If you’re finding it hard to maintain the focus of an argument throughout your thesis or other long piece of writing, here are two exercises that might help. Firstly, answer some simple questions. What is this thesis about? Why is this research valuable to the world? What is the story I am trying to tell? What am I trying to prove/disprove/change/advance? Write down a sentence in response to each question. Your argument is right there, in those answers. The second step is to identify the points that contribute to your overall argument. Imagine you are building a path for your reader to follow from A, a position of open mindedness, to E, a position of being persuaded absolutely by your argument. This argument is made up of a series of points in a logical order that help your reader to arrive at a conclusion; play around with the order of the points until you are satisfied with the structure. These exercises will help you to reconnect with the core ideas of your thesis and stay focused.
Cherise Saywell When coaching students nervous about the blank page, I’ve often used the word limit as a technique for getting started. A big project, such as a PhD thesis, is less intimidating once you break it down. For example, at the start of a literature review chapter of 20,000 words in a social science…
We cannot resist the lure of a good story. A desire to see a narrative also permeates many areas of academia.
Developing a critical mindset involves drawing on qualities including confidence, motivation, curiosity and effort.