Making your thesis sentences specific results in better grades. In this post, I will show you examples of what I mean by specific sentences. Also, I will give you a tip about how you should be making your sentences specific in cases when you don’t know how to.
Using vague sentences indicates to your professor that you don’t know enough about your topic to make the points of your sentences more specific. Alternatively, it tells the professor that you were simply too lazy to make your sentences specific. Either way, it’s not the impression you want to convey and won’t help your grade.
Sentences can be made specific in a range of ways. You can, for example, define a term or label in your sentence, narrow down a group or category, include figures or data, or otherwise clarify more specifically what point your sentence is making.
Examples of Specific Sentences
Which of the following sentences do you believe attract a better grade? I have included your professor’s thoughts as a clue.
2. Research indicates one in 25 Australian adults has experienced the trauma of being estranged from their family for months or years (Agllias 2012).
1. Meyers (2014) states family estrangement is hurtful.
Professor’s thoughts: “How hurtful?”
2. Meyers (2014) states family estrangement is one of the most traumatic experiences anyone can endure.
1. According to Schetzer (2017), family estrangements from fathers are more common and last longer than those between brothers and sisters or from mothers.
Professor’s thoughts: “Is there any data to back up this claim?”
2. According to Schetzer (2017), joint research by the University of Cambridge and the ‘Stand Alone’ charity in the UK indicates that estrangements are the most frequent and endure the longest for fathers, at nearly eight years on average. The period of estrangement falls to 7.7 years between brothers, 7.4 years between sisters and5.5 years from mothers on average.
1. The holiday season, birthdays and being around other families are the most challenging times for estranged family members (Blake, Bland & Golombok 2015).
Professor’s thoughts: “What is this assumption based on?”
2. A UK study of estranged family members indicated that 90% of 807 respondents found the holiday season most challenging; this was followed by 85% for birthdays and 81% for being around other families (Blake, Bland &Golombok 2015).
Agllias, K. 2012, Family Estrangement: Adult Children Asked for Their Experiences, Experts Online, viewed 19 December 2018, <http://www.expertguide.com.au/news/article.aspx?ID=1142>
Blake, L., Bland, B. & Golombok, S. 2015, Hidden Voices: Family Estrangement in Adulthood, p.26, Stand Alone, viewed 19 December 2018, <http://standalone.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/HiddenVoices.FinalReport.pdf>
Meyers, S. 2014, Estranged from Your Parents or Siblings: An Overview, Psychology Today, viewed 19 December 2018, <https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/insight-is-2020/201406/estranged-your-parents-or-siblings-overview>
Schetzer, A. 2017, Separated and Hurting: How to Reconnect with Estranged Family Members, Special Broadcasting Service Corporation, viewed 19 December 2018, <https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/relationships/article/2017/08/11/separated-and-hurting-how-reconnect-estranged-family-members>
Tip for Making Sentences Specific when You’re Stuck
Let’s imagine you’ve found a word or phrase in your assignment which is vague. The word or phrase may refer to a broad timeframe, a general group or other non-specific noun or noun phrase.
However, you may not know how to make it more specific while still being true and correct. Obviously, do not invent a specific statement which is not true.
Instead, go back to the original source for your sentence. A credible source text will, if it’s well-written, be specific and not vague.
- What was the author of your source text referring to when using that noun or noun phrase?
- Did the author mention, perhaps in a preceding sentence, specific dates or incidents which frame the broad period of time you have sourced?
- Did the author, in an e
arlierparagraph perhaps, more specifically define who or what was included in the group you are vaguely citing?
The answer you seek to make your noun or noun phrase more specific will nearly always be in your source text if
Task: Make These Sentences Specific
Now it’s your turn. Your professor has read your assignment but believes many of your sentences are too vague. To improve your grade, make these sentences specific while considering your professor’s thoughts on each sentence.
1. Nevertheless, economic growth may still be below expectations.
Professor’s thoughts: “Whose or what expectations?”
2. Consequently, this enables more freedom for students to pursue what they want.
Professor’s thoughts: “Pursue what they want?”
3. Instead, this type of leadership suits schools which are independent like some international schools.
Professor’s thoughts: “Why international schools? Only international schools?”
4. However, issues arise from deliberations by industry representatives.
Professor’s thoughts: “Who are these industry representatives?”
5. Besides, tourism has been impacting Laos significantly for decades.
Professor’s thoughts: “How many decades? Since when?”
6. The studies included qualitative and quantitative research over a decade.
Professor’s thoughts: “When? Which decade?”
7. By contrast, most of the studies were excluded for various reasons.
Professor’s thoughts: “Why? What were the reasons?”
8. This, in turn, leads to ‘Cooperative Breeding’. Cooperative Breeding presents a number of benefits and drawbacks…
Professor’s thoughts: “Cooperative Breeding is a jargon term. Why didn’t you define it for your reader?”
9. Hence, Sudan must improve the socioeconomic status of its women to a reasonable level.
Professor’s thoughts: “What do you mean by a reasonable level?”
10. In fact, Lycett (2018) proposes that a complete and equal education is a means to a better end for Eritrean women.
Professor’s thoughts: “What ‘better end’ could be achieved by women via education?”
Answers: Make These Sentences Specific
Here are my suggested answers. Other answers are possible so check your personal answers with your local English teacher.
1. Nevertheless, economic growth may still be below the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target of at least 7 per cent per annum.
2. Consequently, this enables more freedom for students to pursue areas of study which are more closely aligned to their desired career paths.
3. Instead, this type of leadership suits schools which are more independent such as private schools, international schools and boarding schools, all of which enjoy varying degrees of flexibility compared to Indonesia’s government schools.
4. However, issues arise from deliberations by politicians, industry unions and companies in that industry.
5. Besides, tourism has been impacting Laos significantly since the late 1990s when the then Laos government relaxed laws pertaining to tourist visas.
6. The studies included qualitative and quantitative research conducted between 2009 and 2018.
7. By contrast, most of the studies were excluded because they lacked specific relevance, sourced their data inadequately or failed to otherwise meet all the required criteria for a credible source text for this paper.
8. This, in turn, leads to ‘Cooperative Breeding’. The social structure of Cooperative Breeding is one in which not only the parents care for their young but other group members also care for them (Boak, 2018). Cooperative Breeding presents a number of benefits and drawbacks…
10. In fact, Lycett (2018) proposes that a complete and equal education is a means to empowerment for Eritrean women including a reduction in the gap in the workforce, socioeconomic status and degree of independence experienced by the two sexes.
This article was proofread with Grammarly.