Six Helpful Thesis Prewriting Steps

Before you begin actually writing your thesis, it is important to do some prewriting. There are several different steps to prewriting that many students neglect. Student who neglect the prewriting steps often have disconnected papers. These are six helpful steps to prewriting:

  1. Read several theses. There are databases that include sample thesis projects. It is always a good idea to read as many samples as you can. As you are reading the samples, find one or two that you really like. See if you can make copies of them
  2. Analyze some theses. Once you choose the theses that you like, it is a good idea to analyze them. This does not mean that you decide whether or not you agree with the position. It means you look at the structure of the paper so you know what to do when you write your very own. You should craft an outline, paragraph by paragraph, and sentence by sentence. Look at what hook technique the writer used. Look at how many sentences were used to connect the hook to the position statement. Then look for the topic sentences in each paragraph to see how they referred back to the original position statement. Count the number of pieces of evidence. Then, look at how many sentences the author used to explain them. Do this for every paragraph. When you get to the conclusion, look at the type of conclusion the author used. Notice the number of sentences and what their purposes are in the conclusion. By breaking down a couple of well-written thesis projects, you will have a better idea as to how to craft your own.
  3. Write a short planning paragraph. You should have an idea about the position you want to take. Crafting a short planning paragraph will get the ideas out of your mind and onto the paper. You can simply begin with, “I plan to write about…” and go from there.
  4. Search for helpful sources. Start looking for sources and record everything that you use.
  5. Create an annotated bibliography. When you create an annotated bibliography, you free up your memory for other things. The annotated bibliography will remind how each source can help you support your position.
  6. Outline your thesis. Once you have your position, which you wrote in your rough planning paragraph and you have a good idea of the sources you want to use. You can begin to work on your outline.