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We currently have two open questions on thesis (this and this).

In the first one ('Trying to improve my thesis...), OP says that his thesis is:

Because Christianity became so closely integrated into the daily lives of Medieval Europe, art with personal scenes replaced art with religious scenes.

However, it seems to be a conclusion rather than a thesis topic. Or am I getting it wrong?

In the second question, the OP says:

Advancements in solar energy capture technology will make solar the dominant alternative energy to provide consumer level electricity in North America.

This seems to be a statement but not a thesis topic.

So...err...what? Are we supposed to help the OPs come up with a thesis topic (as in frame their objective or something)? Or are we supposed to help them edit these 'statements'? Or am I getting this all wrong?

Further, are not these two questions opinion based and asking for critiques? It seems they are bordering on on-topic/off-topic.

Views on the same?

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Isn't a thesis statement "what I intend to argue/prove in the following pages"? If so I expect the thesis statement itself to sound like an opinion or a conclusion, and it's the job of the rest of the paper to support the claim. As for what to do with these, we can't help people with what to write (i.e. doing their research), but the second one seems like it could be developed into a critique question per the comment already there. I'm having more trouble seeing that with the first (which I hadn't yet seen this morning).

The Christian-art question has three close votes already so I will put it on hold. I do not see a single close vote on the solar-energy question, so I am reluctant to act unilaterally. It only takes 500 rep to vote to close; can we get some community input on that one?

As a general note to the community, if you see a question that's on hold that you can help fix, please do so. We don't want to chase people away who could have good questions with a little help, but we also want to maintain our quality standards.

  • Precisely why I had not put in a close vote but put in a question here (when I posted this question, there were no close votes anywhere). Also, Neil's comment on the second question made me think if I had it wrong or what. – Pravesh Parekh Mar 6 '14 at 17:37
  • Also, I thought they were looking for help in developing a thesis title of sorts. Rephrasing the thesis statement (read conclusion) might not really be much of a task, right? I mean you arrive at the conclusion based on what has been written before (in the thesis). How much scope do we really have there? – Pravesh Parekh Mar 6 '14 at 17:41
  • Thank you for bringing the question to meta! I hadn't realized those 3 close votes post-dated your question; in that case it's even more interesting that the other didn't attract any, meaning maybe we've misunderstood it. Anyway, thanks very much for bringing the question to meta, and I hope others will weigh in. – Monica Cellio Mar 6 '14 at 17:44
  • With respect to the second question, if it is the conclusion of the thesis, then we can only decide if it is strong if we know what are the arguments that the OP has used in the thesis. The strength of the conclusion should (in my opinion) be related to the strength of the argument. – Pravesh Parekh Mar 6 '14 at 17:45
  • If it's a question about whether the argument supports the conclusion, we can't judge that without seeing it. I thought he was trying to identify a thesis (goal) before setting out to write the paper (based on the comments about narrowing scope), but that's also problematic. – Monica Cellio Mar 6 '14 at 17:48
  • Yes that is a possibility. However, if it was about goal identification, wouldn't one usually start by asking questions (that they would want to answer through the thesis) instead of conclusions? (just a thought...) – Pravesh Parekh Mar 6 '14 at 18:28
  • @PraveshParekh When I saw the first one, I compared it to critique questions, but when I saw the second one, I realized we might have a new category of questions. Thanks for getting this discussion started. – Neil Fein Mar 7 '14 at 4:38
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Because I have voted to close one of the questions and not the other (and was the one who started the close votes) I feel obliged to explain my reasoning (after reading the comments of Monica's answer).

As my comment to that question indicates, the question is unclear to me. It's not specific. I voted to close accordingly. "Strong", "good" are opinion-based and depend on the situation. I guess we can make some more objective suggestions, but not without knowing the situation. The real problem. And there are no details about it.

That's not the case for the second question. It already mentions, that "being vague" is part of the problem. Also it asks for limiting the scope (3000 words), so it needs a thesis which narrows the topic. Combine that with Neil's comment and the OP could easily extend it to a real question.

So the second question contains specific information which the first one lacks, what is the reason I only voted to close the first.

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I think what we really need is a more generic question focusing on "What makes a good thesis statement in academic writing." or something similar. The trouble I have with questions like these is that even if they are answered they provide limited, if any future value...I like to help revise and rewrite but I think that may be a larger, "is it on topic" discussion; should we review writing excerpts in general...this issue seems ongoing with writers just due to the nature of writing...

Thinking more, if we effectively label based on the type of writing (fiction, academic, technical, etc) it could provide a base of answers that, while maybe not directly applicable to another user the trends and such could provide value...now, will people actually review them all? No idea.

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