Project Thesis


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Project Thesis

  1. 1. Writing a Statement of Purpose Tip Sheet 9 Ask these questions: What is it? A Statement of Purpose is a sentence that you write, which states, in some detail, what you want to learn about in your research project. The statement guides you as you work so that you will read and take notes only on what's needed for your project. Why do I need to do it? Writing a statement of purpose will do 4 things to help you: You will get more interested in your project. It will keep you from getting overwhelmed and panicky at all the information you may find. It will help you develop a Thesis Statement, which comes later on in the research process. It saves you valuable time and effort. When and How to do it: After you focus your topic, after some overview reading, write a sentence that says what you want to learn about. Don't worry if you're not totally sure, your Statement of Purpose may change 3 or 4 times before you're done. To write the sentence, first answer these questions for yourself as best as you can: 1. What is my real personal interest in the topic? (There will always be something that can interest you) 2. What do I specifically want to learn about my topic? (Don't overwhelm yourself with too many things. Two or three are plenty.) Start your Statement of Purpose with words like "I want to learn about..." For example: One person was very concerned about air pollution and wanted to know if the government is doing anything to stop it.
  2. 2. Her Statement of Purpose was this: I want to learn about what is being done by our government to stop air pollution. This Statement of Purpose will lead her to eventually write a Thesis Statement in which she will be able to make an assertion (a statement she can defend) and support it with the evidence she has gathered in her research. Her Thesis Statement may sound something like this: "In the United States, government regulation plays an important role in the fight against air pollution." Or, conversely, "United States government regulation has little effect in the fight against air pollution." Whichever the case, she will use the evidence she has gathered in her research to prove her Thesis Statement. Writing A Thesis Statement Tip Sheet 13 Ask these questions: What is it? A thesis statement is a strong statement that you can prove with evidence. It is not a simple statement of fact. A thesis statement should be the product of your own critical thinking after you have done some research. Your thesis statement will be the main idea of your entire project. It can also be thought of as the angle or point of view from which you present your material. When do I write it? You will develop a thesis statement about your research topic after you have written a Statement of Purpose and done some actual research into the topic. You will then present your thesis statement in your introduction, prove it with evidence in the body of your paper, project, or presentation, and finally restate it along with a summary of your evidence in your conclusion. How do I write it?
  3. 3. Look again at your Statement of Purpose Look at the kinds of information you have been finding while taking notes. Decide what kind of statement you have enough evidence to prove. (Be sure that you have done enough research to make a strong argument. You may be challenged.) Write that as your thesis statement. There are many ways to approach writing a thesis statement. Just make sure that it is not simple a fact and that you can support it with good evidence from reliable sources. Here are some ways to approach it: Define a problem and state your opinion about it Discuss the current state of an issue or problem and predict how it might resolve Put forth a possible solution to a problem Look at an issue/topic from a new, interesting perspective Theorize how the world might be different today if something had/had not happened in the past Compare two or more of something similar and give your rating about them (cars, authors,computers, colleges, books) Put out your ideas about how something was influenced to be the way it is or was (music, art, political leadership, genocide) Focusing a Research Topic Tip Sheet 8 Ask these questions: What is it? Focusing a research topic is narrowing (or sometimes broadening) a topic so that you can demonstrate a good understanding of it, including enough examples and important details, within the size limits of the project you are required to produce. You need to satisfy both yourself and your teacher that you know what you are talking about. If your teacher gives you no limits, make them for yourself. You don't want to spend your life on this, at least not right now.
  4. 4. Why should I do it? This is the #1 biggest pitfall in the research process. If you pick a topic that is too big, you will not only have trouble selecting what to include from a huge selection of material available, you will probably leave out some critical information that will make it apparent (especially to your teacher) that you don't really know what you are talking about. If, on the other hand, you pick a topic that is too narrow, you won't find enough to write about and end up repeating yourself to fill 6 pages (which doesn't go over very well with teachers either, by the way). The process of focusing a topic takes practice, so be patient with yourself. It is challenging when you don't know too much about a topic. It will get easier as your knowledge base increases. Remember that the research process is a recursive one which means that you may need to revisit your topic choice more than once if you find it doesn't work out. Luckily there are some strategies and methods to help you through this critically important part of the process. Read on! How do I do it? There are different ways to focus your topic. In the Related Links at the bottom of the page you can click on some different methods. Whichever method you choose (and you may do a combination of them) try to pick something that interests you in some way. Even if the overall subject doesn't seem interesting, you can pick an interesting angle on it. For example: Say you have to do a research project about World War II, and you don't know a thing about it, nor are you at all interested in it. Try to find a subtopic that connects to your interests. If you like cars, try comparing the land vehicles used by the Germans and the Americans. If you like fashion, look at women's fashions during the war and how they were influenced by military uniforms and the shortage of certain materials.
  5. 5. If you like animals, look at the use of dogs by the US Armed Forces. If you like puzzles and brain teasers, look at the fascinating topic of decoding secret messages. If you like music, find out what types of music American teenagers were listening to during the war years. If you are a pacifist, find out what the anti-war movement was like during the war in any country. Find out what was happening during the war on your birth date. Find out if any of your relatives fought in the war and research that time and place. Brainstorming Research Questions Tip Sheet 10 Ask these questions: What is it? It is the process of thinking up and writing down a set of questions that you want to answer about the research topic you have selected. Why should I do it? It will keep you from getting lost or off-track when looking for information. You will try to find the answers to these questions when you do your research. When do I do it? After you have written your statement of purpose, when you will have a focused topic to ask questions about. How do I do it? You will be making two lists of questions. One for "factual" questions and one for "interpretive" questions. The answers to factual questions will give your reader the basic background information they need to understand your topic.
  6. 6. The answers to interpretive questions show your creative thinking in your project and can become the basis for your thesis statement. Asking factual questions: Assume your reader knows nothing about your subject. Make an effort to tell them everything they need to know to understand what you will say in your project. Make a list of specific questions that ask : Who? What? When? Where? Example: For a report about President Abraham Lincoln's attitude and policies towards slavery, people will have to know; Who was Abraham Lincoln? Where and when was he born? What political party did he belong to? When was he elected president? What were the attitudes and laws about slavery during his lifetime? How did his actions affect slavery? Asking Interpretive Questions: These kinds of questions are the result of your own original thinking. They can be based on the preliminary research you have done on your chosen topic. Select one or two to answer in your presentation. They can be the basis of forming a thesis statement. A. Hypothetical: How would things be different today if something in the past had been different? Example: How would our lives be different today if the Confederate (southern) states had won the United States Civil War? What would have happened to the course of World War Two if the Atomic Bomb hadn't been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? B. Prediction: How will something look or be in the future, based on the way it is now? Example: What will happen to sea levels if global warming due to ozone layer depletion continues and the polar caps melt significantly? If the population of China continues to grow at the current rate for the next fifty years, how will that impact its role in world politics? C. Solution: What solutions can be offered to a problem that exists today? Example: How could global warming be stopped? What can be done to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers? D. Comparison or Analogy: Find the similarities and differences between your main subject and a similar subject, or with another subject in the same time period or place. Example: In what ways is the Civil War in the former Yugoslavia similar to (or different from) the United States Civil War? What is the difference in performance between a Porsche and a Lamborghini?
  7. 7. E. Judgment: Based on the information you find, what can you say as your informed opinion about the subject? Example: How does tobacco advertising affect teen cigarette smoking? What are the major causes of eating disorders among young women? How does teen parenthood affect the future lives of young women and men? Making a List of Possible Sources Tip Sheet 5 Once you have an overview of your topic, first think about what kinds of information you need. Do you need quotations, maps, diary entries, political cartoons, song lyrics, diagrams, narratives, statistics? Once you know the kinds of information you need, you can make a list of all the possible sources in which you think you can find that information. These could include any of the following, or others: Books Magazine Articles Newspaper Articles Maps or Atlases Expert people Site visits (to museums, etc.) Television Shows Radio Shows Sound Recordings Video Recordings Electronic Databases Websites Now star the sources on your list that you will most likely be able to use, given the time and sources you have available. Give them a prioritized number order for which you will use first, which second... etc... Once you do this, you are ready to start locating these sources. Hint: Librarians are very useful at knowing which kinds of sources can be used to find certain types of information. Use their expertise. It will save you valuable time. Making An Outline Tip Sheet 14
  8. 8. Ask these questions: What is it? An outline is an abbreviated picture of the parts of your paper or project and the order in which they will come. You can think of it as a "road map" of your journey toward making a final product. Why do it? It helps you to... stay on course and not get off-track when you put your final product together. see if you have enough (or too much) material to support your Thesis Statement. figure out the order in which your subtopics will appear in your final product. An outline might be just for your own use, or your teacher may require that you hand it in while you are working on your project, so they can get an idea of where you are headed. It gives them a chance to help you head towards a good final destination. How to do it: Figure out the most logical flow of information, the best order for the information to be in, using the subtopics you created earlier. You can put your note cards in this order now. There is always more than one way to do this, so figure out what you like best. Put your subtopics with the key points that support them, in words or short phrases, into a list or diagram that shows how they will flow from beginning to end. There are many different types of outline diagrams. You can use the Inspiration program on a CRLS Library computer to create webbing diagrams or flow charts. If you are not a student at CRLS there are two ways you can get started working on your outline. 1. Use this model for a formal outline which is the type that most teachers expect to see if they ask for one. 2. Use one of the CRLS Interactive Outline Makers. Start with an introduction and end with a conclusion.
  9. 9. Citing Sources: Parenthetical Documentation Tip Sheet 16 Ask these questions: What in the world is that? It is way to let people know where your information comes from. Whenever you use material that you got from another source in your research project, you must let your audience know immediately where it came from, right after you use it. Why should I do it? It lets your reader know that you want to make clear to them which are your ideas/words/pictures, etc. and which are someone else's. If you do not cite your sources, you are committing plagiarism (Plagiarism is an unlawful act in which you use someone else's work as if it is your own. It can get you in big trouble. Avoid it.). It gives your Thesis Statement a lot more credibility because you obviously didn't just make up what you are claiming. You did your research! Your reader can check the original source for more information or for accuracy if they want to challenge you. When do I have to do it? You must cite your sources when using the following kinds of materials, in whole or in part: Direct quotations whether in written or oral formats (includes stories, speeches, fiction and nonfiction)
  10. 10. Paraphrased quotations (these are quotes whose words you have changed somewhat) Statistical Data (numbers about things) Images that are attributed to someone (includes cartoons, photos, maps, artwork, computer graphics-but not free "clip art") Song lyrics Original ideas that are attributed to someone else, even if you put them in your own words How do I do it? Citing your sources can be done as "footnotes" or "endnotes" but they are a pain to do. Now you can use "parenthetical documentation" and it is very easy. The word "parenthetical" is a clue to the meaning. It means "within parentheses". There are two main ways to do this type of citing or "documentation". One way to do it is this: At the end of the borrowed material, put in parentheses the author's last name and the page(s) where the material is found within the source. It looks like this: "No nation in the world has so many drastic problems squeezed into so small a place, under such urgent pressure of time and heavy burden of history, as Israel" (Tuchman 123). Tuchman is the author's last name and the quote is on page 123 of a book you will list in your Works Cited at the end of your project. Therefore the reader can get that book immediately if they want to and check that you have copied the quote correctly, or simply read the book, if they have the interest. The quote is in quotation marks because it is used directly as found within the source. If you paraphrase you don't have to use quotation marks. Another way to do it is this: Use the author's name in the text that you write and put the page number(s) in parentheses at the end of the borrowed material. That way looks like this: Barbara Tuchman said,"No nation in the world has so many drastic problems squeezed into so small a place, under such urgent pressure of time and heavy burden of history, as Israel" (123). Although it looks pretty straightforward, you will run into some unusual cases, like books with more than one author, books with no author, websites,
  11. 11. interviews, etc. So I will direct you to two places to find out how to cite different kinds of sources. The first is Tip Sheet #19: Making a Works Cited. The second is the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, fifth edition (Gibaldi) which can be found in most libraries including CRLS. Go to the section on "Documentation: Citing sources in the Text". These 2 resources will give you the many variations of citation formats. Or, you can ask a librarian! Writing an Introduction Tip Sheet 17 Ask these questions: What is it? An introduction is the first paragraph of a written research paper, or the first thing you say in an oral presentation, or the first thing people see, hear, or experience about your project. It has two parts: 1. A general introduction to the topic you will be discussing 2. Your Thesis Statement Why do it? Without an introduction it is sometimes very difficult for your audience to figure out what you are trying to say. There needs to be a thread of an idea that they will follow through your paper or presentation. The introduction gives the reader the beginning of the piece of thread so they can follow it. When do I do it? Many books recommend writing your introduction last, after you finish your project. This is to make sure that you introduce what you are actually going to say. If your project changes in the creating process, it is important to make sure that your introduction accurately reflects what you will be saying. If, however, you have written a good outline and stick to it, then it is fine to start writing your introduction first. Just make sure in your proofreading that you have kept the thread consistent throughout the paper. How do I do it?
  12. 12. Start with a couple of sentences that introduce your topic to your reader. You do not have to give too much detailed information; save that for the body of your paper. Make these sentences as interesting as you can. Through them, you can hook a reader and get them very interested in the line of thinking you are going to develop in your project. Then state your thesis, which may be done in one or more sentences. The length of your introduction depends on the length and complexity of your project, but generally it should not exceed one page unless it is a very long project or a book. The average length of an introduction is one half a page. Some Examples: For the example, the regular text is the general introduction to the topic. The BOLD text is the writer's Thesis Statement. Example 1 Teenagers in many American cities have been involved in more gangs in the last five years than ever before. These gangs of teens have been committing a lot of violent crimes. The victims of these crimes are both gang members and people outside of gangs. Many people do not want to travel to areas in our cities because of the danger from this problem. For this terrible situation to stop, it is going to take a combined effort on the part of many people. Excellent, supervised after-school programs, more jobs available for teens, and healthy family relationships will go a long way towards ending this crisis in our society. Example 2 During the Middle Ages in Europe and the Middle East there was much armed conflict between Christians and Muslims. Christians called these conflicts the Crusades because they were fighting under the sign of the cross to save the holy lands of the Bible from being desecrated by non-Christians. However, the true reason for fighting for these lands was less than holy. It was mainly a desire for economic gain that prompted the Christian leaders to send soldiers to fight in the Holy Land. An introduction gives the reader an idea of where you are going in your project so they can follow along. You can give them more background details and supporting evidence for your thesis in the body of the paper itself. Writing a Conclusion Tip Sheet 18
  13. 13. Ask these questions: What is it? A conclusion is the last paragraph in your research paper, or the last part in any other type of presentation. Why do it? A conclusion is like the final chord in a song. It makes the listener feel that the piece is complete and well done. The same is true for your audience. You want them to feel that you supported what you stated in your thesis. You then become a reliable author for them and they are impressed by that and will be more likely to read your work in the future. They may also have learned something and maybe have had their opinion changed by what you have written or created! How do I do it? A conclusion is, in some ways, like your introduction. You restate your thesis and summarize your main points of evidence for the reader.You can usually do this in one paragraph. In the following example, the thesis statement is in bold. Notice that it is written in 2 sentences. This is a stylistic choice for impact. Example: The problem of teen gang violence can be eliminated. It will, however, take time, money, and a combined effort on the part of many people. Organized, free, after-school programs such as: sports teams and games; art, music, and drama activities; internships in local area businesses and professional organizations; and interesting volunteer activities in the community would help engage teens in worthwhile pursuits outside of school hours. More job opportunities for teens, especially those funded by state and local programs, would offer income for teens as well as productive work for the community. Outreach to families through schools, community organizations, and places of worship would help promote intergenerational activities that could improve family closeness, helping teens to work on their problems at the family level, instead of taking them to the streets. If these programs can be
  14. 14. implemented, we will surely see a decrease in teen gang activity and safer streets and neighborhoods for us all. Making a Works Cited Tip Sheet 19 Ask these questions: What is it? A Works Cited is an alphabetical list of the sources (also called "works") you used in the body of your project. Where does it go? It should be the last page in your project. Why do I need to do it? When you do a research project you must give credit to the sources from which you found the material you used directly in your project. This is called citing your sources. You must do it whenever you use a complete piece of someone else's material (like a quotation, a picture, a song, statistical data, or even someone else's idea that you put into your own words) and you must do it even if you only use a recognizable part of that material. If you do not cite your sources, you are committing plagiarism by calling someone else's work your own. For additional information on citing sources, see the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, available in the Pearl K. Wise Library at CRLS. Isn't this a Bibliography? People use the terms interchangeably, but they are actually different. A bibliography is a list of related reading material that your reader can look for if they want to do more reading on your topic. A Works Cited is a list of only those sources from which you used borrowed material in your project, and which you cited with parenthetical documentation within your project. It is a fine difference. If your teacher asks for a bibliography, give them a Works Cited. It is probably what they meant to ask for.
  15. 15. Making a Title Page Tip Sheet 20 Ask these questions: Why is this so important? The title page is the first thing teachers see and it makes a big impression on them. Even if you write a great paper, an incomplete or messy title page will give your teacher the impression that you aren't very careful. Then they'll be looking for mistakes and problems instead of being open to how good your work might be. What do I need to put on a title page? Often a teacher will be very specific about this information in their assignment sheet. If so, follow it. If they don't let you know, here is some standard information that is usually required: Your name Small School # Homeroom Date of turning in the project Title of your project Title of the class Period of your section The teacher's name What should the title page look like? To some extent, this is a matter of personal style. However, there are some general guidelines to follow: 1. Use only one or two fonts. More than two can be confusing to read. 2. Use a clear font that is easy to read.
  16. 16. 3. Keep it simple. Too many words or pictures can have a distracting or confusing effect. 4. Keeping all of the lines starting on either the left or right margin is easier to read and creates a stronger visual impression than centered text or random placement. The first example shows the text lined up on the left margin and the second shows the text lined up on the right margin. Here are some examples of clean, strong, simple title pages: Joseph Smith School 3 A379 10/2/03 The Amazon Rain Forest: A Vanishing Resource Principles of Science Period 3 Mr. Jones
  17. 17. Shahira Johnson School 2 R299 11/15/03 Is Harmony in Our Future? Predictions on the future of Race Relations in America for the 21st Century Sociology Period 5 Ms. Alvarez Evaluating Your Work Tip Sheet 21 Ask these questions: How do I do it? You should be the first one to evaluate your own work before you show it to a friend or relative for review, or turn it in to a teacher for grading. How do I know that I am done? Did you complete the assignment given by the teacher? Go back and review the assignment sheet again to be sure. • Make sure that you have completed all the parts. • Make sure that you have identified the project with your name, your teacher's name, the date and any title, if it applies. See Making a Title Page.
  18. 18. How will I be evaluated by my teacher? Your evaluation will depend on a lot of different criteria. Most of them should be written by the teacher in the assignment. In addition to the things mentioned above, there might be artistic decisions like the effectiveness of an informational poster, or the literary quality of a play or poem. Some other criteria are common to most projects. Here is a list of common criteria to evaluate: 1. Correct spelling 2. Overall neatness 3. Parts in a logical and correct order, nothing missing 4. Any borrowed material is properly cited 5. Any thesis statements or arguments have been supported with evidence Some teachers provide a self-evaluation tool called a rubric which allows you to see what excellent, good, acceptable, and poor work look like. This way, you can adjust your project to comply with excellent work. Ideally, you should be referring to a rubric all along as you do your project. It is tough at the end to completely revise something. We all run out of steam at some point. Try to work with the rubric alongside you at each work session. After you evaluate your own work, you may want to ask a relative or friend to check it for spelling, neatness and clarity. Then do a final touch up to your work and turn it in on time! You may want to note down what you think your grade should be and why. This may prove useful later when discussing your grade with your teacher.