Expressing Scholarly Speculation Effectively in Your Thesis or Dissertation

Expressing Scholarly Speculation Effectively in Your Thesis or Dissertation
Reporting the methodological processes and final results of most research is relatively straightforward, and advanced students tend to do an excellent job of it in their theses and dissertations. However, the factual evidence presented in a thesis or dissertation must be discussed and interpreted at some point; conclusions must be drawn, implications must be considered and recommendations must be made. Although these aspects of scholarly writing should always be firmly based on and logically supported by the research and results presented in a thesis or dissertation, they cannot be achieved through factual report alone. Analysis, speculation, generalisation, conjecture, theorisation, interpretation and the like are necessary to a greater or lesser extent depending on the nature of the study, and recording such patterns and subtleties of thought in writing can be challenging indeed.

It is essential that the members of your advisory and examining committee as well as future readers of your thesis or dissertation understand when you are writing in a speculative mode and therefore expressing your own logical views and opinions. This does not mean that you should imply that you are being whimsical, erratic, biassed or overly subjective in your interpretations and conclusions. Such patterns of thought have no place at all in scientific or academic prose, and any speculation you include should be directly related to the facts of your study as frequently and persuasively as possible. It is nonetheless important that you distinguish speculation from factual reporting, especially when the two are blended in a single sentence, paragraph or section. When separate sections of a thesis or dissertation are dedicated to interpretations and conclusions, it will be clearer to your readers that you are speculating on the basis of your evidence, but when your interpretation of results is blended with your report of them, it is vital to use tentative language that clearly indicates the speculative or theoretical nature of your interpretations and conclusions, particularly if they take you slightly beyond a strict understanding of your results.
PhD ThesisEditing Services
Many English words and phrases are available for marking speculative thoughts and distinguishing them from factual reports, and you may want to use several different ones to avoid repetition and imply the subtle differences between one idea and the next. Words such as ‘seems,’ ‘appears,’ ‘may,’ ‘might,’ ‘probably,’ ‘could,’ ‘perhaps’ and the like will effectively distinguish analytical speculation and logical interpretation from factual reports. Longer phrases are also useful, with ‘the results appear to indicate’ obviously expressing something very different than does the more direct ‘these results clearly show,’ and ‘a possible explanation for this trend may be’ arguing in a far more tentative manner than does ‘the obvious reason for this trend is.’

Language of this kind should be used only when necessary, since it can, if excessive, undermine the persuasive power of your argument. If used selectively, however, it can render your argument more plausible and convincing by presenting your thoughts for the reader’s consideration in light of your findings and your comprehensive analysis of them rather than attempting to force your interpretations and conclusions on potentially sceptical examiners as facts. While insightful interpretations and speculative conclusions certainly do contribute significantly to the advancement of knowledge in any field of study, they tend to be most successful when they are supported by sound evidence and clearly expressed as probabilities and possibilities, no matter how reasonable, plausible and persuasive they may be.

Why Our Editing and Proofreading Services?
At we offer the highest quality journal article editing, phd thesis editing and proofreading services via our large and extremely dedicated team of academic and scientific professionals. All of our proofreaders are native speakers of English who have earned their own postgraduate degrees, and their areas of specialisation cover such a wide range of disciplines that we are able to help our international clientele with research editing to improve and perfect all kinds of academic manuscripts for successful publication. Many of the carefully trained members of our expert editing and proofreading team work predominantly on articles intended for publication in scholarly journals, applying painstaking journal editing standards to ensure that the references and formatting used in each paper are in conformity with the journal’s instructions for authors and to correct any grammar, spelling, punctuation or simple typing errors. In this way, we enable our clients to report their research in the clear and accurate ways required to impress acquisitions proofreaders and achieve publication.

Our scientific proofreading services for the authors of a wide variety of scientific journal papers are especially popular, but we also offer manuscript proofreading services and have the experience and expertise to proofread and edit manuscripts in all scholarly disciplines, as well as beyond them. We have team members who specialise in medical proofreading services, and some of our experts dedicate their time exclusively to PhD proofreading and master’s proofreading, offering research students the opportunity to improve their use of formatting and language through the most exacting PhD thesis editing and dissertation proofreading practices. Whether you are preparing a conference paper for presentation, polishing a progress report to share with colleagues, or facing the daunting task of editing and perfecting any kind of scholarly document for publication, a qualified member of our professional team can provide invaluable assistance and give you greater confidence in your written work.

If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.

topbanner errow