Nine Errors to Avoid When Composing a Thesis

  1. 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. 

  2. 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. 

  3. A thesis must not be too broad.

    Unacceptable:The literature of mythology contains many journeys.

    In Greek mythology, the motif of the journey represents the internal struggles and eventual perseverance of mortals.

  4. 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. 

  5. 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. 

  6. 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. 

  7. 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.

  8. 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. 

  9. 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.