Preparing yourself with the help of useful tips: how to write an analytical thesis

If you’re being analytical about something, you really need to avoid just being descriptive and repeating a storyline/events. Being analytical is about being critical, deconstructing things, carefully weighing-up and considering all components, tearing something apart to evaluate it and ideally working at proving something and supporting that with evidence.

  1. The Thesis Statement. One of the first things to carefully give thought to is your thesis statement. My advice would be to always give this a really narrow and specific focus. If your thesis topic is too broad, whilst this may give an overview, it won’t be detailed and analytical enough to give you a high mark. Have something that you can really thoroughly get your teeth stuck into, and become an expert about, in the word-limit available to you – to be analytical it should be raising ‘how?’ and ‘why’ questions. It can sometimes be useful to present the two sides of the argument you’re going to investigate in your statement – as this presents the argument to your reader, and hooks them in, makes them intrigued and want to read it, in order to find out which side of the argument you’ll come down to in your conclusion. Sometimes you could present the key argument and a lesser argument in your statement. I would advise you to check with your tutor that your thesis statement is a suitable one, before starting lots of work on it. They will be able to tell you how to refine it, if need be, and may point you in the direction of useful sources and theorists to apply to your work. If your thesis statement is wrong, this will have a knock-on-effect to the entire piece of work.

  2. Conducting Research. The argument your make in an analytical thesis needs to be watertight. You need to have conducted a sufficient amount of research so that you can back up and support all the points you make, and so that you can demonstrate sound knowledge of the key theorists and academics who speak/write about the subject. There are three key types of research that your analytical thesis may require (dependent upon the subject you’re studying). Firstly use up to date current research, this should include lots of journal articles from the last 3-5 years (if not more recent). This will demonstrate that you’re aware of who the key thinkers in your field are and you have good knowledge and understanding of their work. Secondly, you may want to see what has been done in your subject-area historically, and see how views have changed as the years have passed (referring to schools of thought where relevant), this will allow you to place your research area in context. Finally, depending on your subject you may wish to conduct your own research, and use the results of this in your analytical thesis. If you do this, definitely check your experiment/questionnaire with your tutor before conducting the research, so that they can advise you whether it needs amending before use and is ethical. The research you conduct and write about will form the crux of your analytical thesis, it needs to be balanced, look at contrasting view points and well-researched.

  3. Follow Guidelines. You’ll need to check your deadline for the thesis, and plan ahead to complete your work in plenty of time. Your thesis will have a certain style of referencing and formatting that you need to rigidly adhere to, regarding layout, presentation and how to accurately reference. Your educational institution may require you to submit your work online, and through a plagiarism detector; you may have to submit hard-copies bound in a certain way, as well as an electronic copy. In the guidelines, you will be given advice as to what sections you need to complete in your analytical thesis: (title page, contents, abstract, introduction, methodology, literature review, results, discussion, conclusion, bibliography (sometimes annotated), appendices, index etc.), ensure that you stick to these.