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Nine Errors to Avoid When Composing a Thesis
- A thesis cannot be a fragment; it must express a complete thought.
Unacceptable:how students learn to write
Acceptable: The best means for teaching students to write is to have them focus on the steps of the writing process rather than the end product.
- A thesis must not be worded as a question. (Sometimes the answer to the question can be the thesis.)
Unacceptable:Do Americans really need large refrigerators?
Acceptable:If Americans did their marketing daily, as do some Europeans, they could save energy and money because they could use smaller refrigerators.
- A thesis must not be too broad.
Unacceptable:The literature of mythology contains many journeys.
Acceptable: In Greek mythology, the motif of the journey represents the internal struggles and eventual perseverance of mortals.
- A thesis should not contain unrelated elements.
Unacceptable:All novelists seek the truth, and some novelists are good psychologists.
Acceptable: In their attempt to probe human nature, many novelists strive to reveal the intricacies of human relations.
- A thesis should not contain phrases like “I think” or “in my opinion” because they weaken the writer’s argument.
Unacceptable: In my opinion, all cigarette smoking in public places should be banned because of the adverse effects of “passive smoking” on non-smokers.
Acceptable: All cigarette smoking in public places should be banned because of the adverse effects of “passive smoking” on non-smokers.
- A thesis should not be expressed in vague language.
Unacceptable:Religion as part of the school curriculum should be avoided because it can cause trouble.
Acceptable: Religion should not be part of the public school curriculum because it is a highly personal commitment and can cause conflict with those who hold alternative beliefs.
- A thesis must not be expressed in muddled or incoherent language.
Unacceptable: Homosexuality is a “status” offence to the effect that the participants are willing so that the relationship is voluntary in character rather than the type described in a “victim-perpetrator” model.
Acceptable: Homosexuality between two consenting adults should be considered as alternate life style rather than a crime.
- A thesis should not be expressed in figurative language (symbolic in any way).
Unacceptable:The amazons of today are trying to purge all the stag words from the English language.
Acceptable: Today’s feminists are trying to eliminate the use of sexually-biased words from public use.
- A thesis should not simply state a fact.
Unacceptable:Women have been repressed at different times and in different cultures.
Acceptable:The repression of women writers in America during the nineteenth century contributed to the idea that there were relatively few writers who should be included in anthologies.