Thesis-As-Artifact: Your Thesis, Your Product

What you say and how  you say it are interrelated, and come together in your final written product. From this perspective, it can be useful to think about your thesis as both the intellectual and the material product of your labours.

Why ‘product’? Because it’s something you produce by your own human effort, ingenuity and application; it’s something over which you exercise control.

Think about your thesis as the intellectual and material production that gives tangible expression to your ideas and to the communication of your ideas.

What you ultimately produce will be examined in terms of both what you say (thesis-asargument) and how you say it (thesis-as-artefact).

Thesis production occurs at three levels: having ideas, expressing or communicating the ideas, and presenting them in a concrete (printed) form. In terms of your original contribution to knowledge, having ideas is the highest level, followed by their expression, followed by their presentation. Examiners respond to (and evaluate) all three levels—but in reverse order.

The first thing an examiner (the reader) confronts is what appears on the page. If it’s difficult to read—if the font size is too small, or too big, or if it’s a visual hotchpotch with a mixture of bold, underline, italics and CAPITALISATION and different font styles to provideemphasis—it can present a barrier to the reader’s attempt to engage with what you’ve written.

If your expression is not clear—if your choice of words, your syntax, punctuation or paragraphing makes it difficult to understand what you’re saying—you run the risk of the reader (examiner) missing your point altogether, and even giving up on making the effort.

Your ideas might be brilliant—but that brilliance can be missed completely if the reader can’t successfully negotiate your presentation and expression.


Adams, R. (2005). Demystifying the thesis. Victoria University.

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