A Good Thesis: What It Isn’t

A lot of posts in this blog deal with what thesis writing is. They offer good advice on how to write everything from an art thesis to your thesis statement. There’s tons of advice on creating a good thesis This is fantastic, but misses one key explanation: what a good thesis is not.

What is not a good thesis?

A lot of things.

Cease Absolutely

This is a list of things that no good term paper includes. Most of the items on this list are just common sense, but they still appear in lots of theses. Run a quick check to make sure your paper doesn’t have any of these fatal components.

  • Grammar and spelling errors. No paper should have grammar or spelling errors. This is never okay. Unless you are quoting a very poorly written book and using [sic] a lot, grammar and spelling errors are unacceptable.

  • Use of the second person pronoun. Do not use “you” or “your” unless you are directly addressing the reader of your paper. This is often frowned upon by instructors and should not be included in any kind of formal thesis. If you’re not sure how formal this thesis is, consult this guide to thesis style to evaluate the tone you are using.

  • Improper formatting. Your paper must be formatted to the needs of your instructor. A good thesis fits the most basic requirements first and foremost, so make sure that you use the right kind of title page/heading and citation. Any other requirements and guidelines set by your professor must also be followed. It’s disheartening to be marked off on a silly formatting error. Don’t let it happen.

  • Isolation. Don’t let your work become isolated within itself. A good thesis incorporates viewpoints of all sorts to create a well-rounded conversation. All parts of a thesis are influenced by other works in the same subject. Without this conversation, there would need to be no rebuttal of other opinions. As every good thesis writer knows, no thesis can exist without the rebuttal of previous opinions and “truths” that do not serve the thesis’ central argument.

  • Logical fallacies. A logical fallacy is any argument that employs illogical debate tactics like false dilemmas or personal, emotional attacks on either party. While there is not enough space in this post to address every sort of logical fallacy (google can be very helpful in this respect), it is important to know that they are unacceptable. Learn them, and avoid using them.

  • The passive voice. It sounds bad. Don’t use it.

Use with Caution

Here are a list of things you should use only if you are a very accomplished writer.

  • The first person pronoun

  • Obscure literary references

  • References to anything besides literature

  • References to popular culture

A good thesis is not an opportunity to soap box or promote an agenda. A good thesis is a paper with careful thought and attention to details.

But you knew that already.