Writing a thesis – a major paper or essay – is no small feat. Imagine you have finished the research, gathered your data, and created your main premise: now it is time to shape all of your information into the body of a thesis. Here are three thesis struggles you might run into along the way, as well as strategies to overcome them:
1. Unclear claim
A strong thesis relies on a clearly written and understood line of argument. To come up with your central claim, look for patterns that emerge across all of your data. You want to make a claim that is not completely obvious; it should add something new to your classroom dialogue on the subject. At the same time, your claim should not be too far-fetched, as these kinds of statements are typically difficult to support with evidence. Do not think too big or too small, and make sure you can back up the claim with data or other forms of evidence. If you can, run your argument by a classmate, writing tutor, or even your professor. Avoid abstractions and scale back your language as much as possible. This way, your thesis will start off on solid ground. These are some great tips to boost your writing skills.
2. No structure or cohesion
Once you have a central claim that you feel good about, you should organize your thesis in a logical way. Before drafting, list out your claim, main ideas, and supporting details in an outline. You may want to take advantage of templates on your word processing program or print a sample outline from the Internet. Do not limit yourself to a single sheet of paper – if you like, spread notecards out on the floor or stick post-it notes on your wall. Color-code related information to make connections across ideas. If you have already started to write, an outline is still a useful tool. Don’t be afraid to move information around or eliminate irrelevant ideas or sections. You can always find other resources or add information later if necessary. You may find that your thesis makes more sense if some elements are presented in a new order, or if they are slightly tweaked. Here are some great tips for writing an essay you may find useful as well.
3. Lack of adequate and relevant support
Even if you are comfortable with the claim or organization of your thesis, your main ideas may not have adequate or relevant support. Double-check that all of your examples relate directly to the main idea, which in turn should connect to the central claim. Do you have enough examples for each main idea? It is unlikely that you need the same number of examples for each, but every idea you present should be supported by a proper amount of evidence. Consider widening your research base if you do not have enough support. Look at your current sources to see where those authors found their information. You may be able to find other books, articles, or online research that will strengthen your overall thesis.
Writing a thesis is an exercise in synthesizing and condensing information in a presentable way. It may seem like a solitary or highly individualized activity, but you are not alone! Along with the strategies shown here, you can consult others in your academic community. Use these tips and conquer your thesis struggles now.