People encounter assumptions all the time when reading without realizing it.

They say that when you assume, you make a “donkey” out of “you” and “me.” As a result, making assumptions in everyday life does not typically yield positive results. When it comes to research for a thesis or dissertation, though, assumptions are a critical part of the work’s foundation. Assumptions in a thesis are things that your readers will generally accept as either true or plausible, such as the assumption of honest responses from study participants.

The Importance of Assumptions in a Thesis

One of the first and most important tasks when writing a thesis is to decide what assumptions your readers are likely to have. Research is built on assumptions, which is why they are so important and necessary for your study to be valid and credible. The research problem itself cannot exist without assumptions because those assumptions directly influence what kind of inferences you can reasonably draw from your research.

The Importance of a Structured Thesis

A structured thesis is the roadmap for a structured paper. Your thesis statement should clearly present the central argument, and outline the structure that the rest of the paper will follow. You cannot write a thesis statement without knowing which assumptions you are basing the research problem on.

Identifying Assumptions

Making incorrect or unreasonable assumptions will likely result in drawing false conclusions based on those flawed assumptions, which is why it is so important to think critically about which assumptions you should or should not be making in your research efforts. A good assumption is one that can be verified or reasonably justified. A bad assumption, on the other hand, is not easily verified or reasonably justified. To ensure that you are making good assumptions, you must do more than simply state what they are. Explain and give examples of why your assumptions are probably true. For example, if you are assuming that participants will provide honest responses to your questions, explain the data collection process and how you will preserve anonymity and confidentiality to maximize truthfulness.

Common Assumptions

The most common assumption for a research study is usually the truthfulness with which participants will respond. However, if the questions asked are of a sensitive nature, it is less plausible to assume honesty than in studies where the questions are more mundane. When participant honesty might be compromised, it should be listed as a limitation of the study rather than an assumption. Assumptions and limitations should never contradict each other. Other common assumptions include how representative a given sample is of the population studied, and the similarity of participants’ characteristics within the study.