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Thesis Construction and Synthesis Sarah Prince, PhD Writing Specialist.

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Presentation on theme: "Thesis Construction and Synthesis Sarah Prince, PhD Writing Specialist."— Presentation transcript:

1 Thesis Construction and Synthesis Sarah Prince, PhD Writing Specialist

2 Housekeeping Issues Questions Recording:

3 Agenda Critical Reading Synthesizing Thesis Development Organization Paraphrasing Common Mistakes

4 Critical Reading Critical reading is all about interacting with the texts that you are reading. Two definitions: 1.Reading the texts as a judge of the text’s scholarly value. This is typically done by asking questions concerning potential weaknesses in the articles. 2.Reading the text as an insightful member of the academic community with your own agenda (your thesis or theory).

5 Critical Reading 1.Reading the texts as a judge of their scholarly value. This is typically done by asking questions concerning potential weaknesses in the articles. Were the author’s interpretations and conclusions supported by the evidence he or she presented? Was there any apparent bias? Were there other ways that specific data could be interpreted other than how the author approached it? Were there any important variables that were left out of the study? Was every assertion supported by fact? Did the text use reliable resources? This step allows you to assess the validity of the author’s work and decide how you’re going to use it.

6 Critical Reading 2.Reading the text as an insightful member of the academic community with your own agenda (your thesis or theory). Global warning is an immediate and serious threat Agrees but uses x method instead. Time frame of 50 years instead of 20 Completely disagrees based on Y logic

7 Synthesizing the Literature Barry, M. (2003). Violence in adolescents attributed to videogames. Journal of Electronic Entertainment, 4, doi: Fulton, F., & Fuller, G. (2004). Hamlet on the holodeck: Videogames and the frontier of fiction. Journal of Mass Media, 4(3), Retrieved from Grass, G.G., Timberfund, D., & Lake, E. (2008). Domestic violence linked to violent videogames. Journal of E-Narrative, 7, doi: Phillip, J. (2008). Desensitized: Gamers and televised warfare. Journal of Mass Media, 9(4), Retrieved from

8 Synthesizing the Literature: Dinner Party Style Famous Author A Famous Author B Famous Author C Famous Author D

9 Synthesizing the Literature Assuming that your intent (something that you decided during the critical reading process above) was to prove that videogames have a negative effect on the individual, a synthesis of these four articles might then look something like this: Although some see them as art (Fulton & Fuller, 2004), videogames have been shown to increase indifference toward and encourage acts of violence (Barry, 2003; Grass, Timberfund, & Lake, 2008; Phillip, 2008). As Phillip (2008) noted...[a continuation of this discussion that adheres to the opening (read: topic) sentence]

10 Synthesizing the Literature However, if your intent was to showcase the potential benefits of videogames, your synthesis would read much differently: Despite the concerns of its critics over its current incarnations (Barry, 2003; Grass, Timberfund, & Lake, 2008; Phillips, 2008), a videogame is nonetheless a new and raw narrative medium. In fact, as Fulton and Fuller (2004) noted, "the early reception that this new technology has received is not unlike the public’s initial response to the novel. We are again ignoring unimaginable potential" (p. 3).

11 Thesis Development Before constructing a thesis, it might help to first revisit some definitions of the term: Thesis: “a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, esp. one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections” (Dictionary.com, 2009). Thesis: “a position or proposition which a person advances and offers to maintain, or which is actually maintained by argument” (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary,1998). Thesis: “a treatise advancing a new point of view resulting from research” (Princeton University, 2006). Note that the above definitions are consistent in that they (a) stress the importance of presenting an argument and (b) insist that this argument is capable of advancement.

12 Making Sure That Your Thesis is an Argument 1.In his article, Jefferson (2003) insisted that The Real World was responsible for corrupting the mind of America’s youth. 2.This paper will consider the positive and negative ways that women are portrayed in The Real World. 3.The Real World reinforces gender inequality in America, suggesting that women are not just avid consumers, but consumables as well.

13 Making Sure That Your Thesis is Capable of Advancement The Real World should not be censored. There are many reasons to censor the content that appears on The Real World. The FCC has the right to limit the content that appears on The Real World in cases where the show depicts overtly sexist images of men and women. A failure to address such issues would suggest that our society approves of such views.

14 Thesis: “The FCC has the right to limit the content that appears on The Real World in cases where the show depicts overtly sexist images of men and women. A failure to address such issues would suggest that our society approves of such views.” Paragraph 1: Examples of male, sexual objectification in The Real World. Paragraph 2: Consequences of male, sexual objectification in The Real World. Paragraph 3: Examples of female, sexual objectification in The Real World. Paragraph 4: Consequences of female, sexual objectification in The Real World. Paragraph 5: Synthesis of paragraphs 1-4 stating that all sexual objectification can have can have dire consequences. Paragraph 6: Suggestion that these unchecked images and consequences define the society that refuses to condone them. Conclusion: If a society is defined by its actions (or inactions), then the FCC should reserve the right to limit sexist images in The Real World. Making Sure That Your Thesis is Capable of Advancement

15 Creating an Outline Thesis: “The FCC has the right to limit the content that appears on The Real World in cases where the show depicts overtly sexist images of men and women. A failure to address such issues would suggest that our society approves of such views.” Paragraph 1: Examples of male, sexual objectification in The Real World. Paragraph 2: Consequences of male, sexual objectification in The Real World. Paragraph 3: Examples of female, sexual objectification in The Real World. Paragraph 4: Consequences of female, sexual objectification in The Real World. Paragraph 5: Synthesis of paragraphs 1-4 stating that all sexual objectification can have can have dire consequences. Paragraph 6: Suggestion that these unchecked images and consequences define the society that refuses to condone them.

16 Creating an Outline: Paragraph 1 Examples of male, sexual objectification in The Real World. Main idea (topic sentence) –Although many scholars suggest The Real World presents a well- rounded illustration of American men, the show’s overt male sexual objectification is clear. Evidence (quotations and paraphrase) –Author A and B claims of well-rounded male persona –Author C, D, and E highlight clear examples of objectification of males Analysis (your explanation) –My analysis of how A and B highlight male stereotypes instead of presenting well-rounded depictions of the male persona –My examples that further prove the claims of authors C,D, and Lead-Out (preparing for next idea) –Mention that overt male objectification does not come without dire consequences on the show.

17 Creating an Outline Paraphrasing The act of restating someone else’s work in your own words, using their ideas to inform, support, or contextualize your own topic.

18 Paraphrasing 1. Read to understand 2. Write in your own words 3. Compare with original 4. Look for borrowed phrasing 5. Cite

19 Paraphrasing 1. Read to Understand: –Reread the original passage you wish to paraphrase, making sure you understand the author’s full meaning and intention. 2. Write in your Own Words: –Write the author’s ideas in your own words (as if you were explaining it to an informed colleague).

20 Paraphrasing 3. Compare: Compare your account of the author's idea against the original. While comparing the two, ask yourself the following questions: Have I accurately addressed the author's ideas in a new way that is unique to my writing style, topic, and scholarly voice? Have I tried to replicate the author's idea or have I simply changed words around in his/her original sentence(s)?

21 Paraphrasing 4. Borrowed Phrasing? –Look for any borrowed terms or particular phrases you have taken from the original passage. Enclose these terms and phrases in quotation marks to indicate to your readers that these words were taken directly from the original text. 5. Citation –Include a citation, which should contain the author's name, the year, and the page or paragraph number (if available), directly following your paraphrase.

22 Common Paper Critiques 1.Too much opinion! 2.Not enough analysis! 3.I don’t care what you think! 4.I don’t care what you feel!

23 Recap! Critical Reading –Judge source’s value –Relationship to your topic Synthesizing –Thematic relationships between sources Thesis Development –Creating a thesis that is arguable and has room for advancement Organization –Outlining, MEAL plan Paraphrasing –5 steps to a successful paraphrase Common Mistakes

24 Resources Grammarly: automated grammar checker Turnitin: automated plagiarism checker Paper reviews Writing Center User Guide:

25 Questions?


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