Academic Writing Complete Guide

Purpose and Audience of this Guide
Why read academic articles?
Essay Writing
Report Writing
Oral Presentations
Finding Sources
Good Academic Scholarship
Understanding Feedback
Exam preparation and Techniques

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Thesis writing

When developing a thesis, think of yourself as a member of a jury paying attention to a lawyer presenting his opening statement. You will want to know whether the lawyer believes that the accused is guilty or not. You are also expecting to hear how he is going to convince you. When it comes to the audience of the academic essays, they are like jurors. Before they can devolve deeper into your paper the need to know what you are going to discuss and how you are going to make your argument. Once they read your thesis statement, they should be able to know if the essay of the research paper is going to convince them or not. However, they are still interested in finding out more about what you have to say in the entire paper.

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Developing your thesis

If you have an effective thesis, it will go beyond giving a simple yes or no answer. A thesis is not a fact, nor is it a topic or an opinion. When developing your thesis, avoid using words like ‘best’. A good and effective thesis must have two parts; one that you plan to argue and the rest is how you plan to argue. In other words, you should have particular support for our claims if in any case, it is going to stand the test of time.

Constructing your thesis

  • Analyze your primary sources
    When looking for information, look for the one that has tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy or complication. See if the author contradicts himself and if he made a point in which he later reneged. Look for the deeper implications of the author’s argument. If you manage to figure out the “why” to one or more of these aspects, you are on the path to developing a working thesis
  • Write down your thesis
    The idea of writing your thesis statement down is to prevent you from forgetting it. There are nothing as frustrating as having a great idea only to lose it after your concentration is directed somewhere else. When you write your thesis down, you will be able to think about it clearly, logically and concisely. It gets you on the right track especially if you are writing a dissertation or any other academic paper.
  • Let your thesis be prominent in your introduction
    The best way to make sure your thesis is seen is too put it and the last sentence of your introduction. Though this is to require in all academic essays, the audience is able to follow your introduction knowing none too well where they are going to find your thesis statement. Writing your thesis statement at the end of your introduction id a good rule of thumb.
  • Anticipate opposing views
    Once you have a good thesis stamen, you need to think of what might be said to refute it. You will be able to refine your thesis and you will be able to think of the arguments that you will have to refute later as you write your paper. Understand that if your thesis statement is not debatable, then it is just a summary, not an argument. It is either fact or an opinion.

Important tips you need to know about your thesis statement

  • It is never a question
    This audience of academic essays expects to see discussions of various questions so as to provide answers. You cannot have a question as your thesis statement
  • It is never a list
    Your thesis statements are never a list of everything that you will discuss in the paper. it should have tension.
  • Your thesis is not supposed to be vague, combative or confrontational
    If you want to have an effective thesis, avoid confrontation or combativeness. It should elicit a debate that remains within the confines of reason. If readers strongly disagree with you from the start, the might stop reading your work.
  • An effective thesis is debatable and definable
    When you formulate your thesis, ensure that it solicits debate. It should interest the reader to have the argument to find more information on the body of your paper. If you make your thesis debatable, it means you are ready to defend it accordingly using appropriate means and within the confines of academic regulations.
  • Your thesis should be clear and specific
    You are supposed to avoid clichés terms in your thesis statement. General terms and abstractions only make your thesis statement ineffective and boring and this might make the readers disinterested in your thesis.

Every student who is about to graduate knows they have to submit a good thesis or a dissertation. It is a crucial requirement before the competition of a course. The process can be quite tedious especially if you lack the necessary skills in writing. Remember that it is a detailed document that explains a specific topic or problem. Your thesis statement is the answer to that question and the way you defend it matters a lot. Therefore, when you are formulating your thesis statement, it is crucial to know its characteristics.

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Characteristics of a good thesis statement


It should be clear and perfectly worded for clarity. You have to avoid any ambiguity, as that is fodder for confusion. It is more frustrating if the information that you provide as the defense does not align with it. As such, structure your thesis statement using simple language that is easy to understand.


Your thesis statement is supposed to be a complete statement. As earlier said, it is not a question, a fact, or an opinion.

Structure of a thesis

When it comes to writing a thesis or a dissertation, the students who are involved here are mostly postgraduate. As such, there is a slight variation in structure depending on the discipline that one is pursuing. Ensure that the paper that you write meets the requirements of the discipline in which you are studying. Your thesis should have the following sections:

  • The abstract
    This summarizes the contents of your paper. It is not supposed to offer too much information, only a sneak peek that is enough to make the reader have an idea of what the paper is going to entail. Although it comes before the introduction, it is always necessary to write it as the last section because it is a summary of your work. You will have an idea of what to include in this section.
  • The introduction
    This is meant to grab the attention of the reader by providing an overview of what the paper is going to entail. It should provide a background of what you are talking about. This should be a way of connecting with your audience since it sets the general tone of the entire paper. It should also provide the scope of your thesis. You are supposed to limit your scope to make the paper more manageable. If you have a wider scope, it will take time before you can complete it satisfactorily.
  • Theory section
    This is a scholarly perspective of your paper. It is supposed to have the insights that are not ordinary for daily reflections. In this section, you analyze your data and interpret it according to the existing knowledge. In other words, you use your sources to discuss your topic and prove your thesis statement.
  • Methodology
    This is where you demonstrate the research methods that you used to answer your research question. This shows their reliability and validity. There is no point of explaining the differences between the methods that you employed in your research.
  • Analysis
    This is an account of your findings, which follows a systematic analysis. You have to demonstrate different phenomena that you faced and how they contributed to your research. At this point, you have to engage the reader by trying to meet his expectations that you have built in previous sections.
  • Discussion
    You need to give adequate time and space for your discussion. This is a critical section of your thesis that shows your understanding of the significance of the findings from the study.
  • Conclusion
    Restate your thesis as well as some of the major points that you discussed in your paper. As a rule of thumb, you are not supposed to introduce any new information, facts or evidence in this section that you have not included in the body of your paper. You are supposed to synthesize all the information in light of the evidence that you have provided in your paper.
  • References
    This is a list of all the sources that you used in your paper. The entries that you make in this section must be traced in the body of your paper. Do not make the mistake of including sources that you have not used, just because you want to make the list longer. Your instructors will be able to notice this mistake. When writing your reference list, let it conform to the format of citation that your instructor prefers. This can either follow Harvard, APA, MLA, Chicago Manual style and so on. Check for mistakes and present your work to your instructor.

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