Planning and writing a thesis in any discipline

As students progress through their college careers, they find that they focus more and more on their major and they become increasingly competent (and comfortable) in writing about their own discipline. However, they’ll find they still need to write papers in other topics. While becoming comfortable in their own discipline is excellent and it displays an increasing competence in the field of their choice, it can have an interesting effect. These students actually become more uncomfortable over time writing for topics in other disciplines.

Writing About Any Topic is Easy

This can cause a lot of needless anxiety. Planning a thesis paper for any discipline follows the same steps, regardless of the student’s background. By following the strategies we’ve developed here, any student can write a competent thesis regardless of their field of study.

  • Read up on the topic.

  • This the most vital first step for writing a thesis in a topic you are unfamiliar with. Start with some basic background facts on the subject; even encyclopedia entries can be helpful at this stage, as you aren’t conducting formal research. Then, move on to more advanced texts and journal articles. Make notes about the ideas and thoughts you are reading that intrigue you. These are your first step in planning a thesis.

  • Research the more compelling ideas from your notes.

  • Review the notes you made in your background reading and choose a few of the ideas that you find particularly intriguing. Make these the basis for your next round of more in depth research. When you find that one of the ideas has a fairly developed body of literature behind it, take more notes about the ideas here that intrigue you and the questions that occur to you as you read.

  • Choose the question you find most interesting.

  • Once you’ve stumbled across a question that really interests you, you’ll want to use that for thesis. Develop a hypothetical answer to this question and use this answer to craft your thesis statement. Before finalizing it, do one last round of research—a few minutes online should suffice—to ensure that there are enough sources out there that you can write a well supported paper.

    As you can see, writing a thesis about any topic at all isn’t difficult; it just requires that the student remember what doing preliminary research was like.