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How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .

Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.

You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:

  • Start with a question
  • Write your initial answer
  • Develop your answer
  • Refine your thesis statement

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Table of contents

What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.

The best thesis statements are:

  • Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
  • Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
  • Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.

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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.

You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.

You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?

For example, you might ask:

After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .

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Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.

In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.

The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.

In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.

The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.

A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:

  • Why you hold this position
  • What they’ll learn from your essay
  • The key points of your argument or narrative

The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.

These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.

Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:

  • In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
  • In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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  • Sunk cost fallacy

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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

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How to write a thesis statement + examples

Thesis statement

What is a thesis statement?

Is a thesis statement a question, how do you write a good thesis statement, how do i know if my thesis statement is good, examples of thesis statements, helpful resources on how to write a thesis statement, frequently asked questions about writing a thesis statement, related articles.

A thesis statement is the main argument of your paper or thesis.

The thesis statement is one of the most important elements of any piece of academic writing . It is a brief statement of your paper’s main argument. Essentially, you are stating what you will be writing about.

You can see your thesis statement as an answer to a question. While it also contains the question, it should really give an answer to the question with new information and not just restate or reiterate it.

Your thesis statement is part of your introduction. Learn more about how to write a good thesis introduction in our introduction guide .

A thesis statement is not a question. A statement must be arguable and provable through evidence and analysis. While your thesis might stem from a research question, it should be in the form of a statement.

Tip: A thesis statement is typically 1-2 sentences. For a longer project like a thesis, the statement may be several sentences or a paragraph.

A good thesis statement needs to do the following:

  • Condense the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences.
  • Answer your project’s main research question.
  • Clearly state your position in relation to the topic .
  • Make an argument that requires support or evidence.

Once you have written down a thesis statement, check if it fulfills the following criteria:

  • Your statement needs to be provable by evidence. As an argument, a thesis statement needs to be debatable.
  • Your statement needs to be precise. Do not give away too much information in the thesis statement and do not load it with unnecessary information.
  • Your statement cannot say that one solution is simply right or simply wrong as a matter of fact. You should draw upon verified facts to persuade the reader of your solution, but you cannot just declare something as right or wrong.

As previously mentioned, your thesis statement should answer a question.

If the question is:

What do you think the City of New York should do to reduce traffic congestion?

A good thesis statement restates the question and answers it:

In this paper, I will argue that the City of New York should focus on providing exclusive lanes for public transport and adaptive traffic signals to reduce traffic congestion by the year 2035.

Here is another example. If the question is:

How can we end poverty?

A good thesis statement should give more than one solution to the problem in question:

In this paper, I will argue that introducing universal basic income can help reduce poverty and positively impact the way we work.

  • The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina has a list of questions to ask to see if your thesis is strong .

A thesis statement is part of the introduction of your paper. It is usually found in the first or second paragraph to let the reader know your research purpose from the beginning.

In general, a thesis statement should have one or two sentences. But the length really depends on the overall length of your project. Take a look at our guide about the length of thesis statements for more insight on this topic.

Here is a list of Thesis Statement Examples that will help you understand better how to write them.

Every good essay should include a thesis statement as part of its introduction, no matter the academic level. Of course, if you are a high school student you are not expected to have the same type of thesis as a PhD student.

Here is a great YouTube tutorial showing How To Write An Essay: Thesis Statements .

how to make a thesis better

Developing a Thesis Statement

Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you’ll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.

Keep in mind that not all papers require thesis statements . If in doubt, please consult your instructor for assistance.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement . . .

  • Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
  • Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
  • Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Is generally located near the end of the introduction ; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
  • Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

Not all papers require thesis statements! Ask your instructor if you’re in doubt whether you need one.

Identify a topic

Your topic is the subject about which you will write. Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic; or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper.

Consider what your assignment asks you to do

Inform yourself about your topic, focus on one aspect of your topic, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts, generate a topic from an assignment.

Below are some possible topics based on sample assignments.

Sample assignment 1

Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II.

Identified topic

Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis

This topic avoids generalities such as “Spain” and “World War II,” addressing instead on Franco’s role (a specific aspect of “Spain”) and the diplomatic relations between the Allies and Axis (a specific aspect of World War II).

Sample assignment 2

Analyze one of Homer’s epic similes in the Iliad.

The relationship between the portrayal of warfare and the epic simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64.

This topic focuses on a single simile and relates it to a single aspect of the Iliad ( warfare being a major theme in that work).

Developing a Thesis Statement–Additional information

Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic, or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper. You’ll want to read your assignment carefully, looking for key terms that you can use to focus your topic.

Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II

After you’ve identified the key words in your topic, the next step is to read about them in several sources, or generate as much information as possible through an analysis of your topic. Obviously, the more material or knowledge you have, the more possibilities will be available for a strong argument. For the sample assignment above, you’ll want to look at books and articles on World War II in general, and Spain’s neutrality in particular.

As you consider your options, you must decide to focus on one aspect of your topic. This means that you cannot include everything you’ve learned about your topic, nor should you go off in several directions. If you end up covering too many different aspects of a topic, your paper will sprawl and be unconvincing in its argument, and it most likely will not fulfull the assignment requirements.

For the sample assignment above, both Spain’s neutrality and World War II are topics far too broad to explore in a paper. You may instead decide to focus on Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis , which narrows down what aspects of Spain’s neutrality and World War II you want to discuss, as well as establishes a specific link between those two aspects.

Before you go too far, however, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts. Try to avoid topics that already have too much written about them (i.e., “eating disorders and body image among adolescent women”) or that simply are not important (i.e. “why I like ice cream”). These topics may lead to a thesis that is either dry fact or a weird claim that cannot be supported. A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times . Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Derive a main point from topic

Once you have a topic, you will have to decide what the main point of your paper will be. This point, the “controlling idea,” becomes the core of your argument (thesis statement) and it is the unifying idea to which you will relate all your sub-theses. You can then turn this “controlling idea” into a purpose statement about what you intend to do in your paper.

Look for patterns in your evidence

Compose a purpose statement.

Consult the examples below for suggestions on how to look for patterns in your evidence and construct a purpose statement.

  • Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis
  • Franco turned to the Allies when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from the Axis

Possible conclusion:

Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: Franco’s desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power.

Purpose statement

This paper will analyze Franco’s diplomacy during World War II to see how it contributed to Spain’s neutrality.
  • The simile compares Simoisius to a tree, which is a peaceful, natural image.
  • The tree in the simile is chopped down to make wheels for a chariot, which is an object used in warfare.

At first, the simile seems to take the reader away from the world of warfare, but we end up back in that world by the end.

This paper will analyze the way the simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64 moves in and out of the world of warfare.

Derive purpose statement from topic

To find out what your “controlling idea” is, you have to examine and evaluate your evidence . As you consider your evidence, you may notice patterns emerging, data repeated in more than one source, or facts that favor one view more than another. These patterns or data may then lead you to some conclusions about your topic and suggest that you can successfully argue for one idea better than another.

For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.

Sometimes you won’t be able to find a focus or identify your “spin” or specific argument immediately. Like some writers, you might begin with a purpose statement just to get yourself going. A purpose statement is one or more sentences that announce your topic and indicate the structure of the paper but do not state the conclusions you have drawn . Thus, you might begin with something like this:

  • This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
  • I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.

At some point, you can turn a purpose statement into a thesis statement. As you think and write about your topic, you can restrict, clarify, and refine your argument, crafting your thesis statement to reflect your thinking.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Compose a draft thesis statement

If you are writing a paper that will have an argumentative thesis and are having trouble getting started, the techniques in the table below may help you develop a temporary or “working” thesis statement.

Begin with a purpose statement that you will later turn into a thesis statement.

Assignment: Discuss the history of the Reform Party and explain its influence on the 1990 presidential and Congressional election.

Purpose Statement: This paper briefly sketches the history of the grassroots, conservative, Perot-led Reform Party and analyzes how it influenced the economic and social ideologies of the two mainstream parties.

Question-to-Assertion

If your assignment asks a specific question(s), turn the question(s) into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.

Assignment : What do Aylmer and Rappaccini have to be proud of? Why aren’t they satisfied with these things? How does pride, as demonstrated in “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” lead to unexpected problems?

Beginning thesis statement: Alymer and Rappaccinni are proud of their great knowledge; however, they are also very greedy and are driven to use their knowledge to alter some aspect of nature as a test of their ability. Evil results when they try to “play God.”

Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main idea: The reason some toys succeed in the market is that they appeal to the consumers’ sense of the ridiculous and their basic desire to laugh at themselves.

Make a list of the ideas that you want to include; consider the ideas and try to group them.

  • nature = peaceful
  • war matériel = violent (competes with 1?)
  • need for time and space to mourn the dead
  • war is inescapable (competes with 3?)

Use a formula to arrive at a working thesis statement (you will revise this later).

  • although most readers of _______ have argued that _______, closer examination shows that _______.
  • _______ uses _______ and _____ to prove that ________.
  • phenomenon x is a result of the combination of __________, __________, and _________.

What to keep in mind as you draft an initial thesis statement

Beginning statements obtained through the methods illustrated above can serve as a framework for planning or drafting your paper, but remember they’re not yet the specific, argumentative thesis you want for the final version of your paper. In fact, in its first stages, a thesis statement usually is ill-formed or rough and serves only as a planning tool.

As you write, you may discover evidence that does not fit your temporary or “working” thesis. Or you may reach deeper insights about your topic as you do more research, and you will find that your thesis statement has to be more complicated to match the evidence that you want to use.

You must be willing to reject or omit some evidence in order to keep your paper cohesive and your reader focused. Or you may have to revise your thesis to match the evidence and insights that you want to discuss. Read your draft carefully, noting the conclusions you have drawn and the major ideas which support or prove those conclusions. These will be the elements of your final thesis statement.

Sometimes you will not be able to identify these elements in your early drafts, but as you consider how your argument is developing and how your evidence supports your main idea, ask yourself, “ What is the main point that I want to prove/discuss? ” and “ How will I convince the reader that this is true? ” When you can answer these questions, then you can begin to refine the thesis statement.

Refine and polish the thesis statement

To get to your final thesis, you’ll need to refine your draft thesis so that it’s specific and arguable.

  • Ask if your draft thesis addresses the assignment
  • Question each part of your draft thesis
  • Clarify vague phrases and assertions
  • Investigate alternatives to your draft thesis

Consult the example below for suggestions on how to refine your draft thesis statement.

Sample Assignment

Choose an activity and define it as a symbol of American culture. Your essay should cause the reader to think critically about the society which produces and enjoys that activity.

  • Ask The phenomenon of drive-in facilities is an interesting symbol of american culture, and these facilities demonstrate significant characteristics of our society.This statement does not fulfill the assignment because it does not require the reader to think critically about society.
Drive-ins are an interesting symbol of American culture because they represent Americans’ significant creativity and business ingenuity.
Among the types of drive-in facilities familiar during the twentieth century, drive-in movie theaters best represent American creativity, not merely because they were the forerunner of later drive-ins and drive-throughs, but because of their impact on our culture: they changed our relationship to the automobile, changed the way people experienced movies, and changed movie-going into a family activity.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast-food establishments, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize America’s economic ingenuity, they also have affected our personal standards.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast- food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize (1) Americans’ business ingenuity, they also have contributed (2) to an increasing homogenization of our culture, (3) a willingness to depersonalize relationships with others, and (4) a tendency to sacrifice quality for convenience.

This statement is now specific and fulfills all parts of the assignment. This version, like any good thesis, is not self-evident; its points, 1-4, will have to be proven with evidence in the body of the paper. The numbers in this statement indicate the order in which the points will be presented. Depending on the length of the paper, there could be one paragraph for each numbered item or there could be blocks of paragraph for even pages for each one.

Complete the final thesis statement

The bottom line.

As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:

  • Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
  • As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind . You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
  • Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable ; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
  • Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.

In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper’s purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track–well able to understand and appreciate your argument.

how to make a thesis better

Writing Process and Structure

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Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

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How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement: 4 Steps + Examples

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What’s Covered:

What is the purpose of a thesis statement, writing a good thesis statement: 4 steps, common pitfalls to avoid, where to get your essay edited for free.

When you set out to write an essay, there has to be some kind of point to it, right? Otherwise, your essay would just be a big jumble of word salad that makes absolutely no sense. An essay needs a central point that ties into everything else. That main point is called a thesis statement, and it’s the core of any essay or research paper.

You may hear about Master degree candidates writing a thesis, and that is an entire paper–not to be confused with the thesis statement, which is typically one sentence that contains your paper’s focus. 

Read on to learn more about thesis statements and how to write them. We’ve also included some solid examples for you to reference.

Typically the last sentence of your introductory paragraph, the thesis statement serves as the roadmap for your essay. When your reader gets to the thesis statement, they should have a clear outline of your main point, as well as the information you’ll be presenting in order to either prove or support your point. 

The thesis statement should not be confused for a topic sentence , which is the first sentence of every paragraph in your essay. If you need help writing topic sentences, numerous resources are available. Topic sentences should go along with your thesis statement, though.

Since the thesis statement is the most important sentence of your entire essay or paper, it’s imperative that you get this part right. Otherwise, your paper will not have a good flow and will seem disjointed. That’s why it’s vital not to rush through developing one. It’s a methodical process with steps that you need to follow in order to create the best thesis statement possible.

Step 1: Decide what kind of paper you’re writing

When you’re assigned an essay, there are several different types you may get. Argumentative essays are designed to get the reader to agree with you on a topic. Informative or expository essays present information to the reader. Analytical essays offer up a point and then expand on it by analyzing relevant information. Thesis statements can look and sound different based on the type of paper you’re writing. For example:

  • Argumentative: The United States needs a viable third political party to decrease bipartisanship, increase options, and help reduce corruption in government.
  • Informative: The Libertarian party has thrown off elections before by gaining enough support in states to get on the ballot and by taking away crucial votes from candidates.
  • Analytical: An analysis of past presidential elections shows that while third party votes may have been the minority, they did affect the outcome of the elections in 2020, 2016, and beyond.

Step 2: Figure out what point you want to make

Once you know what type of paper you’re writing, you then need to figure out the point you want to make with your thesis statement, and subsequently, your paper. In other words, you need to decide to answer a question about something, such as:

  • What impact did reality TV have on American society?
  • How has the musical Hamilton affected perception of American history?
  • Why do I want to major in [chosen major here]?

If you have an argumentative essay, then you will be writing about an opinion. To make it easier, you may want to choose an opinion that you feel passionate about so that you’re writing about something that interests you. For example, if you have an interest in preserving the environment, you may want to choose a topic that relates to that. 

If you’re writing your college essay and they ask why you want to attend that school, you may want to have a main point and back it up with information, something along the lines of:

“Attending Harvard University would benefit me both academically and professionally, as it would give me a strong knowledge base upon which to build my career, develop my network, and hopefully give me an advantage in my chosen field.”

Step 3: Determine what information you’ll use to back up your point

Once you have the point you want to make, you need to figure out how you plan to back it up throughout the rest of your essay. Without this information, it will be hard to either prove or argue the main point of your thesis statement. If you decide to write about the Hamilton example, you may decide to address any falsehoods that the writer put into the musical, such as:

“The musical Hamilton, while accurate in many ways, leaves out key parts of American history, presents a nationalist view of founding fathers, and downplays the racism of the times.”

Once you’ve written your initial working thesis statement, you’ll then need to get information to back that up. For example, the musical completely leaves out Benjamin Franklin, portrays the founding fathers in a nationalist way that is too complimentary, and shows Hamilton as a staunch abolitionist despite the fact that his family likely did own slaves. 

Step 4: Revise and refine your thesis statement before you start writing

Read through your thesis statement several times before you begin to compose your full essay. You need to make sure the statement is ironclad, since it is the foundation of the entire paper. Edit it or have a peer review it for you to make sure everything makes sense and that you feel like you can truly write a paper on the topic. Once you’ve done that, you can then begin writing your paper.

When writing a thesis statement, there are some common pitfalls you should avoid so that your paper can be as solid as possible. Make sure you always edit the thesis statement before you do anything else. You also want to ensure that the thesis statement is clear and concise. Don’t make your reader hunt for your point. Finally, put your thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph and have your introduction flow toward that statement. Your reader will expect to find your statement in its traditional spot.

If you’re having trouble getting started, or need some guidance on your essay, there are tools available that can help you. CollegeVine offers a free peer essay review tool where one of your peers can read through your essay and provide you with valuable feedback. Getting essay feedback from a peer can help you wow your instructor or college admissions officer with an impactful essay that effectively illustrates your point.

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How to Write a Better Thesis

  • © 2014
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  • David Evans 0 ,
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(deceased) University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia

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School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia

Computing & Information Systems, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia

  • Offers a step-by-step guide on the mechanics of thesis writing
  • Illustrates the complete process of how to structure a thesis by providing specific examples
  • Equips readers to understand how to conceptualize and approach the problems of producing a thesis
  • Written by authors with over 20 years experience of supervising and advising students
  • Includes supplementary material: sn.pub/extras

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About this book

From proposal to examination, producing a dissertation or thesis is a challenge. Grounded in decades of experience with research training and supervision, this fully updated and revised edition takes an integrated, down-to-earth approach drawing on case studies and examples to guide you step-by-step towards productive success.

Early chapters frame the tasks ahead and show you how to get started. From there, practical advice and illustrations take you through the elements of formulating research questions, working with software, and purposeful writing of each of the different kinds of chapters, and finishes with a focus on revision, dissemination and deadlines. How to Write a Better Thesis presents a cohesive approach to research that will help you succeed.

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How to Write a Protocol

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Commentaries on retrospect and prospects for IS research

Thesis, dissertation and project.

  • Dissertation writing
  • Mechanics of writing
  • Research writing
  • Thesis structure
  • Thesis writing
  • learning and instruction

Table of contents (12 chapters)

Front matter, what is a thesis.

  • David Evans†, Paul Gruba, Justin Zobel

Thesis Structure

Mechanics of writing, making a strong start, the introductory chapter, background chapters, establishing your contribution, outcomes and results, the discussion or interpretation, the conclusion, before you submit, beyond the thesis, back matter.

From the book reviews:

"I have been using this book whilst writing my thesis and I want to express my sincere thanks to the authors as it has provided me with an excellent source of guidance and has made my life a lot easier over the past five months. I've recommended this book to a number of other PhD students and hope you continue to publish further editions as I found it to be an extremely valuable resource." (Chris De Gruyter, PhD Candidate at Monash University, Australia, March 2015)

Authors and Affiliations

David Evans

Computing & Information Systems, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia

Justin Zobel

About the authors

David Evans was Reader and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning, University of Melbourne.

Paul Gruba is Senior Lecturer in the School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne.

Justin Zobel is Professor in the Department of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne.

Bibliographic Information

Book Title : How to Write a Better Thesis

Authors : David Evans, Paul Gruba, Justin Zobel

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-04286-2

Publisher : Springer Cham

eBook Packages : Computer Science , Computer Science (R0)

Copyright Information : Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Softcover ISBN : 978-3-319-04285-5 Published: 08 April 2014

eBook ISBN : 978-3-319-04286-2 Published: 26 March 2014

Edition Number : 3

Number of Pages : XIV, 167

Number of Illustrations : 2 b/w illustrations

Topics : Computer Science, general , Learning & Instruction , Natural Language Processing (NLP) , Popular Science, general , Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary

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HOW TO WRITE A THESIS: Steps by step guide

how to make a thesis better

Introduction

In the academic world, one of the hallmark rites signifying mastery of a course or academic area is the writing of a thesis . Essentially a thesis is a typewritten work, usually 50 to 350 pages in length depending on institutions, discipline, and educational level which is often aimed at addressing a particular problem in a given field.

While a thesis is inadequate to address all the problems in a given field, it is succinct enough to address a specialized aspect of the problem by taking a stance or making a claim on what the resolution of the problem should be. Writing a thesis can be a very daunting task because most times it is the first complex research undertaking for the student. The lack of research and writing skills to write a thesis coupled with fear and a limited time frame are factors that makes the writing of a thesis daunting. However, commitment to excellence on the part of the student combined with some of the techniques and methods that will be discussed below gives a fair chance that the student will be able to deliver an excellent thesis regardless of the subject area, the depth of the research specialization and the daunting amount of materials that must be comprehended(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

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What is a thesis?

A thesis is a statement, theory, argument, proposal or proposition, which is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved. It explains the stand someone takes on an issue and how the person intends to justify the stand. It is always better to pick a topic that will be able to render professional help, a topic that you will be happy to talk about with anybody, a topic you have personal interest and passion for, because when writing a thesis gets frustrating personal interest, happiness and passion coupled with the professional help it will be easier to write a great thesis (see you through the thesis). One has to source for a lot of information concerning the topic one is writing a thesis on in order to know the important question, because for you to take a good stand on an issue you have to study the evidence first.

Qualities of a good thesis

A good thesis has the following qualities

  • A good thesis must solve an existing problem in the society, organisation, government among others.
  • A good thesis should be contestable, it should propose a point that is arguable which people can agree with or disagree.
  • It is specific, clear and focused.
  •   A good thesis does not use general terms and abstractions.  
  • The claims of a good thesis should be definable and arguable.
  • It anticipates the counter-argument s
  • It does not use unclear language
  • It avoids the first person. (“In my opinion”)
  • A strong thesis should be able to take a stand and not just taking a stand but should be able to justify the stand that is taken, so that the reader will be tempted to ask questions like how or why.
  • The thesis should be arguable, contestable, focused, specific, and clear. Make your thesis clear, strong and easy to find.
  • The conclusion of a thesis should be based on evidence.

Steps in writing a Thesis

  • First, think about good topics and theories that you can write before writing the thesis, then pick a topic. The topic or thesis statement is derived from a review of existing literature in the area of study that the researcher wants to explore. This route is taken when the unknowns in an area of study are not yet defined. Some areas of study have existing problems yearning to be solved and the drafting of the thesis topic or statement revolves around a selection of one of these problems.
  • Once you have a good thesis, put it down and draw an outline . The outline is like a map of the whole thesis and it covers more commonly the introduction, literature review, discussion of methodology, discussion of results and the thesis’ conclusions and recommendations. The outline might differ from one institution to another but the one described in the preceding sentence is what is more commonly obtainable. It is imperative at this point to note that the outline drew still requires other mini- outlines for each of the sections mentioned. The outlines and mini- outlines provide a graphical over- view of the whole project and can also be used in allocating the word- count for each section and sub- section based on the overall word- count requirement of the thesis(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
  • Literature search. Remember to draw a good outline you need to do literature search to familiarize yourself with the concepts and the works of others. Similarly, to achieve this, you need to read as much material that contains necessary information as you can. There will always be a counter argument for everything so anticipate it because it will help shape your thesis. Read everything you can–academic research, trade literature, and information in the popular press and on the Internet(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).
  • After getting all the information you need, the knowledge you gathered should help in suggesting the aim of your thesis.

Remember; a thesis is not supposed to be a question or a list, thesis should specific and as clear as possible. The claims of a thesis should be definable and also arguable.

  • Then collecting and analyzing data, after data analysis, the result of the analysis should be written and discussed, followed by summary, conclusion, recommendations, list of references and the appendices
  • The last step is editing of the thesis and proper spell checking.

Structure of a Thesis

A conventional thesis has five chapters – chapter 1-5 which will be discussed in detail below. However, it is important to state that a thesis is not limited to any chapter or section as the case may be. In fact, a thesis can be five, six, seven or even eight chapters.  What determines the number of chapters in a thesis includes institution rules/ guideline, researcher choice, supervisor choice, programme or educational level. In fact, most PhD thesis are usually more than 5 chapters(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

Preliminaries Pages: The preliminaries are the cover page, the title page, the table of contents page, and the abstract.

The introduction: The introduction is the first section and it provides as the name implies an introduction to the thesis. The introduction contains such aspects as the background to the study which provides information on the topic in the context of what is happening in the world as related to the topic. It also discusses the relevance of the topic to society, policies formulated success and failure. The introduction also contains the statement of the problem which is essentially a succinct description of the problem that the thesis want to solve and what the trend will be if the problem is not solved. The concluding part of the statement of problem ends with an outline of the research questions. These are the questions which when answered helps in achieving the aim of the thesis. The third section is the outline of research objectives. Conventionally research objectives re a conversion the research questions into an active statement form. Other parts of the introduction are a discussion of hypotheses (if any), the significance of the study, delimitations, proposed methodology and a discussion of the structure of the study(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

The main body includes the following; the literature review, methodology, research results and discussion of the result, the summary, conclusion and recommendations, the list of references and the appendices.

The literature review : The literature review is often the most voluminous aspects of a thesis because it reviews past empirical and theoretical literature about the problem being studied. This section starts by discussing the concepts relevant to the problem as indicated in the topic, the relationship between the concepts and what discoveries have being made on topic based on the choice of methodologies. The validity of the studies reviewed are questioned and findings are compared in order to get a comprehensive picture of the problem. The literature review also discusses the theories and theoretical frameworks that are relevant to the problem, the gaps that are evident in literature and how the thesis being written helps in resolving some of the gaps.

The major importance of Literature review is that it specifies the gap in the existing knowledge (gap in literature). The source of the literature that is being reviewed should be specified. For instance; ‘It has been argued that if the rural youth are to be aware of their community development role they need to be educated’ Effiong, (1992). The author’s name can be at the beginning, end or in between the literature. The literature should be discussed and not just stated (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

The methodology: The third section is a discussion of the research methodology adopted in the thesis and touches on aspects such as the research design, the area, population and sample that will be considered for the study as well as the sampling procedure. These aspects are discussed in terms of choice, method and rationale. This section also covers the sub- section of data collection, data analysis and measures of ensuring validity of study. It is the chapter 3. This chapter explains the method used in data collection and data analysis. It explains the methodology adopted and why it is the best method to be used, it also explains every step of data collection and analysis. The data used could be primary data or secondary data. While analysing the data, proper statistical tool should be used in order to fit the stated objectives of the thesis. The statistical tool could be; the spearman rank order correlation, chi square, analysis of variance (ANOVA) etc (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

The findings and discussion of result : The next section is a discussion of findings based on the data collection instrumentation used and the objectives or hypotheses of study if any. It is the chapter 4. It is research results. This is the part that describes the research. It shows the result gotten from data that is collected and analysed. It discusses the result and how it relates to your profession.

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation: This is normally the chapter 5. The last section discusses the summary of the study and the conclusions arrived at based on the findings discussed in the previous section. This section also presents any policy recommendations that the researcher wants to propose (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

References: It cite all ideas, concepts, text, data that are not your own. It is acceptable to put the initials of the individual authors behind their last names. The way single author is referenced is different from the way more than one author is referenced (RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).

The appendices; it includes all data in the appendix. Reference data or materials that is not easily available. It includes tables and calculations, List of equipment used for an experiment or details of complicated procedures. If a large number of references are consulted but all are not cited, it may also be included in the appendix. The appendices also contain supportive or complementary information like the questionnaire, the interview schedule, tables and charts while the references section contain an ordered list of all literature, academic and contemporary cited in the thesis. Different schools have their own preferred referencing styles(RE: write a thesis or writing a thesis).   

Follow the following steps to achieve successful thesis writing

Start writing early. Do not delay writing until you have finished your project or research. Write complete and concise “Technical Reports” as and when you finish each nugget of work. This way, you will remember everything you did and document it accurately, when the work is still fresh in your mind. This is especially so if your work involves programming.

Spot errors early. A well-written “Technical Report” will force you to think about what you have done, before you move on to something else. If anything is amiss, you will detect it at once and can easily correct it, rather than have to re-visit the work later, when you may be pressured for time and have lost touch with it.

Write your thesis from the inside out. Begin with the chapters on your own experimental work. You will develop confidence in writing them because you know your own work better than anyone else. Once you have overcome the initial inertia, move on to the other chapters.

End with a bang, not a whimper. First things first, and save the best for last. First and last impressions persist. Arrange your chapters so that your first and last experimental chapters are sound and solid.

Write the Introduction after writing the Conclusions. The examiner will read the Introduction first, and then the Conclusions, to see if the promises made in the former are indeed fulfilled in the latter. Ensure that your introduction and Conclusions match.

“No man is an Island”. The critical review of the literature places your work in context. Usually, one third of the PhD thesis is about others’ work; two thirds, what you have done yourself. After a thorough and critical literature review, the PhD candidate must be able to identify the major researchers in the field and make a sound proposal for doctoral research. Estimate the time to write your thesis and then multiply it by three to get the correct estimate. Writing at one stretch is very demanding and it is all too easy to underestimate the time required for it; inflating your first estimate by a factor of three is more realistic.

Punctuating your thesis

Punctuation Good punctuation makes reading easy. The simplest way to find out where to punctuate is to read aloud what you have written. Each time you pause, you should add a punctuation symbol. There are four major pause symbols, arranged below in ascending order of “degree of pause”:

  • Comma. Use the comma to indicate a short pause or to separate items in a list. A pair of commas may delimit the beginning and end of a subordinate clause or phrase. Sometimes, this is also done with a pair of “em dashes” which are printed like this:
  • Semi-colon. The semi-colon signifies a longer pause than the comma. It separates segments of a sentence that are “further apart” in position, or meaning, but which are nevertheless related. If the ideas were “closer together”, a comma would have been used. It is also used to separate two clauses that may stand on their own but which are too closely related for a colon or full stop to intervene between them.
  • Colon. The colon is used before one or more examples of a concept, and whenever items are to be listed in a visually separate fashion. The sentence that introduced the itemized list you are now reading ended in a colon. It may also be used to separate two fairly—but not totally—independent clauses in a sentence.
  • Full stop or period. The full stop ends a sentence. If the sentence embodies a question or an exclamation, then, of course, it is ended with a question mark or exclamation mark, respectively. The full stop is also used to terminate abbreviations like etc., (for et cetera), e.g., (for exempli gratia), et al., (for et alia) etc., but not with abbreviations for SI units. The readability of your writing will improve greatly if you take the trouble to learn the basic rules of punctuation given above.

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Does my paper flow? Tips for creating a well-structured essay.

by Jessica Diaz

A sure way to improve your paper is to strengthen the way you present your argument. Whether you only have a thesis statement or already have a fully-written essay, these tips can help your paper flow logically from start to finish.

Going from a thesis statement to a first outline

Break down your thesis statement

No matter what you are arguing, your thesis can be broken down into smaller points that need to be backed up with evidence. These claims can often be used to create a ready outline for the rest of your paper, and help you check that you are including all the evidence you should have.

Take the following thesis statement:

Despite the similarities between the documentaries Blackfish and The Cove , the use of excessive anthropomorphism in Blackfish allowed it to achieve more tangible success for animal rights movements, illustrating the need for animal rights documentaries to appeal to human emotion.

We can break the thesis down into everything that needs to be supported:

Despite the similarities between the documentaries Blackfish and The Cove , the use of excessive anthropomorphism in Blackfish allowed it to achieve more tangible success for animal rights movements , illustrating the need for animal rights documentaries to appeal to human emotion .

In the paper, we have to (1) explain and support the similarities between the two documentaries, (2) provide support for excessive anthropomorphism in Blackfish , (3) show that Blackfish achieved more tangible success than The Cove , and (4) demonstrate the importance of human emotion in animal documentaries.

Already, we have four main points that can serve as the backbone for an essay outline, and they are already in an order that makes some intuitive sense for building up the argument.

It is likely that you will need to rearrange, expand, or further break down the outline. For example, in this case we would probably need to add a paragraph that explains anthropomorphism. We also might want to move the section on differences in animal rights success earlier so that it contrasts with the similarities between the films. However, having this starting structure and identifying the main sections of the paper can allow you to go ahead and start writing!

Checking that your argument builds

Reverse outline

While writing, it is often hard to take a step back and assess whether your paper makes sense or reads well. Creating a reverse outline can help you get a zoomed-out picture of what you wrote and helps you see if any paragraphs or ideas need to be rearranged.

To create a reverse outline, go through your paper paragraph-by-paragraph. For each one, read it and summarize the main point of the paragraph in 3-5 words. In most cases, this should align closely with the topic sentence of that paragraph. Once you have gone through the entire paper, you should end up with a list of phrases that, when read in order, walk through your argument.

Does the order make sense? Are the ideas that should go together actually next to each other? Without the extra clutter, the reverse outline helps you answer these questions while looking at your entire structure at once.

Each line of your reverse outline should build on the last one, meaning none of them should make sense in isolation (except the first one). Try pretending you don’t know anything about this topic and read one of your paragraph phrases at random (or read it to someone else!). Does it make sense, or does it need more context? Do the paragraphs that go before it give the context it needs?

The reverse outline method and the line of thinking detailed above help put you in the mind of your reader. Your reader will only encounter your ideas in the order that you give it to them, so it is important to take this step back to make sure that order is the right one.

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How to write a masters dissertation or thesis: top tips.

How to write a masters dissertation

It is completely normal to find the idea of writing a masters thesis or dissertation slightly daunting, even for students who have written one before at undergraduate level. Though, don’t feel put off by the idea. You’ll have plenty of time to complete it, and plenty of support from your supervisor and peers.

One of the main challenges that students face is putting their ideas and findings into words. Writing is a skill in itself, but with the right advice, you’ll find it much easier to get into the flow of writing your masters thesis or dissertation.

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to write a dissertation or thesis for your masters degree, with top tips to consider at each stage in the process.

1. Understand your dissertation or thesis topic

There are slight differences between theses and dissertations , although both require a high standard of writing skill and knowledge in your topic. They are also formatted very similarly.

At first, writing a masters thesis can feel like running a 100m race – the course feels very quick and like there is not as much time for thinking! However, you’ll usually have a summer semester dedicated to completing your dissertation – giving plenty of time and space to write a strong academic piece.

By comparison, writing a PhD thesis can feel like running a marathon, working on the same topic for 3-4 years can be laborious. But in many ways, the approach to both of these tasks is quite similar.

Before writing your masters dissertation, get to know your research topic inside out. Not only will understanding your topic help you conduct better research, it will also help you write better dissertation content.

Also consider the main purpose of your dissertation. You are writing to put forward a theory or unique research angle – so make your purpose clear in your writing.

Top writing tip: when researching your topic, look out for specific terms and writing patterns used by other academics. It is likely that there will be a lot of jargon and important themes across research papers in your chosen dissertation topic. 

How to write a thesis

2. Structure your dissertation or thesis

Writing a thesis is a unique experience and there is no general consensus on what the best way to structure it is. 

As a postgraduate student , you’ll probably decide what kind of structure suits your research project best after consultation with your supervisor. You’ll also have a chance to look at previous masters students’ theses in your university library.

To some extent, all postgraduate dissertations are unique. Though they almost always consist of chapters. The number of chapters you cover will vary depending on the research. 

A masters dissertation or thesis organised into chapters would typically look like this: 

Section

Description

Title page

The opening page includes all relevant information about the project.

Abstract

A brief project summary including background, methodology and findings.

Contents

A list of chapters and figures from your project.

Chapter 1 – Background

A description of the rationale behind your project.

Chapter 2 – Literature Review

A summary and evaluation of the literature supporting your project.

Chapter 3 – Methodology

A description of the specific methodology used in your project.

Chapter 4-6 – Data analysis and Findings

An overview of the key findings and data from your research.

Chapter 7 - Discussion and Evaluation

A description of what the data means and what you can draw from the findings.

Chapter 8 - Conclusion

Main summary of your overall project and key findings.

Bibliography

A list of the references cited in your dissertation or thesis.

Appendices

Additional materials used in your research.

Write down your structure and use these as headings that you’ll write for later on.

Top writing tip : ease each chapter together with a paragraph that links the end of a chapter to the start of a new chapter. For example, you could say something along the lines of “in the next section, these findings are evaluated in more detail”. This makes it easier for the reader to understand each chapter and helps your writing flow better.

3. Write up your literature review

One of the best places to start when writing your masters dissertation is with the literature review. This involves researching and evaluating existing academic literature in order to identify any gaps for your own research.

Many students prefer to write the literature review chapter first, as this is where several of the underpinning theories and concepts exist. This section helps set the stage for the rest of your dissertation, and will help inform the writing of your other dissertation chapters.

What to include in your literature review

The literature review chapter is more than just a summary of existing research, it is an evaluation of how this research has informed your own unique research.

Demonstrate how the different pieces of research fit together. Are there overlapping theories? Are there disagreements between researchers?

Highlight the gap in the research. This is key, as a dissertation is mostly about developing your own unique research. Is there an unexplored avenue of research? Has existing research failed to disprove a particular theory?

Back up your methodology. Demonstrate why your methodology is appropriate by discussing where it has been used successfully in other research.

4. Write up your research

Write up your thesis research

For instance, a more theoretical-based research topic might encompass more writing from a philosophical perspective. Qualitative data might require a lot more evaluation and discussion than quantitative research. 

Methodology chapter

The methodology chapter is all about how you carried out your research and which specific techniques you used to gather data. You should write about broader methodological approaches (e.g. qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods), and then go into more detail about your chosen data collection strategy. 

Data collection strategies include things like interviews, questionnaires, surveys, content analyses, discourse analyses and many more.

Data analysis and findings chapters

The data analysis or findings chapter should cover what you actually discovered during your research project. It should be detailed, specific and objective (don’t worry, you’ll have time for evaluation later on in your dissertation)

Write up your findings in a way that is easy to understand. For example, if you have a lot of numerical data, this could be easier to digest in tables.

This will make it easier for you to dive into some deeper analysis in later chapters. Remember, the reader will refer back to your data analysis section to cross-reference your later evaluations against your actual findings – so presenting your data in a simple manner is beneficial.

Think about how you can segment your data into categories. For instance, it can be useful to segment interview transcripts by interviewee. 

Top writing tip : write up notes on how you might phrase a certain part of the research. This will help bring the best out of your writing. There is nothing worse than when you think of the perfect way to phrase something and then you completely forget it.

5. Discuss and evaluate

Once you’ve presented your findings, it’s time to evaluate and discuss them.

It might feel difficult to differentiate between your findings and discussion sections, because you are essentially talking about the same data. The easiest way to remember the difference is that your findings simply present the data, whereas your discussion tells the story of this data.

Your evaluation breaks the story down, explaining the key findings, what went well and what didn’t go so well.

In your discussion chapter, you’ll have chance to expand on the results from your findings section. For example, explain what certain numbers mean and draw relationships between different pieces of data.

Top writing tip: don’t be afraid to point out the shortcomings of your research. You will receive higher marks for writing objectively. For example, if you didn’t receive as many interview responses as expected, evaluate how this has impacted your research and findings. Don’t let your ego get in the way!

6. Write your introduction

Your introduction sets the scene for the rest of your masters dissertation. You might be wondering why writing an introduction isn't at the start of our step-by-step list, and that’s because many students write this chapter last.

Here’s what your introduction chapter should cover:

Problem statement

Research question

Significance of your research

This tells the reader what you’ll be researching as well as its importance. You’ll have a good idea of what to include here from your original dissertation proposal , though it’s fairly common for research to change once it gets started.

Writing or at least revisiting this section last can be really helpful, since you’ll have a more well-rounded view of what your research actually covers once it has been completed and written up.

How to write a masters dissertation

Masters dissertation writing tips

When to start writing your thesis or dissertation.

When you should start writing your masters thesis or dissertation depends on the scope of the research project and the duration of your course. In some cases, your research project may be relatively short and you may not be able to write much of your thesis before completing the project. 

But regardless of the nature of your research project and of the scope of your course, you should start writing your thesis or at least some of its sections as early as possible, and there are a number of good reasons for this:

Academic writing is about practice, not talent. The first steps of writing your dissertation will help you get into the swing of your project. Write early to help you prepare in good time.

Write things as you do them. This is a good way to keep your dissertation full of fresh ideas and ensure that you don’t forget valuable information.

The first draft is never perfect. Give yourself time to edit and improve your dissertation. It’s likely that you’ll need to make at least one or two more drafts before your final submission.

Writing early on will help you stay motivated when writing all subsequent drafts.

Thinking and writing are very connected. As you write, new ideas and concepts will come to mind. So writing early on is a great way to generate new ideas.

How to improve your writing skills

The best way of improving your dissertation or thesis writing skills is to:

 Finish the first draft of your masters thesis as early as possible and send it to your supervisor for revision. Your supervisor will correct your draft and point out any writing errors. This process will be repeated a few times which will help you recognise and correct writing mistakes yourself as time progresses.

If you are not a native English speaker, it may be useful to ask your English friends to read a part of your thesis and warn you about any recurring writing mistakes. Read our section on English language support for more advice. 

Most universities have writing centres that offer writing courses and other kinds of support for postgraduate students. Attending these courses may help you improve your writing and meet other postgraduate students with whom you will be able to discuss what constitutes a well-written thesis.

Read academic articles and search for writing resources on the internet. This will help you adopt an academic writing style, which will eventually become effortless with practice.

Keep track of your bibliography 

Keep track of your bibliography

The easiest way to keep the track of all the articles you have read for your research is to create a database where you can summarise each article/chapter into a few most important bullet points to help you remember their content. 

Another useful tool for doing this effectively is to learn how to use specific reference management software (RMS) such as EndNote. RMS is relatively simple to use and saves a lot of time when it comes to organising your bibliography. This may come in very handy, especially if your reference section is suspiciously missing two hours before you need to submit your dissertation! 

Avoid accidental plagiarism

Plagiarism may cost you your postgraduate degree and it is important that you consciously avoid it when writing your thesis or dissertation. 

Occasionally, postgraduate students commit plagiarism unintentionally. This can happen when sections are copy and pasted from journal articles they are citing instead of simply rephrasing them. Whenever you are presenting information from another academic source, make sure you reference the source and avoid writing the statement exactly as it is written in the original paper.

What kind of format should your thesis have?

How to write a masters dissertation

Read your university’s guidelines before you actually start writing your thesis so you don’t have to waste time changing the format further down the line. However in general, most universities will require you to use 1.5-2 line spacing, font size 12 for text, and to print your thesis on A4 paper. These formatting guidelines may not necessarily result in the most aesthetically appealing thesis, however beauty is not always practical, and a nice looking thesis can be a more tiring reading experience for your postgrad examiner .

When should I submit my thesis?

The length of time it takes to complete your MSc or MA thesis will vary from student to student. This is because people work at different speeds, projects vary in difficulty, and some projects encounter more problems than others. 

Obviously, you should submit your MSc thesis or MA thesis when it is finished! Every university will say in its regulations that it is the student who must decide when it is ready to submit. 

However, your supervisor will advise you whether your work is ready and you should take their advice on this. If your supervisor says that your work is not ready, then it is probably unwise to submit it. Usually your supervisor will read your final thesis or dissertation draft and will let you know what’s required before submitting your final draft.

Set yourself a target for completion. This will help you stay on track and avoid falling behind. You may also only have funding for the year, so it is important to ensure you submit your dissertation before the deadline – and also ensure you don’t miss out on your graduation ceremony ! 

To set your target date, work backwards from the final completion and submission date, and aim to have your final draft completed at least three months before that final date.

Don’t leave your submission until the last minute – submit your work in good time before the final deadline. Consider what else you’ll have going on around that time. Are you moving back home? Do you have a holiday? Do you have other plans?

If you need to have finished by the end of June to be able to go to a graduation ceremony in July, then you should leave a suitable amount of time for this. You can build this into your dissertation project planning at the start of your research.

It is important to remember that handing in your thesis or dissertation is not the end of your masters program . There will be a period of time of one to three months between the time you submit and your final day. Some courses may even require a viva to discuss your research project, though this is more common at PhD level . 

If you have passed, you will need to make arrangements for the thesis to be properly bound and resubmitted, which will take a week or two. You may also have minor corrections to make to the work, which could take up to a month or so. This means that you need to allow a period of at least three months between submitting your thesis and the time when your program will be completely finished. Of course, it is also possible you may be asked after the viva to do more work on your thesis and resubmit it before the examiners will agree to award the degree – so there may be an even longer time period before you have finished.

How do I submit the MA or MSc dissertation?

Most universities will have a clear procedure for submitting a masters dissertation. Some universities require your ‘intention to submit’. This notifies them that you are ready to submit and allows the university to appoint an external examiner.

This normally has to be completed at least three months before the date on which you think you will be ready to submit.

When your MA or MSc dissertation is ready, you will have to print several copies and have them bound. The number of copies varies between universities, but the university usually requires three – one for each of the examiners and one for your supervisor.

However, you will need one more copy – for yourself! These copies must be softbound, not hardbound. The theses you see on the library shelves will be bound in an impressive hardback cover, but you can only get your work bound like this once you have passed. 

You should submit your dissertation or thesis for examination in soft paper or card covers, and your university will give you detailed guidance on how it should be bound. They will also recommend places where you can get the work done.

The next stage is to hand in your work, in the way and to the place that is indicated in your university’s regulations. All you can do then is sit and wait for the examination – but submitting your thesis is often a time of great relief and celebration!

Some universities only require a digital submission, where you upload your dissertation as a file through their online submission system.

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Developing Strong Thesis Statements

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The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable

An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.

Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:

This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution implies that something is bad or negative in some way. Furthermore, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is unambiguously good.

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.

Another example of a debatable thesis statement:

In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.

The thesis needs to be narrow

Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.

Example of a thesis that is too broad:

There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.

Example of a narrow or focused thesis:

In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.

We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:

Narrowed debatable thesis 1:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.

Narrowed debatable thesis 2:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.

Qualifiers such as " typically ," " generally ," " usually ," or " on average " also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.

Types of claims

Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, or, in other words, what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.

Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:

Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:

Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:

Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:

Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.

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For most college essays, you need a thesis statement that captures the argument, or central claim, of the essay.  It will usually appear at the end of the first or second paragraph of the essay and will include the basic argument and its implications. Your thesis will often change from early thinking (to accommodate your evolution in thinking as you write) once you’ve got a whole draft, and a strong working thesis will adapt into a well-considered, well-supported articulation of your ultimate argument. The takeaway? Creating a strong thesis goes hand-in-hand with creating a strong argument in the overall essay.

General Considerations

A strong thesis should do the following things:.

  • Go beyond announcing a subject – join an ongoing conversation by taking a stand on an issue or offering an interpretation of something (a text, a policy, a new scientific discovery, etc.)
  • Get specific – rule out most of the broad material pertinent to your topic and zero in on a clear claim that focuses more narrowly on some specific aspect of your topic.
  • Indicate the “what, why, and how” of your argument – what are you claiming, why you believe this to be true, important, etc., and how you will approach your topic.

A strong thesis will apply to your issue/text and only to your issue/text

Thesis statements that are too broad often could be transplanted from one paper (even one subject!) to the next without anyone noticing. If what you claim in your thesis could work equally well for an essay on Mrs. Dalloway and an essay on the virtues of capitalism, you have more focusing and tightening to do.

In Practice

Start with a working thesis (revise it later).

A working thesis is often different from a final thesis. A working thesis will help you get started writing by keeping you focused on the general sense of what you wish to argue, even if you don’t have all the details in place; those details will usually work themselves out in the writing.  Often after you’ve finished writing a complete draft, you will realize that you’ve actually argued something more interesting and complex than your working thesis could express. At that point, you should revise your working thesis into a final thesis that accurately expresses your argument.

The first step toward writing a strong thesis is taking a stand or offering an interpretation of an issue related to your topic.  Sometimes an essay assignment might ask you a question that will prompt an argument, and other times you will need to come up with an argument on your own.  Either way, your position can be simple at first, as the process of writing the essay will most likely lead you to develop a more complex thesis. The following are samples of possible working theses:

  • American politics relies too heavily on the two-party system.
  • Jane Eyre does not align with feminism.
  • The potential use of stem cell research should be explored.
  • The continuous stream of news coverage undermines the quality of the news.

In each of these statements, the writer has taken a position that will allow them to start writing, even though these statements could be seen as too simple to truly make a strong thesis.  These statements could be referred to as the basic argument (the “what”) .  A strong thesis will also require justifications (the “why,” sometimes referred to as implications ) and/or a method/framework (the “how”), which can be explored later once the basic argument is in place.

Look for Signs that Your Thesis is Weak

On occasion, writers will be hindered early on by statements that seem like they will make a good basis for arguments, while in actuality they prevent an argument from being strong.  For that reason, it’s good to know what separates a strong thesis from a weak one.

A strong thesis is NOT

  • just an observation (Example: Jane Eyre relates to ideas about feminism.)  This may be true, but this statement is simply an observation about the book—it doesn’t take a stand on how feminism is treated in the text.
  • a statement of fact (Example: Many people are opposed to stem cell research.) Fact-based statements can be easily checked by asking yourself if anyone could reasonably disagree with you.  If everyone would agree that your statement is true, then your statement is only a fact, not an argument.
  • a broad generalization (Example: Politics are working for the people.)  It may seem as if using broad terms allows for more possibilities for things to include in your essay, but broad issues because contain too many specific arguments within them, and making a broad claim will mean making a shallow argument.  In this example, “politics” and “people” are both too broad.  The “American two-party system” is a more specific category that will allow you to focus on one argument and discuss the complexities within it.
  • a list of examples (Example: The continuous stream of news coverage causes lack of depth, focuses on superficial issues, and results in information overload.) While your essay may include examples of all of these issues, using a list for a thesis doesn’t allow for deep investigation of one topic nor does it show the relationship between ideas.  The items in the list may be points of evidence you can use in your essay without naming them.

Make It Complex

A strong thesis needs to make a complex argument, meaning it needs to show that the complications or contradictions of the issue have been taken into account in the essay and that the argument matters —or that there are implications to the argument.  The complexity of the argument, and therefore the thesis, can be explored in various ways that can help evolve the working thesis into a complex thesis.

Explore counterarguments

What reasonable claims have others made that contradict your argument, and how might taking those into consideration help you justify or strengthen your own? If you were to launch your own rebuttal to your argument, what would that look like? How does that help you complicate your ideas?

Consider a variety of angles

There are more than two sides—often far more—to any argument. For instance, people might argue the same thing for different reasons, might agree on a common problem but feel differently about how to solve it, might see the same problem as being caused by different things, etc. If you seek out as many stances on your topic as possible, you might be able to shape your argument in a way that fills a void in the conversation.

Ask yourself why the argument matters

Ok, you may be writing about the Two-Thirds Compromise because your instructor told you to. But beyond that, find a way to consider why you (and we) should care about it. What is important about your topic (whether historical or contemporary, out of the STEM fields or music and dance) here and now? Who are the stakeholders in your argument? Is there anyone whose voice hasn’t been heard on this that you could bring to light? In other words, “so what?” If you can find a legitimate reason why the argument matters, you can argue it from a stronger, more complicated place.

Consider starting with the “magical thesis” template, at least as a working thesis.

“By looking at ______________, we can see _________________, which most [readers, scientists, politicians, actors, etc.] don’t see; this is important because ____________________.” This thesis template asks you to articulate your object of study, what you can reveal about it, and why your revelation is important.

Think about the project you’re working on, and answer the following questions:

What is your topic?

What is your stance on the topic? State this as a complete sentence.

Why do you believe this? State your reasons in a “because” clause.

Why would someone disagree with this? State the opposing opinion in an “although” clause.

Now put it together to form a working thesis: “Although” clause + Stance on topic + “Because” clause = Complete (working) thesis statement

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3 Tips to Writing a Better Thesis Statement

by Dave Ursillo | Jul 16, 2009 | Uncategorized

“Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The thesis statement — an opening declaration of a paper’s intent and purpose — is arguably the most important aspect of any paper or essay.

Your thesis conveys exactly why the reader is reading, and why he or she should keep reading. If your thesis statement is vague or falls flat, you might lose the reader’s interest completely; conversely, a powerful and thought-provoking thesis is sure to spark and help retain reader interest.

But the thesis statement doesn’t just serve the reader — it can also help serve you as the writer. A strong thesis statement can be used as a quick reminder of what you intend to prove in your paper, and can be used by the author check if the paper’s content and progression is “in line” with your previously stated reasons for writing. With that in mind, below are 3 Tips that I believe will help you write a better thesis statement. Following these tips will not only make your writing stronger, it will also help solidify your argument and go a long way in complimenting your own personal and unique writing style.

1. Declare your thesis in the opening sentence.

Where the thesis statement is located is usually a matter of personal preference. Some writers place the thesis statement in the middle of their first paragraph, while others leave the thesis statement for the last sentence of an introductory paragraph. I prefer to place my thesis statement as the opening sentence of any blog post, political essay or self-help piece that I am writing. This gives my readers an immediate sense of intent and purpose for reading : the reader knows why they are reading and what I intend to convey, right away. I’ve found that this strategy will peak the reader’s interest more immediately and help keep the reader’s attention longer.

2. Be bold and committed

Your thesis statement should be assertive, direct, and daring. Go big. Say something that your reader might not agree with from the outset — it’s your job to write a paper full of evidence and strong arguments that will prove it to them.

When you begin to write a paper, you may find that you yourself are unsure about what you intend to prove. If this is the case, leave your opening paragraph alone and come back to formulate it after your paper has been written and you have a better sense for what your paper intends to prove. Writing a thesis statement without proper intent comes indicates to the reader that you are unsure of what you intend to prove — it’s like an invitation to heavy criticism, and from the paper’s very start. Compare the following thesis statements:

“Nazi Party leadership might have wanted the Holocaust to happen for years before World War II started.”

This statement is neither bold nor committed. It’s actually pretty fluffy and weak. How is the reader supposed to believe what you’re saying? Conversely, watch how some minor modifications to the thesis statement can make your paper stand out:

“Excerpts from Adolf Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf — written years before hostilities in Europe ever began — indisputably prove that the Nazi Party had clear intent to commit widespread genocide against the Jewish populace years prior to World War II, and, thus, was a primary cause for the start of the conflict.”

Boom. Now, readers know what they are reading and what the writer is intending to prove. Go big with your thesis statement! Hell, it’s okay even if you’re wrong: If you put up a good argument in the paper that follows, at least you made a case for your thesis statement. And that’s what writing a paper is all about.

3. Run-on’s can be a good thing

I don’t mind writing a run-on sentence if it’s a part of a strong thesis statement.  Check out what I wrote for All Money on Il, a treatment of North Korea’s intentions and recent hostilities:

North Korea’s recent actions are indicative of a failing state attempting to elevate their position in the international community, while the particular sharpness of their actions may indicate that the health of leader Kim Jong Il is in jeopardy.

Normally, I’d break this into two sentences at the comma. But because it’s a thesis statement, I want the reader to know immediately upon reading the very first sentence of the piece that this is what I’m intending to prove within the essay. If you make your thesis a run-on sentence, make sure its strong and worth every word you use!

Remember, these are some rules straight from my personal desk. They might not work for you. But, if you use them regularly while perfecting your individual writing style, you’re guaranteed to have a stronger thesis statements, and, as a result, an even better finished product!

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Danske Bank: An Overdue Update, But Still A 'Hold'

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  • Despite the recovery, Danske Bank's yield of 3.66% is below the Nordic bank average, impacting its overall attractiveness as an investment.
  • Danske Bank has outperformed since the last article, generating a 4-year total TSR of ~145%.
  • The bank has made significant changes to its fundamentals, resulting in improved financials and accelerated momentum in various sectors.
  • Looking for a helping hand in the market? Members of iREIT® on Alpha get exclusive ideas and guidance to navigate any climate. Learn More »

Vilnius, Lithuania - 12 02 2023: Modern office building in the center of Vilnius. Danske Bank in Vilnius

Natallia Photo/iStock Editorial via Getty Images

Dear readers/followers,

My thesis on Danske Bank is, at this point, over 4 years old and really has no relevance. At the time of my last piece, the bank still had some major issues, the COVID-19 virus had some major impact on the company's trends, and there was a lot of overhang from regulatory risks. Since my last article, the company has outperformed, but not as much as other banks. My other European/Scandinavian bank investments have, in fact, done better than Danske has, though Danske Bank has still generated a very good 4-year total TSR of ~145% not even counting dividends, while the S&P500 is at around 108%. So a fair bit of alpha there.

You can find my previous article here, but it really has no relevance any longer, given the differences in valuation and my outlook for the company.

So let's see what we have here, in this update on Danske Bank. At the time of writing my last piece, Danske Bank A/S ( OTCPK:DNSKF ) ( OTCPK:DNKEY ) had one of its roughest years on record. With KYC/AML issues at the time being in the forefront, profits and results have taken a beating with more than one revision.

As of 2024, it's time for a nice refresh on Danske to see what we have here.

Danske Bank - a significantly higher valuation but also better fundamentals

So, the thing is that I don't really see the need to diversify a lot in Scandinavian banking. I already invested in all the major banks, including but not limited to Svenska Handelsbanken AB (publ) ( OTCPK:SVNLF ), Swedbank AB (publ) ( OTCPK:SWDBF ), Nordea Bank Abp ( OTCQX:NRDBY ), SEB, DNB Bank ASA ( OTCPK:DNBBY ), and a few others. Danske has always been an outlier for me and was at the time of my article as well.

But there can be arguments to make Danske Bank a part of your portfolio if you can "snatch" it at a good valuation.

Founded in 1871, Danske Bank is the largest bank in Denmark and one of Scandinavia's major financial institutions, with over 5 million active customers. The bank is on the Fortune 500 list and operates in various markets. It calls itself, at this point, a "Nordic Leader with strong profitability", and indeed, this is what the company is.

Let me start out by saying that every investment should be made with a focus on your investment goals. By following me, you also have a right and a responsibility to know and to understand what my goals are and what I invest in. My goal is not typically to 10-20x my investment capital in a short time. If that was my goal, I wouldn't invest the way I do. I have already made the capital I need to live life the way I want to. Instead, over 75% of my portfolio is aimed at providing me with qualitative and above-average/risk-free income , while also generating a potential capital appreciation from the valuation upside. This has averaged 15-25% per year for the past few years, and it's more than enough for me (even above my expectations). Only a very small portion of my portfolio is aimed at investments where I believe in 10x developments in a short timeframe.

So knowing this, I want to state with clarity that Danske Bank is a yield/income-oriented investment with capital appreciation potential.

Here Is Danske Bank today.

Danske Bank IR

Danske Bank IR (Danske Bank IR)

The bank is actually a top-2 corporate business bank in the Nordics, and its focus is corporate banking except maybe in Denmark, where it has a more "standard" position. It has a full-service offering in appealing areas, and it's also a retail bank in Denmark and Finland - but not really in Sweden and Norway. I have gone through in previous articles why Scandinavia and the Nordics are attractive banking areas, and I will not repeat all of this, but suffice it to say all the Nordic countries are digital and sustainability leaders, with significantly below-average levels of debt, low unemployment, and an attractive macro environment.

Danske Bank has an attractive positioning in this area, and its total number of customers at this time is 200,000 corporate and 3,1M personal banking customers. The bank has significant partnerships and a very good lineup of services and product offerings.

Danske Bank IR

The bank has, like most Nordic banks, a substantial amount of safety and good financials. An 18% CET-1 ratio which is well above international averages, 126% of net stable funding, and liquidity coverage of almost 170%, with a loan loss ratio of only 3 "bips", which is second only to Handelsbanken, no small part likely due to its corporate profile.

Danske has made a lot of changes to its fundamentals following the scandals of the Great Financial Crisis and the 2019-2023 period. The success of these changes is the reason that my small position in Danske Bank is up so much, and the fundamentals now are the reason that the bank is trading at such levels. Here is a list of these changes that the company has managed.

Danske Bank IR

The company has also seen, over the past 18 months and the past few quarters, accelerated momentum in many of its sectors, including corporate lending, fee income, and bank lending. Danske reports increased product penetration with significant growth in capital-light income - something that most banks are targeting while scaling their platforms.

Danske Bank is, in fact, exceeding its original targets for 2023-2025 , and C/I is down to below 48%, which isn't class-leading but very good. Why? Because 2 years ago C/I was at 72%.

RoE is also up from 4.2% (which is dismal) to 12.7%, which is above the class average internationally, and very good even in the Nordic context. The company is targeting an over-time RoE of 13% or above, with a 16%+ CET-1 and a 45% or below C/I ratio. At such fundamentals, while maintaining or growing the market position slightly, Danske Bank would be a very attractive play as an income or as a valuation play - or both.

However, it's incorrect to say that Danske Bank is comparable in some aspects to the "better" Nordic banks. Danske Bank has recovered, yes. The trends look good - the quarterly results for 1Q24 were solid with no real downsides. But again, this is true of every bank in the Nordics. The bank that did not do well in these macro trends is a bank that I would be very worried about, and avoid owning. That's why Danske Bank doesn't really get any "points" for doing well in this environment.

Fundamentally, Danske is A+ rated, which is great, with a market cap of almost 175B DKK. The company, however, only has a yield of 3.66% at today's price, which is well below any bank average here in the Nordics, and actually below the risk-free rate we're able to get today. This is one of the main negatives of this company. It's not a massive problem as such - the upside is still conceivably there from an average valuation perspective, it's just not as great as some might expect.

Let's see what the valuation tells us.

Danske Bank Valuation - So-So, an upside could be there.

Danske Bank has become a fairly no-nonsense and easy investment for me to forecast. Danske Bank is currently trading at a P/E of 8-9x normalized. This is below the 11-12x 10-20 year average, but this average also includes plenty of premiumization that the bank, as I see it, does not deserve. There are cheaper alternatives available at that multiple.

So while the 20-year average goes above 12x, I choose to forecast at 8-9x P/E - 10x at most, and the upside for Danske Bank at these multiples remains as low as 11-12% per year, even with the current dividend. You pretty much have to take it as gospel that Danske is going to "double" the dividend for that to turn into 15%, and that's not something I'm willing to do here.

Danske Bank FAST Graphs Upside

Danske Bank FAST Graphs Upside (Danske Bank FAST Graphs Upside)

The right time to invest in Danske Bank was years ago, which I did. Unfortunately, I did not invest all that much; so my position remains small. But that's okay because I bought other Scandinavian banks that did superbly.

Looking at overall targets for Danske Bank, I would give the company an 8-9x P/E range, which starts at 185, discounted slightly for some volatility, and goes up to around 205 DKK. I put my updated PT at 190 DKK for the native, slightly above 8x. Other analysts would mostly agree with this target, though the general sentiment is that Danske is worth slightly more. 14 analysts from S&P Global following Danske Bank give it an average of a 145 DKK low and 260 DKK high, coming to a 221 DKK, with 7 out of 14 at a "Buy" and the rest mostly at a "Hold" or more conservative rating. I therefore say that it's fair to characterize the sentiment as somewhat "torn", but with a positive weighting.

I don't see any massive risk to investing in Danske here. You're guaranteed, in my opinion, that 3-4% yield, with a potential to go up to 6-7%. The problem is though that this is not that great when you compare it to other Scandinavian banks, which all yield similar levels of yield or even better - and that's without having to double their dividends.

So this is the reason why I'm not that sanguine about this company's near-term potential. I'd wait for a dip - but at the same time knowing that the likelihood of such a near-term dip given current macro is probably somewhat remote.

Nonetheless, I give the company my thesis, which currently is as follows.

  • Danske Bank is the leading Danish retail and corporate bank. At the right valuation and with the right upside, I'm all about that yield and income investing to generate further upside for my income stream - but it requires me to be able to see 15% annualized or above. Danske Bank has an A+ rating and is forecasting an improvement in dividend yield.
  • If and when this improvement materializes, this could be a very good investment. In fact, even today, we can see a "case" to be made for the yield to be closer to 6-7% as early as next year. If this is the case, then Danske Bank would be a fair investment at a low multiple and on par with other Nordic banks.
  • Today, I give Danske Bank a price target of around 190 DKK - which means that while the bank has upside, and it's conceivable not going in here means missing out on a fair bit of dividend upside, I am still considering this bank a "HOLD" here - and happy to stay on the sideline with my small position in Danske Bank. I would not sell my stake, however, at anything below 230 DKK - because I do believe the bank has recovered.

Remember, I'm all about:

Buying undervalued - even if that undervaluation is slight and not mind-numbingly massive - companies at a discount, allowing them to normalize over time and harvesting capital gains and dividends in the meantime.

If the company goes well beyond normalization and goes into overvaluation, I harvest gains and rotate my position into other undervalued stocks, repeating #1.

If the company doesn't go into overvaluation but hovers within a fair value, or goes back down to undervaluation, I buy more as time allows.

I reinvest proceeds from dividends, savings from work, or other cash inflows as specified in #1.

Here are my criteria and how the company fulfills them ( italicized ).

This company is overall qualitative.

This company is fundamentally safe/conservative & well-run.

This company pays a well-covered dividend.

This company is currently cheap.

This company has a realistic upside based on earnings growth or multiple expansion/reversion.

The company fulfills 3 out of my 5 criteria, making it a "HOLD" here. But at the right valuation, Danske Bank can and would become interesting.

Editor's Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

The company discussed in this article is only one potential investment in the sector. Members of iREIT on Alpha get access to investment ideas with upsides that I view as significantly higher/better than this one. Consider subscribing and learning more here.

This article was written by

Wolf Report profile picture

Wolf Report is a senior analyst and private portfolio manager with over 10 years of generating value ideas in European and North American markets.

He is a contributing author and analyst for the investing group iREIT on Alpha and Wide Moat Research LLC where in addition to the U.S. market, he covers the markets of Scandinavia, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Eastern Europe in search of reasonably valued stock ideas.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we have a beneficial long position in the shares of DNSKF, SVNLF, SWDBF, DNBBY, NRDBY either through stock ownership, options, or other derivatives. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article. While this article may sound like financial advice, please observe that the author is not a CFA or in any way licensed to give financial advice. It may be structured as such, but it is not financial advice. Investors are required and expected to do their own due diligence and research prior to any investment. Short-term trading, options trading/investment and futures trading are potentially extremely risky investment styles. They generally are not appropriate for someone with limited capital, limited investment experience, or a lack of understanding for the necessary risk tolerance involved. I own the European/Scandinavian tickers (not the ADRs) of all European/Scandinavian companies listed in my articles. I own the Canadian tickers of all Canadian stocks I write about. Please note that investing in European/Non-US stocks comes with withholding tax risks specific to the company's domicile as well as your personal situation. Investors should always consult a tax professional as to the overall impact of dividend withholding taxes and ways to mitigate these.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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how to make a thesis better

IMAGES

  1. How To Write A Better Thesis (3rd Edition), Paul Gruba, Justin Zobel

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  2. How to Write a Better Thesis

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  6. How to Write RESEARCH ABSTRACT

COMMENTS

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  22. Danske Bank: An Overdue Update, But Still A 'Hold'

    Danske Bank's improving financials and momentum make it an attractive investment, despite a below-average yield of 3.66%. Learn more about DNSKF stock here.