Thesis and Hypothesis
One of the important characteristics of many
kinds of writing is the thesis, that is, the central idea that you are expressing.
In personal essays as in academic writing, a thesis is required. In personal
essays, this central idea can be at the beginning, the middle or the end.
In academic writing in the USA, however, the thesis is always at the beginning.
This is very important. You might think that there is a better way for you
to go about academic writing. If you think that way, you are wrong. In another
part of this site, you will find Remarks on the Thesis, an essay that discusses
the characteristics of a good thesis. You are strongly encouraged to read
We call an idea a "hypothesis" if it is interesting
to us, but we have little or no evidence to support it. Finding the evidence
is the research part of academic writing. After we have found it, our idea
changes from a "hypothesis" to a "thesis." We can use any information that
comes from a source that most people would consider reliable. For example,
evidence from a television or radio program can be used if we say the name
of the program, the channel, and the time and day of the broadcast. If necessary,
we should call the television or radio station, identify ourselves, and
ask where did they get the information.
Briefly, a thesis is a brief statement (one or two sentences)
about new information. A thesis can also be a new way of thinking about
old information. The heart of academic writing is that it has a thesis,
and the heart of a thesis is that it is centered around a new idea. Maybe
none of the information is new, but if we make a new interpretation based
on new information, then we might well have a good thesis. New information
or a new interpretation is the important thing. If I gather a lot of old
information from a wide variety of sources, but do not offer a new interpretation,
I do not have a
thesis. If I have fairly strong evidence for an idea,
I call it a thesis. If I do not yet have strong evidence, I call it a
© Copyright 2002 Dr. Clyde Coreil