A well-written Ph.D. thesis is the central element to your entire graduate career and is likely one of the most important pieces you will ever write academically. To know how to appropriately organize your thesis document is vital, since your success will depend largely on how you present months of research in this one document.
Here are five key components to remember when organizing your Ph.D. thesis in history:
This section of your Ph.D. thesis should not get into any material that isn’t directly related to your research question. In addition to being just the place to include your thesis statement, your introduction should briefly summarize the question or sets of questions you are answering in your work, as well as provide reasons why these questions are worth answering.
Additionally, you want to focus on a single question to guide the overall direction of your thesis paper. This is the main question that your thesis statement is directly answering and represents all of the work you have put in the last few months. Be clear about this question and make sure you answer every part of it in your thesis statement.
Till now, you have probably heard that your thesis statement is the single most important in your writing. It’s no different for a work of this magnitude. Your statement may run 1 – 2 sentences, but it should be written as clearly and as concisely as possible. Anyone reading your paper for the first time should be able to quickly identify and point at your thesis. If they can’t easily find it, then you have buried it in the introduction or have written a poor statement.
When writing a paper of this magnitude you will likely have dozens of body paragraphs (in fact, you’ll likely have several sections of body paragraphs). Though this is the case, it doesn’t change the role of these paragraphs. Each should contain a single idea that is quickly identified in the topic sentence, followed by one or two pieces of evidence in support of it. Each body paragraph should also work to prove your central argument as expressed in your thesis statement.
Your conclusion should be more than just a rewrite of your major points. It should summarize and synthesize all of your best arguments in support of your thesis. It should also give your reader a sense of closure by wrapping up your topic and research as neatly as possible.
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