mean that you have to write 10 pages about your results at this point.
However, you do need to show the reader that your claim is credible and legitimate because of the work you have done.
A good argument already anticipates possible objections. Not everyone will agree with your core claim. Therefore, it is smart to think ahead. What criticism can you expect?
Think about reasons or opposing positions that people can come up with to disagree with your claim. Then, try to address them head-on.
Providing a captivating preview of findings
Similar to presenting a compelling argument, a fantastic thesis introduction also previews some of the findings. When reading an introduction, the reader wants to learn a bit more about the research context. Furthermore, a reader should get a taste of the type of analysis that will be conducted. And lastly, a hint at the practical implications of the findings encourages the reader to read until the end.
If you focus on a specific empirical context, make sure to provide some information about it. The empirical context could be, for instance, a country, an island, a school or city. Make sure the reader understands why you chose this context for your research, and why it fits to your research objective.
If you did all your research in a lab, this section is obviously irrelevant. However, in that case you should explain the setup of your experiment, etcetera.
The empirical part of your thesis centers around the collection and analysis of information. What information, and what evidence, did you generate? And what are some of the key findings?
For instance, you can provide a short summary of the different research methods that you used to collect data. Followed by a short overview of how you analysed this data, and some of the key findings. The reader needs to understand why your empirical analysis is worth reading.
You already highlighted the practical relevance of your thesis in the introductory chapter. However, you should also provide a preview of some of the practical implications that you will develop in your thesis based on your findings.
Presenting a crystal clear thesis structure
A fantastic thesis introduction helps the reader to understand the structure and logic of your whole thesis. This is probably the easiest part to write in a thesis introduction. However, this part can be best written at the very end, once everything else is ready.
A reading guide is an essential part in a thesis introduction! Usually, the reading guide can be found toward the end of the introductory chapter.
The reading guide basically tells the reader what to expect in the chapters to come.
In a longer thesis, such as a PhD thesis, it can be smart to provide a summary of each chapter to come. Think of a paragraph for each chapter, almost in the form of an abstract.
For shorter theses, which also have a shorter introduction, this step is not necessary.
Especially for longer theses, it tends to be a good idea to design a simple figure that illustrates the structure of your thesis. It helps the reader to better grasp the logic of your thesis.
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HOW TO WRITE A THESIS: Steps by step guide
In the academic world, one of the hallmark rites signifying mastery of a course or academic area is the writing of a thesis . Essentially a thesis is a typewritten work, usually 50 to 350 pages in length depending on institutions, discipline, and educational level which is often aimed at addressing a particular problem in a given field.
While a thesis is inadequate to address all the problems in a given field, it is succinct enough to address a specialized aspect of the problem by taking a stance or making a claim on what the resolution of the problem should be. Writing a thesis can be a very daunting task because most times it is the first complex research undertaking for the student. The lack of research and writing skills to write a thesis coupled with fear and a limited time frame are factors that makes the writing of a thesis daunting. However, commitment to excellence on the part of the student combined with some of the techniques and methods that will be discussed below gives a fair chance that the student will be able to deliver an excellent thesis regardless of the subject area, the depth of the research specialization and the daunting amount of materials that must be comprehended(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
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What is a thesis?
A thesis is a statement, theory, argument, proposal or proposition, which is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved. It explains the stand someone takes on an issue and how the person intends to justify the stand. It is always better to pick a topic that will be able to render professional help, a topic that you will be happy to talk about with anybody, a topic you have personal interest and passion for, because when writing a thesis gets frustrating personal interest, happiness and passion coupled with the professional help it will be easier to write a great thesis (see you through the thesis). One has to source for a lot of information concerning the topic one is writing a thesis on in order to know the important question, because for you to take a good stand on an issue you have to study the evidence first.
Qualities of a good thesis
A good thesis has the following qualities
- A good thesis must solve an existing problem in the society, organisation, government among others.
- A good thesis should be contestable, it should propose a point that is arguable which people can agree with or disagree.
- It is specific, clear and focused.
- A good thesis does not use general terms and abstractions.
- The claims of a good thesis should be definable and arguable.
- It anticipates the counter-argument s
- It does not use unclear language
- It avoids the first person. (“In my opinion”)
- A strong thesis should be able to take a stand and not just taking a stand but should be able to justify the stand that is taken, so that the reader will be tempted to ask questions like how or why.
- The thesis should be arguable, contestable, focused, specific, and clear. Make your thesis clear, strong and easy to find.
- The conclusion of a thesis should be based on evidence.
Steps in writing a Thesis
- First, think about good topics and theories that you can write before writing the thesis, then pick a topic. The topic or thesis statement is derived from a review of existing literature in the area of study that the researcher wants to explore. This route is taken when the unknowns in an area of study are not yet defined. Some areas of study have existing problems yearning to be solved and the drafting of the thesis topic or statement revolves around a selection of one of these problems.
- Once you have a good thesis, put it down and draw an outline . The outline is like a map of the whole thesis and it covers more commonly the introduction, literature review, discussion of methodology, discussion of results and the thesis’ conclusions and recommendations. The outline might differ from one institution to another but the one described in the preceding sentence is what is more commonly obtainable. It is imperative at this point to note that the outline drew still requires other mini- outlines for each of the sections mentioned. The outlines and mini- outlines provide a graphical over- view of the whole project and can also be used in allocating the word- count for each section and sub- section based on the overall word- count requirement of the thesis(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
- Literature search. Remember to draw a good outline you need to do literature search to familiarize yourself with the concepts and the works of others. Similarly, to achieve this, you need to read as much material that contains necessary information as you can. There will always be a counter argument for everything so anticipate it because it will help shape your thesis. Read everything you can–academic research, trade literature, and information in the popular press and on the Internet(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
- After getting all the information you need, the knowledge you gathered should help in suggesting the aim of your thesis.
Remember; a thesis is not supposed to be a question or a list, thesis should specific and as clear as possible. The claims of a thesis should be definable and also arguable.
- Then collecting and analyzing data, after data analysis, the result of the analysis should be written and discussed, followed by summary, conclusion, recommendations, list of references and the appendices
- The last step is editing of the thesis and proper spell checking.
Structure of a Thesis
A conventional thesis has five chapters – chapter 1-5 which will be discussed in detail below. However, it is important to state that a thesis is not limited to any chapter or section as the case may be. In fact, a thesis can be five, six, seven or even eight chapters. What determines the number of chapters in a thesis includes institution rules/ guideline, researcher choice, supervisor choice, programme or educational level. In fact, most PhD thesis are usually more than 5 chapters(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
Preliminaries Pages: The preliminaries are the cover page, the title page, the table of contents page, and the abstract.
The introduction: The introduction is the first section and it provides as the name implies an introduction to the thesis. The introduction contains such aspects as the background to the study which provides information on the topic in the context of what is happening in the world as related to the topic. It also discusses the relevance of the topic to society, policies formulated success and failure. The introduction also contains the statement of the problem which is essentially a succinct description of the problem that the thesis want to solve and what the trend will be if the problem is not solved. The concluding part of the statement of problem ends with an outline of the research questions. These are the questions which when answered helps in achieving the aim of the thesis. The third section is the outline of research objectives. Conventionally research objectives re a conversion the research questions into an active statement form. Other parts of the introduction are a discussion of hypotheses (if any), the significance of the study, delimitations, proposed methodology and a discussion of the structure of the study(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
The main body includes the following; the literature review, methodology, research results and discussion of the result, the summary, conclusion and recommendations, the list of references and the appendices.
The literature review : The literature review is often the most voluminous aspects of a thesis because it reviews past empirical and theoretical literature about the problem being studied. This section starts by discussing the concepts relevant to the problem as indicated in the topic, the relationship between the concepts and what discoveries have being made on topic based on the choice of methodologies. The validity of the studies reviewed are questioned and findings are compared in order to get a comprehensive picture of the problem. The literature review also discusses the theories and theoretical frameworks that are relevant to the problem, the gaps that are evident in literature and how the thesis being written helps in resolving some of the gaps.
The major importance of Literature review is that it specifies the gap in the existing knowledge (gap in literature). The source of the literature that is being reviewed should be specified. For instance; ‘It has been argued that if the rural youth are to be aware of their community development role they need to be educated’ Effiong, (1992). The author’s name can be at the beginning, end or in between the literature. The literature should be discussed and not just stated (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
The methodology: The third section is a discussion of the research methodology adopted in the thesis and touches on aspects such as the research design, the area, population and sample that will be considered for the study as well as the sampling procedure. These aspects are discussed in terms of choice, method and rationale. This section also covers the sub- section of data collection, data analysis and measures of ensuring validity of study. It is the chapter 3. This chapter explains the method used in data collection and data analysis. It explains the methodology adopted and why it is the best method to be used, it also explains every step of data collection and analysis. The data used could be primary data or secondary data. While analysing the data, proper statistical tool should be used in order to fit the stated objectives of the thesis. The statistical tool could be; the spearman rank order correlation, chi square, analysis of variance (ANOVA) etc (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
The findings and discussion of result : The next section is a discussion of findings based on the data collection instrumentation used and the objectives or hypotheses of study if any. It is the chapter 4. It is research results. This is the part that describes the research. It shows the result gotten from data that is collected and analysed. It discusses the result and how it relates to your profession.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation: This is normally the chapter 5. The last section discusses the summary of the study and the conclusions arrived at based on the findings discussed in the previous section. This section also presents any policy recommendations that the researcher wants to propose (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
References: It cite all ideas, concepts, text, data that are not your own. It is acceptable to put the initials of the individual authors behind their last names. The way single author is referenced is different from the way more than one author is referenced (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
The appendices; it includes all data in the appendix. Reference data or materials that is not easily available. It includes tables and calculations, List of equipment used for an experiment or details of complicated procedures. If a large number of references are consulted but all are not cited, it may also be included in the appendix. The appendices also contain supportive or complementary information like the questionnaire, the interview schedule, tables and charts while the references section contain an ordered list of all literature, academic and contemporary cited in the thesis. Different schools have their own preferred referencing styles(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
Follow the following steps to achieve successful thesis writing
Start writing early. Do not delay writing until you have finished your project or research. Write complete and concise “Technical Reports” as and when you finish each nugget of work. This way, you will remember everything you did and document it accurately, when the work is still fresh in your mind. This is especially so if your work involves programming.
Spot errors early. A well-written “Technical Report” will force you to think about what you have done, before you move on to something else. If anything is amiss, you will detect it at once and can easily correct it, rather than have to re-visit the work later, when you may be pressured for time and have lost touch with it.
Write your thesis from the inside out. Begin with the chapters on your own experimental work. You will develop confidence in writing them because you know your own work better than anyone else. Once you have overcome the initial inertia, move on to the other chapters.
End with a bang, not a whimper. First things first, and save the best for last. First and last impressions persist. Arrange your chapters so that your first and last experimental chapters are sound and solid.
Write the Introduction after writing the Conclusions. The examiner will read the Introduction first, and then the Conclusions, to see if the promises made in the former are indeed fulfilled in the latter. Ensure that your introduction and Conclusions match.
“No man is an Island”. The critical review of the literature places your work in context. Usually, one third of the PhD thesis is about others’ work; two thirds, what you have done yourself. After a thorough and critical literature review, the PhD candidate must be able to identify the major researchers in the field and make a sound proposal for doctoral research. Estimate the time to write your thesis and then multiply it by three to get the correct estimate. Writing at one stretch is very demanding and it is all too easy to underestimate the time required for it; inflating your first estimate by a factor of three is more realistic.
Punctuating your thesis
Punctuation Good punctuation makes reading easy. The simplest way to find out where to punctuate is to read aloud what you have written. Each time you pause, you should add a punctuation symbol. There are four major pause symbols, arranged below in ascending order of “degree of pause”:
- Comma. Use the comma to indicate a short pause or to separate items in a list. A pair of commas may delimit the beginning and end of a subordinate clause or phrase. Sometimes, this is also done with a pair of “em dashes” which are printed like this:
- Semi-colon. The semi-colon signifies a longer pause than the comma. It separates segments of a sentence that are “further apart” in position, or meaning, but which are nevertheless related. If the ideas were “closer together”, a comma would have been used. It is also used to separate two clauses that may stand on their own but which are too closely related for a colon or full stop to intervene between them.
- Colon. The colon is used before one or more examples of a concept, and whenever items are to be listed in a visually separate fashion. The sentence that introduced the itemized list you are now reading ended in a colon. It may also be used to separate two fairly—but not totally—independent clauses in a sentence.
- Full stop or period. The full stop ends a sentence. If the sentence embodies a question or an exclamation, then, of course, it is ended with a question mark or exclamation mark, respectively. The full stop is also used to terminate abbreviations like etc., (for et cetera), e.g., (for exempli gratia), et al., (for et alia) etc., but not with abbreviations for SI units. The readability of your writing will improve greatly if you take the trouble to learn the basic rules of punctuation given above.
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- Knowledge Base
- How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates
How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates
Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.
What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .
There are five key steps to writing a literature review:
- Search for relevant literature
- Evaluate sources
- Identify themes, debates, and gaps
- Outline the structure
- Write your literature review
A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.
Table of contents
What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.
- Quick Run-through
- Step 1 & 2
When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:
- Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
- Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
- Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
- Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
- Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.
Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.
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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.
- Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
- Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
- Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
- Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)
You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.
Download Word doc Download Google doc
Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .
If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .
Make a list of keywords
Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.
- Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
- Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
- Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth
Search for relevant sources
Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:
- Your university’s library catalogue
- Google Scholar
- Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
- Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
- EconLit (economics)
- Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)
You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.
Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.
You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.
For each publication, ask yourself:
- What question or problem is the author addressing?
- What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
- What are the key theories, models, and methods?
- Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
- What are the results and conclusions of the study?
- How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?
Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.
You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.
Take notes and cite your sources
As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.
It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.
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To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:
- Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
- Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
- Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
- Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
- Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?
This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.
- Most research has focused on young women.
- There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
- But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.
There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).
The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.
Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.
If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.
For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.
If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:
- Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
- Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
- Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources
A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.
You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.
Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.
The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.
Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.
As you write, you can follow these tips:
- Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
- Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
- Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
- Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts
In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.
When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !
This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.
Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.
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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- Sampling methods
- Simple random sampling
- Stratified sampling
- Cluster sampling
- Likert scales
- Null hypothesis
- Statistical power
- Probability distribution
- Effect size
- Poisson distribution
- Optimism bias
- Cognitive bias
- Implicit bias
- Hawthorne effect
- Anchoring bias
- Explicit bias
A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .
It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.
There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:
- To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
- To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
- To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
- To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
- To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic
Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.
The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .
A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .
An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a paper .
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McCombes, S. (2023, September 11). How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved December 5, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/literature-review/
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