I have already responded to one student's question about argument and debate. As I explained there, "argument" is a technical term in critical thinking, not a disagreement or a debate. But that will be my next lecture-essay. In this one I want to deal with what is a thesis and how to find it.
Don't try to come up with a thesis first, and then investigate it. Startby exploring some task domain. Take some initial ideas and push them hardfor a year or so. Now, stop and think about what you've done and what you'velearned. Among your accomplishments and experience, there will be severalgood candidate theses. Pick one. Test it out on your advisor and other facultymembers. Test it out on other students. Is it a claim that you can describeclearly and briefly? Is it a claim that anyone cares about? Is it a claimthat people don't find perfectly obvious, or if they do find it obvious,can you convince them that it could easily be false.
I need to find some BYU University Scholar Projects (Honors Theses).
Towards the end, you will even find yourself enjoying it – an enjoyment based on satisfaction in the achievement, pleasure in the improvement in your technical writing, and of course the approaching end.
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31. Find opportunities to discuss your research with your friends andcolleagues. Listen carefully to their questions. See if you are able topresent your research in a clear and coherent manner. Are there aspectsof your research that are particularly confusing and need further explanation?Are there things that you forgot to say? Could you change the order ofthe information presented and have it become more understandable?
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30. The most obvious suggestion is the one seldom followed. Try to attendone or more defenses prior to yours. Find out which other studentsare defending their research and sit in on their defense. In many departmentsthis is expected of all graduate students. If this is not the case foryou, check with your adviser to see that you can get an invitationto attend some defenses.
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32. I hope you don't try circulating chapters of your dissertationto your committee members as you are writing them. I find this practiceto be most annoying and one that creates considerable problems for thestudent. You must work closely with your dissertation director. He/sheis the person you want to please. Develop a strategy with the dissertationdirector regarding how and when your writing should be shared. Only afteryour dissertation director approves of what you have done should you attemptto share it with the rest of the committee. And by then it's time for thedefense. If you prematurely share sections of your writing with committeemembers you will probably find yourself in a situation where one committeemember tells you to do one thing and another member says to do somethingelse. What should you do? The best answer is not to get yourself into sucha predicament. The committee meeting (the defense) allows the concernsof committee members to surface in a dialogical atmosphere where opposingviews can be discussed and resolved.
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28. Potentially the silliest part of the dissertation is the Suggestionsfor Further Research section. This section is usually written atthe very end of your writing project and little energy is left to makeit very meaningful. The biggest problem with this section is that the suggestionsare often ones that could have been made prior to you conducting your research.Read and reread this section until you are sure that you have made suggestionsthat emanate from your experiences in conducting the research and the findingsthat you have evolved. Make sure that your suggestions for further researchserve to link your project with other projects in the future and providea further opportunity for the reader to better understand what you havedone.