The Thesis Machine
Effective and Successful Writing
The thesis machine is a structure of writing, outlining the basic components for effective and successful writing. The thesis itself promises to deliver "an intellectual product of a specified kind, in an appropriate manner, with adequate evidence and analysis within an implied or explicit structure of logical development." (Professor Dan Fineman, ECLS)
An effective thesis includes the following features:
- Clarity of word choice (considering proposed audience)
- Ordering principle: chronological order, cause and effect, logical reasoning, compare and contrast, etc.
- Focus will be such that the paper can accomplish the aims of the thesis in the length allotted the paper.
- Stylistic level: formal, informal? Technical, analytical, personal, objective?
- Position: reasonable, not obvious. A thesis is something about which reasonably informed people can disagree.
THE SHERIDAN BAKER THESIS MACHINE: A Heuristic for the Uncertain
This type of thesis "making" is provisional and should be polished. It does, however, offer the writer a method to begin thesis development.
I. Topic and Issue (Rough Thesis)
- State the topic under consideration.
- Recognize and state the specific issue. (Often the topic is defined in the prompt).
- Example: The Cooler hours should or should not be extended by one hour on weeknights and weekends.
II. Position (Rough Thesis)
- Give your position on the topic.
- Example: (Resolution) The Cooler hours should be extended daily by one hour.
III. Rationale (Rough Thesis)
- Add your main reason in a "because" clause.
- By using a "because" type clause, you can covert the resolution into a sentence that states your position on the issue while providing a main rational for the position.
- Example: The Cooler hours should be extended until 12:30am on weeknights and 9pm on weekends because many students both study and eat later.
IV. Although Clause (Rough Thesis)
- Refine the rough thesis by adding stipulations in an "although clause" (these are conditions or exceptions to your position).
- Example: Although by extending the Cooler hours, more staffing will be required, the cooler hours should be changed to a later time because many students eat and study later.
V. Polish (Polished Thesis)
- Refine wording: consider eliminating the overt use of "because" or "although," or direct use of personal pronouns, such as "I."
- Example: Although the extension of the Cooler hours requires more staffing, the hours should be changed to 12:30am on weeknights and 9pm on weekends to accommodate many students who eat and study later.
OUTLINE FOR INCORPORATING THESIS INTO WRITING
The following is a rough outline for writing an essay. The outline is divided into three parts, which can include several paragraphs. Your essay does not need to be three paragraphs long! The following outline is divided into Part I: Introduction, Part II: Main Body Paragraphs (there can be many Main Body Paragraphs in an essay), and Part III: Conclusion.
I. Intro: Introductory sentences funneling to Thesis.
II. Main Body Paragraphs (MBP):
- Topic Sentence: Introductory sentence discussing the subject matter for the main body paragraph.
- Supporting examples for the Topic Sentence: Use examples from the original text or supporting material to strengthen your point. Using phrases, such as "for instance" or "for example," helps the writer to signal the introduction of new ideas in the essay. Follow these phrases with a quotation from the text or topic of discussion.
- Analyze the quotation cited: Explain and analyze the quote you used in the text and how it relates to your point. What is significant about the quote? Why should the audience care? What does the quote establish- in terms of your essay?
- Wrap it up and tie back to thesis: Your MBP conclusive statements should relate back to your topic sentence, reaffirming that you have confirmed what you set out to prove. Ultimately, the final sentence of a Main Body Paragraph relates to the Topic Sentence and reflects the thesis or components of the thesis.
- The first few sentences of the conclusion should touch upon the thesis. The conclusion should include a brief discussion about the material covered in the essay- it is not, however, a summary of each MBP! The conclusion allows the writer to acknowledge a personal stance in the essay and often includes a reiteration of the thesis followed by a personal position on the subject matter.
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