The thesis: finding your storyDorothy Faulkner & Verina Waights
Good academic writing• Demonstrates the quality of your thinking• Requires depth of understanding• Requires discipline• Is a creative practice• Requires periods of ‘incubation’• Requires multiple drafts to achieve clarity• Undergoes continuous development• Benefits from peer review• TAKES TIME !
Characteristics of outstanding thesesQuality of thinking:• Original and significant, coherent, compelling, exciting, interesting, insightful, persuasive, sophisticated, surprising, and thoughtful• Synthetic and interdisciplinary• Exhibit mature, independent and critical thinking• Ask new questions or addresses an important question or problem• Display a deep understanding of a massive amount of complicated literature• Exhibit command and authority over the material• Arguments are focused, logical, rigorous, and sustained• Is theoretically sophisticated and shows a deep understanding of theory• Is of interest to a larger community and changes the way people think• Pushes the disciplines boundaries and opens new areas for research
Characteristics of an outstanding thesisMethodology• Has a brilliant research design• Uses or develops new tools, methods, approaches, or new types of analyses• Is thoroughly researched• Data are rich and come from multiple sources• Analyses are comprehensive, complete, sophisticated, and convincing• Results are significant• Pushes the disciplines boundaries and opens new areas for research
Characteristics of an outstanding thesisWriting style• Concise, creative, elegant, engaging,• Clearly states the problem and why it is important• Very well written and very well organized• Has clear sign-post and staging posts• Assumes a knowledgeable but not necessarily expert reader• Has a point of view and a strong, confident, independent, and authoritative voice• Arguments and assumptions are clearly stated and explicit so that the reader does not have to work hard• Components are connected in a seamless way• Conclusion ties the whole thing together• Has sections that would be publishable in top-tier/high impact journals
Take home messages• "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.“ (Attributed to Einstein)• “Cutting a manuscript is not simply a way of reducing length; it is also a way of strengthening communication.” (Holmes, 1974/5)