Monday, August 21, 2017

What is a Thesis Statement

The Thesis Statement

I have been using the article on What is a Thesis Statement  since early 2000s for my research students. The content below has been adapted by me to fit the requirements for dissertations and research Papers of MS/PhD Thesis students. Many statements from the original have been modified to meet these requirements. I have found this extremely useful in focusing the researchers on the essence of the problem that they are solving and how their "thesis statement" states in a single sentence the essence of what they have done in their research and why. There are several benefits that I am discovering from the precise articulation of their thesis statements. Most important of these include:
  1. Defining the scope of your research [1]
  2. It precisely specifies what your contribution is that you are defending. 
  3. Your thesis statement (along with your problem statement) becomes the bulwark against which extraneous questions in your defense can be defended. Questions that try to lead you away from the central issue of your thesis [2]. 
  4. It anchors your dissertation around a single theme. Each and every statement and paragraph of your thesis should be directed towards explaining and elucidating your thesis statement (and your problem statement). 
Here is the adaptation of this wonderful description of thesis statement: 


1    What Is a Thesis Statement?

If you can not write the thesis statement of a research paper that you have read, you have not understood the paper. If you can not succinctly articulate the "thesis statement" of your research, you do not yet have a thesis. 

I want you to write thesis statements of paper that you review, revise them, and use them as tool to help us revise your research paper/thesis. Before I describe what I mean by the term "thesis statement", I would first clarify what I do not mean by the term "thesis statement." A thesis statement, as we will be using the term this semester, is not necessarily a sentence that appears in the first paragraph of a research paper. The thesis statement might appear in the first paragraph, or the last paragraph, or it might not appear in the paper at all. The thesis statement that you write before writing your research is only a "trial thesis statement". The term "trial" means that this is not a thesis statement you are committed to. The only reason for asking for a trial thesis statement is to focus you on the particulars that can be refuted [3]. You will usually not finish writing your thesis statement until you have nearly finished writing and revising your paper/dissertation.

The thesis statement (and its problem statement) must accompany any paper that you review. It helps us understand whether you have understood them or not. Some researchers suggest that it is a good idea to have it right at the front. I agree with them [1].
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So what is a thesis statement? 
A thesis statement is a single declarative sentence that states what you want your readers to know, believe, or understand after having read your paper
If we understand that definition, it will be a lot easier to work with thesis statements, so let's take a minute to break it down into its component parts and make sure we see what it contains.

1.1    A thesis statement is a single sentence.

A thesis statement, in other words, is only one sentence, not two or three or more. Why? Because the thesis statement is the main point you want to make in your paper; so it should be one sentence. If you can not write the "thesis" (idea) of your research in one sentence, your research does not have a thesis (central idea). What makes it a thesis (dissertation document) is that it aims to make a point, one point. This doesn't mean that you can only make one assertion in a paper. But it means that all of the many claims (assertions) you make must fit together, that they must all support or lead to a single point (claim, conclusion, assertion) that defines the whole paper. And if everything you say in a paper supports a single point or claim, then you can express that claim in a single sentence. Notice that nobody is saying that it must be a short sentence or a pretty sentence. But it must be one sentence, not two or more sentences. If you can't express the main point of your paper in one sentence, your paper probably doesn't have one point (thesis as idea); it probably has two. And that means it should be two papers. Feel free to write them both, but one at a time.

1.2    A thesis statement is a single declarative sentence.

A declarative sentence is simply a sentence that makes a statement rather than asking a question or making a command. It is really saying the same thing twice to say that a thesis statement is a declarative sentence. It just means that a thesis statement is a statement. The repetition is for emphasis; it helps us to keep in mind that a thesis statement is not a question. You may often start work on your paper with a question in mind. That's a good idea. But the question is not your thesis statement. Your thesis statement will be the answer to the question, an answer that you will defend and explain in your paper.

1.3    A thesis statement is a single declarative sentence that states what you want your readers to know, believe, or understand.

Different papers will have different purposes, depending on your message and your audience. If you are writing about a topic that your readers know very little about, you will write differently than you would if you were writing about a topic about which your readers were well informed. Some textbooks attempt to break down the kinds of papers into categories like "informative," "persuasive," "expository," or "argumentative." These categories can sometimes be useful in thinking about your paper, but they are always a little artificial. No good paper is entirely informative or entirely persuasive. Almost any good paper will have to inform the reader at some points and persuade the reader at others. But every good paper is unified, moves toward a single major point. Thus every good paper has a thesis statement, though it may be implied rather than explicitly stated in the text of the paper. If you are writing a primarily "informative" paper rather than a primarily "persuasive" paper, that doesn't mean your paper doesn't have a thesis; it just means that your thesis is a statement about which your readers are uninformed, rather than one on which they may have opinions that differ from yours. Whatever kind of paper you are writing, you want to decide before you finish it what the point will be, where it's going. Thus you want your thesis statement to express in a sentence what your whole paper says, what you want your readers to know or believe or understand by the end of the paper. You don't just want the thesis statement to be a general conclusion that someone might reach from your paper; you want it to say what your paper says. One problem with many, perhaps most, trial thesis statements is that they are too general and hence do not really give any guidance as to what issues and what evidence will be in this paper.

1.4    A thesis statement is a single declarative sentence that states what you want your readers to know, believe, or understand after having read your paper.

You may have been asked in a previous class to put your thesis statement in the first paragraph of your paper. There is nothing wrong with putting the thesis statement in the first paragraph, if that will help you to get your point across to your readers. But many excellent paper do not state the thesis statement in the first paragraph. The decision as to whether to do so should be based on what will work best with your subject and your readers. However, the tradition of putting the thesis in the first paragraph has led some students to mistakenly think of the thesis statement as a kind of introduction to the paper. In some cases, the thesis statement works well as part of the introduction; in some cases it doesn't. But a thesis statement is not necessarily part of the introduction, and in developing your thesis statement you should not be thinking primarily about how you want your paper to start. You should be thinking about what you want the whole paper to say, what you want the reader to know or believe at the end of the paper, not the beginning. This is why you often cannot finish your thesis statement until you finish your paper.

2    Why Write a Thesis Statement?

Why should you write a thesis statement when you write an paper? What is it good for? Is it just busy work? Something English teachers are required to impose on students to keep them from having any free time? One of those long traditions that everyone has forgotten the reason for? I don't think so. Developing a thesis statement is an important part of the process of writing an paper. In fact, you really can't write a good paper without developing a thesis statement. Of course, to "develop" a thesis statement doesn't necessarily require writing it down on a piece of paper and handing it in with your paper. But that is what I will ask you to do for every paper you write. So I'll have to answer this question in two parts: First, why do you need to develop a thesis statement? Second, why do I ask you to write it down and hand it in?

2.1    Why do you need to develop a thesis statement when you write and paper?

First, why do you need to develop a thesis statement when you write an paper? The reason is that, using the definition of a thesis statement given above, you can't write a good essay without one. In fact, it flows from the definition of an paper that an paper cannot fail to have a thesis. An paper is "a short piece of nonfiction that tries to make a point in an interesting way." The thesis statement, as we have defined it, is merely a statement of the point the paper makes. If it doesn't make a point, if it's just a random bunch of paragraphs about the same topic that never come to any conclusion, then it isn't really an paper. Notice that the definition says that an paper tries to make a point in an interesting way. Most paper don't completely succeed for all readers. Having a thesis is no guarantee of a good paper. You might try to make a point, and fail. But if you don't have a point to make, if you don't have a thesis, then you can't possibly succeed.
When I talk about "having a thesis," I don't mean that you have to have the thesis before writing the paper. When you write you are creating ideas. One of the things that makes writing so interesting and exciting is that, in the process of writing, you almost always discover ideas and connections between ideas that you didn't recognize before. Even if you have a clear idea of what you think you want to say before you start to write, you will usually discover that in the process of writing your idea changes. Often you will have to start writing with only a question to answer or a topic to explore, and you'll have to write your way to a thesis. You will keep revising your thesis statement as you revise your paper. Where the thesis statement is most important is at the end of the process, during revision. You want your paper to come to a point, to have a clear thesis that every reader will understand.

2.2    What's the value of writing out your thesis statement on a piece of paper?

This brings us to the second question. Even if we accept that every good paper does have a thesis statement, often that thesis is implied by the paper and not explicitly stated. But I am going to ask you to submit your thesis statement in writing with every draft and every paper you write. What's the value of writing out your thesis statement on a piece of paper? If you know the point you are trying to make, isn't that enough? The basic answer is "yes." If you really do know what you're trying to say in the paper, if it's crystal clear in your own mind, then it really isn't necessary for you to write down your thesis and label it in order to produce a good paper. On the other hand, if your thesis is clear in your mind, it is very easy to write it down on a piece of paper. It just takes a few seconds. No problem. Unfortunately, most of us are not absolutely clear in our minds about what point we are making when we write. Even when we think we know exactly what we want to say, we often discover when we start to write it down that it isn't all there. The main reason I ask you to write down your thesis statement and submit it before, during, and after you write your paper is that we will use the trial thesis statement as a tool to discuss and revise your paper .

2.3    Seeing the relationship between your thesis statement and your paper.

Think of your paper as a building. You are the architect. As you design the building you construct a scale model so that you and your clients can see what the finished building will look like. It doesn't have all the detail the finished building will, but it does allow us to see the shape and overall design. If you make changes in the design, you will alter the scale model. People's reactions to the scale model may help you to decide how to alter the design. Your thesis statement is to your paper as the scale model is to the building. Until construction is complete, you can always make changes. And so your scale model will not be "final" until the building is finished. If you think of the thesis statement as a scale model of your paper , you can see why your thesis statement must evolve and develop as your paper does, and you won't worry about having a finished thesis statement until you have a finished paper . But you will recognize that in working on your thesis statement you are working on your paper. If the thesis statement is a good model of your paper --if everything in the paper is reflected in the thesis statement and everything in the thesis statement is developed in the paper --then we can give you useful feedback on your trial thesis statement that will help you to decide how to revise your paper.
Having to develop a written thesis statement along with your paper also helps you to discover problems with your paper and solve them. For example, unless you have a very clear idea of what you want to say when you start writing your paper , you are likely to "drift" as you write the first draft. That is to say, you will change your argument as you develop it. This is a good thing because you usually improve your argument as you change it. But it often results in a draft that starts out by posing one question and ends up by answering a different one. The paper will often seem to be two separate half-paper pasted together in the middle. This problem is usually not hard to fix, but it may be hard for you to see at first because you are so close to the paper that you have just written. A thesis statement can help you to recognize that your paper has changed from its original intention. And in trying to revise your thesis statement so that it summarizes your whole paper, you will see that that is an impossible task until you have settled on a single direction in which to revise the paper. If you think of the thesis statement as a scale model of your paper, it will point you toward answers to many of the questions that arise in the process of revision.
Sometimes it will not be easy to see the relationship between your thesis statement and your paper. This can be frustrating. You may be tempted to think that if you could just ignore the thesis statement your paper would be fine. Usually, this is wishful thinking. One of the reasons why it may be hard to come up with a thesis statement that matches your paper is that you haven't really decided what you want to say in the paper. You may have seven or ten decent paragraphs down on paper. They might even be interesting. But if you can't say for sure what they add up to, what point they make, you probably don't have an paper yet. A good thesis statement will tell you when you have finished. This may not sound important, but it is. One of the hardest things about writing good paper --even for very experienced writers--is knowing when you're finished, knowing when you should stop revising, knowing when you've reached the end of the process. Most paper that don't work very well fail because they were never completed. And one reason we hand in incomplete paper is that we don't know how to tell when they are finished. If you make the effort to really develop and revise your thesis statement, you will find that it gets much easier to tell when the finished paper has done what it needs to do.

3    How to Write a Thesis Statement

If you understand why you are writing a thesis statement, it will be easier to write one. To get started, use whatever techniques seem to work for you: freewriting, clustering, talking it over with friends, brainstorming. By the time you write a thesis statement, we will have discussed the topic in class, and you will have an idea how your fellow students--your audience for the paper --are thinking about it. You will have read about the general topic and written on your reading. Throughout the whole process of reading, writing, and discussing the topic in class, be on the lookout for questions and problems that interest you. Don't try to think of the one perfect topic for an paper ; there probably isn't one. Try to think of interesting issues, several of them. I'll probably ask you to suggest three or four topics that might lead to interesting papers.
Once you have a topic, the actual development of a thesis statement begins. At first, your goal is just to get your rough idea down on paper. You should not expect to just sit down and write a perfect thesis statement. It doesn't work that way. Your first trial thesis statement is only a rough approximation of what you will eventually end up saying. But it gives you something to work with, something to improve. Usually, the process of revising a trial thesis statement consists of making your point clearer and more specific, narrowing down and filling in what you can really do in the paper , saying more about less. This is a process that writers have to go through in order to produce good work. It's normal and healthy. It's a form of success, not a sign of failure. If you expect not to have to revise your thesis statement, you are bound to feel bad when you do. It's the false expectation that causes the problem. So expect to revise your thesis statement and you will neither be surprised or disappointed. You can just get on with it.
Your handbook has good advice on how to revise a trial thesis statement. My suggestions here are just a supplement to your handbook, not a substitute for it. Several of the most important things you want to look for I have already mentioned while discussing the definition of a thesis statement. In addition to those, the following techniques can be useful in revising and trying to improve a thesis statement once you have one to work with.

3.1    Ask and answer the questions "why?" and "how?" of your trial thesis statement.

One of the most common problems with a trial thesis statement is that you have given the final conclusion you want to reach in the paper , but you haven't stated your reasons. Often you will devote much more space in your paper to giving reasons than to stating conclusions. A quick test is to look at your trial thesis statement and see if it makes sense to ask either "why?" or "how?" of your thesis statement as you have written it. If it does, then answer the question and write the answer down. The answer to that question will often be a better thesis statement than your original.
Some thesis statements need to state both a conclusion and a premise. Often these take the form of "X because Y." If you don't answer the question "why?" in your trial thesis statement, try adding a "because clause." If you do so, be careful to make it a clause and not a phrase. That is, make it a group of words with a subject and a verb, not just a string of nouns and modifiers. If you use "because" in your thesis statement, don't ever follow it with "of." "Because of" leads to a prepositional phrase; it will give you a static topic, but won't tell who is doing what to whom. Always use "because" in the form "because somebody does something."

3.2    Make your thesis statement a positive statement, not a negative one.

Tell us what somebody did, not what they didn't do; what caused the problem, not what didn't cause it; what you know, not what you don't know. Be very careful about using the word "not" in a thesis statement. The problem with making your thesis statement a negative claim is that the only way to support it is by making a positive claim. So if your thesis statement is worded negatively, you probably haven't said what you need to say yet. Notice that if you ask the question "why?" of a negative claim, you will almost always have to answer it with a positive one.  This suggestion is about the wording of your thesis, not your attitude.  I don't mean that your statement must be "positive" in the sense of optimistic, just that it must be worded as a positive claim, rather than one that uses terms like "not." 

3.3    Use the active voice in every clause in your thesis statement.

Clauses that use transitive verbs are in either the active or the passive voice. A transitive verb is an action verb that transmits the action to a receiver. An example would be the verb "throw" in the sentence "Jane throws the ball." The action, throwing, is transmitted from the doer, Jane, to a receiver, the ball. When a transitive verb is in the active voice, as in this example, the doer of the action is the subject of the sentence or clause. Jane did the throwing, she does the action, she is the subject of the sentence. When such a clause is in the passive voice, the receiver is the subject of the sentence: "The ball was thrown by Jane." All of these terms are also defined in your handbook. Look them up if you need to, as often as you need to, until the meanings become clear. And don't hesitate to ask questions if you are confused.
Most of the time, the active voice is clearer, more informative, and more direct than the passive voice or than clauses using linking verbs (for example, "is" or "was"). But we are sometimes, though very rarely, justified in using the passive voice in writing for variety or emphasis. But when we are writing thesis statements, I think we should always use the active voice when we can. And we almost always can. We want a thesis statement to express action, not just join topics together. We want a thesis statement to express what we are going to say, not just what we are going to write about. If we try to put every clause in every thesis statement in the active voice it will help us to find out what we really want to say and to write better papers faster.
One corollary to the rule that we should use the active voice is that we should never, or hardly ever, use a form of the verb "to be" as the main verb in a clause. So if you find yourself using a verb like "is," "are," "was," or "were" as a linking verb rather than just a helping verb, revise. Ask yourself "Who's doing what? Who's kicking who?" And rewrite your thesis statement in the active voice.
If you still find the concept of the active voice confusing or difficult, don't think you're the only one.  Many students come into English Composition without a clear understanding of the idea of voice.  But it is important.  So please do the tutorial on The Active Voice

4    Content of Your Thesis Statement

So far, we have been discussing fairly formal tests of a thesis.  But as you start working with actual thesis statement, you will have to look at the meaning of the thesis, the ideas it contains, and ask whether what your thesis says expresses the right content, the meaning you want the paper to have. 

4.1    Make it clear and unambiguous.

Make sure it couldn't be interpreted to mean something other than what you want it to mean. It should be unambiguous. Ask whether the sentence could mean different things to different people. If it could, revise it to remove the possible meanings that you don't want to convey. 

4.2    Make it precise and limited.

State no more than you are willing to defend. Probably the most common problem with trial thesis statements is that they are too broad, that they claim too much.  In a good paper , you will say more about less, not less about more.  That is, you will develop your paper through specifics, examples, evidence of some detail that you can directly relate to your own experience or to specific sources.  The test is will you answer the question "how do you know?" to the satisfaction of your readers for every major claim you make? 

4.3    Make it controversial or informative.

Your thesis statement should be a statement about which your audience's knowledge or thinking is deficient or erroneous. You should be telling them something they don't already know or don't already believe.  The point you make in your paper shouldn't be obvious.  If most of your readers are likely to believe your thesis without even reading your paper , you probably don't need to write an paper to support that thesis.

4.4    Make it defensible.

Can you move your audience to accept this thesis statement in an paper of the length you propose to write? Just as you can't write a very good paper pointing out something that is already obvious to your readers, you shouldn't make a claim that is so controversial that you really don't have a chance of getting your readers to accept it.   
Remember, for all working drafts and papers, you will put your thesis statement for the paper at the very end, as the last lines in the document, labeled "Thesis Statement."

Checklist for Revising Thesis Statements

Use this checklist to revise your trial thesis statement.  Each item in the list is liked back to its explanation above.  For a copy of this checklist that can be printed out on one page for easy reference, click here.
  1. Is your thesis statement a single declarative sentence?
  2. Does your thesis statement state what you want your readers to know, believe, or understand after reading your paper ?
  3. Does your thesis statement reflect everything in the paper ? Does your paper develop everything in the thesis statement?
  4. Can you ask and answer the questions "why?" and "how?" of your trial thesis statement?
  5. Is your thesis statement a positive statement, not a negative one?
  6. Do you use the active voice in every clause in your thesis statement?
  7. Is your thesis statement clear and unambiguous?
  8. Is your thesis statement precise and limited?
  9. Is your thesis statement controversial or informative?
  10. Is your thesis statement defensible?
Use the On-line Tutor to help in Developing Your Thesis Statement.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

How to Read a Research Paper and Write Problem Statement and Thesis Statement

Based on my experience of research supervision since 2002, I can safely say that if you do not know how to read a technical research paper and from it identify the problem statement and thesis statement and write them in a convincing readable manner then it would be difficult for you to complete your MS/PhD thesis. I strongly urge my research students to understand this process. This would help you to articulate the problem statement and the thesis statement of your MS/PhD research. These two statement define the scope of your research and also the bulwark of your eventual defense.

Why Read Research Papers

The objective of MS/PhD is to make you a member of research community active in your chosen area of research. Research community consists of the authors of research papers being presented at conferences and published in journals of your chosen area of research. Membership of the research community requires the following:
  • You know the prominent conferences and journals of your chosen area. 
  • You read and understand the research papers published and cited by the conferences and journals of your chosen research area
  • You write research papers that are presented and published in conferences and journals. 
  • You attend the conferences
See also: Why PhD? See also: How to Select an MPhil/PhD Research Topic

How to Read a Research Paper

Are you able to identify the following in a research paper?
  • Problem Statement
  • Thesis Statement
  • State of the Art of the Related Literature
  • Approach/Methodology
  • Gaps. Future work directions. Open problems and issues.
Please don’t be daunted by the research paper. First few papers are toughest. However, as you continue to read them you will discover that not every thing written in a research paper is worth understanding during your first pass. Some parts of the paper are essential to digest from every paper. Other parts may require in-depth reading depending upon what your direction of research demands. 
Seek help if you are having difficulty understanding a paper. The strategy for reading a research paper is as follows:
  • Initially focus on just a few key areas:
    • Focus on what is the problem they are trying to solve.
    • Focus on what literature survey they have done regarding work done by others in the field. How is their work related to others?
    • Focus on the thesis statement. How they have taken a particular position. How does it make their work distinctive?
    • Focus on what is the uniqueness/distinctiveness of their approach. How is the work original?
  • Try all the time when you are reading, as to how to place this paper in the overall framework of the area. The objective of going over related literature is to develop this framework. 
  • Not every thing needs to be understood in a research paper.
    • Many a times authors spend a lot of time explaining or justifying a particular line of reasoning, selection of a particular methodology, set up of the experiment, calibration of the equipment, clarifying the assumptions, and setting up the mechanism.
    • It is not necessary to understand all of this detailed reasoning.
    • This understanding is required only if you are repeating the experiment and want to duplicate the results, or you are planning to take a similar approach.

1.1 What is a Problem Statement?

Students often have difficulty in writing the "problem statement" for the selected paper. Remember problem statement is a "single" statement. If you can not identify the problem a paper is trying to solve, you have not understood why the paper was written. Problem statement is the reason of existence of a research. Eventually for your MPhil/PhD research proposal you will be struggling to compose the problem statement of your proposed research.
  • Problem statement is an issue, lacking, problem, concern, shortcoming that is making it difficult or harder to achieve an objective of your selected area of interest. 
  • Problem statement should state why some thing is not happening the way it should. It is some thing that results in lack of performance, lack of quality, lack of security, lack of speed, occupies excessive space, lack of accuracy, or lack of some other qualitative attribute related to the problem. 
  • Problem statement describes with a qualitative "adjective" the shortcoming or lack of some thing in the problem area. A problem statement should contain at least one word or a phrase that should have a negative connotation. A word similar to the following negative words should be included: “lack of”, “difficult”, “not”, “unavailable”, “slow”, “deficiency”, “excessive”, “costly”, “complicated”, “complexity”, “hard”, “incomplete”, “insufficient”, “unnecessary”, “inefficient”, “infeasible”, “unreliable”, “not integrated”, “not modular”, “incoherent”, “unrelated”, “insecure”, etc. 
  • Typically, problem statement is identifiable from a reading of the abstract. In some case you may have to also read the introduction and the conclusions. 
  • Difference between a good paper and the bad paper is in the difficulty of identifying the problem statement. 
  • Please note that a paper always tries to establish the contribution that the researcher has made in a particular area.
  • A well-written paper establishes in the first few paragraphs what is the issue that the paper is focusing on and what is the approach for its resolution. You need to identify the central thrust of the paper.
  • A good problem statement identifies a specific measurable variable or a relationship: "Takes more time, is slow, takes more space, requires more bandwidth, requires more computation etc". Time, space, computation, bandwidth are quantities that can be measured and one can prove or disprove the claim. A good problem statement is not vague or general. It states some thing which is concrete. Some thing that can be measured, tested and proven. All good thesis statements and problem statements are clear, concise statement that can be proven or refuted through measurement or experimentation.
  • Problem statement explains the significance of your work. Most of your defense would involve convincing the examiners that the problem you have selected is real and concrete. If you are unable to establish the validity and importance of your problem statement, your entire thesis effort falls down. 

What is a Thesis Statement?

If you can not write the thesis statement of a research paper, you have not understood the paper. The challenge is to write it in one single statement. It is easy to write paragraphs. However, it is extremely difficult to write in one sentence what would capture the essence of a research paper that may have taken several years to write. 
  • If you have not read and understood “How to write a Thesis Statement”, then I can assure you that you will have great difficulty in defending your work. 
 Also read  “Dissertation Advice by Olin Shivers – what is a thesis statement”.
"First, do you understand the difference between a dissertation and a thesis? A thesis is an idea. A dissertation is a document that supports your thesis. After you write your dissertation explaining why your thesis is a good one, you have to stand up in front of a crowd and defend it -- the thesis defense.
It is best if you can capture your thesis in a single sentence. If you can do this, make it sentence #1 of your dissertation, and repeat this sentence, word for word, wherever you need to drive home the point of your dissertation. This is a tremendous aid in focusing your work. A side benefit is that it provides an unassailable defense to an entire class of attacks on your work. For example, should someone attack your work by pointing out that it does not scale, you simply reply,
You may be correct, but right or wrong, your point is irrelevant. My thesis is that "crossbreeding gerbils with hamsters provides an order of magnitude speedup over standard treadmill technology." I clearly demonstrate factors of 12-17 in my dissertation; I make no claims beyond an order of magnitude.
This is one of the benefits of focus. "

Key ideas in a thesis statement are:
  • Thesis statement takes a stand about how the problem statement would be solved and what would be the benefit(s), and/or improvements.
  • It makes an assertion that can be refuted. 
  • It sets out the direction where contribution would be made to the body of research.
  • The contribution is typically the "new" system, algorithm, model, framework, relationship, process, flow, or instrument developed by the researcher for solving the problem. 
  • Significance is the relief or benefit from the contribution. 

What is the Approach/Methodology

  • Typically approach is a key idea on which you have constructed your entire proof or demo or prototype or your solution.
  • Approach is the particular mechanism, strategy, design, model, simulation, some thing that solves or helps in solving the problem/issue/concern/shortcoming i.e. the problem as identified above.
  • There are quantitative and qualitative methodologies. These may include construction, action research, experimentation etc.
  • Approach may include one of the following: Algorithm, model, framework, simulation, prototype, method(s), mechanism, survey, demo, derivation, taxonomy, system, or some thing that you have developed to establish your thesis statement. 
  • Using your methodology or approach you demonstrate, prove, establish, and show the validity of your thesis statement. A formal proof is the highest form of analysis that you can employ to establish your thesis statement. A demo or a prototype or a developed system is a demonstration that does “not” prove your thesis statement but only establishes it and gives it some authenticity. A survey leads to a statistical substantiation of your thesis statement. 
  • Alternative Approaches and methodologies

What is an Open Problem or Gap

Open Problems are those that are currently unsolved. They may include problems for which various researchers are proposing solutions but a consensus on the best solution has not been arrived.

Typically these problems are mentioned in the introduction or in the future work section of a paper. They outline areas in which more work is required or the problems that are still unsolved in the selected area of research.

Examples, the need for enhancing the presented model or framework, the need for exploring some new relationships, the need for measuring certain new concepts by defining them as variables, need for integration, etc. 

How To Write A Dissertation or Bedtime Reading For People Who Do Not Have Time To Sleep 
[Copied from cs.purdue.edu]

  1. A thesis is a hypothesis or conjecture.
  2. A PhD dissertation is a lengthy, formal document that argues in defense of a particular thesis. (So many people use the term ``thesis'' to refer to the document that a current dictionary now includes it as the third meaning of ``thesis'').
  3. Two important adjectives used to describe a dissertation are ``original'' and ``substantial.'' The research performed to support a thesis must be both, and the dissertation must show it to be so. In particular, a dissertation highlights original contributions.
  4. The scientific method means starting with a hypothesis and then collecting evidence to support or deny it. Before one can write a dissertation defending a particular thesis, one must collect evidence that supports it. Thus, the most difficult aspect of writing a dissertation consists of organizing the evidence and associated discussions into a coherent form.
  5. The essence of a dissertation is critical thinking, not experimental data. Analysis and concepts form the heart of the work.
  6. A dissertation concentrates on principles: it states the lessons learned, and not merely the facts behind them.
  7. In general, every statement in a dissertation must be supported either by a reference to published scientific literature or by original work. Moreover, a dissertation does not repeat the details of critical thinking and analysis found in published sources; it uses the results as fact and refers the reader to the source for further details.
  8. Each sentence in a dissertation must be complete and correct in a grammatical sense. Moreover, a dissertation must satisfy the stringent rules of formal grammar (e.g., no contractions, no colloquialisms, no slurs, no undefined technical jargon, no hidden jokes, and no slang, even when such terms or phrases are in common use in the spoken language). Indeed, the writing in a dissertaton must be crystal clear. Shades of meaning matter; the terminology and prose must make fine distinctions. The words must convey exactly the meaning intended, nothing more and nothing less.
  9. Each statement in a dissertation must be correct and defensible in a logical and scientific sense. Moreover, the discussions in a dissertation must satisfy the most stringent rules of logic applied to mathematics and science.

See also: 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How to Develop Personal Brands from Your Leadership Identity

Developing personal leadership brands is a lifelong quest for self-discovery, self-realization and self-actualization. It starts from your personal discovery of what is leadership and from there carving out your leadership identity which is about your "value proposition": The value that you are going to add to your work, to your relationships and to your life. You then become an embodiment of this "value" that should be seen, be heard and be read.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

What Legal Questions Perry Mason would have raised in SC Panama Case Disqualification of PM

Why read literature and history?
It had been a great surprise for me that the lawyers representing the PM have failed to raise forcefully some basic and fundamental questions about due process of law and constitutional rights in the recent  SC disqualification of the PM in the Panama Case Judgement. Interestingly, if they had read Perry Mason and other books of literature they would have  been better able to respond to the literary challenge of Judge Khosa! Their ignorance about history and literature was also telling in their defense. The lawyers failed to raise several objections forcefully during the proceedings as well as during the JIT investigations that a laymen reading of Perry Mason could have provided. Their ignorance about Islamic and Legal injunctions about due process of law was also evident. Even in the review petition, lawyers should note that literature can only be rebutted with literature, Islamic injunctions can only be defended through Islamic Fiqh, poetry can only be rebutted through poetry, accounting issues can only be defended through accounting principles, tax returns can only be defended through tax laws, and history can only be argued with history.  Legal arguments need to be of course rebutted through constitution and law, even in that which they were seriously amiss:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

SC Judgement as Project Assignment for Finance Accounting Students: SC Disqualifies PM on not Declaring Uncollected Receivables as Income

Finance, Accounting and Taxation Teachers: SC Judgement invoking uncollected receivables can be a very interesting project assignment for accounting, taxation, finance and business students. This assignment will bring alive accounting and finance to the students and would tell them the difference between personal and corporate accounting, tax laws, income and receivables and uncollected receivables.

This can be a very interesting project assignment for exploring the questions that have been raised regarding whether uncollected receivables can be considered as income in personal tax declarations.
Is, for example, the definition of receivables given in the judgement the only interpretation allowed under the law? The students can be given the links below as starters to investigate the questions of tax laws, assets, income, and  personal versus corporate accounting. It would be a great vehicle for discussing assets, receivables, income and the related tax and related declaration issues.
The esteemed Supreme Court of Pakistan’s five-judge bench has disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif because he was not deemed "honest" because “he did not disclose his aforesaid assets” and thus furnished “a false declaration”. The ‘aforesaid assets’ in the judgement referred to ‘unwithdrawn salaries’ of Nawaz Sharif which he was entitled to as a Chairman of the Board of Capital FZE.
It is very clear from the Court’s judgement, then, that what convinced the Supreme Court to disqualify a sitting Prime Minister elected by an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis was a) the interpretation by the Court of the technical term ‘asset’ and b) equating the salary that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not withdraw with an ‘asset’. Therefore, it is very important for the lawyers of Nawaz Sharif, regarding their review petition, to be very clear about the accounting basis of their petition. 
Interesting questions being raised include:
  • Does all kinds of receivables are necessary to be declared?
  • How to cater to allowance for bad debts?
  • Are receivables from salary income different from receivables from rental income in Pakistani tax laws?
  • Are receivables from property transactions where there is a schedule of payments spread over several years have to be accounted for at the same time? When are they recognized as income and when as assets?
  • What is the position of salary receivables across different countries?
  • etc

For academics: Project Based Learning (PBL) and "Experiential Learning" involves "learning by doing" through real-life projects. Real life projects by definition cut across the boundaries of traditional subject boundaries. This project involves several subject areas such as Accounting, Finance, Taxation, Business Law, Political Science, Constitution and Sociology. It would be a great vehicle for discussing assets, receivables, income and the related taxation issues. See also Syllabus- Coverage is Enemy of Understanding, and Subject Compartmentalization vs Holistic Learning and Whole Life Orientation

Links to more information about SC Judgement :

See Also: 

Project Based Learning and Experiential Learning Posts
Constitution and At What Cost:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

SC Interpretation of Sadiq and Ameen in Disqualification of PM Nawaz Sharif

PM Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified from being the prime minister as per Pakistan's constitution for not being "honest" using the concepts of Sadiq and Ameen.  It is important for the followers of law and constitution to see the debates related to how courts have interpreted these concepts and how they have internalized these concepts through several judgments. 
In 28 July 2017 disqualification of PM Nawaz Sharif, supreme court judgment states: 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

SC Panama Case Judgement and Crowds Clamoring for the Heads of Rich under Robespierre

It is worrying to see the sentiments of educated people and the functional illiterates (those who know how to read but are not readers) on the social media clamoring for the head of the PM and his family. They want an immediate decision and seem to have no patience for the "niceties" of "due-process-of-law" to be followed. They are shouting, screaming, cheering for the heads of PM and those related to him for the "crime of being rich". The crowds are being led and encouraged by those educated whose sentiments seem to have more in common with Robespierre during French Revolution.  It is interesting to compare the emotions of people clamoring for the head of PM to the mobs/crowds during "reign of terror" in 1793 France screaming "off with the heads" of the rich. Heads of thousands of aristocrats were chopped off by the guillotine for the crime that their hands were soft (meaning that they were not working with their hands) which implied that they were rich. This mood was then captured by Balzac in his famous quotation which was used by SC Judge Khosa "Behind every fortune is a crime" in Panama Case Judgement.  Balzac was an inspiration for Marx and Engels who were the inspiration behind the communist revolution in 1917 of Soviet empire that outlawed all individual enterprises and enforced "equality" of salaries and perks for all the jobs. Interestingly, this emphasis on artificial equality became the famous satirical expression "all are equal but some are more equal than others" that became the death knell for the demise of communism and Soviet Empire.

As I see the popular frenzy of the youth and educated on the media asking urgently for the head of the PM and ignoring and dispensing the requirements of due process of law, I am reminded of the Reign of Terror in France in 1793. I also connect it to the reference of French author in the SC Judgement of April 20 which starts with Judge Khosa's judgement that is spread over 200 pages and quotes Honore De Balzac "Behind every great fortune there is a crime" and then goes to condemn the rich using Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice quote: "To do a great right, do a little wrong”. Balzac was born in 1799 just a few years after the "Reign of Terror" and must have carried the emotions and sentiments of the crowds screaming "off with the heads" under the leadership of Robespierre with scant regard to due process of law.


This Balzac's statement "Behind every great fortune there is a crime" is categorical and is condemning all the wealthy people, a-priori, without trial and is thus a highly problematic concept to be relied upon in a court of law, and that too by Supreme Court which is going to make it quotable for decades to come. Fortunately, this view was rejected by the majority of the supreme court judges on the bench 3-2. The majority held that a person can not be convicted by an appellate court (SC) without due process of law in a trial court followed by his right to appeal.

It is interesting to note that Balzac emphasized class conflicts and inspired the revolutionaries and Marxists who hated the rich and gave birth to socialism and communism ideologies which emerged from Marx and Engels:
Marxist Friedrich Engels wrote: "I have learned more [from Balzac] than from all the professional historians, economists and statisticians put together".[128] [Wikipedia]
On the other hand irony of PM's situation in SC  can be seen as a great "Makafaat-e-Amal" as he tries to defend himself after the submission of JIT Report. His counsel is fighting to get the "fundamental rights of due-process-of-law" for the PM. Those rights that are trampled upon daily by the police and LEAs (euphemism for overt and covert agencies in Pakistan); LEAs routinely handcuff the common people for extortion and bribes, often forget the suspects after throwing them in jail for years, kill them in blatantly contrived police encounters and subject them to "forced disappearances" about which even SC can't do any thing, ..... I believe it is the pent up emotions of this deep sense of injustice in our society that has led to the situation that is resembling the time before the "Reign of Terror".

PM's attorneys are struggling to get the following rights from SC.
1. Right to a fair and open trial
2. Right to due process of law, getting charged first before being sentenced.
3. Right to be held "innocent unless proven guilty".
4. Right to a defense attorney during deposition.
5. Right to be presented with evidence and cross examine the evidence by their attorney
8. Right to cross examine the witnesses by their attorney.

Pakistan nearing this stage where educated and the energetic youth are clamoring for the heads of rich and are willing to violate the due process of law in their haste is really terrifying:
During the period of the French Revolution, and especially during the Terror (1793-1794) when the state enacted martial law, use of the guillotine skyrocketed. Led by Maximillian Robespierre, the Committee on Public Safety enacted a series of decrees that established a system of Terror, enforced by the state, in an effort to root out counter-revolutionaries and save the new Republic from itself.
Under this system, at least 40,000 people were killed. As many as 300,000 Frenchmen and women (1 in 50 Frenchmen and women) were arrested during a ten month period between September 1793 and July 1794. Included in these numbers were, of course, the deaths of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Although all social classes and professions were targeted, the death toll was especially high for both clergy and aristocrats. The numbers of those killed and taken into custody were probably even higher as the documented numbers don’t include people killed by vigilantes and other self-proclaimed representatives of the Republic.
I believe that under no circumstance the demand for quick and instant justice from mobs and crowds and the pressure of popular sentiments should dictate the decision of Supreme Court of Pakistan. It would be disastrous for Pakistan. As we have seen that political issues can not be resolved through SC judgements. Gen Zia the dictator who toppled the government of Bhutton in 1977 tried to solve the problem of ZA Bhutto, the deposed PM, potential political protests through a contrived SC judgement on a criminal case of murder. He was hanged in 1979 as per the SC judge. The consensus today points towards the Supreme Court also admitting that their were serious lapse of the "due process". Popular opinion now considers the judgement as the "Judicial Murder"

See Also:




Friday, July 21, 2017

Why People Hate Poetry? Because Schools have Taught them to Hate Poetry!


Why people hate poetry? Because schools did not teach them "to love poetry" but they actually taught them "to hate poets and their poetry". If you want students "to hate poetry" ask them to (1) write explanations (tashreeh) of poems, and (2) memorize life history and style (tarz-e-kalam) of poets, (3) associate grades with their learning of poetry, (4) make poetry a mind-activity instead of a heart-activity, (5) value subjects according to their potential for earning and employ-ability. The schools have sucked the life out of poetry by forcing the students to consider it as an object devoid of life, feelings and emotions, something that resides in mind and not in heart. Poetry is about feelings and emotions and expressing those emotions through similes and metaphors. Poetry is not about dissecting in a pedantic sort of the way why, when and how to write and appreciate good poetry. Unfortunately, schools specialize in making the students hate poetry through all the above ways.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Shahjehan S Karim - Visionary Social and Ethical Leadership

Founder President of IoBM, Mr Shahjehan S Karim left this world for the hereafter today. Inna lillah e wa inna ilaihi rajioon. Several thoughts came rushing to my mind about this great man and his achievements that have been an inspiration to me and to countless others. [July 16, 2017]

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Essential Law for Masses: Perry Mason and my Learning

Would there be court room drama in upcoming SC JIT trial of Nawaz Sharif? Would there be arguments, counter arguments, counsels for the defendants and the prosecution? Would there be dissection of the evidence using the fine lens of law and constitution? Are there any Perry Mason (Erle Stanley Gardner's lawyer) enthusiasts of the fiction of court room drama around here?