Helping a student with their thesis statement

The term thesis is often associated with research reports. It is derived from a Greek word (θέσις) meaning position and in a modern vernacular becomes synonymous with the idea of an argument.

If we adopt a view of a research report that it is an argument, then the essence of that argument can be expressed in what is called a thesis statement.
This is one of the most important aspects of the entire thesis because it not only introduces the objective of a research report, but also outlines the major topics covered in the thesis to achieve that objective.

The thesis statement is usually placed at the end of the first paragraph of an essay or a similar document and it is also referred to in the conclusion of the essay, as you need to balance various perspectives presented in the argument.

Helping a student with their thesis statement helps to focus on their academic writing and also draws out of them the analytical thinking for which the research report is renowned.

1. Helping the student to write a thesis statement based on what they perceive is their type of paper

First, determine whether your paper is an analytical one that presents the breakdown and evaluation of an idea, or an expository one that explains something, or perhaps an argumentative one that convinces the audience about the validity of a claim through evidence. The paper type lets you understand how your thesis statement should be framed and positioned. As you will see below, determining your paper type will further help you in considering other aspects of your thesis statement.

2. Building an appropriate thesis statement.

It is very important to keep the length of your statement optimized. To achieve the right length, one needs to consider the document type. If your work is large, a thesis statement could be a small chapter. However, many times, it could be a single line statement. for example, in essays. The length of the thesis statement will vary according to the style; for instance, it could be written in the form of questions and answers.
Your style and length should vary only according to the prescribed guidelines or the subject of your debate.

Thinking about the thesis statement this way lends itself to a strategy for research supervisors to help students in the development of their thesis statement as well as their overall writing.
Start with a one line statement and use the statement as a reviewing mechanism each time you meet with a student. Ask them what has changed in the way the student understands their thesis/dissertation. That may mean that the statement grows to become eventually a paragraph rather than a one line.

You have to remember to keep your thesis statement flexible unless your paper is already completed. You may discover new information during the process of writing your paper and that information should be included in your thesis statement. If you need prior approval for the thesis statement, it is better to take permission in advance from the instructor regarding future changes. Note that you should not miss the opportunity to rewrite your thesis statement.

About Enago: The ideas that prompted this particular blog have been brought to my attention by Enago. They offer thesis & dissertation editing services for students. –


About the (research) supervisor's friend

I work at a university helping university academics who are supervising research students. I am a research supervisor myself and also work as a research coach for people undertaking their research I was originally in a Management Faculty and when I completed my doctoral studies on 'doing a doctorate' I started working with research supervisors to help them improve their practice.
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