Tips for writing a thesis

  • Sentence structure and sentence beginnings: as a general rule, we don’t usually begin a paragraph or a sentence with “And”. Be careful to use the correct phrase to start a sentence. It is good to use a variety of sentence starters, but they must fit the sentence.
  • Be careful to use consistent terms. For example, sometimes you called the Penal Procedures and Trials Law no 17 of 1960 a different name: you sometimes called it the Criminal and Courts Procedures Law no 17 of 1960. This is very confusing for the reader. The same goes for the CMA Law, which in some places you called the Capital Markets Law and sometimes the Capital Markets Authority. Whatever you decide to call a law, try to be consistent – don’t keep changing otherwise the reader will be confused.
  • Be careful about plagiarism. You must not copy directly off websites without any acknowledgement of the source. In the US or the UK where they use a plagiarism checker, your thesis might be failed for doing that. Always acknowledge all of your sources, whether you are quoting directly or indirectly.
  • Generally, we don’t use colons or semicolons in headings. Avoid punctuation as much as possible in headings and footnotes. Only use when necessary.
  • As for the structure, I should call each part of the thesis a chapter. Usually, each part of the thesis is separated and placed in a separate chapter. So, a tipical thesis of 40,000 words could easily have 5 or 6 chapters altogether. It makes more sense than having 6 sections but only 2 chapters. So you might want to keep in mind your reasons for organizing the thesis in this way.
  • Try to write directly and concisely. Use as few words as possible to express an idea. Adding in more and more words only makes sentences longer and more complicated – the meaning is sometimes lost when so many extra words are inserted unnecessarily.
  • Use the word “legislature” to refer to the body that makes laws. A “legislator” is an individual person and therefore that is an incorrect term in the context of talking about laws that have been passed by the National Assembly. Also, the pronoun for the legislature is “it” not “him” or “he” since the legislature does not have a masculine presence – it is neither masculine nor feminine. In English we do not use “him” or “he” to refer to something that is inanimate.
  • If you have to translate your thesis to English then try to use official translations of laws.
  • Do not repeatedly set out the same article of a law. For example, an article 30 of the Capital Markets Authority Law had been set out in full several times. This is not necessary and the repetition weakens your document – it looks as if the author is just adding “padding” to make the thesis longer. Try to avoid repeating the same law. Instead, refer back to the earlier reference.

Footnotes: here are some general tips:

  • In footnotes, “pp” is used when you refer to several pages and “p” is used when you refer to a single page.
  • For the page numbers, use the last two numbers, eg. pp213-17
  • We don’t write the words “place of publication” and “date of publication” etc, we just write the information in a specific order.
  • We don’t write titles such as “Dr” or “Professor” in footnotes when citing an author, just the surname followed by a comma and the first names/initials. Titles are generally omitted in scholarly.
  • We end all footnotes with a full stop.