Updated: Nov 9, 2016

Thesis is an intellectual proposition. A thesis statement is the statement that begins a formal essay or argument, or that describes the central argument of an academic paper or proposition. A good tentative thesis will help you focus your search for information.

Thesis Writing

As a type of dissertation (and mostly assigned at the graduate school level), a student’s Thesis Paper is meant to demonstrate to their instructor or professor their ability to evaluate and interpret gathered information and then draw conclusions from the information to develop and defend an argument.

In many cases known as the “Term Paper,” one is essentially a long essay or dissertation involving personal research, written by a candidate for a degree, usually a Masters degree. (A dissertation, on the contrary, is the type of extensive paper, usually book-length, required for a student wishing to earn a doctorate in a specific field.) The student who is writing a Thesis Paper is responsible for putting forth their own point of view and is evaluated on how successfully they have presented this point of in the written form.

Unlike the topic summary paper, which offers a general description or explanation of a topic, subject or issue, etc., the Thesis Paper (which is most frequently assigned to the college or university level) dissects a topic, and argues for or against something in particular; it goes far beyond the simple reporting of a topic.

In many ways, the Thesis Paper is similar to the persuasive essay, in that it requires the student to argue a point and providing evidence that upholds that argument. Only the Thesis Paper includes extensive research that usually surpasses the kind of work needed for one to discover preliminary findings on a general subject. The Thesis Paper incorporates books, primary and secondary sources, as well as information from library catalogues, bibliographies, academic journals and other published documents, etc.

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How to Write a Thesis

Writing the Thesis Paper involves a student’s professor instructing the student to gather information about a subject, evaluating, assessing and analyzing that information, and arriving at a theory or argument (which in an argumentative paper or persuasive essay is declared in the paper’s Thesis Statement in its first paragraph) by resolving conflicting points of view. Writing a thesis teaches the student the type of research, writing and critical-thinking skills that will be crucial to master to excel in their career fields, where they may need to report facts and opinions accurately – while making sense of that information in a pragmatic way. The Thesis Paper requires one to go far beyond merely using their reportorial skills, but rather requires a student to use certain information to support their understanding and evaluation of certain material, a subject and topic. 

For example, the student writing a summary paper (again, the opposite of a Thesis Paper) may examine Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories that revolve heavily around the theme of the macabre. 

But the student writing the Thesis Paper will look more closely at the macabre in Poe’s fiction. They will examine what has been written in published scholarly articles about this theme in Poe’s work while coming to their own conclusions and interpretations on the topic – either accepting or rejecting the perspectives the critics offer. Ultimately, through their Thesis Paper, the student will offer their thoughts on why this is important – even practical – in the real world, what it can offer today’s reader, what they can learn from it, how Poe’s fiction should be read, and so on.

An example of a perhaps more practical focus and topic for a Thesis Paper could make an argument about smoking – “Smoking should be banned in public places,” an argument a Thesis Paper may be defending. Of course, the student covering this topic would have to look at both sides of this argument, conducting research to explore as many aspects of the subject as possible, and discovering ways that they could maybe develop the topic, bringing forth, possibly, new information and perspectives on the topic. 

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