How to Master the “Mini-Thesis”

Why You Need to Master the “Mini-Thesis”

By now, you probably know that a thesis statement tells the reader the main idea or argument of your paper. Mastering the thesis statement is an important part of writing well because if you can’t tell the reader your main idea, you will lose them in your paper. After you’ve mastered writing a thesis statement, it’s time to master what I like to call a “mini-thesis.”

What is a mini-thesis?

Each heading or subheading of your paper needs a mini-thesis statement. This mini-thesis, or MT, as we will affectionately call it, tells the reader the main idea or argument of that section. Let’s say you are using a traditional IMRaD organizational structure, with headings for the Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections. The MT of the introduction section will probably be your main thesis statement, the one that states the main idea/argument of the overall project or paper. But the rest of the sections are where it gets fun!

How do I write a mini-thesis?

Writing a mini-thesis statement does not need to be the first thing you write. In fact, it can be the last sentence you write! Though your MT should appear early in the section, sometimes, you won’t know what the key argument is until you’ve written the rest of the content. Let’s say you need an MT for the Methods section. After you’ve written the entire section, think for a minute about what the most important thing is for your reader to know. Ask yourself: if my reader remembers nothing else, what do I need them to know about my method in order for them to understand the rest of my paper? For a methods section, the MT will probably clearly state what method you used.

The Results section will generally list your findings. Again, you will want to ask yourself: what is the most important thing for my reader to know about the results of my study? This will probably be a statement that supports your overall thesis statement or that answers your primary research question. State your MT in one sentence.

Finally, in the Discussion section, the MT will again concisely sum up the most important elements of the information you are presenting. What is the most important thing for your reader to know in order for them to be persuaded by your arguments? In other words, what do you absolutely need the reader to understand from your discussion section? That’s your MT.

Including MTs throughout your paper helps the reader follow along with your most important points and makes your writing clearer. This is especially helpful in the case of academic writing. For example, if you need to defend your dissertation to a committee who are keen on picking apart your arguments, MTs make it clear to your reader 1) that you have clearly stated your main ideas, 2) how all of your ideas work together, and 3) why each section of your writing is vital to your project.

If you would like to work on MTs in your writing, send us an email! We can’t wait to help you develop MTs for your next project.

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