thesis (n.)

late 14c., "unaccented syllable or note," from Latin thesis "unaccented syllable in poetry," later (and more correctly) "stressed part of a metrical foot," from Greek thesis "a proposition," also "downbeat" (in music), originally "a setting down, a placing, an arranging; position, situation," from reduplicated form of PIE root *dhe- "to set, put." Sense in logic of "a formulation in advance of a proposition to be proved" is first recorded 1570s; that of "dissertation presented by a candidate for a university degree" is from 1650s.

Entries linking to thesis

*dhē- , Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to set, put."

It forms all or part of: abdomen ; abscond ; affair ; affect (v.1) "make a mental impression on;" affect (v.2) "make a pretense of;" affection ; amplify ; anathema ; antithesis ; apothecary ; artifact ; artifice ; beatific ; benefice ; beneficence ; beneficial ; benefit ; bibliothec ; bodega ; boutique ; certify ; chafe ; chauffeur ; comfit ; condiment ; confection ; confetti ; counterfeit ; deed ; deem ; deface ; defeasance ; defeat ; defect ; deficient ; difficulty ; dignify ; discomfit ; do (v.); doom ; -dom ; duma ; edifice ; edify ; efface ; effect ; efficacious ; efficient ; epithet ; facade ; face ; facet ; facial ; -facient ; facile ; facilitate ; facsimile ; fact ; faction (n.1) "political party;" -faction ; factitious ; factitive ; factor ; factory ; factotum ; faculty ; fashion ; feasible ; feat ; feature ; feckless ; fetish ; -fic ; fordo ; forfeit ; -fy ; gratify ; hacienda ; hypothecate ; hypothesis ; incondite ; indeed ; infect ; justify ; malefactor ; malfeasance ; manufacture ; metathesis ; misfeasance ; modify ; mollify ; multifarious ; notify ; nullify ; office ; officinal ; omnifarious ; orifice ; parenthesis ; perfect ; petrify ; pluperfect ; pontifex ; prefect ; prima facie ; proficient ; profit ; prosthesis ; prothesis ; purdah ; putrefy ; qualify ; rarefy ; recondite ; rectify ; refectory ; sacrifice ; salmagundi ; samadhi ; satisfy ; sconce ; suffice ; sufficient ; surface ; surfeit ; synthesis ; tay ; ticking (n.); theco- ; thematic ; theme ; thesis ; verify .

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit dadhati "puts, places;" Avestan dadaiti "he puts;" Old Persian ada "he made;" Hittite dai- "to place;" Greek tithenai "to put, set, place;" Latin facere "to make, do; perform; bring about;" Lithuanian dėti "to put;" Polish dziać się "to be happening;" Russian delat' "to do;" Old High German tuon , German tun , Old English don "to do."

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Definition of thesis noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  • Students must submit a thesis on an agreed subject within four years.
  • He presented this thesis for his PhD.
  • a thesis for a master's degree
  • He's doing a doctoral thesis on the early works of Shostakovich.
  • Many departments require their students to do a thesis defense.
  • She completed an MSc by thesis.
  • her thesis adviser at MIT
  • in a/​the thesis
  • thesis about

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word history of thesis

Definition of 'thesis'

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thesis in American English

Thesis in british english, examples of 'thesis' in a sentence thesis, related word partners thesis, trends of thesis.

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In other languages thesis

  • American English : thesis / ˈθisɪs /
  • Brazilian Portuguese : tese
  • Chinese : 论点
  • European Spanish : tesis
  • French : thèse
  • German : These
  • Italian : tesi
  • Japanese : 主張
  • Korean : 논지
  • European Portuguese : tese
  • Spanish : tesis
  • Thai : ข้อสมมุติ, ข้อวินิจฉัย

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Related terms of thesis

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  • central thesis
  • doctoral thesis
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: a long piece of writing on a particular subject that is done to earn a degree at a university

: a statement that someone wants to discuss or prove

Full Definition of THESIS

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word history of thesis

What is a thesis statement?

Your thesis statement is one of the most important parts of your paper.  It expresses your main argument succinctly and explains why your argument is historically significant.  Think of your thesis as a promise you make to your reader about what your paper will argue.  Then, spend the rest of your paper--each body paragraph--fulfilling that promise.

Your thesis should be between one and three sentences long and is placed at the end of your introduction.  Just because the thesis comes towards the beginning of your paper does not mean you can write it first and then forget about it.  View your thesis as a work in progress while you write your paper.  Once you are satisfied with the overall argument your paper makes, go back to your thesis and see if it captures what you have argued.  If it does not, then revise it.  Crafting a good thesis is one of the most challenging parts of the writing process, so do not expect to perfect it on the first few tries.  Successful writers revise their thesis statements again and again.

A successful thesis statement:

- makes an historical argument

- takes a position that requires defending

- is historically specific

- is focused and precise

- answers the question, "so what?"

How to write a thesis statement:

Suppose you are taking an early American history class and your professor has distributed the following essay prompt:

"Historians have debated the American Revolution's effect on women.  Some argue that the Revolution had a positive effect because it increased women's authority in the family.  Others argue that it had a negative effect because it excluded women from politics.  Still others argue that the Revolution changed very little for women, as they remained ensconced in the home.  Write a paper in which you pose your own answer to the question of whether the American Revolution had a positive, negative, or limited effect on women."

Using this prompt, we will look at both weak and strong thesis statements to see how successful thesis statements work.

1. A successful thesis statement makes an historical argument. It does not announce the topic of your paper or simply restate the paper prompt.

Weak Thesis: The Revolution had little effect on women because they remained ensconced in the home.

While this thesis does take a position, it is problematic because it simply restates the prompt.  It needs to be more specific about how the Revolution had a limited effect on women and why it mattered that women remained in the home.

Revised Thesis: The Revolution wrought little political change in the lives of women because they did not gain the right to vote or run for office.  Instead, women remained firmly in the home, just as they had before the war, making their day-to-day lives look much the same.

This revision is an improvement over the first attempt because it states what standards the writer is using to measure change (the right to vote and run for office) and it shows why women remaining in the home serves as evidence of limited change (because their day-to-day lives looked the same before and after the war).  However, it still relies too heavily on the information given in the prompt, simply saying that women remained in the home.  It needs to make an argument about some element of the war's limited effect on women.  This thesis requires further revision.

Strong Thesis: While the Revolution presented women unprecedented opportunities to participate in protest movements and manage their family's farms and businesses, it ultimately did not offer lasting political change, excluding women from the right to vote and serve in office.

This is a stronger thesis because it complicates the information in the prompt.  The writer admits that the Revolution gave women important new opportunities, but argues that, in the end, it led to no substantial change.  This thesis recognizes the complexity of the issue, conceding that the Revolution had both positive and negative effects for women, but that the latter outweighed the former.  Remember that it will take several rounds of revision to craft a strong thesis, so keep revising until your thesis articulates a thoughtful and compelling argument.

2.  A succesful thesis statement takes a position that requires defending. Your argument should not be an obvious or irrefutable assertion.  Rather, make a claim that requires supporting evidence.

Weak Thesis: The Revolutionary War caused great upheaval in the lives of American women.

Few would argue with the idea that war brings upheaval.  Your thesis needs to be debatable:  it needs to make a claim against which someone could argue.  Your job throughout the paper is to provide evidence in support of your own case.  Here is a revised version:

Strong Thesis: The Revolution caused particular upheaval in the lives of women.  With men away at war, women took on full responsibility for running households, farms, and businesses.  As a result of their increased involvement during the war, many women were reluctant to give up their new-found responsibilities after the fighting ended.

This is a stronger thesis because it says exactly what kind of upheaval the war wrought, and it makes a debatable claim.  For example, a counterargument might be that most women were eager to return to the way life was before the war and thus did not try to usurp men's role on the home front.  Or, someone could argue that women were already active in running households, farms, and businesses before the war, and thus the war did not mark a significant departure.  Any compelling thesis will have counterarguments.  Writers try to show that their arguments are stronger than the counterarguments that could be leveled against them.

3.  A successful thesis statement is historically specific. It does not make a broad claim about "American society" or "humankind," but is grounded in a particular historical moment.

Weak Thesis: The Revolution had a negative impact on women because of the prevailing problem of sexism.

Sexism is a vague word that can mean different things in different times and places.  In order to answer the question and make a compelling argument, this thesis needs to explain exactly what attitudes toward women were in early America, and how those attitudes negatively affected women in the Revolutionary period.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a negative impact on women because of the belief that women lacked the rational faculties of men.  In a nation that was to be guided by reasonable republican citizens, women were imagined to have no place in politics and were thus firmly relegated to the home.

This thesis is stronger because it narrows in on one particular and historically specific attitude towards women:  the assumption that women had less ability to reason than men.  While such attitudes toward women have a long history, this thesis must locate it in a very specific historical moment, to show exactly how it worked in revolutionary America.

4.  A successful thesis statement is focused and precise. You need to be able to support it within the bounds of your paper.

Weak Thesis: The Revolution led to social, political, and economic change for women.

This thesis addresses too large of a topic for an undergraduate paper.  The terms "social," "political," and "economic" are too broad and vague for the writer to analyze them thoroughly in a limited number of pages.  The thesis might focus on one of those concepts, or it might narrow the emphasis to some specific features of social, political, and economic change.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution paved the way for important political changes for women.  As "Republican Mothers," women contributed to the polity by raising future citizens and nurturing virtuous husbands.  Consequently, women played a far more important role in the new nation's politics than they had under British rule.

This thesis is stronger because it is more narrow, and thus allows the writer to offer more in-depth analysis.  It states what kind of change women expected (political), how they experienced that change (through Republican Motherhood), and what the effects were (indirect access to the polity of the new nation).

5.  A successful thesis statement answers the question, "so what?" It explains to your reader why your argument is historically significant.  It is not a list of ideas you will cover in your paper;  it explains why your ideas matter.

Weak Thesis: The Revolution had a positive effect on women because it ushered in improvements in female education, legal standing, and economic opportunity.

This thesis is off to a strong start, but it needs to go one step further by telling the reader why changes in these three areas mattered.  How did the lives of women improve because of developments in education, law, and economics?  What were women able to do with these advantages?  Obviously the rest of the paper will answer these questions, but the thesis statement needs to give some indication of why these particular changes mattered.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a positive impact on women because it ushered in improvements in female education, legal standing, and economic opportunity.  Progress in these three areas gave women the tools they needed to carve out lives beyond the home, laying the foundation for the cohesive feminist movement that would emerge in the mid-nineteenth century.

This is a stronger thesis because it goes beyond offering a list of changes for women, suggesting why improvements in education, the law, and economics mattered.  It outlines the historical significance of these changes:  they helped women build a cohesive feminist movement in the nineteenth century.

Thesis Checklist

When revising your thesis, check it against the following guidelines:

1.  Does my thesis make an historical argument ?

2.  Does my thesis take a position that requires defending?

3.  Is my thesis historically specific ?

4.  Is my thesis focused and precise ?

5.  Does my thesis answer the question, "so what?"

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word history of thesis

  • Questions about Expos?
  • Writing Support for Instructors

Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore needs your careful analysis of the evidence to understand how you arrived at this claim. You arrive at your thesis by examining and analyzing the evidence available to you, which might be text or other types of source material.

A thesis will generally respond to an analytical question or pose a solution to a problem that you have framed for your readers (and for yourself). When you frame that question or problem for your readers, you are telling them what is at stake in your argument—why your question matters and why they should care about the answer . If you can explain to your readers why a question or problem is worth addressing, then they will understand why it’s worth reading an essay that develops your thesis—and you will understand why it’s worth writing that essay.

A strong thesis will be arguable rather than descriptive , and it will be the right scope for the essay you are writing. If your thesis is descriptive, then you will not need to convince your readers of anything—you will be naming or summarizing something your readers can already see for themselves. If your thesis is too narrow, you won’t be able to explore your topic in enough depth to say something interesting about it. If your thesis is too broad, you may not be able to support it with evidence from the available sources.

When you are writing an essay for a course assignment, you should make sure you understand what type of claim you are being asked to make. Many of your assignments will be asking you to make analytical claims , which are based on interpretation of facts, data, or sources.

Some of your assignments may ask you to make normative claims. Normative claims are claims of value or evaluation rather than fact—claims about how things should be rather than how they are. A normative claim makes the case for the importance of something, the action that should be taken, or the way the world should be. When you are asked to write a policy memo, a proposal, or an essay based on your own opinion, you will be making normative claims.

Here are some examples of possible thesis statements for a student's analysis of the article “The Case Against Perfection” by Professor Michael Sandel.  

Descriptive thesis (not arguable)  

While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.

This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.  

Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence)  

Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.

This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.  

Arguable thesis with analytical claim  

While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.

This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.  

Arguable thesis with normative claim  

Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.

This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.  

Questions to ask about your thesis  

  • Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?  
  • Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?  
  • Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?  
  • Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?  
  • Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
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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.


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.

word history of thesis

Writing Process and Structure

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

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



Developing Strategic Transitions


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

Cambridge Dictionary

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Meaning of thesis in English

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  • I wrote my thesis on literacy strategies for boys .
  • Her main thesis is that children need a lot of verbal stimulation .
  • boilerplate
  • composition
  • dissertation
  • essay question
  • peer review

You can also find related words, phrases, and synonyms in the topics:

thesis | American Dictionary

Examples of thesis, collocations with thesis.

These are words often used in combination with thesis .

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Translations of thesis

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Word of the Day

a group of words in a fixed order that has a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word on its own

Scarce, scant and sparse (Ways of saying ‘not enough’)

Scarce, scant and sparse (Ways of saying ‘not enough’)

word history of thesis

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Module 4: Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests (1763-1774)

Historical thesis statements, learning objectives.

  • Recognize and create high-quality historical thesis statements

Some consider all writing a form of argument—or at least of persuasion. After all, even if you’re writing a letter or an informative essay, you’re implicitly trying to persuade your audience to care about what you’re saying. Your thesis statement represents the main idea—or point—about a topic or issue that you make in an argument. For example, let’s say that your topic is social media. A thesis statement about social media could look like one of the following sentences:

  • Social media are hurting the communication skills of young Americans.
  • Social media are useful tools for social movements.

A basic thesis sentence has two main parts: a claim  and support for that claim.

  • The Immigration Act of 1965 effectively restructured the United States’ immigration policies in such a way that no group, minority or majority, was singled out by being discriminated against or given preferential treatment in terms of its ability to immigrate to America.

Identifying the Thesis Statement

A thesis consists of a specific topic and an angle on the topic. All of the other ideas in the text support and develop the thesis. The thesis statement is often found in the introduction, sometimes after an initial “hook” or interesting story; sometimes, however, the thesis is not explicitly stated until the end of an essay, and sometimes it is not stated at all. In those instances, there is an implied thesis statement. You can generally extract the thesis statement by looking for a few key sentences and ideas.

Most readers expect to see the point of your argument (the thesis statement) within the first few paragraphs. This does not mean that it has to be placed there every time. Some writers place it at the very end, slowly building up to it throughout their work, to explain a point after the fact. For history essays, most professors will expect to see a clearly discernible thesis sentence in the introduction. Note that many history papers also include a topic sentence, which clearly state what the paper is about

Thesis statements vary based on the rhetorical strategy of the essay, but thesis statements typically share the following characteristics:

  • Presents the main idea
  • Most often is one sentence
  • Tells the reader what to expect
  • Is a summary of the essay topic
  • Usually worded to have an argumentative edge
  • Written in the third person

This video explains thesis statements and gives a few clear examples of how a good thesis should both make a claim and forecast specific ways that the essay will support that claim.

You can view the  transcript for “Thesis Statement – Writing Tutorials, US History, Dr. Robert Scafe” here (opens in new window) .

Writing a Thesis Statement

A good basic structure for a thesis statement is “they say, I say.” What is the prevailing view, and how does your position differ from it? However, avoid limiting the scope of your writing with an either/or thesis under the assumption that your view must be strictly contrary to their view.

Following are some typical thesis statements:

  • Although many readers believe Romeo and Juliet to be a tale about the ill fate of two star-crossed lovers, it can also be read as an allegory concerning a playwright and his audience.
  • The “War on Drugs” has not only failed to reduce the frequency of drug-related crimes in America but actually enhanced the popular image of dope peddlers by romanticizing them as desperate rebels fighting for a cause.
  • The bulk of modern copyright law was conceived in the age of commercial printing, long before the Internet made it so easy for the public to compose and distribute its own texts. Therefore, these laws should be reviewed and revised to better accommodate modern readers and writers.
  • The usual moral justification for capital punishment is that it deters crime by frightening would-be criminals. However, the statistics tell a different story.
  • If students really want to improve their writing, they must read often, practice writing, and receive quality feedback from their peers.
  • Plato’s dialectical method has much to offer those engaged in online writing, which is far more conversational in nature than print.

Thesis Problems to Avoid

Although you have creative control over your thesis sentence, you still should try to avoid the following problems, not for stylistic reasons, but because they indicate a problem in the thinking that underlies the thesis sentence.

  • Hospice workers need support. This is a thesis sentence; it has a topic (hospice workers) and an argument (need support). But the argument is very broad. When the argument in a thesis sentence is too broad, the writer may not have carefully thought through the specific support for the rest of the writing. A thesis argument that’s too broad makes it easy to fall into the trap of offering information that deviates from that argument.
  • Hospice workers have a 55% turnover rate compared to the general health care population’s 25% turnover rate.  This sentence really isn’t a thesis sentence at all, because there’s no argument to support it. A narrow statistic, or a narrow statement of fact, doesn’t offer the writer’s own ideas or analysis about a topic.

Let’s see some examples of potential theses related to the following prompt:

  • Bad thesis : The relationship between the American colonists and the British government changed after the French & Indian War.
  • Better thesis : The relationship between the American colonists and the British government was strained following the Revolutionary war.
  • Best thesis : Due to the heavy debt acquired by the British government during the French & Indian War, the British government increased efforts to tax the colonists, causing American opposition and resistance that strained the relationship between the colonists and the crown.

Practice identifying strong thesis statements in the following interactive.

Supporting Evidence for Thesis Statements

A thesis statement doesn’t mean much without supporting evidence. Oftentimes in a history class, you’ll be expected to defend your thesis, or your argument, using primary source documents. Sometimes these documents are provided to you, and sometimes you’ll need to go find evidence on your own. When the documents are provided for you and you are asked to answer questions about them, it is called a document-based question, or DBQ. You can think of a DBQ like a miniature research paper, where the research has been done for you. DBQs are often used on standardized tests, like this DBQ from the 2004 U.S. History AP exam , which asked students about the altered political, economic, and ideological relations between Britain and the colonies because of the French & Indian War. In this question, students were given 8 documents (A through H) and expected to use these documents to defend and support their argument. For example, here is a possible thesis statement for this essay:

  • The French & Indian War altered the political, economic, and ideological relations between the colonists and the British government because it changed the nature of British rule over the colonies, sowed the seeds of discontent, and led to increased taxation from the British.

Now, to defend this thesis statement, you would add evidence from the documents. The thesis statement can also help structure your argument. With the thesis statement above, we could expect the essay to follow this general outline:

  • Introduction—introduce how the French and Indian War altered political, economic, and ideological relations between the colonists and the British
  • Show the changing map from Doc A and greater administrative responsibility and increased westward expansion
  • Discuss Doc B, frustrations from the Iroquois Confederacy and encroachment onto Native lands
  • Could also mention Doc F and the result in greater administrative costs
  • Use Doc D and explain how a colonial soldier notices disparities between how they are treated when compared to the British
  • Use General Washington’s sentiments in Doc C to discuss how these attitudes of reverence shifted after the war. Could mention how the war created leadership opportunities and gave military experience to colonists.
  • Use Doc E to highlight how the sermon showed optimism about Britain ruling the colonies after the war
  • Highlight some of the political, economic, and ideological differences related to increased taxation caused by the War
  • Use Doc F, the British Order in Council Statement, to indicate the need for more funding to pay for the cost of war
  • Explain Doc G, frustration from Benjamin Franklin about the Stamp Act and efforts to repeal it
  • Use Doc H, the newspaper masthead saying “farewell to liberty”, to highlight the change in sentiments and colonial anger over the Stamp Act

As an example, to argue that the French & Indian War sowed the seeds of discontent, you could mention Document D, from a Massachusetts soldier diary, who wrote, “And we, being here within stone walls, are not likely to get liquors or clothes at this time of the year; and though we be Englishmen born, we are debarred [denied] Englishmen’s liberty.” This shows how colonists began to see their identity as Americans as distinct from those from the British mainland.

Remember, a strong thesis statement is one that supports the argument of your writing. It should have a clear purpose and objective, and although you may revise it as you write, it’s a good idea to start with a strong thesis statement the give your essay direction and organization. You can check the quality of your thesis statement by answering the following questions:

  • If a specific prompt was provided, does the thesis statement answer the question prompt?
  • Does the thesis statement make sense?
  • Is the thesis statement historically accurate?
  • Does the thesis statement provide clear and cohesive reasoning?
  • Is the thesis supportable by evidence?

thesis statement : a statement of the topic of the piece of writing and the angle the writer has on that topic

  • Thesis Statements. Provided by : Lumen Learning. Located at : . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
  • Thesis Examples. Authored by : Cody Chun, Kieran O'Neil, Kylie Young, Julie Nelson Christoph. Provided by : The University of Puget Sound. Located at : . Project : Sound Writing. License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
  • Writing Practice: Building Thesis Statements. Provided by : The Bill of Rights Institute, OpenStax, and contributing authors. Located at :[email protected]:L3kRHhAr@7/1-22-%F0%9F%93%9D-Writing-Practice-Building-Thesis-Statements . License : CC BY: Attribution . License Terms : Download for free at[email protected].
  • Thesis Statement - Writing Tutorials, US History, Dr. Robert Scafe. Provided by : OU Office of Digital Learning. Located at : . License : Other . License Terms : Standard YouTube License
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Writing a thesis and making an argument.

Almost every assignment you complete for a history course will ask you to make an argument. Your instructors will often call this your "thesis" -- your position on a subject.

What is an Argument?

An argument takes a stand on an issue. It seeks to persuade an audience of a point of view in much the same way that a lawyer argues a case in a court of law. It is NOT a description or a summary.

  • This is an argument: "This paper argues that the movie JFK is inaccurate in its portrayal of President Kennedy."
  • This is not an argument: "In this paper, I will describe the portrayal of President Kennedy that is shown in the movie JFK."

What is a Thesis?

A thesis statement is a sentence in which you state an argument about a topic and then describe, briefly, how you will prove your argument.

  • This is an argument, but not yet a thesis: "The movie ‘JFK’ inaccurately portrays President Kennedy."
  • This is a thesis: "The movie ‘JFK’ inaccurately portrays President Kennedy because of the way it ignores Kennedy’s youth, his relationship with his father, and the findings of the Warren Commission."

A thesis makes a specific statement to the reader about what you will be trying to argue. Your thesis can be a few sentences long, but should not be longer than a paragraph. Do not begin to state evidence or use examples in your thesis paragraph.

A Thesis Helps You and Your Reader

Your blueprint for writing:

  • Helps you determine your focus and clarify your ideas.
  • Provides a "hook" on which you can "hang" your topic sentences.
  • Can (and should) be revised as you further refine your evidence and arguments. New evidence often requires you to change your thesis.
  • Gives your paper a unified structure and point.

Your reader’s blueprint for reading:

  • Serves as a "map" to follow through your paper.
  • Keeps the reader focused on your argument.
  • Signals to the reader your main points.
  • Engages the reader in your argument.

Tips for Writing a Good Thesis

  • Find a Focus: Choose a thesis that explores an aspect of your topic that is important to you, or that allows you to say something new about your topic. For example, if your paper topic asks you to analyze women’s domestic labor during the early nineteenth century, you might decide to focus on the products they made from scratch at home.
  • Look for Pattern: After determining a general focus, go back and look more closely at your evidence. As you re-examine your evidence and identify patterns, you will develop your argument and some conclusions. For example, you might find that as industrialization increased, women made fewer textiles at home, but retained their butter and soap making tasks.

Strategies for Developing a Thesis Statement

Idea 1. If your paper assignment asks you to answer a specific question, turn the question into an assertion and give reasons for your opinion.

Assignment: How did domestic labor change between 1820 and 1860? Why were the changes in their work important for the growth of the United States?

Beginning thesis: Between 1820 and 1860 women's domestic labor changed as women stopped producing home-made fabric, although they continued to sew their families' clothes, as well as to produce butter and soap. With the cash women earned from the sale of their butter and soap they purchased ready-made cloth, which in turn, helped increase industrial production in the United States before the Civil War.

Idea 2. Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main Idea: Women's labor in their homes during the first half of the nineteenth century contributed to the growth of the national economy.

Idea 3. Spend time "mulling over" your topic. Make a list of the ideas you want to include in the essay, then think about how to group them under several different headings. Often, you will see an organizational plan emerge from the sorting process.

Idea 4 .Use a formula to develop a working thesis statement (which you will need to revise later). Here are a few examples:

  • 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 ______.

These formulas share two characteristics all thesis statements should have: they state an argument and they reveal how you will make that argument. They are not specific enough, however, and require more work.

As you work on your essay, your ideas will change and so will your thesis. Here are examples of weak and strong thesis statements.

  • Unspecific thesis: "Eleanor Roosevelt was a strong leader as First Lady."  This thesis lacks an argument. Why was Eleanor Roosevelt a strong leader?
  • Specific thesis: "Eleanor Roosevelt recreated the role of the First Lady by her active political leadership in the Democratic Party, by lobbying for national legislation, and by fostering women’s leadership in the Democratic Party."  The second thesis has an argument: Eleanor Roosevelt "recreated" the position of First Lady, and a three-part structure with which to demonstrate just how she remade the job.
  • Unspecific thesis: "At the end of the nineteenth century French women lawyers experienced difficulty when they attempted to enter the legal profession."  No historian could argue with this general statement and uninteresting thesis.
  • Specific thesis: "At the end of the nineteenth century French women lawyers experienced misogynist attacks from male lawyers when they attempted to enter the legal profession because male lawyers wanted to keep women out of judgeships."  This thesis statement asserts that French male lawyers attacked French women lawyers because they feared women as judges, an intriguing and controversial point.

Making an Argument-- Every Thesis Deserves Its Day in Court

You are the best (and only!) advocate for your thesis. Your thesis is defenseless without you to prove that its argument holds up under scrutiny. The jury (i.e., your reader) will expect you, as a good lawyer, to provide evidence to prove your thesis. To prove thesis statements on historical topics, what evidence can an able young lawyer use?

  • Primary sources: letters, diaries, government documents, an organization’s meeting minutes, newspapers.
  • Secondary sources: articles and books from your class that explain and interpret the historical event or person you are writing about, lecture notes, films or documentaries.

How can you use this evidence?

  • Make sure the examples you select from your available evidence address your thesis.
  • Use evidence that your reader will believe is credible. This means sifting and sorting your sources, looking for the clearest and fairest. Be sure to identify the biases and shortcomings of each piece of evidence for your reader.
  • Use evidence to avoid generalizations. If you assert that all women have been oppressed, what evidence can you use to support this? Using evidence works to check over-general statements.
  • Use evidence to address an opposing point of view. How do your sources give examples that refute another historian’s interpretation?

Remember -- if in doubt, talk to your instructor. Thanks to the web page of the University of Wisconsin at Madison’s Writing Center for information used in this handout. See for further information.

History Essay Format & Thesis Statement

  • 1 Thesis Statement
  • 2 The History Essay Format
  • 3 Quotes, Footnotes and Bibliography
  • 4 Plagiarism
  • 5 Formatting Requirements
  • 6 Basic Essay Conventions
  • 7 Use of Capital Letters
  • 8 Miscellaneous Characteristics
  • 9 References

Thesis Statement [ edit | edit source ]

A thesis statement is generally a single sentence (The last sentence of Intro) within the introductory paragraph of the history (or thesis) essay, which makes a claim or tells the reader exactly what to expect from the rest of the text. It may be the writer's interpretation of what the author or teacher is saying or implying about the topic. It may also be a hypothesis statement (educated guess) which the writer intends to develop and prove in the course of the essay.

The thesis statement, which is in some cases underlined, is the heart of a history or thesis essay and is the most vital part of the introduction. The assignment may not ask for a thesis statement because it may be assumed that the writer will include one. If the history assignment asks for the student to take a position, to show the cause and effect, to interpret or to compare and contrast, then the student should develop and include a good thesis statement.

Following the introductory paragraph and its statement, the body of the essay presents the reader with organized evidence directly relating to the thesis and must support it.

It's a summarized writing about what you're talking about and why who what where when or how.

Characteristics of a great thesis statement

  • Is a strong statement or fact which ends with a period, not a question.
  • Is not a cliché [1] such as “fit as a fiddle”, “time after time”, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, “all in due time” or “what goes around comes around”.
  • Is not a dictionary definition.
  • Is not a generalization.
  • Is not vague, narrow or broad.
  • States an analytic argument or claim, not a personal opinion or emotion.
  • Uses clear and meaningful words.
  • Don't overuse a topic.
  • Try to use many different information.
  • Don't say something boring like "today im going to tell you yada yada yada"
  • Start with a hook then back it up with informations

The History Essay Format [ edit | edit source ]

Essay is an old French word which means to “attempt”. An essay is the testing of an idea or hypothesis (theory). A history essay (sometimes referred to as a thesis essay ) will describe an argument or claim about one or more historical events and will support that claim with evidence, arguments and references. The text must make it clear to the reader why the argument or claim is as such.


Unlike a persuasive essay where the writer captures the reader's attention with a leading question, quotation or story related to the topic, the introduction in a history essay announces a clear thesis statement and explains what to expect in the coming paragraphs. The Introduction includes the key facts that are going to be presented in each paragraph.

The following phrases are considered to be poor and are normally avoided in the introduction: “ I will talk about ”, “ You will discover that ”, “ In this essay ”, “ You will learn ” or other such statements.

Body (Supporting Paragraphs)

The paragraphs which make up the body of a history essay offers historical evidence to support the thesis statement. Typically, in a high school history essay, there will be as many supporting paragraphs as there are events or topics. The history teacher or assignment outline may ask for a specific number of paragraphs. Evidence such as dates, names, events and terms are provided to support the key thesis.

The topic sentence tells the reader exactly what the paragraph is about. Typically, the following phrases are never part of a topic sentence: “ I will talk about ”, “ I will write about ” or “ You will see ”. Instead, clear statements which reflect the content of the paragraph are written.

The last sentence of a supporting paragraph can either be a closing or linking sentence. A closing sentence summarizes the key elements that were presented. A linking sentence efficiently links the current paragraph to the next. Linking can also be done by using a transitional word or phrase at the beginning of the next paragraph.

In the closing paragraph, the claim or argument from the introduction is restated differently. The best evidence and facts are summarized without the use of any new information. This paragraph mainly reviews what has already been written. Writers don't use exactly the same words as in their introduction since this shows laziness. This is the author's last chance to present the reader with the facts which support their thesis statement.

Quotes, Footnotes and Bibliography [ edit | edit source ]

Quotations in a history essay are used in moderation and to address particulars of a given historical event. Students who tend to use too many quotes normally lose marks for doing so. The author of a history essay normally will read the text from a selected source, understand it, close the source (book for web site for example) and then condense it using their own words. Simply paraphrasing someone else’s work is still considered to be plagiarism. History essays may contain many short quotes.

Quotations of three or fewer lines are placed between double quotation marks. For longer quotes, the left and right margins are indented by an additional 0.5” or 1 cm, the text is single-spaced and no quotation marks are used. Footnotes are used to cite the source.

Single quotation marks are used for quotations within a quotation. Three ellipsis points (...) are used when leaving part of the quotation out. Ellipsis cannot be used at the start of a quotation.

Footnotes are used to cite quotation sources or to provide additional tidbits of information such as short comments.

Internet sources are treated in the same way printed sources are. Footnotes or endnotes are used in a history essay to document all quotations. Footnotes normally provide the author's name, the title of the work, the full title of the site (if the work is part of a larger site), the date of publication, and the full URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of the document being quoted. The date on which the web site was consulted is normally included in a footnote since websites are often short-lived. [2]

word history of thesis


Unless otherwise specified by the history teacher or assignment outline, a bibliography should always be included on a separate page which lists the sources used in preparing the essay.

The list is always sorted alphabetically according to the authors’ last name. The second and subsequent line of each entry of a bibliography is indented by about 1 inch, 2.5 cm or 10 spaces.

A bibliography is normally formatted according to the “Chicago Manual of Style” or “The MLA Style Manual”.

Plagiarism [ edit | edit source ]

History and thesis essay writers are very careful to avoid plagiarism since it is considered to be a form of cheating in which part or all of someone else’s work is passed as one’s own. Useful guidelines to help avoid plagiarism can be found in the University of Ottawa document "Beware of Plagiarism". [3]

Formatting Requirements [ edit | edit source ]

  • Letter-sized 8.5”x11” or A4 plain white paper
  • Double-spaced text
  • 1.5” (3 cm) left and right margins, 1” (2.5 cm) top and bottom margins
  • Regular 12-point font such as Arial, Century Gothic, Helvetica, Times New Roman and Verdana
  • A cover page with the course name, course number, group number, essay title, the teacher’s name, the author's name, the due date and optionally, the name of the author's school, its location and logo
  • Page numbers (with the exception of the cover page)
  • No underlined text with the exeception of the thesis statement
  • No italicized text with the exception of foreign words
  • No bolded characters
  • No headings
  • No bullets, numbered lists or point form
  • No use of the these words: “Firstly”, “Secondly”, “Thirdly”, etc.
  • Paragraph indentation of approximately 0.5 inch, 1 cm or 5 spaces
  • Formatting according to the “Chicago Manual of Style” [4] or the “MLA Style”. [5]

Basic Essay Conventions [ edit | edit source ]

  • Dates: a full date is formatted as August 20, 2009 or August 20th, 2009. The comma and the “th” separate the day from the year.
  • Dates: a span of years within the same century is written as 1939-45 (not 1939-1945).
  • Dates: no apostrophe is used for 1600s, 1700s, etc.
  • Diction: a formal tone (sophisticated language) is used to address an academic audience.
  • Numbers: for essays written in countries where the metric system is used (e.g., Europe, Canada), no commas are used to separate groups of three digits (thousands). For example, ten thousand is written as 10 000 as opposed to 10,000.
  • Numbers: numbers less than and equal to 100 are spelled out (e.g., fifteen).
  • Numbers: round numbers are spelled out (e.g., 10 thousand, 5 million).
  • Numbers: for successive numbers, digits are used (e.g., 11 women and 96 men).
  • Percentages: the word “percent” is used instead of its symbol % unless listing successive figures. When listing many figures, the % symbol is also used.
  • Pronouns: the pronoun “I” is not used since the writer does not need to refer to him/herself unless writing about “taking a position” or making a “citizenship” statement.
  • Pronouns: the pronoun “you” is not used since the writer does not need to address the reader directly.
  • Tone: in a history or thesis essay, the writer does not nag, preach or give advice.

Use of Capital Letters [ edit | edit source ]

A history or thesis essay will make use of capital letters where necessary.

  • Brand names, trademarks or product names
  • First word of a direct quotation
  • First word of a sentence
  • Name or title of a book, disc, movie or other literary works
  • Names of distinctive historical periods (e.g., Middle Ages)
  • Names of festivals and holidays
  • Names of languages (e.g., English, French)
  • Names of school subjects, disciplines or specialties are not capitalized unless they happen to be the names of languages
  • Names of the days of the week and of the months of the year (e.g., Monday, January)
  • Pronoun I (e.g., “Yesterday, I was very happy.”)
  • Proper names (e.g., John Smith, Jacques Cartier)
  • Religious terms (e.g., God, Sikhs)
  • Roman numerals (e.g., XIV)
  • Words that create a connection with a specific place (e.g., French is capitalized when it is used in the context of having to do with France)
  • Words that identify nationalities, ethnic groups or social groups (e.g., Americans, Canadians, Loyalists)

Miscellaneous Characteristics [ edit | edit source ]

  • A word processor such as Microsoft Word [6] or a free downloadable processor such as Open Office [7] could be used to format and spell-check the text.
  • An essay plan or a graphic organizer could be used to collect important facts before attempting to write the essay.
  • Correct use of punctuation; periods, commas, semicolons and colons are used to break down or separate sentences.
  • Paragraphs are not lengthy in nature.
  • Street or Internet messaging jargon such as “a lot”, “:)”, “lol” or “bc” is not used.
  • Text that remains consistent with the thesis statement.
  • The essay has been verified by a peer and/or with the word processor's spell-check tool.
  • The same verb tense is used throughout the essay.

References [ edit | edit source ]

  • ↑ A cliché is an expression or saying which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning; something repeated so often that has become stale or commonplace; "ready-made phrases".
  • ↑ “History and Classics: Essay Writing Guide” (on-line). Edmonton, Alberta: Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta. (January 2009).
  • ↑
  • ↑ More information on the “Chicago Manual of Style” can be found at
  • ↑ More information on the “MLA Style Manual” and “Guide to Scholarly Publishing” can be found on the Modern Language Association web site at Guides can be ordered online.
  • ↑
  • ↑

word history of thesis

Proofread my paper

An abstract is a short summary of your thesis. Usually a maximum of 300 words long, it’s should include brief descriptions of your research objectives , methods, results, and conclusions. Though it may seem short, it introduces your work to your audience, serving as a first impression of your thesis.

Read more about abstracts

A table of contents lists all of your sections, plus their corresponding page numbers and subheadings if you have them. This helps your reader seamlessly navigate your document.

Your table of contents should include all the major parts of your thesis. In particular, don’t forget the the appendices. If you used heading styles, it’s easy to generate an automatic table Microsoft Word.

Read more about tables of contents

While not mandatory, if you used a lot of tables and/or figures, it’s nice to include a list of them to help guide your reader. It’s also easy to generate one of these in Word: just use the “Insert Caption” feature.

Read more about lists of figures and tables

If you have used a lot of industry- or field-specific abbreviations in your thesis, you should include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations . This way, your readers can easily look up any meanings they aren’t familiar with.

Read more about lists of abbreviations

Relatedly, if you find yourself using a lot of very specialized or field-specific terms that may not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary . Alphabetize the terms you want to include with a brief definition.

Read more about glossaries

An introduction sets up the topic, purpose, and relevance of your thesis, as well as expectations for your reader. This should:

  • Ground your research topic , sharing any background information your reader may need
  • Define the scope of your work
  • Introduce any existing research on your topic, situating your work within a broader problem or debate
  • State your research question(s)
  • Outline (briefly) how the remainder of your work will proceed

In other words, your introduction should clearly and concisely show your reader the “what, why, and how” of your research.

Read more about introductions

A literature review helps you gain a robust understanding of any extant academic work on your topic, encompassing:

  • Selecting relevant sources
  • Determining the credibility of your sources
  • Critically evaluating each of your sources
  • Drawing connections between sources, including any themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps

A literature review is not merely a summary of existing work. Rather, your literature review should ultimately lead to a clear justification for your own research, perhaps via:

  • Addressing a gap in the literature
  • Building on existing knowledge to draw new conclusions
  • Exploring a new theoretical or methodological approach
  • Introducing a new solution to an unresolved problem
  • Definitively advocating for one side of a theoretical debate

Read more about literature reviews

Theoretical framework

Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework, but these are not the same thing. A theoretical framework defines and analyzes the concepts and theories that your research hinges on.

Read more about theoretical frameworks

Your methodology chapter shows your reader how you conducted your research. It should be written clearly and methodically, easily allowing your reader to critically assess the credibility of your argument. Furthermore, your methods section should convince your reader that your method was the best way to answer your research question.

A methodology section should generally include:

  • Your overall approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative )
  • Your research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment
  • Any tools or materials you used (e.g., computer software)
  • The data analysis methods you chose (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
  • A strong, but not defensive justification of your methods

Read more about methodology sections

Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. These two sections work in tandem, but shouldn’t repeat each other. While your results section can include hypotheses or themes, don’t include any speculation or new arguments here.

Your results section should:

  • State each (relevant) result with any (relevant) descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
  • Explain how each result relates to the research question
  • Determine whether the hypothesis was supported

Additional data (like raw numbers or interview transcripts ) can be included as an appendix . You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results.

Read more about results sections

Your discussion section is where you can interpret your results in detail. Did they meet your expectations? How well do they fit within the framework that you built? You can refer back to any relevant source material to situate your results within your field, but leave most of that analysis in your literature review.

For any unexpected results, offer explanations or alternative interpretations of your data.

Read more about discussion sections

Your thesis conclusion should concisely answer your main research question. It should leave your reader with an ultra-clear understanding of your central argument, and emphasize what your research specifically has contributed to your field.

Why does your research matter? What recommendations for future research do you have? Lastly, wrap up your work with any concluding remarks.

Read more about conclusions

In order to avoid plagiarism , don’t forget to include a full reference list at the end of your thesis, citing the sources that you used. Choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your thesis, taking note of the formatting requirements of each style.

Which style you choose is often set by your department or your field, but common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA.

Create APA citations Create MLA citations

In order to stay clear and concise, your thesis should include the most essential information needed to answer your research question. However, chances are you have many contributing documents, like interview transcripts or survey questions . These can be added as appendices , to save space in the main body.

Read more about appendices

Once you’re done writing, the next part of your editing process begins. Leave plenty of time for proofreading and editing prior to submission. Nothing looks worse than grammar mistakes or sloppy spelling errors!

Consider using a professional thesis editing service or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect.

Once you’ve submitted your final product, it’s common practice to have a thesis defense, an oral component of your finished work. This is scheduled by your advisor or committee, and usually entails a presentation and Q&A session.

After your defense , your committee will meet to determine if you deserve any departmental honors or accolades. However, keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality. If there are any serious issues with your work, these should be resolved with your advisor way before a defense.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

Research bias

  • Survivorship bias
  • Self-serving bias
  • Availability heuristic
  • Halo effect
  • Hindsight bias
  • Deep learning
  • Generative AI
  • Machine learning
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Supervised vs. unsupervised learning

 (AI) Tools

  • Grammar Checker
  • Paraphrasing Tool
  • Text Summarizer
  • AI Detector
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The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.

If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation , you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .

If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimizing confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.

When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)

A thesis is typically written by students finishing up a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Some educational institutions, particularly in the liberal arts, have mandatory theses, but they are often not mandatory to graduate from bachelor’s degrees. It is more common for a thesis to be a graduation requirement from a Master’s degree.

Even if not mandatory, you may want to consider writing a thesis if you:

  • Plan to attend graduate school soon
  • Have a particular topic you’d like to study more in-depth
  • Are considering a career in research
  • Would like a capstone experience to tie up your academic experience

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How to Use Microsoft Word's Version History to Recover Lost Work

No need to panic over losing progress in your Word document. Learn to turn back time with Version History.

Microsoft Word has a built-in system that you can use to study the evolution of a document, reference earlier comments, and recover lost work. You just have to know where to find it.

Version History is in a pretty discrete location for one of the platform's life-saving features. Despite this, the feature is easy enough to use—if you know where to look.

How to Use Version History in Word

A more effective Version History feature is one of many reasons to use Word online . However, the feature does work if you use Word offline as well.

A Word document's title appears in the banner across the top of the page. The exact appearance of the banner depends on your settings and the version you're using. The screenshots in this article are taken from Word Online in Dark Mode and may look slightly different from your version of Word.

In Word Online, look to the right of the document name in the title banner. Here, you'll find an icon indicating whether the file has been automatically saved since your last edit, followed by a downward-pointing arrow. In the app, this line will say when the file was last modified, followed by the same arrow.

In either case, clicking the arrow will summon a dropdown menu with several options: rename the file, view its location, view its last save date, and access the version history. Clicking Version History at the bottom of the dropdown menu opens the document to a new page with a column menu on the right side.

Different versions appear as stacked items in this column, complete with time stamps. Each item will also have an arrow pointing to the right. Click this option to reveal more detailed descriptions of what changed in each version of a document.

The extra level of detail can help you get to the version you’re looking for. Simply click on the desired option to open that version while maintaining the current one. Alternatively, you can select Restore above the page to revert the file to that version.

When working with documents downloaded from the cloud in the desktop app, accessing that document's version history might require you to upload it again.

How to Utilize Version History Settings in Word

You can't turn off Version History in the settings. However, utilizing the feature's settings can help you make the most out of it; after all, Version History isn’t only just for recovering deleted work . For example, enabling Track Changes in the Review toolbar will help you sort through the differences inside a document with various versions available.

Furthermore, keeping the changes in a single document instead of saving multiple versions separately will make Version History more robust. It essentially does the same thing as manually saving different versions, but everything is easier to find and manage.

Safeguard Your Documents With Version History

Microsoft Word's Version History feature is a life-saver. The tool enables you to recover lost work, backtrack after a mistake, and document how a project has come along.

Knowing where to find and how to use this feature can significantly enhance your confidence while working with Word and preventing data anxiety.

Introducing Made by History for TIME

word history of thesis

TIME’s new partnership with the leading history platform will provide readers historical analysis of U.S. current events and public debates

Today, TIME launches a new partnership with Made by History, a leading history platform, to produce rigorous historical analysis of U.S. current events and public debates in an easily digestible format designed for the general public.

The partnership expands content on TIME's history vertical under TIME Ideas, which launched in 2014, and has since become a trusted outlet for the world's top historians to share their knowledge with its global audience of 120 million. In partnership with TIME, Made by History will go behind the headlines of today’s news to provide context and clarity through carefully researched and edited articles written by a diverse group of today’s most prominent and promising scholars.

“A historian's perspective always adds a crucial level of depth to any news story—after all, you can't truly understand what's happening today without knowing how we got here,” said TIME’s managing editor, and the founding editor of TIME’s history section, Lily Rothman. “Throughout our own 100-year history, and especially since the launch of our history vertical nearly a decade ago, TIME has been dedicated to telling the stories behind the news. I'm so excited to partner with Made by History to take that tradition to the next level.”

Read the latest from Made By History on TIME:  

All editorial content created by Made by History is assigned, written, and edited by professional historians—a team that will work closely with TIME’s editors to bring the partnership to life, combining the rigor of peer review with the readability of TIME. A diverse community of experts will share their unique perspectives on how our world got the way it is, in pieces rooted in cutting edge historical research and analysis. The content will cover political, cultural, and legal happenings, America’s changing role in the world, and anything else that people who care about civic life might be discussing.

Made by History is edited by co-founder and senior editor Brian Rosenwald, scholar in residence and director of the Red and Blue Exchange at the University of Pennsylvania; senior editor Carly Goodman, author of Dreamland: America’s Immigration Lottery in an Age of Restriction;  senior editor Kathryn Cramer Brownell, associate professor of history at Purdue University; editor Julio Capó Jr., associate professor of history and deputy director of the Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab at Florida International University; editor Diana D’Amico Pawlewicz, associate professor of education foundations and research and director of the Initiative for Rural Education, Equity, and Economic Development at the University of North Dakota, editor Stacie Taranto, associate professor of history at Ramapo College of New Jersey; and editor Felicia Angeja Viator, associate professor at San Francisco State University. 

word history of thesis

Historians: To pitch ideas to Made by History, email [email protected]  

Made by History accepts both full drafts (approx. 1,000 words) and short pitches

More Must-Reads From TIME

  • The Man Who Thinks He Can Live Forever
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  • Death and Desperation Take Over the World's Largest Refugee Camp
  • Right-Wing's New Aim : a Parallel Economy
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  • Kerry Washington: The Story of My Abortion
  • How Canada and India's Relationship Crumbled
  • Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time

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Word of the Day

What it means.

Tenebrous is a formal word that is often used as a synonym of gloomy . It also can be used to describe dark, unlit places (as in “the tenebrous abyss”) or things that are difficult to understand (as in “a tenebrous tangle of lies”).

// The neighborhood children made sure never to approach the abandoned mansion, which sat tenebrous and foreboding at the top of the hill.

// A horror film seems incomplete without someone running through a tenebrous forest or alley.

See the entry >

tenebrous in Context

“On the heels of Greig Fraser’s spectacular work on Dune , the cinematographer gives the film a moody, tenebrous look to match the tortured pit of Batman’s soul, and production designer James Chinlund’s world-building is first-rate, weaving together elements from real cities and sets to form a Gotham that resembles New York while establishing its own gritty, gothic identity, pulsing with menace and mystery.” — David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter , 28 Feb. 2022

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  • When asked about her blind date, Carol spoke for hours with vitriol .

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Did You Know?

Tenebrous can mean both “obscure” and “murky,” but its history is crystal clear. Etymologists know that the word comes from the Latin noun tenebrae , meaning “darkness.” Tenebrous has been used in English since the 15th century, and in subsequent centuries has been joined by some interesting and even less common relations. Tenebrionid is the name that may be given to any of at least 20,000 species of mostly nocturnal beetles, also called darkling beetles , many of whom love inhabiting dark places. Tenebrism refers to a style of painting—associated especially with the Italian painter Caravaggio —in which most of the figures are engulfed in shadow while some are dramatically illuminated by concentrated light. And let’s not forget the terrific tenebrific , a tenebrous synonym.

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Unscramble the letters to create an antonym of tenebrous : SLOMIUNU.

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a scientist inspects a large paper airplane

A Living History of The Humble Paper Airplane

For centuries, paper airplanes have unlocked the science of flight—now they could inspire drone technology.

Shinji Suzuki met Takuo Toda in 1999, atop Mt. Yonami in the southern city of Jinseki-Kogen, Japan. Toda, the chairman of the Japan Origami Airplane Association, was there to launch a large paper plane from a tower he had built on the mountaintop for just that purpose.

Toda’s lofty dream inspired Suzuki to take action, and in 2008, the pair announced a project to launch paper airplanes from the International Space Station (ISS). Critics suggested these planes would burn up on their descent back to Earth, Suzuki says. However, he predicted that with a protective coating and a controlled trajectory, they might actually be able to avoid burning up on reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Another challenge? Figuring out where exactly the planes would land.

decorative section line break

While Suzuki plotted the planes’ journey to the ISS, Toda would chart another path, racking up Guinness World Records for his paper airplane designs . For decades, he’s aimed to break the 30-second record for time aloft of a paper plane. He’s come close multiple times.

At a Japan Airlines hangar near Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in 2009, Toda sent a paper plane soaring for a whopping 26.1 seconds. And he holds the current time aloft record, which he set in 2010 with a rectangular design that lingered in the air for an astonishing 29.2 seconds. There are other records to be broken, too. As of April 2023, a trio of aerospace engineers currently hold the title for longest-distance throw of a paper airplane. Their dart-shaped plane traveled 289 feet and 9 inches, beating the previous record by almost 40 feet.

paper airplane

Our obsession with testing the boundaries of folded flight is relatively recent, but our desire to explore and explain the complex world of aerodynamics goes back much further.

Chinese engineers are thought to have invented what could be considered the earliest paper planes around 2,000 years ago. But these ancient gliders, usually crafted from bamboo and paper or linen, resembled kites more than the dart-shaped fliers that have earned numerous Guinness World Records in recent years.

Leonardo da Vinci would take a step closer to the modern paper airplane in the late 14th and early 15th centuries by building paper models of his aircraft designs to assess how they might sustain flight. But da Vinci’s knowledge of aerodynamics was fairly limited. He was more inspired by animal flight and, as a result, his design for craft like the ornithopter—a hang-glider-​size set of bat wings that used mechanical systems powered by human movement—never left the ground.

Paper airplanes helped early engineers and scientists learn about the mechanics of flight. The British engineer and aviator Sir George Cayley reportedly crafted the first folded paper plane to approach modern specifications in the early 1800s as part of his personal experimentation with aerodynamics. “He was one of the early people to link together the idea that the lift from the wings picking up the aircraft for stable flight must be greater than or equal to the weight of the aircraft,” says Jonathan Ridley , PhD, the head of engineering and a scholar of early aviation at Solent University in the U.K.

.css-1cwlrk8{font-family:Placard,Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif;font-size:1.625rem;line-height:1.2;margin:0rem;padding:0.9rem 1rem 1rem;}@media(max-width: 48rem){.css-1cwlrk8{font-size:1.9375rem;line-height:1;}}@media(min-width: 48rem){.css-1cwlrk8{font-size:2.1875rem;line-height:1;}}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-1cwlrk8{font-size:2.1875rem;line-height:1;}}.css-1cwlrk8 b,.css-1cwlrk8 strong{font-family:inherit;font-weight:bold;}.css-1cwlrk8 em,.css-1cwlrk8 i{font-family:inherit;font-style:italic;} “Over the last 20 years, there’s been an increasing interest in smaller-scale flight.”

More than a century later, before their famous 1903 flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers built paper models of wings to better understand how their glider would sustain flight, explains Ridley. They then tested these models in a rudimentary, refrigerator-size wind tunnel—only the second to be built in the U.S.

Paper planes are still illuminating the hidden wonders of flight. Today, these lightweight aircraft serve as a source of inspiration not only for aviation enthusiasts but also for fluid dynamicists and engineers studying the complex effects of air on small aircraft like drones.

At Cornell University, in a lab run by physics professor Jane Wang , PhD, paper gliders plunge, swoop, and flutter through the air. What might look like child’s play to the untrained eye is actually part of a serious experiment conducted by Wang and her colleague Leif Ristroph , PhD, an associate professor of mathematics at New York University. Once the planes land, Wang and Ristroph analyze data from their flight and apply weights to change the balance of these gliders. They hope doing so will help them better understand how lightweight objects soar—something that could one day inform the future of miniature drones and other robotic craft.

cornell professor jane wang drops different pieces of paper at a gorge in ithaca new york

The team’s most recent study, published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics in February 2022 , explored the mechanics of gliding and identified new ways for paper gliders to achieve stable flight. Insights gleaned from this research have practical applications, but they also shed light on the aerodynamic principles that keep paper airplanes thrown by enthusiasts up in the air. All planes —powered and unpowered —are controlled by the four forces of flight: lift, weight, thrust, and drag. Lift is the aerodynamic force produced by the forward motion of an object through a fluid—in this case, air. Weight, or the force of gravity, is the opposing force and pulls the airplane toward Earth. Where the engines or propellers on a passenger aircraft generate thrust, the force of a paper plane pilot’s throw gives the aircraft the forward momentum. Drag, caused by the friction a plane experiences as it moves through the air, acts in opposition to thrust.

Traditional airplanes have airfoil-shaped wings with a round leading edge. Air that passes over the wing conforms to its shape. Air flowing above the wing moves faster than air below the wing, forming a low-pressure zone above the wing that generates lift.

“The magic of a paper airplane is that all of these little flight corrections are happening continuously throughout its flight.”

But the wing of a paper glider is flat, and air does not flow smoothly around it. Instead, that air forms a small, low-pressure vortex immediately above the leading edge of the wing. “This little vortex ends up changing a lot of the aerodynamic characteristics of the plane,” Ristroph says. “One thing it does is give the plane a natural stability, meaning that, in principle, it can and will glide.”

As the angle at which a glider’s wing cuts through the air—known as the angle of attack—changes, so too does the size and location of the vortex above the wing. This affects where the center of pressure, or the precise location where lift is focused, lies along the wing and how responsive it is to disturbances. If, for example, the plane encounters a gust that pushes its nose down, the center of pressure will slide forward, pushing the nose back up and into a stable position.

“The magic of a paper airplane is that all of these little flight corrections are happening continuously throughout its flight,” Ristroph says. “The plane is hanging under a vortex that is constantly swelling and shrinking in just the right ways to keep a smooth and level glide.”

The center of pressure for an airfoil, however, is locked in place and does not change with the angle of attack. This means it has trouble self-correcting if destabilized. Ristroph says the team tested this in some of their experiments by folding the sheets into an airfoil. These sheets quickly crashed after brief, erratic flights because they could not stabilize after being perturbed.

This phenomenon changes at different scales, Ristroph adds. For instance, if you were to construct a paper plane the size of a Boeing 747 , the vortex above the wing would be much larger and behave differently. “That vortex would not just stay on the plane and sit there, it would jump off, reform again, and do something a little turbulent and a little crazy,” he says. “You might not be able to rely on that vortex to give you stability because it may not always be there.” Conversely, if you created a paper airplane less than, say, a millimeter long, the aerodynamics would change—along with the behavior of that vortex.

The central focus of Ristroph and Wang’s work—and, as their research suggests, the true secret to a stable glide—is identifying and making adjustments based on a glider’s center of balance. The center of balance lies at the point where a plane would be perfectly balanced if suspended in midair. (You can locate the center of balance on a paper airplane by balancing it between the tips of your thumb and forefinger.) For an unfolded sheet of paper like the ones Wang and Ristroph tested, the center of balance is directly in the middle of the page.

The team experimented with tweaking the center of balance by placing strips of copper tape on their paper gliders and studying their flight. If the weights were placed too close to the center of the sheet, the gliders would tumble uncontrollably to the ground. If the weights were placed too far forward, they would immediately nose-dive.

“People can make very, very good paper airplanes now,” Wang says. “It’s a fine art. They build their intuition by making them.”

Through trial and error, they discovered that placing these weights halfway between the middle of the sheet and the leading edge created a stable glide, meaning that even if the glider was disturbed during its flight, it would still be able to right itself. Wang says this discovery was particularly surprising because previous work done on this topic had only ever identified “neutrally stable” modes of flight, which become unstable if perturbed and cannot self-correct.

Ristroph hopes the findings from their work will help engineers design new types of small aircraft that take advantage of passive modes of flight like, say, windsurfing craft that sail high above cities to monitor air quality. “Over the last 20 years, there’s been increasing interest in smaller-scale flight,” Ristroph says. “Small-scale flying robots [could] do things like ride on the wind rather than having some kind of engine or spinning rotors like a helicopter.”

nyu professor leif ristroph in his lab

The push to develop low-cost and low-impact alternatives to traditional aircraft has grown in recent decades. For example, in 2017 the San Francisco–based research and development firm Otherlab announced it had won a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to work on a lightweight cardboard glider that could someday deliver blood, vaccines, or other critical cargo to remote locations inaccessible via other modes of transportation.

The gliders, constructed from flat-packed pieces of cardboard, would be released from an airplane and, with the help of an onboard computer, navigate to a preprogrammed set of coordinates. Otherlab and DARPA shelved the project, but the central idea—tapping into the realm of unpowered flight to solve difficult problems—lives on.

Future small aircraft may also veer away from mimicking airplanes altogether, Wang says. In addition to studying paper gliders, much of her research focuses on forms of passive flight and gliding we already find in nature, such as insects and seeds that twirl off tree limbs. Using these techniques to create small craft could create even more possibilities in years to come.

Even after locating a glider’s center of mass, Wang cautions that this discovery won’t necessarily make solving future problems facing paper craft experts or engineers any easier. She and colleagues are attempting to solve these problems mathematically. Applying these mathematical revelations to a working glider? Well, that’s another challenge entirely.

Paper airplane enthusiasts, she suggests, might have better luck crafting gliders using intuition and experimentation instead. “People can make very, very good paper airplanes now,” Wang says. “It’s a fine art. They build their intuition by making them.”

Suzuki, Toda, and their collaborators spent 18 months testing multiple designs. They coated each plane in a protective glasslike substance that would raise the heat resistance but still allow for crisp, complex folds. With this design, Suzuki hoped that they might be able to test applications for other small-scale reentry vehicles.

The team then tested a prototype glider in the University of Tokyo’s hypersonic wind tunnel, subjecting the plane to speeds as high as Mach 7 and temperatures of almost 450°F—conditions similar to those a paper plane might face when reentering Earth’s atmosphere.

With these tests under their belt, the team reached out to Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who agreed to fund the project. One of the agency’s astronauts, Koichi Wakata, even expressed interest in launching them from the orbiting outpost himself. Ultimately, due to budget cuts, Suzuki and Toda’s paper planes never made it to space.

As researchers explore the field of aerodynamics, and new technology continues to model this type of flight, there’s still a chance we could see paper gliders pushing boundaries in years to come.

Weird Ways to Generate Lift

Here’s how strangely shaped objects—from Frisbees to honeybees—generate lift to soar through the air.

a frisbee leaves a hand against a blue sky background

→ The lift produced by a Frisbee as it flies through the air is similar to the lift generated by an airplane’s wings. The perfect throw helps the disc push air downward without generating too much drag. In return, air pushes the Frisbee back up, generating additional lift. In 2005, researchers at MIT calculated the ideal throw angle for a Frisbee—12 degrees—to achieve maximum distance. (While the disc may travel greater heights with a larger angle, drag will shorten the distance traveled.)

helicopter seeds

Helicopter Seeds

→ The maple tree’shelicopter-like seeds, called samara, are specifically designed to fall and spin long distances away from the large, shady canopies of their parent trees. Their long, sail-like wings help balance the weight of the asymmetrical seeds. As the seed spins, the wider end of the wing moves faster than the air closer to the seed, generating lift to keep it airborne. Veins along the wing’s edge create turbulence, forming a small vortex above the wing that reduces pressure and generates even more lift.

a falcon in flight

→ Birds rely on their airfoil-shaped wings to generate enough lift force to equal and surpass their weight. But different types of birds rely on different modes of flight to generate lift force. (Hummingbirds hover thanks to a vortex that forms above their flapping wings.) Birds generate thrust by flapping their wings in a figure-eight motion. On the downstroke, air hits the bottom of the wing and is deflected past the bird, propelling it forward. Increasing the depth of each wingstroke increases airspeed and lifts the bird.

a bee hovers near a pink flower

→ Bees have two sets of wings that they use to generate lift. As a bee rotates its wings back and forth, a small vortex forms above the wings’ leading edge, creating the lift force needed to keep the bee aloft. These soft and malleable wings move incredibly quickly, too, up to 230 beats per second. Compared to other insects of their size, this wingbeat is unusually fast. A fruit fly, for instance, is one eightieth the size of a honeybee and flaps its wings only 200 beats per second.

Headshot of Sarah Wells

Sarah is a science and technology journalist based in Boston interested in how innovation and research intersect with our daily lives. She has written for a number of national publications and covers innovation news at Inverse .

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Ronald Reagan famously spoke of the ‘ash heap of history.’ So do several GOP candidates today

The Associated Press

September 27, 2023, 9:44 AM

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The words don’t stir the collective national memory like, “ Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

But for students of Ronald Reagan’s more notable speeches, “the ash heap of history” may ring a bell, one chiming regularly during the 2024 Republican presidential campaign.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has promised to send the People’s Republic of China to the metaphorical refuse pile. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lists several policies he would consign there as president. Former Vice President Mike Pence simply wants the overturned abortion-rights decision in Roe v. Wade to stay put there.

As most Republican White House hopefuls gather Wednesday at Reagan’s presidential library for a debate , expect to hear more homages to the “Great Communicator.” The references — and the embrace of some of his rhetoric — reflect how the party has changed, as those seeking to portray themselves as heirs to Reagan’s optimistic conservative vision also regularly resort to a style of attack and grievance more often associated with former President Donald Trump.

“If you understand American history, you see over and over and over again the capacity for this country to pull itself together,” said Peter Robinson, a former White House special assistant and speechwriter who drafted Reagan’s famous 1987 Berlin Wall speech. “That’s fundamentally what Ronald Reagan grasped.”

Like any savvy Republican candidate, Haley, DeSantis and Pence are wise to cull Reagan’s speeches for turns of phrase, even if the references are unrecognized as such by most voters, Robinson and others who helped craft them say.

“Speechwriting in the Republican universe tends to start by reading Ronald Reagan’s speeches,” said Ken Khachigian, a White House speechwriter for Reagan who also drafted remarks for Reagan’s 1980 and 1984 campaigns. “No candidate loses out by reading and becoming familiar with Reagan’s speeches.”

Even if the “ash heap speech” isn’t well-known to voters, it was among Reagan’s most significant addresses. It was delivered in June 1982 as Reagan, speaking to the British Parliament, called for nothing short of the total demise of the Soviet Union.

“What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term, the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history,” Reagan said in the ornate Royal Gallery of London’s Palace of Westminster.

Reagan came into office with the United States facing soaring inflation, unemployment and interest rates. He had spent the first year of his presidency focusing primarily on the economy. He used the speech to Parliament to say the U.S. should take the offensive in the Cold War and to make a global push to end communism without military intervention, said Anthony Dolan, Reagan’s chief speechwriter, whose draft Reagan had chosen over others.

“This was Reagan’s first speech abroad and it was a great test for him,” Dolan said. “It had such resonance with conservatives because there had been no similar call from Western statesmen.”

Haley, who was Trump’s U.N. ambassador, has come closer than her 2024 GOP rivals to using the term in its original context.

In an economic policy speech Friday in New Hampshire, Haley said, “Freedom has always been our secret weapon. It broke the Soviet Union’s back without firing a shot. And freedom can lift America to new heights, leaving Chinese communism on the ash heap of history.”

Haley had used a version of it during a speech two years earlier at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. And a clip of a similar use of the term during her February announcement of her candidacy has been airing in a political ad across Iowa since last month.

In July, DeSantis promised during a social conservative conference in Des Moines to kill the federal government’s effort to create digital currency. DeSantis described the effort as “a massive threat to American liberty and on Jan. 20, 2025, it goes to the ash heap of history in this country.”

DeSantis often uses a variation, as he did at a fundraiser for Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird last month. In a regular refrain condemning teachings on race and gender in schools, he told the audience at the Dallas County fairgrounds west of Des Moines, “As president we’ll be sure to leave the woke agenda in the dustbin of history where it belongs.”

In a twist, DeSantis’ modification actually echoes Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, who told his political rivals in 1917 to “go where you belong from now on, into the dustbin of history.”

Reagan and other leading anti-communists were well-studied on the writings and speeches of Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin, Dolan said, making the line from Reagan’s 1982 speech an unmistakable slap.

“We were laughing so hard because he had dared to turn their rhetoric back on them,” Dolan said. “So, he quite deliberately was using it to throw it back in the communists’ faces.”

Among the GOP candidates running for president today, Pence most often cites Reagan. Pence notes his pride in advising the Trump administration’s Supreme Court nominees “that sent Roe. v. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs,” as he said during a meeting of thousands of evangelical conservatives in Des Moines on Sept. 16.

Pence attributes his conversion from Democrat to Republican to hearing Reagan speak in 1980, and often mentions using Reagan’s Bible during his swearing-in as vice president in January 2017.

Vivek Ramaswamy, the 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur from Ohio who is also running for the White House, has used references from the Reagan era against Pence. During the GOP presidential debate in Milwaukee last month, Pence objected to Ramaswamy’s claim that the United States was undergoing an “identity crisis.” by saying, “We just need government as good as our people.”

“It’s not morning in America,” Ramaswamy retorted, reviving a line from a memorable Reagan’s 1984 reelection campaign ad that sought to demonstrate what the country had overcome in Reagan’s first term. “We live in a dark moment.”

Trump is skipping the California debate. Despite his stylistic differences with Reagan, Trump long ago adopted as his slogan “make America great again,” a line from Reagan’s Republican National Convention acceptance speeches in 1980 and 1984.

“Reagan’s entire approach was somehow or other — almost the deep structure of the universe itself — that the underlying reality is good,” said Robinson, the former Reagan speechwriter who is now a policy fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute. “We need a renewal, and we begin by searching for a candidate who believes, as Reagan did, that it’s possible, as indeed of course it is.”

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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  1. thesis

    late 14c., in logic, "a previous proposition from which another follows, a judgment causing another judgment," from Old French premisse (14c.), from Medieval Latin praemissa (propositio or sententia) " (the proposition) set before," noun use of fem. past participle of Latin praemi fit 1680s, "process of fitting," from fit (v.).

  2. Thesis Definition & Meaning

    noun the· sis ˈthē-səs British especially for sense 3 ˈthe-sis plural theses ˈthē-ˌsēz Synonyms of thesis 1 : a dissertation embodying results of original research and especially substantiating a specific view especially : one written by a candidate for an academic degree 2 a : a proposition to be proved or one advanced without proof : hypothesis b

  3. PDF A Guide to Writing a Senior Thesis in History & Literature

    more than 20,000 words, not counting notes and bibliography. Students may petition the Director of Studies to write a thesis that exceeds 20,000 words. Typical theses run somewhere in the range of 15,000-20,000 words. • All candidates for an honors degree in History & Literature must prepare a senior thesis.

  4. Thesis

    The term comes from the Greek word θέσις, meaning "something put forth", and refers to an intellectual Dissertation comes from the dissertātiō, meaning "discussion". Aristotle was the first philosopher to define the term thesis.

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    thesis (that…) a statement or an opinion that is discussed in a logical way and presented with evidence in order to prove that it is true. ... Word Origin late Middle English (originally referring to an unstressed syllable in Greek or Latin verse): via late Latin from Greek, literally 'placing, ...

  6. Thesis Definition & Meaning

    The sense "unstressed syllable or note" appears in English at the end of the 14th century and has been the accepted meaning since the 18th century in English poetry and music. with the meaning "a proposition put forward to be discussed, proved, or defended" appeared in 1579; the more specific meaning "a dissertation required for an academic degr...

  7. Thesis definition in American English

    thesis in American English. (ˈθisɪs) noun Word forms: plural -ses (-siz) 1. a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, esp. one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections. He vigorously defended his thesis on the causes of war. 2. a subject for a composition or essay. 3.

  8. How to Write a 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 What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay.

  9. Thesis

    /ˈθisɪs/ /ˈθisɪs/ IPA guide Other forms: theses A thesis is the most important or foundational idea of an argument. If the thesis of your paper is that chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla, you'll need to back that up with plenty of sundae-based research. The noun thesis has more than one important sense to it.

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    Origin of THESIS. in sense 1, Middle English, lowering of the voice, from Late Latin & Greek; Late Latin, from Greek, downbeat, more important part of a foot, literally, act of laying down; in other senses, Latin, from Greek, literally, act of laying down, from tithenai to put, lay down — more at do.

  11. Thesis Statements

    How to write a thesis statement: Suppose you are taking an early American history class and your professor has distributed the following essay prompt: "Historians have debated the American Revolution's effect on women. Some argue that the Revolution had a positive effect because it increased women's authority in the family.

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    1. : a long piece of writing on a particular subject that is done to earn a degree at a university. She wrote her thesis on Renaissance Nativity scenes. a master's/doctoral thesis on the effects of global warming. 2. formal : a statement that someone wants to discuss or prove. New evidence supports his thesis. We disagreed with the basic thesis ...

  13. Thesis

    Thesis. Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore ...

  14. Developing 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.

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    thesis definition: 1. a long piece of writing on a particular subject, especially one that is done for a higher…. Learn more.

  16. How to Research and Write a Compelling History Thesis

    How to Write a History Thesis What are the steps to write a history thesis? The process of developing a thesis that provides a thorough analysis of a historical event—and presents academically defensible arguments related to that analysis—includes the following: 1. Gather and Analyze Sources

  17. Historical Thesis Statements

    Thesis statements vary based on the rhetorical strategy of the essay, but thesis statements typically share the following characteristics: Presents the main idea. Most often is one sentence. Tells the reader what to expect. Is a summary of the essay topic. Usually worded to have an argumentative edge.

  18. Writing a Thesis and Making an Argument

    A thesis makes a specific statement to the reader about what you will be trying to argue. Your thesis can be a few sentences long, but should not be longer than a paragraph. Do not begin to state evidence or use examples in your thesis paragraph. A Thesis Helps You and Your Reader. Your blueprint for writing:

  19. History Essay Format & Thesis Statement

    Essay is an old French word which means to "attempt". An essay is the testing of an idea or hypothesis (theory). A history essay (sometimes referred to as a thesis essay) will describe an argument or claim about one or more historical events and will support that claim with evidence, arguments and references. The text must make it clear to ...

  20. What Is a Thesis?

    Published on September 14, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023. A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience.

  21. AP World History: Sample DBQ Thesis Statements

    Document 1 Document 2 Document 3 Document 4 Document 5 Document 6 Document 7 Crafting a Solid Thesis Statement You have one chance to make a good first impression. Usually, an AP World History reader can tell within the first few sentences whether or not an essay is going to be strong.

  22. How to Use Microsoft Word's Version History to Recover Lost Work

    In either case, clicking the arrow will summon a dropdown menu with several options: rename the file, view its location, view its last save date, and access the version history. Clicking Version History at the bottom of the dropdown menu opens the document to a new page with a column menu on the right side. Different versions appear as stacked ...

  23. PDF Common Core State StandardS for english Language arts Literacy in

    a. Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page. b. Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters. c. Understand that words are separated by spaces in print. d. Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet. 1.

  24. 180 Best History Thesis Topics [2023 Updated]

    20 Art History Thesis Topics. The development of Greek sculpture and painting. Vasari's ideas and approach to art. Winckelmann and art criticism. Vienna School of Art History. The prominent figures of feminist art history. The phenomena of Leonardo da Vinci. The Golden Age of art. Chinese Buddhist sculpture.

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  28. Ronald Reagan famously spoke of the 'ash heap of history ...

    The words don't stir the collective national memory like, " Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." But for students of Ronald Reagan's more notable speeches, "the ash heap of history" may ring a ...