If you’re reading this article, you’re most likely in the preparatory stages of writing an academic thesis: a substantial academic paper written on an original topic of research, usually presented as one of the final requirements for the Masters or Ph.D. degree.
It is important to note that an “academic thesis” should not be confused with a “thesis statement”. A thesis statement is “a basic argument” that clearly articulates what the Master’s thesis/dissertation is expected to demonstrate.
One of the initial building blocks to your immense writing project is to prepare a thesis statement: a sentence or paragraph that summarizes the argument you plan to make in your thesis/dissertation, as well as the supportive evidence you plan to use to back up that argument. In short, it provides a “road map” for the reader of where you plan to go with your thesis/dissertation. Most importantly, it must convince the reader that the claim is important to your academic field and that it is likely to be true based on the evidence provided.
A good thesis statement should:
o, Make a knowledge claim that purports to offer a new approach or idea in a particular field, and to explain why it is new. The purpose of any academic thesis/dissertation is to add to the existing pool of knowledge in a particular area, or to “fill in the gaps of knowledge.” As such, your knowledge claim should clearly state why the information/knowledge that you have to offer is now within your field, and should also convince the reader that your claim is likely to be true based on the evidence provided.
o, Make an argumentative assertion that summarizes the conclusions you have reached about your topic after reviewing the literature. This assertion should be focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper. It should also identify the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are providing.
o, Outline the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper. After finishing your thesis statement, the reader should clearly know the essence of your intended project, and also the boundaries you intend to place on it. Your thesis statement should not make the reader expect more than you are prepared to present in your final document.
Keep in mind that your thesis or dissertation topic should address an unresolved problem or knowledge gap in your subject area that needs to be explored and that concerns society as a whole. Your thesis or dissertation topic should be unique in that it should add something new to the existing literature. Merely digging up answers that already exist does nothing to contribute to an academic or professional field of knowledge. Simply put, a thesis or dissertation topic should be based on new knowledge and new solutions to existing problems–not on simply churning up old answers. However, conducting research on questions that have already been answered is considered part of the literature review and is a useful exercise to find out if someone has already conducted research on your proposed research topic.