Develop a Great Thesis Statement

Once you’re relaxed, it’s time to focus your attention on writing a great thesis statement. Your thesis statement is what will keep your research and writing on topic. This is the most important part of your paper. Spend some time reading thesis statements in Google Scholar or whatever journal article database you have access to.
Use whatever you find as a springboard for writing your own argument. Make sure to save citations and quotes from any relevant journal articles you find.


Focus your thesis on one main idea

The most important part of writing a fascinating paper is to develop a great thesis statement. You see, your thesis statement is the spine for your entire paper. It’s the glue that holds your paper together. The more complex, specific, and interesting, the better your paper will be. Your thesis is the glue for your paper. Make sure your thesis doesn’t divert into different directions. Stay focused on one main theme to keep your paper organized so that your readers maintain their interest on the topic. Streamline the flow of your thesis by mentioning relevant data. Also make sure to focus on the correctness and specificity of the data. A unidirectional thesis is the key to an interesting paper.


Develop a Strong Opinion about your Topic

Writing a great thesis statement means you need to develop a strong opinion about your topic. This is how radio talk show hosts keep their audiences  they spew strong opinions that attract listeners and phone calls.If you’re not sure how to form a strong opinion about your topic, start reading through journal article abstracts. Check out Google Scholar and read through thesis statements pertaining to your topic. Jot down any strong opinions that look interesting to you.


Study Design

Cross-sectional studies are simple in design and are aimed at finding out the prevalence of a phenomenon, problem, attitude or issue by taking a snap-shot or cross-section of the population. This obtains an overall picture as it stands at the time of the study.  For example, a cross-sectional design would be used to assess demographic characteristics or community attitudes.  These studies usually involve one contact with the study population and are relatively cheap to undertake.

Pre-test/post-test studies measure the change in a situation, phenomenon, problem or attitude. Such studies are often used to measure the efficacy of a program. These studies can be seen as a variation of the cross-sectional design as they involve two sets of cross-sectional data collection on the same population to determine if a change has occurred.

Retrospective studies investigate a phenomenon or issue that has occurred in the past.  Such studies most often involve secondary data collection, based upon data available from previous studies or databases. For example, a retrospective study would be needed to examine the relationship between levels of unemployment and street crime in NYC over the past 100 years.

Prospective studies seek to estimate the likelihood of an event or problem in the future.  Thus, these studies attempt to predict what the outcome of an event is to be. General science experiments are often classified as prospective studies because the experimenter must wait until the experiment runs its course in order to examine the effects.  Randomized controlled trials are always prospective studies and often involve following a “cohort” of individuals to determine the relationship between various variables.

Longitudinal studies follow study subjects over a long period of time with repeated data collection throughout.  Some longitudinal studies last several months, while others can last decades. Most are observational studies that seek to identify a correlation among various factors. Thus, longitudinal studies do not manipulate variables and are not often able to detect causal relationships.



How to write an Introduction for your paper

The introduction starts with a broad basis and then narrows down to your particular field of study, explaining the rationale behind each step. Think of it as an inverted pyramid, where you start with a wide overview but move towards the thesis statement or hypothesis, which should be the final element of the introduction. In the introduction, you are attempting to inform the reader about the rationale behind the work, justifying why your work is an essential component of research in the field. The introduction does not have a strict word limit, unlike the abstract, but it should be as concise as possible. It can be a tricky part of the paper to write, so many scientists and researchers prefer to write it last, ensuring that they miss no major points. For a longer research paper, where you use an outline, it can be useful to structure your introduction around the outline. Here are a few outline examples.

  • The introduction gives an overall review of the paper, but does address a few slightly different issues from the abstract.
  • It works upon the principle of introducing the topic of the paper and setting it into a broad context, gradually narrowing down to a research problem, thesis and hypothesis. A good introduction explains how you mean to solve the research problem, and creates ‘leads’ to make the reader want to delve further into your work.
  • You should assume that your paper is aimed at someone with a good working knowledge of your particular field. For example, a paper about evolutionary adaptations need not go into too much detail about Darwin – it is fairly common knowledge. A behavioral science paper only needs to mention Pavlov and Skinner in passing, as their theories are standard for any first year undergraduate.

Ten Tips for writing a Stress-Free Thesis

Writing a thesis is easier said than done, of course, and you have plenty of work ahead. But like any big undertaking, writing a thesis is easier if you break it down into smaller steps.

  1. Don’t save data analysis to the very last minute. Plan ahead.
  2. Confirm your table of contents with your supervisor.
  3. Write an outline, and stick to it as you write.
  4. Don’t reinvent the wheel: Transform your published articles into thesis chapters.
  5. Create deadlines for yourself and stick to them.
  6. Find a quiet place to write where you will be free from distractions. The lab is usually not a good place to write a thesis. Work from home or in a quiet place like the library.
  7. Assign yourself a number of pages to write each day and stop when you are done. This will prevent you from spending 24 hours a day at the computer, agonizing over your progress. When you’ve written your assigned four or five pages, then you’re finished for the day. Turn off the computer and do something else.
  8. Take plenty of breaks, and be sure to spend time with friends and family.
  9. Get some exercise, eat well, and take care of your health.
  10. Don’t work in utter solitude. This is not the time to turn into a hermit. If other Ph.D. students in your lab or department are writing their theses at the same time, consider creating an informal support group in which you can share the stresses of writing a thesis and have people at hand who are willing to review certain sections or even the entire manuscript.