1 Thesis Writing Skills Planning and writing your thesis In order to WRITE your thesis you need to start by READING! And keep on reading while you are writing… You will be reading a variety of texts for a range of purposes: • to get your bearings; to see the big picture • to answer a question that you have • to learn out about a particular approach or method that you are interested in • to find evidence to counter-balance something you’ve read • to find evidence to support your own argument Structure of each chapter • Start with an introduction that links to the previous chapters, states the aim of the chapter and describes how this aim will be achieved. • The body of each chapter may be structured under several headings; however, the flow of discussion should develop logically through the chapter. Each section should be clearly linked to those before and after. • End the chapter by referring to what will be discussed in the following chapter. Skills for discussing the literature • Summarising: identifying the main points to show your understanding of the text reviewed; to provide your reader with a reasonably full understanding of the contents of the study, without their actually having to read it • Paraphrasing: rephrasing short segments using your own words as an alternative to quoting directly. (Direct quotes should be kept to a minimum.) • Analysing: identifying and discussing strengths and weaknesses • Comparing: identifying and discussing similarities in studies • Contrasting: identifying and discussing differences in studies Language features Reporting verbs: • to discuss the information and ideas of the researchers “The discussion consistently relates the key findings to the research discussed earlier.” Modal verbs: • to express degrees of certainty and probability “Experimental research should be used to establish a more direct relationship to determine causation.” “It might have been more useful to conduct a comprehensive survey.” Concessive clauses: • to acknowledge the strength of an idea while presenting an alternative view and thus show balance and fairness in your analysis 2 “Despite the small sample size, the analysis yields interesting insights.” “While not proving causality, these studies highlight several factors associated with successful online learning.” Useful words and phrases for discussing the literature You should point out the strengths of the study to show you are aware of their importance, as in: • “These results are consistent with the aims of the research…” • “The findings are clearly presented using diagrams and a graph…” • “The discussion consistently relates the key findings to research discussed earlier…” When you identify weaknesses, you should use a cautious, objective style. You can use such phrases as: • “This sample seems fairly small in view of…” • “It might have been helpful to provide more details of…” • “There is no explanation for the absence of any literature after 2003.” • “It would have been useful to know why this was the case.” ~~~For this or similar assignment papers~~~