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How to write a thesis statement, what is a thesis statement.

Almost all of us—even if we don’t do it consciously—look early in an essay for a one- or two-sentence condensation of the argument or analysis that is to follow. We refer to that condensation as a thesis statement.

Why Should Your Essay Contain a Thesis Statement?

  • to test your ideas by distilling them into a sentence or two
  • to better organize and develop your argument
  • to provide your reader with a “guide” to your argument

In general, your thesis statement will accomplish these goals if you think of the thesis as the answer to the question your paper explores.

How Can You Write a Good Thesis Statement?

Here are some helpful hints to get you started. You can either scroll down or select a link to a specific topic.

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned

Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is, “Write a report to the local school board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class,” turn the request into a question like, “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” After you’ve chosen the question your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question.

Q: “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” A: “The potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class are . . .”
A: “Using computers in a fourth-grade class promises to improve . . .”

The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.

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How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned

Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to write about.

A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes:

  • take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree
  • deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment
  • express one main idea
  • assert your conclusions about a subject

Let’s see how to generate a thesis statement for a social policy paper.

Brainstorm the topic . Let’s say that your class focuses upon the problems posed by changes in the dietary habits of Americans. You find that you are interested in the amount of sugar Americans consume.

You start out with a thesis statement like this:

Sugar consumption.

This fragment isn’t a thesis statement. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Furthermore, your reader doesn’t know what you want to say about sugar consumption.

Narrow the topic . Your readings about the topic, however, have led you to the conclusion that elementary school children are consuming far more sugar than is healthy.

You change your thesis to look like this:

Reducing sugar consumption by elementary school children.

This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one segment of the population: elementary school children. Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that children consume more sugar than they used to, not everyone would agree on what should be done or who should do it. You should note that this fragment is not a thesis statement because your reader doesn’t know your conclusions on the topic.

Take a position on the topic. After reflecting on the topic a little while longer, you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that something should be done to reduce the amount of sugar these children consume.

You revise your thesis statement to look like this:

More attention should be paid to the food and beverage choices available to elementary school children.

This statement asserts your position, but the terms more attention and food and beverage choices are vague.

Use specific language . You decide to explain what you mean about food and beverage choices , so you write:

Experts estimate that half of elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar.

This statement is specific, but it isn’t a thesis. It merely reports a statistic instead of making an assertion.

Make an assertion based on clearly stated support. You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this:

Because half of all American elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, schools should be required to replace the beverages in soda machines with healthy alternatives.

Notice how the thesis answers the question, “What should be done to reduce sugar consumption by children, and who should do it?” When you started thinking about the paper, you may not have had a specific question in mind, but as you became more involved in the topic, your ideas became more specific. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights.

How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

1. a strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand..

Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements:

There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement.

This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague.

Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers.

This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it's specific.

2. A strong thesis statement justifies discussion.

Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion. If your assignment is to write a paper on kinship systems, using your own family as an example, you might come up with either of these two thesis statements:

My family is an extended family.

This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. Your reader won’t be able to tell the point of the statement, and will probably stop reading.

While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family.

This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point.

3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea.

Readers need to be able to see that your paper has one main point. If your thesis statement expresses more than one idea, then you might confuse your readers about the subject of your paper. For example:

Companies need to exploit the marketing potential of the Internet, and Web pages can provide both advertising and customer support.

This is a weak thesis statement because the reader can’t decide whether the paper is about marketing on the Internet or Web pages. To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become more clear. One way to revise the thesis would be to write:

Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should exploit this potential by using Web pages that offer both advertising and customer support.

This is a strong thesis because it shows that the two ideas are related. Hint: a great many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like because , since , so , although , unless , and however .

4. A strong thesis statement is specific.

A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about, and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, if you're writing a seven-to-ten page paper on hunger, you might say:

World hunger has many causes and effects.

This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger can’t be discussed thoroughly in seven to ten pages. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. A revised thesis might look like this:

Hunger persists in Glandelinia because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable.

This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger.

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Writing a paper: thesis statements, basics of thesis statements.

The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper. Specific means the thesis deals with a narrow and focused topic, appropriate to the paper's length. Arguable means that a scholar in your field could disagree (or perhaps already has!).

Strong thesis statements address specific intellectual questions, have clear positions, and use a structure that reflects the overall structure of the paper. Read on to learn more about constructing a strong thesis statement.

Being Specific

This thesis statement has no specific argument:

Needs Improvement: In this essay, I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences.

This statement is concise, but it is neither specific nor arguable—a reader might wonder, "Which scholarly articles? What is the topic of this paper? What field is the author writing in?" Additionally, the purpose of the paper—to "examine…to find similarities and differences" is not of a scholarly level. Identifying similarities and differences is a good first step, but strong academic argument goes further, analyzing what those similarities and differences might mean or imply.

Better: In this essay, I will argue that Bowler's (2003) autocratic management style, when coupled with Smith's (2007) theory of social cognition, can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover.

The new revision here is still concise, as well as specific and arguable.  We can see that it is specific because the writer is mentioning (a) concrete ideas and (b) exact authors.  We can also gather the field (business) and the topic (management and employee turnover). The statement is arguable because the student goes beyond merely comparing; he or she draws conclusions from that comparison ("can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover").

Making a Unique Argument

This thesis draft repeats the language of the writing prompt without making a unique argument:

Needs Improvement: The purpose of this essay is to monitor, assess, and evaluate an educational program for its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I will provide suggestions for improvement.

You can see here that the student has simply stated the paper's assignment, without articulating specifically how he or she will address it. The student can correct this error simply by phrasing the thesis statement as a specific answer to the assignment prompt.

Better: Through a series of student interviews, I found that Kennedy High School's antibullying program was ineffective. In order to address issues of conflict between students, I argue that Kennedy High School should embrace policies outlined by the California Department of Education (2010).

Words like "ineffective" and "argue" show here that the student has clearly thought through the assignment and analyzed the material; he or she is putting forth a specific and debatable position. The concrete information ("student interviews," "antibullying") further prepares the reader for the body of the paper and demonstrates how the student has addressed the assignment prompt without just restating that language.

Creating a Debate

This thesis statement includes only obvious fact or plot summary instead of argument:

Needs Improvement: Leadership is an important quality in nurse educators.

A good strategy to determine if your thesis statement is too broad (and therefore, not arguable) is to ask yourself, "Would a scholar in my field disagree with this point?" Here, we can see easily that no scholar is likely to argue that leadership is an unimportant quality in nurse educators.  The student needs to come up with a more arguable claim, and probably a narrower one; remember that a short paper needs a more focused topic than a dissertation.

Better: Roderick's (2009) theory of participatory leadership  is particularly appropriate to nurse educators working within the emergency medicine field, where students benefit most from collegial and kinesthetic learning.

Here, the student has identified a particular type of leadership ("participatory leadership"), narrowing the topic, and has made an arguable claim (this type of leadership is "appropriate" to a specific type of nurse educator). Conceivably, a scholar in the nursing field might disagree with this approach. The student's paper can now proceed, providing specific pieces of evidence to support the arguable central claim.

Choosing the Right Words

This thesis statement uses large or scholarly-sounding words that have no real substance:

Needs Improvement: Scholars should work to seize metacognitive outcomes by harnessing discipline-based networks to empower collaborative infrastructures.

There are many words in this sentence that may be buzzwords in the student's field or key terms taken from other texts, but together they do not communicate a clear, specific meaning. Sometimes students think scholarly writing means constructing complex sentences using special language, but actually it's usually a stronger choice to write clear, simple sentences. When in doubt, remember that your ideas should be complex, not your sentence structure.

Better: Ecologists should work to educate the U.S. public on conservation methods by making use of local and national green organizations to create a widespread communication plan.

Notice in the revision that the field is now clear (ecology), and the language has been made much more field-specific ("conservation methods," "green organizations"), so the reader is able to see concretely the ideas the student is communicating.

Leaving Room for Discussion

This thesis statement is not capable of development or advancement in the paper:

Needs Improvement: There are always alternatives to illegal drug use.

This sample thesis statement makes a claim, but it is not a claim that will sustain extended discussion. This claim is the type of claim that might be appropriate for the conclusion of a paper, but in the beginning of the paper, the student is left with nowhere to go. What further points can be made? If there are "always alternatives" to the problem the student is identifying, then why bother developing a paper around that claim? Ideally, a thesis statement should be complex enough to explore over the length of the entire paper.

Better: The most effective treatment plan for methamphetamine addiction may be a combination of pharmacological and cognitive therapy, as argued by Baker (2008), Smith (2009), and Xavier (2011).

In the revised thesis, you can see the student make a specific, debatable claim that has the potential to generate several pages' worth of discussion. When drafting a thesis statement, think about the questions your thesis statement will generate: What follow-up inquiries might a reader have? In the first example, there are almost no additional questions implied, but the revised example allows for a good deal more exploration.

Thesis Mad Libs

If you are having trouble getting started, try using the models below to generate a rough model of a thesis statement! These models are intended for drafting purposes only and should not appear in your final work.

  • In this essay, I argue ____, using ______ to assert _____.
  • While scholars have often argued ______, I argue______, because_______.
  • Through an analysis of ______, I argue ______, which is important because_______.

Words to Avoid and to Embrace

When drafting your thesis statement, avoid words like explore, investigate, learn, compile, summarize , and explain to describe the main purpose of your paper. These words imply a paper that summarizes or "reports," rather than synthesizing and analyzing.

Instead of the terms above, try words like argue, critique, question , and interrogate . These more analytical words may help you begin strongly, by articulating a specific, critical, scholarly position.

Read Kayla's blog post for tips on taking a stand in a well-crafted thesis statement.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.


Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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How to write a thesis statement + examples

Thesis statement

What is a thesis statement?

Is a thesis statement a question, how do you write a good thesis statement, how do i know if my thesis statement is good, examples of thesis statements, helpful resources on how to write a thesis statement, frequently asked questions about writing a thesis statement, related articles.

A thesis statement is the main argument of your paper or thesis.

The thesis statement is one of the most important elements of any piece of academic writing . It is a brief statement of your paper’s main argument. Essentially, you are stating what you will be writing about.

You can see your thesis statement as an answer to a question. While it also contains the question, it should really give an answer to the question with new information and not just restate or reiterate it.

Your thesis statement is part of your introduction. Learn more about how to write a good thesis introduction in our introduction guide .

A thesis statement is not a question. A statement must be arguable and provable through evidence and analysis. While your thesis might stem from a research question, it should be in the form of a statement.

Tip: A thesis statement is typically 1-2 sentences. For a longer project like a thesis, the statement may be several sentences or a paragraph.

A good thesis statement needs to do the following:

  • Condense the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences.
  • Answer your project’s main research question.
  • Clearly state your position in relation to the topic .
  • Make an argument that requires support or evidence.

Once you have written down a thesis statement, check if it fulfills the following criteria:

  • Your statement needs to be provable by evidence. As an argument, a thesis statement needs to be debatable.
  • Your statement needs to be precise. Do not give away too much information in the thesis statement and do not load it with unnecessary information.
  • Your statement cannot say that one solution is simply right or simply wrong as a matter of fact. You should draw upon verified facts to persuade the reader of your solution, but you cannot just declare something as right or wrong.

As previously mentioned, your thesis statement should answer a question.

If the question is:

What do you think the City of New York should do to reduce traffic congestion?

A good thesis statement restates the question and answers it:

In this paper, I will argue that the City of New York should focus on providing exclusive lanes for public transport and adaptive traffic signals to reduce traffic congestion by the year 2035.

Here is another example. If the question is:

How can we end poverty?

A good thesis statement should give more than one solution to the problem in question:

In this paper, I will argue that introducing universal basic income can help reduce poverty and positively impact the way we work.

  • The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina has a list of questions to ask to see if your thesis is strong .

A thesis statement is part of the introduction of your paper. It is usually found in the first or second paragraph to let the reader know your research purpose from the beginning.

In general, a thesis statement should have one or two sentences. But the length really depends on the overall length of your project. Take a look at our guide about the length of thesis statements for more insight on this topic.

Here is a list of Thesis Statement Examples that will help you understand better how to write them.

Every good essay should include a thesis statement as part of its introduction, no matter the academic level. Of course, if you are a high school student you are not expected to have the same type of thesis as a PhD student.

Here is a great YouTube tutorial showing How To Write An Essay: Thesis Statements .

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What is a thesis | A Complete Guide with Examples


Table of Contents

A thesis is a comprehensive academic paper based on your original research that presents new findings, arguments, and ideas of your study. It’s typically submitted at the end of your master’s degree or as a capstone of your bachelor’s degree.

However, writing a thesis can be laborious, especially for beginners. From the initial challenge of pinpointing a compelling research topic to organizing and presenting findings, the process is filled with potential pitfalls.

Therefore, to help you, this guide talks about what is a thesis. Additionally, it offers revelations and methodologies to transform it from an overwhelming task to a manageable and rewarding academic milestone.

What is a thesis?

A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic.

Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument. Integral to these competencies is thorough research, which not only fortifies your propositions but also confers credibility to your entire study.

Furthermore, there's another phenomenon you might often confuse with the thesis: the ' working thesis .' However, they aren't similar and shouldn't be used interchangeably.

A working thesis, often referred to as a preliminary or tentative thesis, is an initial version of your thesis statement. It serves as a draft or a starting point that guides your research in its early stages.

As you research more and gather more evidence, your initial thesis (aka working thesis) might change. It's like a starting point that can be adjusted as you learn more. It's normal for your main topic to change a few times before you finalize it.

While a thesis identifies and provides an overarching argument, the key to clearly communicating the central point of that argument lies in writing a strong thesis statement.

What is a thesis statement?

A strong thesis statement (aka thesis sentence) is a concise summary of the main argument or claim of the paper. It serves as a critical anchor in any academic work, succinctly encapsulating the primary argument or main idea of the entire paper.

Typically found within the introductory section, a strong thesis statement acts as a roadmap of your thesis, directing readers through your arguments and findings. By delineating the core focus of your investigation, it offers readers an immediate understanding of the context and the gravity of your study.

Furthermore, an effectively crafted thesis statement can set forth the boundaries of your research, helping readers anticipate the specific areas of inquiry you are addressing.

Different types of thesis statements

A good thesis statement is clear, specific, and arguable. Therefore, it is necessary for you to choose the right type of thesis statement for your academic papers.

Thesis statements can be classified based on their purpose and structure. Here are the primary types of thesis statements:

Argumentative (or Persuasive) thesis statement

Purpose : To convince the reader of a particular stance or point of view by presenting evidence and formulating a compelling argument.

Example : Reducing plastic use in daily life is essential for environmental health.

Analytical thesis statement

Purpose : To break down an idea or issue into its components and evaluate it.

Example : By examining the long-term effects, social implications, and economic impact of climate change, it becomes evident that immediate global action is necessary.

Expository (or Descriptive) thesis statement

Purpose : To explain a topic or subject to the reader.

Example : The Great Depression, spanning the 1930s, was a severe worldwide economic downturn triggered by a stock market crash, bank failures, and reduced consumer spending.

Cause and effect thesis statement

Purpose : To demonstrate a cause and its resulting effect.

Example : Overuse of smartphones can lead to impaired sleep patterns, reduced face-to-face social interactions, and increased levels of anxiety.

Compare and contrast thesis statement

Purpose : To highlight similarities and differences between two subjects.

Example : "While both novels '1984' and 'Brave New World' delve into dystopian futures, they differ in their portrayal of individual freedom, societal control, and the role of technology."

When you write a thesis statement , it's important to ensure clarity and precision, so the reader immediately understands the central focus of your work.

What is the difference between a thesis and a thesis statement?

While both terms are frequently used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings.

A thesis refers to the entire research document, encompassing all its chapters and sections. In contrast, a thesis statement is a brief assertion that encapsulates the central argument of the research.

Here’s an in-depth differentiation table of a thesis and a thesis statement.

Now, to craft a compelling thesis, it's crucial to adhere to a specific structure. Let’s break down these essential components that make up a thesis structure

15 components of a thesis structure

Navigating a thesis can be daunting. However, understanding its structure can make the process more manageable.

Here are the key components or different sections of a thesis structure:

Your thesis begins with the title page. It's not just a formality but the gateway to your research.


Here, you'll prominently display the necessary information about you (the author) and your institutional details.

  • Title of your thesis
  • Your full name
  • Your department
  • Your institution and degree program
  • Your submission date
  • Your Supervisor's name (in some cases)
  • Your Department or faculty (in some cases)
  • Your University's logo (in some cases)
  • Your Student ID (in some cases)

In a concise manner, you'll have to summarize the critical aspects of your research in typically no more than 200-300 words.


This includes the problem statement, methodology, key findings, and conclusions. For many, the abstract will determine if they delve deeper into your work, so ensure it's clear and compelling.


Research is rarely a solitary endeavor. In the acknowledgments section, you have the chance to express gratitude to those who've supported your journey.


This might include advisors, peers, institutions, or even personal sources of inspiration and support. It's a personal touch, reflecting the humanity behind the academic rigor.

Table of contents

A roadmap for your readers, the table of contents lists the chapters, sections, and subsections of your thesis.


By providing page numbers, you allow readers to navigate your work easily, jumping to sections that pique their interest.

List of figures and tables

Research often involves data, and presenting this data visually can enhance understanding. This section provides an organized listing of all figures and tables in your thesis.


It's a visual index, ensuring that readers can quickly locate and reference your graphical data.


Here's where you introduce your research topic, articulate the research question or objective, and outline the significance of your study.


  • Present the research topic : Clearly articulate the central theme or subject of your research.
  • Background information : Ground your research topic, providing any necessary context or background information your readers might need to understand the significance of your study.
  • Define the scope : Clearly delineate the boundaries of your research, indicating what will and won't be covered.
  • Literature review : Introduce any relevant existing research on your topic, situating your work within the broader academic conversation and highlighting where your research fits in.
  • State the research Question(s) or objective(s) : Clearly articulate the primary questions or objectives your research aims to address.
  • Outline the study's structure : Give a brief overview of how the subsequent sections of your work will unfold, guiding your readers through the journey ahead.

The introduction should captivate your readers, making them eager to delve deeper into your research journey.

Literature review section

Your study correlates with existing research. Therefore, in the literature review section, you'll engage in a dialogue with existing knowledge, highlighting relevant studies, theories, and findings.


It's here that you identify gaps in the current knowledge, positioning your research as a bridge to new insights.

To streamline this process, consider leveraging AI tools. For example, the SciSpace literature review tool enables you to efficiently explore and delve into research papers, simplifying your literature review journey.


In the research methodology section, you’ll detail the tools, techniques, and processes you employed to gather and analyze data. This section will inform the readers about how you approached your research questions and ensures the reproducibility of your study.


Here's a breakdown of what it should encompass:

  • Research Design : Describe the overall structure and approach of your research. Are you conducting a qualitative study with in-depth interviews? Or is it a quantitative study using statistical analysis? Perhaps it's a mixed-methods approach?
  • Data Collection : Detail the methods you used to gather data. This could include surveys, experiments, observations, interviews, archival research, etc. Mention where you sourced your data, the duration of data collection, and any tools or instruments used.
  • Sampling : If applicable, explain how you selected participants or data sources for your study. Discuss the size of your sample and the rationale behind choosing it.
  • Data Analysis : Describe the techniques and tools you used to process and analyze the data. This could range from statistical tests in quantitative research to thematic analysis in qualitative research.
  • Validity and Reliability : Address the steps you took to ensure the validity and reliability of your findings to ensure that your results are both accurate and consistent.
  • Ethical Considerations : Highlight any ethical issues related to your research and the measures you took to address them, including — informed consent, confidentiality, and data storage and protection measures.

Moreover, different research questions necessitate different types of methodologies. For instance:

  • Experimental methodology : Often used in sciences, this involves a controlled experiment to discern causality.
  • Qualitative methodology : Employed when exploring patterns or phenomena without numerical data. Methods can include interviews, focus groups, or content analysis.
  • Quantitative methodology : Concerned with measurable data and often involves statistical analysis. Surveys and structured observations are common tools here.
  • Mixed methods : As the name implies, this combines both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

The Methodology section isn’t just about detailing the methods but also justifying why they were chosen. The appropriateness of the methods in addressing your research question can significantly impact the credibility of your findings.

Results (or Findings)

This section presents the outcomes of your research. It's crucial to note that the nature of your results may vary; they could be quantitative, qualitative, or a mix of both.


Quantitative results often present statistical data, showcasing measurable outcomes, and they benefit from tables, graphs, and figures to depict these data points.

Qualitative results , on the other hand, might delve into patterns, themes, or narratives derived from non-numerical data, such as interviews or observations.

Regardless of the nature of your results, clarity is essential. This section is purely about presenting the data without offering interpretations — that comes later in the discussion.

In the discussion section, the raw data transforms into valuable insights.

Start by revisiting your research question and contrast it with the findings. How do your results expand, constrict, or challenge current academic conversations?

Dive into the intricacies of the data, guiding the reader through its implications. Detail potential limitations transparently, signaling your awareness of the research's boundaries. This is where your academic voice should be resonant and confident.

Practical implications (Recommendation) section

Based on the insights derived from your research, this section provides actionable suggestions or proposed solutions.

Whether aimed at industry professionals or the general public, recommendations translate your academic findings into potential real-world actions. They help readers understand the practical implications of your work and how it can be applied to effect change or improvement in a given field.

When crafting recommendations, it's essential to ensure they're feasible and rooted in the evidence provided by your research. They shouldn't merely be aspirational but should offer a clear path forward, grounded in your findings.

The conclusion provides closure to your research narrative.

It's not merely a recap but a synthesis of your main findings and their broader implications. Reconnect with the research questions or hypotheses posited at the beginning, offering clear answers based on your findings.


Reflect on the broader contributions of your study, considering its impact on the academic community and potential real-world applications.

Lastly, the conclusion should leave your readers with a clear understanding of the value and impact of your study.

References (or Bibliography)

Every theory you've expounded upon, every data point you've cited, and every methodological precedent you've followed finds its acknowledgment here.


In references, it's crucial to ensure meticulous consistency in formatting, mirroring the specific guidelines of the chosen citation style .

Proper referencing helps to avoid plagiarism , gives credit to original ideas, and allows readers to explore topics of interest. Moreover, it situates your work within the continuum of academic knowledge.

To properly cite the sources used in the study, you can rely on online citation generator tools  to generate accurate citations!

Here’s more on how you can cite your sources.

Often, the depth of research produces a wealth of material that, while crucial, can make the core content of the thesis cumbersome. The appendix is where you mention extra information that supports your research but isn't central to the main text.


Whether it's raw datasets, detailed procedural methodologies, extended case studies, or any other ancillary material, the appendices ensure that these elements are archived for reference without breaking the main narrative's flow.

For thorough researchers and readers keen on meticulous details, the appendices provide a treasure trove of insights.

Glossary (optional)

In academics, specialized terminologies, and jargon are inevitable. However, not every reader is versed in every term.

The glossary, while optional, is a critical tool for accessibility. It's a bridge ensuring that even readers from outside the discipline can access, understand, and appreciate your work.


By defining complex terms and providing context, you're inviting a wider audience to engage with your research, enhancing its reach and impact.

Remember, while these components provide a structured framework, the essence of your thesis lies in the originality of your ideas, the rigor of your research, and the clarity of your presentation.

As you craft each section, keep your readers in mind, ensuring that your passion and dedication shine through every page.

Thesis examples

To further elucidate the concept of a thesis, here are illustrative examples from various fields:

Example 1 (History): Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the ‘Noble Savage’ on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807 by Suchait Kahlon.
Example 2 (Climate Dynamics): Influence of external forcings on abrupt millennial-scale climate changes: a statistical modelling study by Takahito Mitsui · Michel Crucifix

Checklist for your thesis evaluation

Evaluating your thesis ensures that your research meets the standards of academia. Here's an elaborate checklist to guide you through this critical process.

Content and structure

  • Is the thesis statement clear, concise, and debatable?
  • Does the introduction provide sufficient background and context?
  • Is the literature review comprehensive, relevant, and well-organized?
  • Does the methodology section clearly describe and justify the research methods?
  • Are the results/findings presented clearly and logically?
  • Does the discussion interpret the results in light of the research question and existing literature?
  • Is the conclusion summarizing the research and suggesting future directions or implications?

Clarity and coherence

  • Is the writing clear and free of jargon?
  • Are ideas and sections logically connected and flowing?
  • Is there a clear narrative or argument throughout the thesis?

Research quality

  • Is the research question significant and relevant?
  • Are the research methods appropriate for the question?
  • Is the sample size (if applicable) adequate?
  • Are the data analysis techniques appropriate and correctly applied?
  • Are potential biases or limitations addressed?

Originality and significance

  • Does the thesis contribute new knowledge or insights to the field?
  • Is the research grounded in existing literature while offering fresh perspectives?

Formatting and presentation

  • Is the thesis formatted according to institutional guidelines?
  • Are figures, tables, and charts clear, labeled, and referenced in the text?
  • Is the bibliography or reference list complete and consistently formatted?
  • Are appendices relevant and appropriately referenced in the main text?

Grammar and language

  • Is the thesis free of grammatical and spelling errors?
  • Is the language professional, consistent, and appropriate for an academic audience?
  • Are quotations and paraphrased material correctly cited?

Feedback and revision

  • Have you sought feedback from peers, advisors, or experts in the field?
  • Have you addressed the feedback and made the necessary revisions?

Overall assessment

  • Does the thesis as a whole feel cohesive and comprehensive?
  • Would the thesis be understandable and valuable to someone in your field?

Ensure to use this checklist to leave no ground for doubt or missed information in your thesis.

After writing your thesis, the next step is to discuss and defend your findings verbally in front of a knowledgeable panel. You’ve to be well prepared as your professors may grade your presentation abilities.

Preparing your thesis defense

A thesis defense, also known as "defending the thesis," is the culmination of a scholar's research journey. It's the final frontier, where you’ll present their findings and face scrutiny from a panel of experts.

Typically, the defense involves a public presentation where you’ll have to outline your study, followed by a question-and-answer session with a committee of experts. This committee assesses the validity, originality, and significance of the research.

The defense serves as a rite of passage for scholars. It's an opportunity to showcase expertise, address criticisms, and refine arguments. A successful defense not only validates the research but also establishes your authority as a researcher in your field.

Here’s how you can effectively prepare for your thesis defense .

Now, having touched upon the process of defending a thesis, it's worth noting that scholarly work can take various forms, depending on academic and regional practices.

One such form, often paralleled with the thesis, is the 'dissertation.' But what differentiates the two?

Dissertation vs. Thesis

Often used interchangeably in casual discourse, they refer to distinct research projects undertaken at different levels of higher education.

To the uninitiated, understanding their meaning might be elusive. So, let's demystify these terms and delve into their core differences.

Here's a table differentiating between the two.

Wrapping up

From understanding the foundational concept of a thesis to navigating its various components, differentiating it from a dissertation, and recognizing the importance of proper citation — this guide covers it all.

As scholars and readers, understanding these nuances not only aids in academic pursuits but also fosters a deeper appreciation for the relentless quest for knowledge that drives academia.

It’s important to remember that every thesis is a testament to curiosity, dedication, and the indomitable spirit of discovery.

Good luck with your thesis writing!

Frequently Asked Questions

A thesis typically ranges between 40-80 pages, but its length can vary based on the research topic, institution guidelines, and level of study.

A PhD thesis usually spans 200-300 pages, though this can vary based on the discipline, complexity of the research, and institutional requirements.

To identify a thesis topic, consider current trends in your field, gaps in existing literature, personal interests, and discussions with advisors or mentors. Additionally, reviewing related journals and conference proceedings can provide insights into potential areas of exploration.

The conceptual framework is often situated in the literature review or theoretical framework section of a thesis. It helps set the stage by providing the context, defining key concepts, and explaining the relationships between variables.

A thesis statement should be concise, clear, and specific. It should state the main argument or point of your research. Start by pinpointing the central question or issue your research addresses, then condense that into a single statement, ensuring it reflects the essence of your paper.

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How to Format a Thesis for a Research Paper

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Every good research paper needs a clear and concise thesis statement to present the main topic and preview the paper’s contents. The question is, “How do you format a research paper thesis?” “What is standard, and what do readers and professors expect to see?”

Here we explain how to write a thesis for a research paper. We’ll explain the best format for a research paper thesis and share some examples for different types of papers. We’ll even discuss the difference between a thesis statement, a research question, and a hypothesis.

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What is a thesis statement in a research paper?

A thesis statement is a single sentence in a research paper that plainly and succinctly explains the main point the research attempts to prove. For example, if you were researching the effects of exercise on stress, your thesis statement might be:

Due to the neurological effects of exercise, people who exercise regularly report lower stress levels than those who do not exercise.

Notice how the thesis statement gives a complete overview of the topic without saying too much. Thesis statements act only as an introduction to the topic, while the rest of the paper covers the details and explains the finer points.

Understanding what goes into a good thesis statement is a necessary part of knowing how to write a research paper . By previewing what the paper is about, a thesis statement prepares the reader so they know what to expect. Because thesis statements play this role, they usually come at the beginning of a paper, typically in the introduction.

6 tips for formatting a research paper thesis

Although there are no official rules for a research paper thesis statement, some generally accepted best practices can help you write yours. Keep these guidelines in mind when writing your research paper thesis:

1 It should be clear and concise: A research paper thesis statement should use plain language and explain the topic briefly, without going into too much detail.

2 It’s a single sentence: A thesis statement is generally only one sentence, which helps keep the topic simple and makes it easier to understand.

3 It should establish the scope of the topic: After reading the research paper thesis, your reader should know what the paper will—and will not—discuss.

4 It asserts a claim: Thesis statements should not be ambiguous; they should present a clear assertion that is backed by evidence, which you discuss in the body of the paper.

5 It’s located at the beginning: A research paper thesis statement should come early in the paper, typically in the first paragraph of the introduction.

6 It’s reiterated at the end: A thesis statement is usually either repeated or rephrased at the end of the paper in the research paper conclusion as a way to wrap everything up.

A thesis statement can also help you organize your entire research paper. You must decide on a topic before you begin your research, and phrasing your topic as a thesis statement can further refine the direction your research will go in. In this way, your thesis statement can help you write your research paper outline and structure your evidence in a logical sequence to improve the flow of your paper.

Example format of research paper thesis by type


The argumentative style of research paper attempts to convince the reader of a certain point of view using evidence and factual data. Often this style is used for topics that include opposing points of view; however, this is not a prerequisite.

A thesis statement in an argumentative paper clearly defines the author’s position and often uses persuasive language to appeal to the reader.

Example format of research paper thesis: Argumentative

Although washing your hands is an effective way to kill germs, our research finds that washing your hands excessively can actually weaken certain immunities and make the skin vulnerable to new afflictions.

As the name suggests, expository writing aims to expose new information that the reader is likely not familiar with. It is common in both journalism and research papers as a way to educate and inform readers.

Expository research papers often present their main point directly in the thesis statement, sometimes phrasing it as a hook to keep the reader engaged and curious enough to keep reading.

Example format of research paper thesis: Expository

Our research has found that cyberbullies are motivated primarily by recreation and entertainment, unlike offline bullies, who are more likely motivated by rage, revenge, or a misguided reward system.

An analytical style of research takes a focused, methodical approach to a single topic. Analytical research papers are a deep dive into one particular issue, exploring it from multiple angles and accounting for even the smallest details.

The thesis statement for an analytical research paper should briefly mention each key point of the topic without overexplaining or listing too many details.

Example format of research paper thesis: Analytical

Despite Sigmund Freud being regarded as the “father of modern psychology,” a present-day review of his famous theories and practices reveals that most of his ideas are, in retrospect, deeply flawed.

Thesis statement vs. research question vs. hypothesis

Thesis statements are often confused with research questions and hypotheses, all of which aim to encapsulate an entire paper’s idea in a single sentence at the beginning of the document. So what’s the difference between a thesis statement, a research question, and a hypothesis?

A thesis statement is a general overview that’s used not only for research papers but also for essay writing and other nonfiction works. A thesis statement is essentially a summary of the main idea in a paper that introduces the topic to the reader.

A research question is an interrogative sentence that your research attempts to answer. For example, if your research paper is about how long it takes different temperatures of water to reach a boiling point, your research question could be, “What is the optimal temperature for boiling water quickly?” Research questions are mainly for research papers that have a particular emphasis on empirical data.

A hypothesis is a prediction about what will happen that is made before the actual research begins. A hypothesis in a research paper is proven either correct or incorrect based on the research. You can include a hypothesis in addition to your thesis statement or research question.

Thesis statement format FAQs

What is a thesis statement.

A thesis statement is a sentence in a research paper that concisely and clearly explains what the research is attempting to prove.

What are the guidelines for writing a well-formatted thesis statement?

A well-formatted thesis statement has the following qualities:

  • It’s clear and concise.
  • It’s a single sentence.
  • It establishes the scope of the topic.
  • It asserts a claim.
  • It’s located in the introduction.
  • It’s reiterated in the conclusion.

What’s the difference between a thesis statement, a research question, and a hypothesis?

A thesis statement is a general overview used in research papers and other nonfiction writing. A research question is an interrogative sentence that your research attempts to answer, and a hypothesis is a prediction made before the actual research begins about what will happen.

thesis based word

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Developing Strong Thesis Statements

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These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.

The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable

An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.

Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:

This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution implies that something is bad or negative in some way. Furthermore, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is unambiguously good.

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.

Another example of a debatable thesis statement:

In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.

The thesis needs to be narrow

Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.

Example of a thesis that is too broad:

There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.

Example of a narrow or focused thesis:

In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.

We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:

Narrowed debatable thesis 1:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.

Narrowed debatable thesis 2:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.

Qualifiers such as " typically ," " generally ," " usually ," or " on average " also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.

Types of claims

Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, or, in other words, what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.

Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:

Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:

Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:

Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:

Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.

HOW TO WRITE A THESIS: Steps by step guide

thesis based word


In the academic world, one of the hallmark rites signifying mastery of a course or academic area is the writing of a thesis . Essentially a thesis is a typewritten work, usually 50 to 350 pages in length depending on institutions, discipline, and educational level which is often aimed at addressing a particular problem in a given field.

While a thesis is inadequate to address all the problems in a given field, it is succinct enough to address a specialized aspect of the problem by taking a stance or making a claim on what the resolution of the problem should be. Writing a thesis can be a very daunting task because most times it is the first complex research undertaking for the student. The lack of research and writing skills to write a thesis coupled with fear and a limited time frame are factors that makes the writing of a thesis daunting. However, commitment to excellence on the part of the student combined with some of the techniques and methods that will be discussed below gives a fair chance that the student will be able to deliver an excellent thesis regardless of the subject area, the depth of the research specialization and the daunting amount of materials that must be comprehended(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

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What is a thesis?

A thesis is a statement, theory, argument, proposal or proposition, which is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved. It explains the stand someone takes on an issue and how the person intends to justify the stand. It is always better to pick a topic that will be able to render professional help, a topic that you will be happy to talk about with anybody, a topic you have personal interest and passion for, because when writing a thesis gets frustrating personal interest, happiness and passion coupled with the professional help it will be easier to write a great thesis (see you through the thesis). One has to source for a lot of information concerning the topic one is writing a thesis on in order to know the important question, because for you to take a good stand on an issue you have to study the evidence first.

Qualities of a good thesis

A good thesis has the following qualities

  • A good thesis must solve an existing problem in the society, organisation, government among others.
  • A good thesis should be contestable, it should propose a point that is arguable which people can agree with or disagree.
  • It is specific, clear and focused.
  •   A good thesis does not use general terms and abstractions.  
  • The claims of a good thesis should be definable and arguable.
  • It anticipates the counter-argument s
  • It does not use unclear language
  • It avoids the first person. (“In my opinion”)
  • A strong thesis should be able to take a stand and not just taking a stand but should be able to justify the stand that is taken, so that the reader will be tempted to ask questions like how or why.
  • The thesis should be arguable, contestable, focused, specific, and clear. Make your thesis clear, strong and easy to find.
  • The conclusion of a thesis should be based on evidence.

Steps in writing a Thesis

  • First, think about good topics and theories that you can write before writing the thesis, then pick a topic. The topic or thesis statement is derived from a review of existing literature in the area of study that the researcher wants to explore. This route is taken when the unknowns in an area of study are not yet defined. Some areas of study have existing problems yearning to be solved and the drafting of the thesis topic or statement revolves around a selection of one of these problems.
  • Once you have a good thesis, put it down and draw an outline . The outline is like a map of the whole thesis and it covers more commonly the introduction, literature review, discussion of methodology, discussion of results and the thesis’ conclusions and recommendations. The outline might differ from one institution to another but the one described in the preceding sentence is what is more commonly obtainable. It is imperative at this point to note that the outline drew still requires other mini- outlines for each of the sections mentioned. The outlines and mini- outlines provide a graphical over- view of the whole project and can also be used in allocating the word- count for each section and sub- section based on the overall word- count requirement of the thesis(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
  • Literature search. Remember to draw a good outline you need to do literature search to familiarize yourself with the concepts and the works of others. Similarly, to achieve this, you need to read as much material that contains necessary information as you can. There will always be a counter argument for everything so anticipate it because it will help shape your thesis. Read everything you can–academic research, trade literature, and information in the popular press and on the Internet(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
  • After getting all the information you need, the knowledge you gathered should help in suggesting the aim of your thesis.

Remember; a thesis is not supposed to be a question or a list, thesis should specific and as clear as possible. The claims of a thesis should be definable and also arguable.

  • Then collecting and analyzing data, after data analysis, the result of the analysis should be written and discussed, followed by summary, conclusion, recommendations, list of references and the appendices
  • The last step is editing of the thesis and proper spell checking.

Structure of a Thesis

A conventional thesis has five chapters – chapter 1-5 which will be discussed in detail below. However, it is important to state that a thesis is not limited to any chapter or section as the case may be. In fact, a thesis can be five, six, seven or even eight chapters.  What determines the number of chapters in a thesis includes institution rules/ guideline, researcher choice, supervisor choice, programme or educational level. In fact, most PhD thesis are usually more than 5 chapters(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

Preliminaries Pages: The preliminaries are the cover page, the title page, the table of contents page, and the abstract.

The introduction: The introduction is the first section and it provides as the name implies an introduction to the thesis. The introduction contains such aspects as the background to the study which provides information on the topic in the context of what is happening in the world as related to the topic. It also discusses the relevance of the topic to society, policies formulated success and failure. The introduction also contains the statement of the problem which is essentially a succinct description of the problem that the thesis want to solve and what the trend will be if the problem is not solved. The concluding part of the statement of problem ends with an outline of the research questions. These are the questions which when answered helps in achieving the aim of the thesis. The third section is the outline of research objectives. Conventionally research objectives re a conversion the research questions into an active statement form. Other parts of the introduction are a discussion of hypotheses (if any), the significance of the study, delimitations, proposed methodology and a discussion of the structure of the study(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

The main body includes the following; the literature review, methodology, research results and discussion of the result, the summary, conclusion and recommendations, the list of references and the appendices.

The literature review : The literature review is often the most voluminous aspects of a thesis because it reviews past empirical and theoretical literature about the problem being studied. This section starts by discussing the concepts relevant to the problem as indicated in the topic, the relationship between the concepts and what discoveries have being made on topic based on the choice of methodologies. The validity of the studies reviewed are questioned and findings are compared in order to get a comprehensive picture of the problem. The literature review also discusses the theories and theoretical frameworks that are relevant to the problem, the gaps that are evident in literature and how the thesis being written helps in resolving some of the gaps.

The major importance of Literature review is that it specifies the gap in the existing knowledge (gap in literature). The source of the literature that is being reviewed should be specified. For instance; ‘It has been argued that if the rural youth are to be aware of their community development role they need to be educated’ Effiong, (1992). The author’s name can be at the beginning, end or in between the literature. The literature should be discussed and not just stated (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

The methodology: The third section is a discussion of the research methodology adopted in the thesis and touches on aspects such as the research design, the area, population and sample that will be considered for the study as well as the sampling procedure. These aspects are discussed in terms of choice, method and rationale. This section also covers the sub- section of data collection, data analysis and measures of ensuring validity of study. It is the chapter 3. This chapter explains the method used in data collection and data analysis. It explains the methodology adopted and why it is the best method to be used, it also explains every step of data collection and analysis. The data used could be primary data or secondary data. While analysing the data, proper statistical tool should be used in order to fit the stated objectives of the thesis. The statistical tool could be; the spearman rank order correlation, chi square, analysis of variance (ANOVA) etc (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

The findings and discussion of result : The next section is a discussion of findings based on the data collection instrumentation used and the objectives or hypotheses of study if any. It is the chapter 4. It is research results. This is the part that describes the research. It shows the result gotten from data that is collected and analysed. It discusses the result and how it relates to your profession.

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation: This is normally the chapter 5. The last section discusses the summary of the study and the conclusions arrived at based on the findings discussed in the previous section. This section also presents any policy recommendations that the researcher wants to propose (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

References: It cite all ideas, concepts, text, data that are not your own. It is acceptable to put the initials of the individual authors behind their last names. The way single author is referenced is different from the way more than one author is referenced (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

The appendices; it includes all data in the appendix. Reference data or materials that is not easily available. It includes tables and calculations, List of equipment used for an experiment or details of complicated procedures. If a large number of references are consulted but all are not cited, it may also be included in the appendix. The appendices also contain supportive or complementary information like the questionnaire, the interview schedule, tables and charts while the references section contain an ordered list of all literature, academic and contemporary cited in the thesis. Different schools have their own preferred referencing styles(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).   

Follow the following steps to achieve successful thesis writing

Start writing early. Do not delay writing until you have finished your project or research. Write complete and concise “Technical Reports” as and when you finish each nugget of work. This way, you will remember everything you did and document it accurately, when the work is still fresh in your mind. This is especially so if your work involves programming.

Spot errors early. A well-written “Technical Report” will force you to think about what you have done, before you move on to something else. If anything is amiss, you will detect it at once and can easily correct it, rather than have to re-visit the work later, when you may be pressured for time and have lost touch with it.

Write your thesis from the inside out. Begin with the chapters on your own experimental work. You will develop confidence in writing them because you know your own work better than anyone else. Once you have overcome the initial inertia, move on to the other chapters.

End with a bang, not a whimper. First things first, and save the best for last. First and last impressions persist. Arrange your chapters so that your first and last experimental chapters are sound and solid.

Write the Introduction after writing the Conclusions. The examiner will read the Introduction first, and then the Conclusions, to see if the promises made in the former are indeed fulfilled in the latter. Ensure that your introduction and Conclusions match.

“No man is an Island”. The critical review of the literature places your work in context. Usually, one third of the PhD thesis is about others’ work; two thirds, what you have done yourself. After a thorough and critical literature review, the PhD candidate must be able to identify the major researchers in the field and make a sound proposal for doctoral research. Estimate the time to write your thesis and then multiply it by three to get the correct estimate. Writing at one stretch is very demanding and it is all too easy to underestimate the time required for it; inflating your first estimate by a factor of three is more realistic.

Punctuating your thesis

Punctuation Good punctuation makes reading easy. The simplest way to find out where to punctuate is to read aloud what you have written. Each time you pause, you should add a punctuation symbol. There are four major pause symbols, arranged below in ascending order of “degree of pause”:

  • Comma. Use the comma to indicate a short pause or to separate items in a list. A pair of commas may delimit the beginning and end of a subordinate clause or phrase. Sometimes, this is also done with a pair of “em dashes” which are printed like this:
  • Semi-colon. The semi-colon signifies a longer pause than the comma. It separates segments of a sentence that are “further apart” in position, or meaning, but which are nevertheless related. If the ideas were “closer together”, a comma would have been used. It is also used to separate two clauses that may stand on their own but which are too closely related for a colon or full stop to intervene between them.
  • Colon. The colon is used before one or more examples of a concept, and whenever items are to be listed in a visually separate fashion. The sentence that introduced the itemized list you are now reading ended in a colon. It may also be used to separate two fairly—but not totally—independent clauses in a sentence.
  • Full stop or period. The full stop ends a sentence. If the sentence embodies a question or an exclamation, then, of course, it is ended with a question mark or exclamation mark, respectively. The full stop is also used to terminate abbreviations like etc., (for et cetera), e.g., (for exempli gratia), et al., (for et alia) etc., but not with abbreviations for SI units. The readability of your writing will improve greatly if you take the trouble to learn the basic rules of punctuation given above.

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What’s Included: The Dissertation Template

If you’re preparing to write your dissertation, thesis or research project, our free dissertation template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples .

The template’s structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research projects such as dissertations and theses. The template structure reflects the overall research process, ensuring your dissertation or thesis will have a smooth, logical flow from chapter to chapter.

The dissertation template covers the following core sections:

  • The title page/cover page
  • Abstract (sometimes also called the executive summary)
  • Table of contents
  • List of figures /list of tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction  (also available: in-depth introduction template )
  • Chapter 2: Literature review  (also available: in-depth LR template )
  • Chapter 3: Methodology (also available: in-depth methodology template )
  • Chapter 4: Research findings /results (also available: results template )
  • Chapter 5: Discussion /analysis of findings (also available: discussion template )
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion (also available: in-depth conclusion template )
  • Reference list

Each section is explained in plain, straightforward language , followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover within each section. We’ve also included practical examples to help you understand exactly what’s required in each section.

The cleanly-formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

FAQs: Dissertation Template

What format is the template (doc, pdf, ppt, etc.).

The dissertation template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

What types of dissertations/theses can this template be used for?

The template follows the standard best-practice structure for formal academic research projects such as dissertations or theses, so it is suitable for the vast majority of degrees, particularly those within the sciences.

Some universities may have some additional requirements, but these are typically minor, with the core structure remaining the same. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalise your structure.

Will this work for a research paper?

A research paper follows a similar format, but there are a few differences. You can find our research paper template here .

Is this template for an undergrad, Masters or PhD-level thesis?

This template can be used for a dissertation, thesis or research project at any level of study. It may be slight overkill for an undergraduate-level study, but it certainly won’t be missing anything.

How long should my dissertation/thesis be?

This depends entirely on your university’s specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them. As a general ballpark, Masters-level projects are usually 15,000 – 20,000 words in length, while Doctoral-level projects are often in excess of 60,000 words.

What about the research proposal?

If you’re still working on your research proposal, we’ve got a template for that here .

We’ve also got loads of proposal-related guides and videos over on the Grad Coach blog .

How do I write a literature review?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack how to write a literature review from scratch. You can check out the literature review section of the blog here.

How do I create a research methodology?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack research methodology, both qualitative and quantitative. You can check out the methodology section of the blog here.

Can I share this dissertation template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template. If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, all we ask is that you reference this page as your source.

Can Grad Coach help me with my dissertation/thesis?

Within the template, you’ll find plain-language explanations of each section, which should give you a fair amount of guidance. However, you’re also welcome to consider our dissertation and thesis coaching services .

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  • Writing a Thesis Using MS Word
  • Graduate Academic Affairs

MS Word Template

The template above provides a basic thesis layout, which meets the IIT thesis manual requirements. It consists of the following parts:

  • Acknowledgment
  • Authorship Statement
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • List of Symbols
  • Bibliography plus
  • 5 Chapters each having 3 sections. (You may delete chapter and sections or add extra ones in case your thesis has a different number of chapters and sections; Chapter names are generic and you should use what is appropriate for your research).

Style Elements Template

This document  has includes several examples of figures, tables, and their captions for Microsoft Word. You can cut-and-paste one- or two-line figure titles and table titles and insert columns and rows as needed to formatted tables.

This template only provides a basic layout of what is required. Due to technical limitations, all of the following should be done manually (we hope to update this in the future):

  • Page numbers in the Table of Contents
  • Figure and Table label numbers and page numbers for the List of Figures or List of Tables
  • Provide bibliography parts and the relevant citations (the template is compatible with reference management software)
  • Revise the above items if any related changes are made (e.g. a figure/table/page is added or deleted)

The template below is an obsolete version, provided for reference purposes. We do not recommend using this template for your thesis. 

Download iitthesis2.dot

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Research Guides

Submit and publish your thesis.

  • The Graduate Thesis: What is it?
  • Thesis Defences
  • Deadlines and Fees

Formatting in MS Word

  • Formatting in LaTeX
  • Making Thesis Accessible
  • Thesis Embargo
  • Review and Release
  • Your Rights as an Author
  • Re-using Third Party Materials
  • Creative Commons Licenses for Theses
  • Turning Thesis into an Article
  • Turning Thesis into a Book
  • Other Venues of Publication

Thesis style template for MS Word is available on the School of Graduate Studies website . You are not required to use the template but using it will make some of the formatting requirements easier to meet.

►► Thesis template for  Microsoft Word​  (.docx)

For formatting instructions and requirements see the Formatting section of the SGS website .

MS Word formatting tips

Section breaks and page numbers.

One of the most common formatting items that causes difficulty is the page numbering, since the front section and the rest of the thesis use different characters and placement. The way to properly format these sections is to add Section Breaks in between the front matter and the Introduction or Chapter One and between each of the following chapters, including the Bibliography and Appendices sections.

Adding Section Breaks and Page Numbers in Word 2016

You will need to insert “Section Break – next page” in between all chapters and between the front matter and the first chapter as well as between the last chapter and the appendices and the references.

  • Click on the place where the break should be inserted and then go to the Layout tab.
  • Click on the arrow beside Breaks and choose Section Break Next Page from the list. This allows you to format sections individually of each other.
  • Go to the first chapter after the front matter, click in the header and footer area and in the Header & Footer tools, ensure that “Different First Page” is selected and then ensure that the “Link to Previous” option is not selected. This way, when you format the front matter with Roman numerals in the bottom centre, it won’t carry the formatting into the next section.
  • Use the Insert Page Numbers and Format Page numbers to insert the page numbers in the appropriate place with the appropriate formatting.

Using Document Styles

The template has Styles that can be used to format your entire thesis. To use a style, select the text to apply the style to, then choose the appropriate style from the Styles window.

If you don’t want to use the template (for example, if you don’t want to use the numbered headings, you can create your own styles. To do this, format the heading (or other element) the way you want, then click New Style in the style window. Insert a unique name for the style and click OK . You can then use that style for those elements going forward.

Table of Contents (TOC)

To automatically generate a TOC, apply the appropriate Styles to all headings. The template has styles created for this purpose. If you are not using the template, you can create your own heading styles to apply.

Auto-generate the TOC in Word 2016 on both Mac and Windows

  • Go to the References tab, choose Table of Contents and select Custom Table of Contents . Click OK .

       Using your own styles

  • If you have created your own styles with custom names, go to the References tab, choose Table of Contents and select Custom Table of Contents , then click Options .
  • Put numbers beside the styles you created that correspond with the level of heading they represent. Click OK , then OK again.

Manual formatting of TOC

To add right-aligned tabs with leaders:

  • From the Home tab, open the Paragraph settings and click on the Tabs button.
  • Enter the tab stop position, choose Right Tab and for Leader , choose the … option. Click Set (or the + sign on Mac), then click OK .
  • Type the TOC entry, press tab, then insert the page number.

Miscellaneous tips

  • Use page breaks instead of pressing Enter or Return
  • Use paragraph first-line indent or tab consistently throughout doc (best to use Styles)
  • Use consistent spacing around headers
  • Use Shift + Return/Enter to keep headings that run over 2 lines in the same paragraph
  • Ensure there are no Widow/Orphan headings or paragraphs
  • When inserting longer quotes, use margins to indent rather than tabbing in and inserting a hard return after each line
  • Always use tabs rather than spaces. Set tab stops so you aren’t using multiple tabs

Formatting issues and examples

When creating your own table of contents , be sure to format the space between the text and the numbers properly. Do not use multiple tabs or periods to separate them. This will result in a jagged right margin. You want to set a right-aligned tab with leaders in order to have the numbers properly aligned to the right margin. The auto-generate TOC feature does this automatically.

Table of contents incorrect and correct formatting examples. Discussion above.

When starting content on a new page, do not use the return key until you get to the next page. If you add content to that section later on, it will move everything down the page, even on the following page. Instead, use the Insert Page Break feature.

Page break formatting incorrect and correct example. Discussion above.

When formatting indented quotes, do not use tabs to indent the lines , or put a return at the end of each line. The test in the paragraph won’t flow properly if you need to add more text or change the margins. Instead use the margin controls in the Ruler to indent the paragraph on each side.

Indented quotes incorrect and correct formatting examples. Discussion above.

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  • Last Updated: Sep 15, 2023 3:23 PM
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  • What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

Published on 15 September 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on 5 December 2023.

Structure of a Thesis

A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a PhD program in the UK.

Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Indeed, alongside a dissertation , it is the longest piece of writing students typically complete. It relies on your ability to conduct research from start to finish: designing your research , collecting data , developing a robust analysis, drawing strong conclusions , and writing concisely .

Thesis template

You can also download our full thesis template in the format of your choice below. Our template includes a ready-made table of contents , as well as guidance for what each chapter should include. It’s easy to make it your own, and can help you get started.

Download Word template Download Google Docs template

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Table of contents

Thesis vs. thesis statement, how to structure a thesis, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your thesis, frequently asked questions about theses.

You may have heard the word thesis as a standalone term or as a component of academic writing called a thesis statement . Keep in mind that these are two very different things.

  • A thesis statement is a very common component of an essay, particularly in the humanities. It usually comprises 1 or 2 sentences in the introduction of your essay , and should clearly and concisely summarise the central points of your academic essay .
  • A thesis is a long-form piece of academic writing, often taking more than a full semester to complete. It is generally a degree requirement to complete a PhD program.
  • In many countries, particularly the UK, a dissertation is generally written at the bachelor’s or master’s level.
  • In the US, a dissertation is generally written as a final step toward obtaining a PhD.

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The final structure of your thesis depends on a variety of components, such as:

  • Your discipline
  • Your theoretical approach

Humanities theses are often structured more like a longer-form essay . Just like in an essay, you build an argument to support a central thesis.

In both hard and social sciences, theses typically include an introduction , literature review , methodology section ,  results section , discussion section , and conclusion section . These are each presented in their own dedicated section or chapter. In some cases, you might want to add an appendix .

Thesis examples

We’ve compiled a short list of thesis examples to help you get started.

  • Example thesis #1:   ‘Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the “Noble Savage” on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807’ by Suchait Kahlon.
  • Example thesis #2: ‘”A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man”: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947’ by Julian Saint Reiman.

The very first page of your thesis contains all necessary identifying information, including:

  • Your full title
  • Your full name
  • Your department
  • Your institution and degree program
  • Your submission date.

Sometimes the title page also includes your student ID, the name of your supervisor, or the university’s logo. Check out your university’s guidelines if you’re not sure.

Read more about title pages

The acknowledgements section is usually optional. Its main point is to allow you to thank everyone who helped you in your thesis journey, such as supervisors, friends, or family. You can also choose to write a preface , but it’s typically one or the other, not both.

Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces

An abstract is a short summary of your thesis. Usually a maximum of 300 words long, it’s should include brief descriptions of your research objectives , methods, results, and conclusions. Though it may seem short, it introduces your work to your audience, serving as a first impression of your thesis.

Read more about abstracts

A table of contents lists all of your sections, plus their corresponding page numbers and subheadings if you have them. This helps your reader seamlessly navigate your document.

Your table of contents should include all the major parts of your thesis. In particular, don’t forget the the appendices. If you used heading styles, it’s easy to generate an automatic table Microsoft Word.

Read more about tables of contents

While not mandatory, if you used a lot of tables and/or figures, it’s nice to include a list of them to help guide your reader. It’s also easy to generate one of these in Word: just use the ‘Insert Caption’ feature.

Read more about lists of figures and tables

If you have used a lot of industry- or field-specific abbreviations in your thesis, you should include them in an alphabetised list of abbreviations . This way, your readers can easily look up any meanings they aren’t familiar with.

Read more about lists of abbreviations

Relatedly, if you find yourself using a lot of very specialised or field-specific terms that may not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary . Alphabetise the terms you want to include with a brief definition.

Read more about glossaries

An introduction sets up the topic, purpose, and relevance of your thesis, as well as expectations for your reader. This should:

  • Ground your research topic , sharing any background information your reader may need
  • Define the scope of your work
  • Introduce any existing research on your topic, situating your work within a broader problem or debate
  • State your research question(s)
  • Outline (briefly) how the remainder of your work will proceed

In other words, your introduction should clearly and concisely show your reader the “what, why, and how” of your research.

Read more about introductions

A literature review helps you gain a robust understanding of any extant academic work on your topic, encompassing:

  • Selecting relevant sources
  • Determining the credibility of your sources
  • Critically evaluating each of your sources
  • Drawing connections between sources, including any themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps

A literature review is not merely a summary of existing work. Rather, your literature review should ultimately lead to a clear justification for your own research, perhaps via:

  • Addressing a gap in the literature
  • Building on existing knowledge to draw new conclusions
  • Exploring a new theoretical or methodological approach
  • Introducing a new solution to an unresolved problem
  • Definitively advocating for one side of a theoretical debate

Read more about literature reviews

Theoretical framework

Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework, but these are not the same thing. A theoretical framework defines and analyses the concepts and theories that your research hinges on.

Read more about theoretical frameworks

Your methodology chapter shows your reader how you conducted your research. It should be written clearly and methodically, easily allowing your reader to critically assess the credibility of your argument. Furthermore, your methods section should convince your reader that your method was the best way to answer your research question.

A methodology section should generally include:

  • Your overall approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative )
  • Your research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment
  • Any tools or materials you used (e.g., computer software)
  • The data analysis methods you chose (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
  • A strong, but not defensive justification of your methods

Read more about methodology sections

Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. These two sections work in tandem, but shouldn’t repeat each other. While your results section can include hypotheses or themes, don’t include any speculation or new arguments here.

Your results section should:

  • State each (relevant) result with any (relevant) descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
  • Explain how each result relates to the research question
  • Determine whether the hypothesis was supported

Additional data (like raw numbers or interview transcripts ) can be included as an appendix . You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results.

Read more about results sections

Your discussion section is where you can interpret your results in detail. Did they meet your expectations? How well do they fit within the framework that you built? You can refer back to any relevant source material to situate your results within your field, but leave most of that analysis in your literature review.

For any unexpected results, offer explanations or alternative interpretations of your data.

Read more about discussion sections

Your thesis conclusion should concisely answer your main research question. It should leave your reader with an ultra-clear understanding of your central argument, and emphasise what your research specifically has contributed to your field.

Why does your research matter? What recommendations for future research do you have? Lastly, wrap up your work with any concluding remarks.

Read more about conclusions

In order to avoid plagiarism , don’t forget to include a full reference list at the end of your thesis, citing the sources that you used. Choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your thesis, taking note of the formatting requirements of each style.

Which style you choose is often set by your department or your field, but common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA.

Create APA citations Create MLA citations

In order to stay clear and concise, your thesis should include the most essential information needed to answer your research question. However, chances are you have many contributing documents, like interview transcripts or survey questions . These can be added as appendices , to save space in the main body.

Read more about appendices

Once you’re done writing, the next part of your editing process begins. Leave plenty of time for proofreading and editing prior to submission. Nothing looks worse than grammar mistakes or sloppy spelling errors!

Consider using a professional thesis editing service to make sure your final project is perfect.

Once you’ve submitted your final product, it’s common practice to have a thesis defense, an oral component of your finished work. This is scheduled by your advisor or committee, and usually entails a presentation and Q&A session.

After your defense, your committee will meet to determine if you deserve any departmental honors or accolades. However, keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality. If there are any serious issues with your work, these should be resolved with your advisor way before a defense.

The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5-7% of your overall word count.

When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .

If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation, you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .

If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimising confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organise your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

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This paper is in the following e-collection/theme issue:

Published on 22.2.2024 in Vol 26 (2024)

Identifying the Risk Factors of Allergic Rhinitis Based on Zhihu Comment Data Using a Topic-Enhanced Word-Embedding Model: Mixed Method Study and Cluster Analysis

Authors of this article:

Author Orcid Image

Original Paper

  • Dongxiao Gu 1 , PhD   ; 
  • Qin Wang 1 , MD   ; 
  • Yidong Chai 1 , PhD   ; 
  • Xuejie Yang 1 , PhD   ; 
  • Wang Zhao 1 , PhD   ; 
  • Min Li 1 , MD   ; 
  • Oleg Zolotarev 2 , PhD   ; 
  • Zhengfei Xu 1 , MD   ; 
  • Gongrang Zhang 1 , PhD  

1 School of Management, Hefei University of Technology, Hefei, China

2 Russian New University, Moscow, Russian Federation

Corresponding Author:

Dongxiao Gu, PhD

School of Management, Hefei University of Technology

193 Tunxi Road

Hefei, 230009

Phone: 86 13866167367

Email: [email protected]

Background: Allergic rhinitis (AR) is a chronic disease, and several risk factors predispose individuals to the condition in their daily lives, including exposure to allergens and inhalation irritants. Analyzing the potential risk factors that can trigger AR can provide reference material for individuals to use to reduce its occurrence in their daily lives. Nowadays, social media is a part of daily life, with an increasing number of people using at least 1 platform regularly. Social media enables users to share experiences among large groups of people who share the same interests and experience the same afflictions. Notably, these channels promote the ability to share health information.

Objective: This study aims to construct an intelligent method (TopicS-ClusterREV) for identifying the risk factors of AR based on these social media comments. The main questions were as follows: How many comments contained AR risk factor information? How many categories can these risk factors be summarized into? How do these risk factors trigger AR?

Methods: This study crawled all the data from May 2012 to May 2022 under the topic of allergic rhinitis on Zhihu, obtaining a total of 9628 posts and 33,747 comments. We improved the Skip-gram model to train topic-enhanced word vector representations (TopicS) and then vectorized annotated text items for training the risk factor classifier. Furthermore, cluster analysis enabled a closer look into the opinions expressed in the category, namely gaining insight into how risk factors trigger AR.

Results: Our classifier identified more comments containing risk factors than the other classification models, with an accuracy rate of 96.1% and a recall rate of 96.3%. In general, we clustered texts containing risk factors into 28 categories, with season, region, and mites being the most common risk factors. We gained insight into the risk factors expressed in each category; for example, seasonal changes and increased temperature differences between day and night can disrupt the body’s immune system and lead to the development of allergies.

Conclusions: Our approach can handle the amount of data and extract risk factors effectively. Moreover, the summary of risk factors can serve as a reference for individuals to reduce AR in their daily lives. The experimental data also provide a potential pathway that triggers AR. This finding can guide the development of management plans and interventions for AR.


Over the past few decades, the prevalence of chronic diseases has increased significantly, becoming a global public health concern. The World Health Organization has listed allergic diseases as one of the disease types that require priority research and prevention in the 21st century [ 1 ]. As a common chronic disease, allergic rhinitis (AR) is a multifactorial disease that is induced by environmental conditions or certain genes [ 2 ]. AR not only has a significant impact on individuals’ sleep, social life, and work attendance but also triggers comorbidities such as conjunctivitis, atopic dermatitis, and asthma [ 3 ]. Large-scale flow survey data showed that AR currently affects several people in China alone [ 4 ] and with an estimated prevalence between 15% and 20% worldwide [ 5 ]. The direct and indirect costs associated with the management of AR are also a significant burden on society. For instance, the total cost of AR in Sweden, with a population of 9.5 million, was estimated at €1.3 (US $1.41) billion annually [ 6 ]. These unexpectedly high costs could be related to the high prevalence of disease, in combination with the previously often underestimated indirect costs that arise from reduced work efficiency and absenteeism and the potential costs associated with treating AR comorbidities [ 6 ].

Currently, there is no cure for AR, and individuals need to avoid the disease risk factors such as exposure to allergens and inhalation irritants [ 7 ] during the long self-management process. Therefore, identifying AR risk factors can provide a reference for patients to help reduce the condition in their daily lives [ 8 ].

A plethora of studies have been proposed to identify AR risk factors. These studies recruited participants with symptoms of AR and control participants without AR symptoms from a specific age group or a particular geographical area. These studies collected demographic information, lifestyle habits, family history, comorbidities, and residential areas through questionnaires. Subsequently, they used correlation methods to explore the relationship between these data and AR, aiming to identify the risk factors for AR within the specified age group or geographical area [ 9 ]. However, these studies have 2 limitations. First, these studies specifically target certain age groups or geographical areas, and questionnaires can only gather data on specific pieces of information. Owing to the constraints of questionnaire surveys, it is challenging to identify potential risk factors that may be present in individuals’ daily lives. As a result, the risk factors identified through survey-based studies have a limited scope and are incomplete. As such, they provide limited insights for a broader patient population. Second, the survey-based approach demands a commitment to long-term investigation and a substantial effort to collect representative responses [ 10 ]. In contrast, collecting information from social media platforms can cover large geographical areas at a comparatively low cost [ 10 ]. Social media platforms allow users to share experiences and opinions on various topics [ 11 , 12 ], including personal health issues [ 13 ]. Over time, highly unstructured and implicit knowledge has been generated in communities where users frequently participate [ 14 , 15 ], which can provide daily health records that are difficult to obtain from traditional questionnaire surveys. Therefore, social media can become a potential source of information for identifying risk factors for diseases such as AR [ 16 ].

Text-mining techniques are an effective tool for using voluminous social media data [ 17 ]. Some studies have combined social media data analysis to obtain knowledge about disease risk factors [ 18 , 19 ]. However, the abovementioned studies on disease risk factors used only shallow text features such as the number of social media text items and word cooccurrences, which are not conducive to identifying disease risk factors in the context of colloquial and diverse user expressions [ 20 ]. In this study, we designed a text-processing framework to automatically identify risk factors from social media data [ 21 ]. We used social media comments to construct a natural language processing–based AR risk factor identification method, aiming to tackle the problems of omission and low accuracy in traditional disease-related information identification methods that rely solely on shallow text features such as word frequency.

To be more specific, we developed an AR risk factor identification method that integrates pretrained word embeddings with text convolutional neural networks (CNNs). The Word2vec algorithm has proven to be superior in text vector representation [ 20 ]. This is a prediction-based approach that predicts the neighboring words that are most likely to appear within a window size around a center word in a corpus, resulting in high-dimensional vector representations that capture semantic aggregation. As social media users may mention related topics, such as symptoms and treatments, when describing risk factors in their comments, we used a local context window to achieve better semantic aggregation of AR risk factors, a method that has been demonstrated to be effective for such aggregation. In addition, using the Skip-gram model to train word pairs enables the incorporation of word thematic information, thus improving attention to risk factor phrases. The convolutional network can convolve the text in the word vector dimension and extract critical information through the max-pooling layer operation. In addition, this study used a clustering method with review mechanisms to concentrate on a large amount of text that contains risk factors within the observable range, thereby ensuring the usefulness of the content obtained through text mining.

Our main contributions were as follows:

  • First, this study proposed a framework (TopicS-ClusterREV) based on natural language processing for identifying the risk factors of AR. We used pretrained word embeddings and text convolutional networks to process social media text. Our model can identify more risk factors from social media comments with high accuracy and recall. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to use natural language processing techniques to identify risk factors for AR in social media comments.
  • Second, this study proposes a topic-enhanced word-embedding model. TopicS enhances the thematic information of words by adding a task that predicts the theme to which the center word belongs. This generates high-dimensional word vector representations with semantic aggregation and theme enhancement. We trained 2 types of word vectors using both the Skip-gram and TopicS models and separately input them into each risk factor classifier. The results showed that TopicS outperformed the baseline on the text classification task, demonstrating the effectiveness of our topic-enhanced word-embedding model.
  • Finally, we introduced automatic and manual review mechanisms to improve the single-pass algorithm, which allowed us to effectively identify and focus on a large amount of text that contains risk factors within the observable range. We ultimately identified 28 categories of risk factors including the common risk factors that lead to most individuals developing symptoms and previously overlooked risk factors that were not within the scope of previous research.

Identification of AR Risk Factors Through Surveys

AR has become a major global issue with a substantial increase in its prevalence in recent years. In Europe, the prevalence of AR among Danish adults progressively increased from 19% to 32% over the past 3 decades [ 22 ]. Understanding the risk factors, such as genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors, helps in the management of AR, thus motivating many studies to focus on identifying potential risk factors. These studies are summarized in Table 1 . From Table 1 , we observed that the previous studies were based on survey methods, including cross-sectional surveys, cohort studies, and case-control studies.

a We searched for the literature related to AR risk factors and presented 9 papers from the past decade to showcase the methods and the identified risk factors.

These studies typically recruited participants with symptoms of AR and control participants without AR symptoms from a specific age group or a particular geographical area, collected demographic information through questionnaires, and then conducted correlation analysis, such as logistic regression, to explore the relationship between those metadata and AR [ 32 ]. For instance, Gao et al [ 9 ] conducted a cross-sectional survey to investigate the prevalence and risk factors of adult self-reported AR in the plain lands and hilly areas of Shenmu City in China and analyzed the differences between regions. The content of the web-based questionnaire included demographic factors, smoking status, the comorbidities of other allergic disorders, family history of allergies, and place of residence. The unconditional logistic regression analysis was used to screen for factors influencing AR. Finally, they found that the prevalence of AR existed in regional differences. Genetic and environmental factors were the important risk factors associated with AR. However, these studies have 2 limitations. First, these studies specifically targeted certain age groups or geographical areas, and questionnaires can only gather data on specific pieces of information. Owing to the constraints of questionnaire surveys, it is challenging to identify potential risk factors that may be present in individuals’ daily lives. As a result, the risk factors identified through survey-based studies have limited scope and are incomplete and they may provide limited insights for a broader patient population. Second, the survey-based approach demands a commitment to long-term investigation and a massive effort to collect representative responses [ 10 ].

Identification of Disease Risk Factors From Social Media Through Text Mining

Social media sites provide a convenient way for users to continuously update their day-to-day activities, which allows large groups of people to create and share information, opinions, and experiences about health conditions through web-based discussion [ 11 ]. Hence, social media can be considered a new data source to assess population health. As shown in Table 2 , some studies have combined text-mining techniques to classify and summarize voluminous social media data to obtain knowledge about chronic disease risk factors. Zhang and Ram [ 33 ] extracted behavioral features from Twitter posts of asthma users using keywords from an existing knowledge base. Griffis et al [ 34 ] collected 25,000 tweets containing and not containing diabetes, identified 5000 common words, used logistic regression to determine which common words were high-frequency expressions of diabetes, and finally grouped these high-frequency words using latent Dirichlet allocation to obtain the risk factors for diabetes. Schäfer et al [ 35 ] used syntactic analysis to identify portions of risk factors occurring before or after causal terms, grouped these portions using latent Dirichlet allocation, and obtained the risk factors for gastric discomfort. Pradeepa et al [ 19 ] performed clustering on stroke-related tweets using the Probability Neural Network, used the Apriori algorithm to identify frequent word sets related to risk, and thus identified risk factors for stroke [ 19 ]. In addition to the aforementioned approaches that use shallow text features such as keywords, frequent word sets, high-frequency words, and syntactic features for disease risk factor identification, other studies [ 36 - 38 ] trained risk factor classifiers using machine learning methods such as Naive Bayes, Maximum Entropy Model, and Naive Bayes Classifier–Term Frequency Inverse Document Frequency. These classifiers predict the presence of risk factors in text based on discrete vector representations such as bag-of-words and n-gram.

a We searched for studies related to identifying disease risk factors based on social media data. We found 7 papers from the past decade, highlighting the social media platforms, data, methods, features, diseases, and risk factors involved in research.

b LDA: latent Dirichlet allocation.

c MLP: multilayer perceptron.

The current methods for identifying disease risk factors on social media fall into 2 categories: shallow text feature methods and discrete word vector representations. Shallow text feature techniques often fail to capture important risk factors resulting in low accuracy, whereas discrete word vector approaches struggle to keep up with the dynamic vocabulary of social media text, missing new words, and trending expressions, thus inadequately representing the information conveyed.

Word Embedding and Text Classification Based on Deep Learning

Natural language processing technology promotes text analysis based on social media comments [ 39 ]; this technology can learn the deeper semantic features of the comment text and the features that are consistent with the current context, according to different training corpus, to input a better text vector representation for downstream classification tasks. Some researchers have used large-scale pretrained language models [ 40 ], global matrix decomposition [ 41 ], and local context windows [ 42 ] for text vector representation. Local context windows are more suitable for semantically aggregating AR risk factors [ 43 ]. Skip-gram and Continuous Bag-of-Words Model (CBOW) are prediction-based methods that learn the semantic representation of a center word by predicting the most likely neighboring words within a window size in a corpus. When users narrate risk factors in their comments, they may also mention symptoms, treatments, and other topics. These global contexts may dilute the key features of the risk factors expression. CBOW averages the context words to predict the target word and tends to predict high-frequency words in the corpus. In contrast, Skip-gram gives each word a chance to be a center word, making it better at predicting rare words compared with CBOW [ 44 ]. Therefore, in situations where social media users express a wide variety of ideas, the Skip-gram model can yield satisfactory outcomes. Moreover, the Skip-gram approach uses word pair training, which facilitates the incorporation of topic information into words [ 45 ], resulting in the generation of high-dimensional word vectors that feature semantic aggregation and topic enhancement. Therefore, we selected Skip-gram as the word-embedding model for our study.

Text classification has evolved to deep learning models, mainly including CNN-based models [ 46 ], recurrent neural network (RNN)–based models [ 47 ], and transformer models [ 48 ]. For the CNN algorithm, convolutional networks can convolve text on the word vector dimensions and extract key information through pooling layer operations. Consequently, this algorithm is capable of using essential data for classification tasks. Therefore, we used TextCNN for classifier training and evaluated the performance of RNN and transformer models on this task.

The framework used in this study consisted of 3 parts as shown in Figure 1 . The first part was data collection and processing, aimed at obtaining a clean data set. The second part was risk factor identification, which included the proposed TopicS method and training of a risk factor classifier. The implementation steps were as follows: (1) semiautomatically constructing a risk factor topic dictionary, (2) generating high-dimensional word vectors enhanced by TopicS-generated topics, and (3) vectorizing annotated text and training a risk factor classifier. The third part is text clustering and keyword extraction, which uses the ClusterREV method to cluster the identified risk factors and extract keywords from every category.

thesis based word

Zhihu is a Chinese social media platform where people discuss topics in an web-based forum format. In May 2022, the Zhihu subcommunity allergic rhinitis had 1.04 million discussions. The posts on this social media platform allow other users to comment [ 49 ], and people can explain their situations to provide support or seek help effectively. Therefore, these comments provide a rich source of data for investigating the risk factors reported by different users [ 50 ]. In this study, we trained domain-specific word representations based on experimental data. A relatively domain-specific input corpus [ 51 ] is better at extracting meaningful semantic relations than a generic pretrained language model [ 52 ]. We crawled all the data from May 2012 to May 2022 under the topic allergic rhinitis on Zhihu, obtaining a total of 9628 posts and 33,747 comments, including the post ID, comment ID, and post and comment content.

In this study, we preprocessed the data through regularization, stop word removal, and word separation. First, we removed special symbols, such as URLs and emoticons, in the comments through regularization and stop word removal to reduce the interference of noise with the text analysis task. Then, we compiled a dictionary of 169 specialized terms, including types of AR, medications, and comorbidities, to reduce the probability of incorrect word segmentation. After word separation, we obtained a lexicon of 68,863 words and ranked the words according to the number of occurrences. We found that the top 10,000 words accounted for 94.83% of the total words, suggesting that many words recurred and a relatively simple word vector could effectively train the model [ 53 ]. This further confirms the efficacy of our decision to use Skip-gram as the foundational model.

We observed ultrashort comment noise in the comments (eg, “Thank you!”). It is important to note that these ultrashort comments do not include any personal medical information. The ultrashort comments were filtered, resulting in 33,039 valid comments. This operation can effectively minimize the impact of noise on downstream text classification tasks. Table S1 in Multimedia Appendix 1 presents the examples of valid comments.

The data must be labeled before supervised learning and then trained end to end. If a comment directly mentions an allergen or indicates a condition that leads to the appearance or worsening of symptoms, the comment will be labeled as 1, indicating the presence of risk factors, as shown in Figure 2 .

thesis based word

We randomly chose 2030 comments from the 33,039 comments, and 3 researchers labeled each comment as containing or not containing risk factors. To ensure high interannotator consistency, all 3 researchers annotated all 2030 comments. In cases with uncertainty in labeling, the 3 researchers discussed and arrived at a final label. After annotating and eliminating comments with religiously controversial content, 2000 labeled comments remained, consisting of 996 comments containing risk factors and 1004 comments not containing risk factors. The data set was divided into a 90% training set and a 10% test set. The 90% training set was further divided into 10 subsets, with 9 subsets used for training and the remaining subset used for validation, performing 10-fold cross-validation.

Topic Dictionary Construction

We used a combination of manual labeling and similarity calculation to identify keywords related to risk factors. Subsequently, we constructed a table of topic words using a semiautomated approach. The process of constructing the dictionary is depicted in Textbox 1 and is as follows: (1) label 400 randomly selected comments as described in the Annotation section, thereby obtaining 198 comments with risk factors; (2) extract risk factor phrases from annotated comments; (3) obtain risk factors topic word list; (4) remove duplicate word list, and the words in the current topic are used as seed words, word_set ; (5) use Skip-gram to find the top similar words to expand the topic words; (6) repeat steps 3 through 5 to expand the topic word; and (7) finally, obtain the topic words for the risk factor. A large weight was assigned to the risk factor theme words. Table S2 in Multimedia Appendix 1 shows examples of the risk factor topic dictionary.

Input: annotated comments

Output: topic dictionary

1. d i = Select Annotated data;

2. p i = Extract from d i

for w in p i :


4. word_set=set(list)

5. for w in set: word_i.update(Skip-gram.mostsimilar(topn=n))

6. Loop step3, step4, step5

Ethical Considerations

As the use of text data from social media involves user privacy, this study adopted the following steps for deidentification: (1) We removed user account information and retained only anonymous comment information. (2) We used regular expressions to match and delete URLs and email addresses in the comments. (3) During the annotation process, annotators received only text that did not involve personal information. To evaluate the quality of deidentification, we randomly selected 500 text items for manual inspection and did not find any instances containing personal identity information. Our data are sourced from public discussions on Zhihu, a social media platform that can be accessed without registration. We followed strict ethical research protocols similar to the guidelines by Eysenbach and Till [ 54 ]. In addition, to protect the anonymity of participants, we have implemented measures including the removal of user information and avoiding verbatim quotations to prevent identification through search engines, protecting the privacy and security of personal data. It should be mentioned that our study was focused on the post level; we do not anticipate any negative ethical impact from our analysis.

Topic-Enhanced Word Embedding

TopicS performed 2 tasks during training, as shown in Figure 3 . The first task was to predict the neighboring words within the window of the central word. The second task was to predict the topic of the central word; the topic dictionary used for this purpose is described in the Topic Dictionary Construction section.

thesis based word

The specific formula calculations for the loss function design, parameter updates, and error backpropagation of TopicS are explained subsequently.

First, we defined the loss function. For each word in the corpus, we used it as the central word for a sliding operation with a window size of c ; let S be the training sequence ( w 1 ,w 2 ,...,w T ), whereas w i denotes the i th word in the sequence. The subscript T represents the total number of unique words in the corpus. In addition to predicting the contextual word of the central word, we must also predict the topic score of the central word. Therefore, the loss function comprised 2 parts: L cont and L topic , and the overall loss was denoted by L s . Our training objective was to minimize the loss function:

thesis based word

Finally, we can update the word representation.

Text Classification

In this study, we chose TextCNN as the classification model. In the risk factor identification task, some key semantic information is more important, and TextCNN can efficiently use the key information for classification with minimal cost consumption. We represented the manually annotated text as a vector matrix using high-dimensional word vector representations trained by the TopicS model, which aggregates local contextual and topic information and uses it as input for the TextCNN model. Then, the TextCNN algorithm leverages convolutional kernels of different sizes to extract multiple n-gram text features and uses convolutional operations in a fixed window to combine word representations to capture local information. Our input word vector combined the topic information of words, and the most important features in the convolution operation can be extracted using the maximum pooling operation as shown in Figure 4 .

thesis based word

Clustering With a Review Mechanism

The clustering task is to group similar risk factors. In this study, a large amount of text containing risk factors was clustered into a manually observable number of categories, making it easier to comprehend their content. This study enhances the single-pass algorithm and integrates it with a manual review to cluster the risk factors identified in the text classification, ensuring the validity of the clustering results. The main concept of single-pass clustering [ 55 ] is to match informational text items based on their similarity values without the need to determine the number of clusters in advance. This makes it suitable for clustering tasks with an unknown number of clusters. However, traditional single-pass clustering uses only one-loop traversal, which may result in previously entered text items completing the traversal earlier. This can cause their similarity to the previous topics to be slightly lower than the threshold and lead to them being recreated as new categories, ultimately affecting the clustering effect.

As shown in Figure 5 , we improved the single-pass algorithm by retraversing the categories that were clustered separately after all the text items had been traversed to handle any missed text. After the automated clustering was completed, we conducted a manual review to ensure the reliability of the clustering.

thesis based word

Moreover, this study uses a keyword cloud visualization of category content to quickly understand the themes and characteristics of each cluster and compare the differences between different clusters. TextRank [ 56 ] was selected to extract category keywords, which considers only the voting scores of words in a single document; common words that frequently appear in a single document easily obtain high scores [ 57 ]. We treated each category as a single document for keyword extraction. As risk factors appear more frequently in categories, TextRank can effectively extract risk factors and surrounding words, preserving category content information as much as possible and reflecting the true content of the risk factors.

In this section, we present the performance of the classifier and the findings based on the categorization of all the comments in the clean data set using the classifier. Our approach involved visualizing the clustering results of the risk factors to comprehend the primary elements of these factors. We also explored the pathogenic mechanisms associated with these risk factors.

Classifier Performance

We used standard text-mining evaluation metrics such as accuracy, precision, recall, and F 1 -score to evaluate the performance. Precision assesses how many risk factors the model identifies correctly, and recall measures how many risk factors the model can identify on its test set. As we aimed to identify as many AR risk factors as possible to provide comprehensive references for individuals, recall was more important than precision in our study.

We set 7-word embedding dimensions ranging from 100 to 400. Table 3 displays the classification results of the TextCNN classification model with the 7 dimensions of Skip-gram and TopicS word vectors. In addition, TextRNN and transformer models were evaluated with the 7-word embedding dimensions of TopicS or Skip-gram, as shown in Tables S3 and S4 in Multimedia Appendix 1 ; the classification models performed better when the word-embedding dimension was 100 or 150, as shown in Table 4 , which includes the results with best-performing dimensions. This study conducted word representation learning on a domain-specific input corpus, where low dimensionality was found to be sufficient to represent the features of the corpus [ 58 ]. Moreover, TopicS not only improved precision but also significantly increased recall for all 3 models, as shown in Table 4 .

a TopicS represents the topic-enhanced word-embedding model proposed in this paper.

b Italicization represents that the metrics of TopicS are better than Skip-gram for each metric.

a Embed_size represents the word-embedding size.

b Italicization represents that the metrics of TopicS are better than Skip-gram for each model.

Table 4 shows that TextCNN has the highest accuracy and recall rate among the 3 classification models. The highest accuracy achieved by our classification model was 0.9594, which used a 150-dimension word-embedding representation obtained from TopicS. In other words, TextCNN can detect more risk factors and minimize the loss of risk factors resulting from classification errors. The CNN model can extract key information similar to n-grams in sentences. The combination of TopicS and TextCNN can enhance topic information and achieve an aggregation effect. Our implementation process was the simplest and consumed the least resources. Our model examined 30,372 comments and identified 5221 comments containing risk factors.

Risk Factor Clustering Results

We clustered the text items obtained from the text classification into 28 categories and extracted keywords from each category to better understand the content. Table 5 shows the top 5 categories and their corresponding keywords. The complete list can be found in Table S5 in Multimedia Appendix 1 . We used category 1 as an example to explain the category formation process and demonstrate the validity of the qualitative results. As shown in Table 4 , we labeled category 1 as Season based on the analysis of keyword weights and relative comments. The comments related to this category focused on seasonally induced AR, with factors such as changes in the weather during seasonal transitions and colder temperatures during winter, which can exacerbate symptoms. We also counted the number of text items in each category and found that seasonal, regional, mites, and weather changes were common risk factors for most patients. In addition, patients’ unhealthy lifestyle habits were also important risk factors widely present in research investigations. Furthermore, most patients reported experiencing symptoms at specific times (eg, “morning”), but researchers have paid little attention to the timing of symptom occurrence (which we refer to as time points).

The Possible Pathway of Several Risk Factors Triggers AR

We referred to the relevant literature on the risk factors associated with AR to confirm whether the extracted risk factors were consistent with the general medical consensus. Our findings are novel compared with those in the literature [ 59 ]. Previous survey-based studies have explored only the correlation between risk factors and AR, whereas our experimental data provide insight into the potential pathogenesis of reported risk factors. The following section provides a theoretical discussion of potential pathways for several risk factors that trigger AR:

  • Season : (1) seasonal risk factors are manifested in pollen allergens. Tree allergens such as elm and cypress pollen are prevalent in early spring, followed by ash, pine, and birch pollen in late spring. In summer, grasses, artemisia, and flowering plants grow vigorously owing to increased rainfall, leading to increased pollen spread from these plants. In autumn, weeds account for the largest proportion of pollen allergens. (2) Different climatic conditions in different seasons contribute to the development of allergies. For example, in early spring, frequent cold and high-pressure air activity in East Asia causes intense atmospheric circulation, resulting in alternating hot and cold temperatures that impair the immune regulatory function of the human body, leading to increased allergy attacks. In autumn, changeable weather, large temperature differences, and sunlight and UV radiation can stimulate allergic reactions in people with weak lungs or those who are prone to AR. In addition, seasonal changes and increasing temperature differences between day and night can disrupt the human immune system.
  • Poor habits : major keywords for this topic were “smoking,” “staying up late,” and “resistance.” (1) Habits such as staying up late, lack of exercise, smoking, and alcohol abuse can weaken immunity and resistance. Gangl et al [ 60 ] found that smoking can reduce the integrity and barrier function of respiratory epithelial cells, thereby making smokers more susceptible to allergens. (2) An irregular diet can damage the spleen and stomach, which is also a key factor in the development of AR. (3) The frequent use of air conditioning in summer can cause nasal mucosa irritation owing to temperature fluctuations. Long-term exposure to adverse stimuli can cause dryness of the nasal cavity and weaken the resistance of the mucosal epithelium, which may lead to AR.
  • Allergens : we grouped clusters that included mites, plants, food, animals, and mold as allergens. (1) The findings of this study suggest that dust mites are the primary allergen, and exposure to a certain concentration of indoor dust mites can lead to AR. The ideal humidity level for dust mite growth is between 75% and 80%, and dust mites tend to thrive during spring and autumn and in warm and humid environments. Studies have shown that a large number of dust mites may be attached to uncleaned air conditioning filters, confirming that air conditioning is an important route of transmission for household dust mites [ 61 ]. (2) Allergenic pollen species are closely related to regions and seasons, and some regions now provide pollen concentration and allergy index broadcasts based on meteorological conditions, which is highly convenient for individuals experiencing allergy. (3) Food allergens such as milk, eggs, wheat, soybeans, and peanuts can also trigger AR. (4) Apart from dust mites, other perennial indoor allergens include animal dander, cockroach excrement, and molds.
  • Outdoor environment : this topic had “dust,” “air quality,” “trust,” and “allergen” as high scoring words. (1) Various substances present in the outdoor environment can trigger AR. Industrialization has increased the content of aromatic hydrocarbon particles, ethanol, and formaldehyde in diesel exhaust, which can damage the mucous membrane and serve as a strong stimulus for AR attacks. (2) Air pollution can affect the distribution of allergens such as mold and pollen. In hazy weather, allergens tend to stay in the air longer, increasing the chance and duration of contact with the human body and leading to AR. (3) High winds can raise dust, pollen, mites, bacteria, and other allergenic factors, increasing their concentration in the air and making it easier to trigger AR.
  • Time points : patients with AR are more likely to experience symptoms during 2 specific time points, morning and evening. Schenkel et al [ 62 ] assessed the severity of 4 nasal symptoms (sneezing, blockage, nasal runny nose, and nasal itch) at different times of the day, revealing that morning and evening symptoms were the most severe. This may be because of the circadian rhythm, pollen concentration, or personal behavior exacerbating the symptoms. In the evening, when the wind subsides, pollen settles closer to the ground and can be inhaled more easily. In addition, although humans rest at night in a horizontal position, nasal ventilation may be more difficult, leading to more severe symptoms. In the morning, low temperatures can cause congestion and swelling of the nasal mucosa because of the temperature difference between the environment and the body. This cluster had words such as “evening,” “get up early,” and “nose” as highly rated words.

This theoretical discussion regarding the potential pathway of risk factors that trigger AR can guide the development of detailed AR intervention measures. For example, patients with AR can pay attention to pollen concentration and temperature changes and adjust their outings and clothing accordingly based on the characteristics of the season; they can set the air conditioner to turn on or off based on their waking time to reduce the inhalation of cold air when waking up. Furthermore, they can adjust their sleeping position to reduce the frequency of nighttime symptoms.

Principal Findings

This study aimed to identify the risk factors for AR based on social media comments. To do so, a data set of comments related to AR was collected, processed, and analyzed. The data set covered a consecutive period from May 2012 to May 2022. Overall, this analysis provided new insights into three main questions: (1) How many comments contained AR risk factor information? (2) How many categories can these risk factors be summarized into? (3) How do these risk factors trigger AR?

In assessing the identification of AR risk factors, we found that TopicS enhanced both precision and recall. TextCNN outperformed other models, achieving an accuracy of 0.9594 with a 150-dimension TopicS embedding. Analyzing 30,372 comments, our model pinpointed 5221 comments with risk factors. Categorizing the text items led to 28 distinct categories, with seasonal factors, regional variations, mites, weather changes, and unhealthy lifestyle habits emerging as common risks.

Furthermore, our research into AR risk factors revealed how risk factors trigger AR and uncovered the frequently reported, but underresearched, risk factors by affected individuals. Seasonal changes, especially during spring and autumn, increase exposure to pollen allergens, with varying climatic conditions affecting the development of allergies. Poor habits, such as smoking, irregular sleep, and frequent use of air conditioning, compromise immunity and heighten AR susceptibility. Dust mites, influenced by humidity, stand out as a primary allergen, with food items and indoor factors, such as animal dander, also triggering AR. Industrial pollutants and outdoor environmental factors amplify AR risk. Notably, AR symptoms intensify during mornings and evenings, which is likely influenced by circadian rhythms and environmental factors.

Limitations and Future Work

This study has some limitations. Our study was based on the self-reported nature of social media data, and the lack of more detailed information from the study participants was a concern. Our statistics showed that seasonal factors, regional variations, mites, weather changes, and unhealthy lifestyle habits emerge as common risk factors, which is consistent with the findings of other studies based on surveys. Although social media may lack in-depth patient information, it provides an effective method of collecting breadth of data. Social media data can be gathered 24 hours a day and are an extremely efficient way to rapidly update new knowledge into the risk factor knowledge base. In the future, our framework can be expanded in 2 ways. First, the framework can track the development trends and changes in AR risk factors by leveraging real-time internet data sets. Second, the framework can be generalized and extended to detect patterns, trends, and risk factors for other chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.


In this model improvement study, we proposed a topic-enhanced word-embedding model to improve the accuracy and recall of the text classification, namely to uncover less common or other types of risk factors based on social media data that have not been previously reported. The risk factors identified in this study can be a helpful reference for people with AR to reduce the development of the disease in their daily lives. This study establishes a knowledge base of potential risk factors for individuals who may not be aware of the factors that could trigger their symptoms. Patients can compare their lifestyle habits and medical history to identify their risk factors, which could help reduce the frequency of episodes and prevent the decline in their quality of life caused by blindly avoiding potential triggers. Our findings demonstrate the practicality and feasibility of using social media data for investigating disease knowledge. These findings may provide guidance for the development of management plans and interventions for AR.


The data set collection and analysis of this research were partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants 72131006, 72071063, and 72271082); Anhui Provincial Key Research and Development Plan Project (grant 2022i01020003); and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (grant JS2023ZSPY0063).

Data Availability

The data sets generated and analyzed during this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Authors' Contributions

DG conceptualized and investigated the study. QW drafted the methodology, performed the software analysis, and prepared the original draft. YC reviewed and edited the draft. XY completed the investigation. WZ drafted the methodology and supervised the study. ML supervised the study. ZX conceptualized the study. GZ and ZO supervised the study.

Conflicts of Interest

None declared.

Examples of social media text, topic dictionary examples, word-embedding dimension parameters with TextRNN, word-embedding dimension parameters with transformer, and social media category distribution and visualization.

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Edited by A Mavragani; submitted 19.04.23; peer-reviewed by X Liu, Y Cao; comments to author 12.10.23; revised version received 30.10.23; accepted 03.01.24; published 22.02.24.

©Dongxiao Gu, Qin Wang, Yidong Chai, Xuejie Yang, Wang Zhao, Min Li, Oleg Zolotarev, Zhengfei Xu, Gongrang Zhang. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (https://www.jmir.org), 22.02.2024.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

Published on September 7, 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes. Revised on November 21, 2023.

The introduction is the first section of your thesis or dissertation , appearing right after the table of contents . Your introduction draws your reader in, setting the stage for your research with a clear focus, purpose, and direction on a relevant topic .

Your introduction should include:

  • Your topic, in context: what does your reader need to know to understand your thesis dissertation?
  • Your focus and scope: what specific aspect of the topic will you address?
  • The relevance of your research: how does your work fit into existing studies on your topic?
  • Your questions and objectives: what does your research aim to find out, and how?
  • An overview of your structure: what does each section contribute to the overall aim?

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Table of contents

How to start your introduction, topic and context, focus and scope, relevance and importance, questions and objectives, overview of the structure, thesis introduction example, introduction checklist, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about introductions.

Although your introduction kicks off your dissertation, it doesn’t have to be the first thing you write — in fact, it’s often one of the very last parts to be completed (just before your abstract ).

It’s a good idea to write a rough draft of your introduction as you begin your research, to help guide you. If you wrote a research proposal , consider using this as a template, as it contains many of the same elements. However, be sure to revise your introduction throughout the writing process, making sure it matches the content of your ensuing sections.

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Begin by introducing your dissertation topic and giving any necessary background information. It’s important to contextualize your research and generate interest. Aim to show why your topic is timely or important. You may want to mention a relevant news item, academic debate, or practical problem.

After a brief introduction to your general area of interest, narrow your focus and define the scope of your research.

You can narrow this down in many ways, such as by:

  • Geographical area
  • Time period
  • Demographics or communities
  • Themes or aspects of the topic

It’s essential to share your motivation for doing this research, as well as how it relates to existing work on your topic. Further, you should also mention what new insights you expect it will contribute.

Start by giving a brief overview of the current state of research. You should definitely cite the most relevant literature, but remember that you will conduct a more in-depth survey of relevant sources in the literature review section, so there’s no need to go too in-depth in the introduction.

Depending on your field, the importance of your research might focus on its practical application (e.g., in policy or management) or on advancing scholarly understanding of the topic (e.g., by developing theories or adding new empirical data). In many cases, it will do both.

Ultimately, your introduction should explain how your thesis or dissertation:

  • Helps solve a practical or theoretical problem
  • Addresses a gap in the literature
  • Builds on existing research
  • Proposes a new understanding of your topic

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Perhaps the most important part of your introduction is your questions and objectives, as it sets up the expectations for the rest of your thesis or dissertation. How you formulate your research questions and research objectives will depend on your discipline, topic, and focus, but you should always clearly state the central aim of your research.

If your research aims to test hypotheses , you can formulate them here. Your introduction is also a good place for a conceptual framework that suggests relationships between variables .

  • Conduct surveys to collect data on students’ levels of knowledge, understanding, and positive/negative perceptions of government policy.
  • Determine whether attitudes to climate policy are associated with variables such as age, gender, region, and social class.
  • Conduct interviews to gain qualitative insights into students’ perspectives and actions in relation to climate policy.

To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline  of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.

I. Introduction

Human language consists of a set of vowels and consonants which are combined to form words. During the speech production process, thoughts are converted into spoken utterances to convey a message. The appropriate words and their meanings are selected in the mental lexicon (Dell & Burger, 1997). This pre-verbal message is then grammatically coded, during which a syntactic representation of the utterance is built.

Speech, language, and voice disorders affect the vocal cords, nerves, muscles, and brain structures, which result in a distorted language reception or speech production (Sataloff & Hawkshaw, 2014). The symptoms vary from adding superfluous words and taking pauses to hoarseness of the voice, depending on the type of disorder (Dodd, 2005). However, distortions of the speech may also occur as a result of a disease that seems unrelated to speech, such as multiple sclerosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

This study aims to determine which acoustic parameters are suitable for the automatic detection of exacerbations in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by investigating which aspects of speech differ between COPD patients and healthy speakers and which aspects differ between COPD patients in exacerbation and stable COPD patients.

Checklist: Introduction

I have introduced my research topic in an engaging way.

I have provided necessary context to help the reader understand my topic.

I have clearly specified the focus of my research.

I have shown the relevance and importance of the dissertation topic .

I have clearly stated the problem or question that my research addresses.

I have outlined the specific objectives of the research .

I have provided an overview of the dissertation’s structure .

You've written a strong introduction for your thesis or dissertation. Use the other checklists to continue improving your dissertation.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

Research bias

  • Survivorship bias
  • Self-serving bias
  • Availability heuristic
  • Halo effect
  • Hindsight bias
  • Deep learning
  • Generative AI
  • Machine learning
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Supervised vs. unsupervised learning

 (AI) Tools

  • Grammar Checker
  • Paraphrasing Tool
  • Text Summarizer
  • AI Detector
  • Plagiarism Checker
  • Citation Generator

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarize the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

Scope of research is determined at the beginning of your research process , prior to the data collection stage. Sometimes called “scope of study,” your scope delineates what will and will not be covered in your project. It helps you focus your work and your time, ensuring that you’ll be able to achieve your goals and outcomes.

Defining a scope can be very useful in any research project, from a research proposal to a thesis or dissertation . A scope is needed for all types of research: quantitative , qualitative , and mixed methods .

To define your scope of research, consider the following:

  • Budget constraints or any specifics of grant funding
  • Your proposed timeline and duration
  • Specifics about your population of study, your proposed sample size , and the research methodology you’ll pursue
  • Any inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • Any anticipated control , extraneous , or confounding variables that could bias your research if not accounted for properly.

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