Brooklyn College English Department
MA English and MA English Teacher Programs
It is best to begin planning
your thesis project early in your graduate career because you have
several important decisions to make before you can successfully
write a thesis. You have to identify faculty members who would be
appropriate thesis advisors and you have to think about potential
thesis topics. These tasks are clearly related to one another and
they require careful thought.
Before we begin, there are some differences among the disciplines
that must be understood. In the arts, humanities, and social sciences,
a thesis topic can sometimes be developed as a result of your interest
in specific courses you have taken. You might begin by talking with
some of your professors about potential topics and present to them
your ideas for a thesis topic. Then you should develop a full proposal
for a thesis topic before you register for any research or thesis
writing course that may be required by your department (such as
English 700X or Art 798X). In this way, your research assignments
in that course can contribute to your thesis.
In the sciences, on the
other hand, a thesis topic is often determined as a result of discussions
between you and professors who might be potential advisors. You
determine a topic of mutual interest and develop an experimental
approach to address that topic. This process constitutes, in effect,
your research proposal. Although a formal research proposal is not
always required in the sciences, you should always be very clear
about the questions that you are attempting to answer and the approaches
that you are taking to answer them. Your experimental work in the
laboratory constitutes a significant part of your thesis work. The
final presentation of your work as a finished thesis will include
a complete analysis of the data from your experiments as well as
a substantial review of the relevant literature that places your
work in the context of the field.
The differences expressed
above are not absolute and there are research projects in the social
sciences and in education which follow more closely the example
of experimental research in the sciences.
For the purposes of the
Handbook we will present the process of writing and researching
a thesis in four parts:
1) Thesis proposal; 2) Research; 3) First Draft; and 4) Final Product.
The difference between the arts and sciences in terms of the thesis
will be addressed as appropriate.