A written thesis is a lengthy document students in undergraduate and graduate study compose as one of the culminating projects of their degrees. In undergraduate terminology, the written thesis is sometimes called a senior thesis; in graduate life, the written thesis is frequently referred to as a master's thesis. Both types of written theses follow similar formats and carry similar responsibilities.
A written thesis is not the same as a report, even though written theses will likely incorporate significant reference components. The difference between a written thesis and a reference report is in the original contributions of the writer. Research papers frequently call on students to present and synthesize what other scholars have said on a topic without inserting much of their own analysis and opinion. A written thesis, on the other hand, demands that the student be the primary agent of analysis, and that other scholars are only drawn on to support the writer's individual ideas regarding the topic at hand. In other words, a written thesis should be a document that contributes new insight into the topic of inquiry, rather than merely recount what others have already said.
A written thesis may very well be the first independent academic project a student will undertake. There is much intellectual freedom in this, and the student should capitalize on this freedom by selecting a topic that he or she finds particularly interesting. Written theses can possibly become published documents or serve as the foundation for another large project in the future. Therefore, learners should feel free to be creative when writing their article and determining the direction it will take.
Written theses frequently take one or two semesters to fully complete. This is because the process of determining a thesis topic, performing extensive research on that topic, consulting with the thesis committee as to the relevance of the topic and direction, and finally writing the lengthy text itself all require significant time investment. It is therefore advisable that students who are undertaking such a project establish a strict timeline for themselves and follow it exactly. Otherwise, it is easy to defer important and time-consuming tasks until the end of the process, which frequently results in a poorly researched or haphazardly organized text. This timeline should be established by the student in conjunction with his or her primary thesis advisor in order for the student to set achievable goals and be held accountable for meeting them.
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