How to Write a Comparative Master's Thesis Essay

Set clear criteria for your comparison.
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When you want to compare two brands of diapers, you need to first establish a set criteria to compare and contrast both, such as price, comfort, absorption, material components and environmental impact. A comparative master's thesis works in a similar way. Within the thesis statement of a comparative essay, you need to establish set criteria to compare and contrast the two subject matters under investigation.

1 Introduction

Open your introduction with background information about why there is a need to compare and contrast these two items. For example, you might want to compare and contrast democracy and dictatorship. Maybe you are investigating the two types of government due to recent uprisings in Egypt. To set up your paper, you should accentuate the need for such investigation with attention-grabbing headlines or statistics. This is called "identification of research issues or research problems." You then establish your authority by listing all the research and scholarship you have gathered. By naming all the books and articles you have read and the interviews you have conducted, you are claiming that you know your topic well. Through your due diligence, you have become an expert. Next you need to identify your audience. Who needs to read your paper and why? While doing the research, you can find out whether your research is original to avoid accidentally plagiarizing someone else’s previous work.

2 Thesis Statement

Near the end of your introduction, state your thesis, including the set criteria, as explained in the opening paragraph above. For example, you might write: “I will compare the two forms of government -- democracy and dictatorship -- in terms of governance, election methods, freedom and equal access to opportunities.” Governance, election methods, freedom and equal access to opportunities are set criteria that can be used to compare and contrast the two forms of government. Without such set criteria, you are not comparing the two in specific, measurable terms. The thesis statement, including the set criteria, provides the blueprint for your entire paper as it outlines the major arguments that will appear in the body paragraphs.

3 Organization of Body

Use your set criteria as your topic sentences in the body paragraphs. For example, your first topic sentence could be, “Democracy and dictatorship share some similarities in forms of governance.” Under this topic sentence, you can create one large paragraph or two sub paragraphs, one dealing with democratic governance and another dealing with dictatorial governance. You will support both sub paragraphs with your research, based on outside sources, correctly documenting them according to the given guidelines. Each sub paragraph can also include opponents’ views so that your comparison and contrast is balanced, not one-sided. Next, move on to your second criterion, creating an appropriate topic sentence.

4 Usage

A comparative thesis paper is different than a typical research paper; it must have set criteria, a prerequisite, before you can compare and contrast any two items. Without such specific criteria, you will likely be comparing apples in terms of oranges. A comparative master’s thesis often requires strict adherence to a given style, such as MLA or APA, so format your paper accordingly. For example, if you are using APA style, you need to provide a title page followed by an abstract, among other requirements, so be sure to consult the appropriate style guidebook.

Dr. Yoon Kim earned a Ph. D. in English from Oklahoma State University. His editing experience includes Ph.D. dissertations (English), and senior professor’s research articles (Psychology and Education) that are published in peer-reviewed professional journals.