What should a good academic thesis contain?

 Many students are very afraid of making mistakes, says Torhild Larsen Skillingstad, who works at the Academic Writing Centre at UiT Norway’s Arctic University together with Janine Tessem Strøm. Buy Essay Online, the best essay writing services.


The writing centre was established in the autumn of 2014. First for students at a higher level who write in English. The following year, it was expanded to a pilot project to help students at lower levels, also in Norwegian. Since its inception, the writing centre has offered a number of courses, in addition to individual tutoring.

A quote about writing by the American author Stephen King.

Here you can read nine specific tips on what a good academic thesis should contain:

  1. Answer a question/problem

The main rule is that an issue should be clear, limited, and pointed to your topic.

– How to create a good problem statement?

– First, you introduce a topic to be able to drive a point. The problem is thus often a question, where you formulate what your discussion is about. The goal is to prepare a question that can be answered in a number of different ways, says Larsen Skillingstad.

– How do you go about answering the problem?

– I am a supporter of making an outline. This can be a recipe for how you want to solve your problem. A recipe requires that you have some prior knowledge of the topic you are going to write about beforehand and that you have some thoughts about which theories you want to include in the main part and what the argumentation should be about, Tessem Strøm explains.

It is important to clarify what the thesis is about and what it is not about, Larsen Skillingstad adds.  


Guides the reader into the topic of the thesis from the general to the specific

– The introduction can be used as a kind of outline, 

and it should therefore be written first. Then you know what to do and where you want with the task. In this way, the reader more quickly understands the relevance of your topic and is consequently engaged through his / her understanding of what you want to say with your thesis.   


It has a structure and a basis that makes the reader understand the discussion.

– What does it mean to connect to theory?

– You have to write about a topic. The topic often has syllabus literature or other literature you should relate to. The difference between academic texts and other texts is that they are based on research that has already been done. Using theory, therefore, means linking your own work to what others have worked with before and then linking it to your specific discussion, says Larsen Skillingstad.  

University lecturers Janine Tessem Strøm (from left) and Torhild Larsen Skillingstad share good tips for new and older students.

“There is no great writing, only great rewriting” – Justice Louis Brandeis

– What does it mean to clarify concepts?

– Concept clarification is about explaining a concept and showing that you understand what is meant by this concept in your context. With good clarification of concepts, both writer and reader have the same opinion of what it is about.

– The examiner usually knows what the term you are using means, but you must convince the examiner that you have also understood what it means and not least how you have understood it in this context.


  1. Discusses the issue (must be able to argue against)

To create a discussion-driven text where different arguments, perspectives, and opinions are treated against each other. There are some words or formulations that can be useful to note:

If then, it can be argued that, on the one hand, on the other hand, therefore, this can be reminiscent of, according to this perspective. it can be understood as, in a similar way, he/she argues that, the university lecturers tip.

– You should not necessarily come up with something completely new in the discussion section, but try to shed light on similarities and differences between the sources you have chosen to use, says Tessem Strøm.

If you are able to clarify this in the thesis text, it is likely that the examiner will perceive you as independent and with good judgement.

  1. Includes critical views (see the topic from different pages)

– Being critical is not about being difficult, but you should ask yourself the question; what could anyone argue against? Such thoughts can be valuable for the process of writing an assignment, says Larsen Skillingstad.

You must be able to evaluate arguments for and against before you accept something to be a truth, points out Tessem Strøm.

Being critical can be synonymous with being inquisitive.

  1. Summarises both the topic and the discussion in conclusion, without mentioning new things

The summary is often also referred to as a conclusion or summary and not infrequently, this is the part of the thesis that is read first.

– Why is it important not to mention new things in the summary?

– In the summary, you should round off and conclude the discussion you have already written, says Larsen Skillingstad.

– If you hear a song about love, which suddenly at the end changes the theme to deal with animals, it becomes completely unnatural if the lyrics do not reflect the rest of the song, Tessem Strøm explains.  

  1. Based on academic sources and refers to sources throughout the text

In the bibliography or reference list at the very back of the thesis. The sources that are used in work with the thesis are stated. Such a list contains complete information on the use of sources. 

– What is the best way to refer?

– The best tip is to choose a style that is recommended within your field. Or to choose a style that you decide to become good at and then be consistent with this form of source reference. 

– If you do not refer to sources, you are actually stealing other people’s knowledge. It is about being as transparent as possible, precisely so as not to steal other people’s thoughts, Tessem Strøm announces.

  1. Uses factual and clear language and avoids redundant information

The university lecturers are in no doubt that the long-term strategy on the road to a good language is about reading a lot and writing.

– But how can you ensure that you have clear language in the thesis?

– It is often wise to read the assignment aloud to yourself. Then it will be easier to discover long sentences, superfluous words, or clumsy sentence structure, says Larsen Skillingstad.

  1. Processed over time with the help of feedback from others (fellow students, teachers, writing centre)

– We experience that many students underestimate how much they can learn from fellow students.  Based on feedback from readers other than yourself, the university lecturers say.


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