What is a Thesis?
put, a thesis is ďa scholarly essay of approximately 60-75 pages on
a subject chosen in consultation with two faculty members who will
serve as readers.ď A thesis is an essay in which you explore an idea
or problem in literature or composition using your own opinion as
well as outside research. This is your chance to research something
you have always wanted to know more about but have never done so.
What do I need to know before enrolling in 500?
What does that mean? Well, a prospectus is a 5 to 10 page proposal
of your thesis; it is an outline of what you plan to write about.
It will include a list of the resources you will use, both those that
support your argument as well as oppose it. Click here for more about writing
first step in writing a prospectus is to choose a topic that interests
you, one that you can do research on extensively. Then create
an argument that can be supported by outside sources. At this
point, I would suggest that you consider which professor you want
to be your primary reader (see below). After you have talked to various
professors and have received some advice on your prospectus argument,
start researching. Your prospectus must have a nice balance
between research and your own voice; spend several hours in the library
or researching different online journals (www.mla.org,
http://www.eric.ed.gov/), books, or theories that will be useful
to your prospectus, and weave them into your argument. You will need
to include a solid list of sources in your bibliography as part of
your prospectus, so donít neglect research until the last minute.
A prospectus alone may take several months, as you will be conducting
research before you write to help you make a solid argument. Keep
in mind that even after you have researched, you may decide to change
your argument or throw out some sources. Make sure your prospectus
is open-ended enough for you to explore many different ideas yet specific
enough for you to really hone in on your main point. At this point,
there really is no magic formula in creating a stellar prospectus
except to conduct extensive research and keep writing!
reader is a CSUS professor who will guide you in your thesis writing
process. A reader helps you voluntarily; much like a mentor, they
receive no extra pay for guiding you through your thesis process.
So choose a reader whom you get along with and who seems to have a
little extra time. Most readers prefer that you have taken a course
from them so they have an idea of your writing style and work ethic.
Itís also to your advantage as the student to have a reader youíve
previously taken a course from, because you will be familiar with
their criticism and responses. However, if you find a professor who
is knowledgeable in your topic that you havenít taken a course from,
start by getting to know them. Visit their office hours, and ask them
for suggestions on sources or any areas you are curious about. Once
you get to know this professor fairly well, ask them to be your reader
for your thesis. You will want a reader who is knowledgeable in the
topic of your thesis and who can guide you with suggestions, so choose
your reader wisely.
audience is your readers and the academic community. After you complete
the content of your thesis, it will be bound (you will be published!)
and stored in the basement of the CSUS Library. Here, other
students or community members can come and use theses for research.
so youíve written your thesis prospectus, gotten it signed off by
the graduate coordinator, and are enrolled in 500. Now what?! Well,
there are many different ways to successfully write a thesis.
are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
cannot stress this enough. A thesis will most likely be different
from anything you have written before. A thesis is a reflection of
youóyou are forming an argument about an issue and using other sources
to prove your point. You will do hours of research, writing, and editing,
so donít push off making your thesis a priority.
you can get a feel for what lies ahead. Look at other theses in your
department, your specific field of study, as well as thesesí directed
by the reader(s) you are considering. This way you will get a general
grasp of what a thesis looks like, the amount of work and dedication
you must exert (donít forget to check out the extensive bibliography),
and what your reader will expect from you (http://eureka.lib.csus.edu.proxy.lib.csus.edu/).
have this approved by your reader in the early stages of your thesis
process. The last thing you want is to have a topic, develop your
argument, and research several journals only to find that your argument
is too general and must be rewritten. Make sure youíre passionate
or very interested in exploring your thesis topic. You will spend
hundreds of hours on your thesisóyou will get bored. If youíre
not passionate to begin with, this will be an incredibly long, tedious,
a thesis writing conference (sponsored by the WAC program) if you
Donít wait until the semester you are writing your thesis and already
enrolled in 500; attend a thesis writing workshop one or even two
semesters before taking 500. This way you will have tips on how to
write and research from those who have already successfully written
a thesis. At the thesis writing conference, you will have a chance
to sign up for a thesis writing group within your discipline. Join
a writing groupóit will keep you accountable with your writing and
research. A writing group will also give you feedback and provide
you with a peer edit before consulting your reader. Your readerís
time is very valuable, so you donít want to waste their time with
errors that could easily be found with the help of your writing group.
Set goals when meeting with your group. Each member in my writing
group set their own goals: the first week, one personís goal was to
have ten pages written by the next meeting; another memberís goal
was to find several more resources; my goal was to edit and refine
ten pages in my first chapter. A thesis writing group will help keep
you accountable to being productive and producing a certain amount
of work by the time you meet. To find out more about writing conferences
or thesis writing groups, click (www.csus.edu/wac/).
if you are convinced you have the perfect reader, talk to other professors
who are knowledgeable in your discipline. Who knows, they might offer
different ideas and resources to spice up your thesis. Itís always
valuable to get different opinions and guidance from professors. Keep
talking to them about your work!
thesis is not just writing and research; itís an entire process of
thought and writing intertwined together. Revising is demanding and
extensive: you will constantly be revising your thesis, especially
if you find more resources. Get feedback from lots of people (but
especially your reader) so you have a direction as to what kind of
revision your thesis will benefit from.
this looks very closely like the first tip, thereís a reason why this
is so! A thesis is not like any other essay which you begin three
hours before the deadline and turn it in to your professorís box with
two minutes to spare. Once you have completed writing the thesis and
have had it approved by your reader, you still have a lot to do! There
is a meticulous, strict guide for formatting for your thesis, issues
that, after much laboring and toil, are NOT what you want to prevent
you from graduating on time. Things as minor as the type of paper
and ink you use (http://www.csus.edu/gradstudies/forms/Thesis.pdf)
have specific requirements, so double and triple check that your thesis
follows it. Print out your thesis two weeks ahead of time and run
it by the River Front Center graduate office to ensure that everything
in your thesis is in good order.
forget that your argument should be the dominant voice
is important to keep in mind when writing. Sometimes itís easy to
drown your writing in othersí research and ideas. DO NOT DO THIS.
Be careful not to get buried in the summary of othersí readings, but
know that your position must dominate your thesis. Begin with your
argument and let other arguments be on the side. You are joining in
on the conversation of academics, thus your voice must be strong.