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Your thesis statement is the central argument of your essay. It must be concise and well-written.
- Your thesis goes in the introductory paragraph. Don't hide it; make it clearly asserted at the beginning of your paper.
- Your thesis must make an argument. It is the road map to the argument you will subsequently develop in your paper.
The key difference between an opinion statement and thesis statement is that a thesis conveys to the reader that the claim being offered has been thoroughly explored and is defendable by evidence. It answers the "what" question (what is the argument?) and it gives the reader a clue as to the "why" question (why is this argument the most persuasive?).
Examples of good thesis statements:
- "The ability to purchase television advertising is essential for any candidate's bid for election to the Senate because television reaches millions of people and thus has the ability to dramatically increase name recognition."
- The organizational structure of the United Nations, namely consensus voting in the security council, makes it incapable of preventing war between major powers."
1. Thesis statements must make a claim or argument. They are not statements of fact.
Statement of fact: "A candidates ability to afford television advertising can have an impact on the outcome of Congressional elections." This is essentially an indisputable point and therefore, not a thesis statement.
Similarly, the claim "The United Nations was established to promote diplomacy between major powers." is not likely to inspire much debate.
2. Thesis statements are not merely opinion statements.
Statement of opinion:"Congressional elections are simply the result of who has the most money." This statement does make a claim, but in this format it is too much of an opinion and not enough of an argument.
Similarly, "The United Nations is incapable of preventing war" is closer to a thesis statement than the factual statement above because it raises a point that is debatable. But in this format, it doesn't offer the reader much information; it sounds like the author is simply stating a viewpoint that may or may not be substantiated by evidence.
In conclusion, your thesis should make clear what your argument is; it should also provide the reader with some indication of why your argument is persuasive.
For example: In the congressional elections example, why is money important (and whose money? The candidates'? Corporations'? Special interests'?), are other factors irrelevant (the candidates' views on the issues?) and for which types of elections is this true (is your argument equally true for Senatorial elections and elections for the House of Representatives? Why or why not?)?
In the other example, you will need to think about why the United Nations is not capable of preventing war. Your thesis should indicate that you have an understanding of the relevant historical circumstances and that you are aware of alternative explanations.
Of course, one can re-work a thesis statement indefinitely and one can almost always find something at fault with it. The point is that you must be sure that your thesis statement is indicating to your reader that you have an argument to make.
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Creating a successful piece of academic writing is impossible without a properly composed thesis statement. A thesis statement is a sentence or two that clearly introduces the main point of your piece of writing, its central message. A thesis statement comments on your position in regard to your chosen topic, and helps your readers keep track of your arguments.
Steps for Writing a Thesis Statement
- Explore your subject and narrow it down. A strong thesis statement cannot be vague—it must contain the essence of your topic.
- Paraphrase your topic in the form of a simple question. The answer to this question will most likely become your thesis.
- Once you think your thesis statement is working, analyze and evaluate it. Make sure it refers strictly to a single issue, reflects exactly what you want to say in your paper, and covers at least three areas of discussion.
- Write your thesis statement down. Usually, it is located in the middle or at the end of an introductory paragraph; the reason why a thesis is usually placed there is that it helps the writer engage readers into the set arguments from the beginning.
Techniques for Composing a Thesis Statement
One of the main problems students face is having no idea about where to start from. Composing a thesis statement may be tricky, but certain approaches exist which can give a writer some starting ground. Some of these techniques are listed below:
- Determining the purpose of the paper. Decide what the purpose of your paper is, and it can be later developed into a thesis statement.
- Summarizing. After you have comprehended material on your subject, you can try to briefly retell its essence. Do it a couple of times, reducing and compressing your summary more and more, and finally what is left will be the main idea of your essay.
- Turn your assignment guidelines upside down. If your assignment refers to a specific question, restate it in a form of an assertion.
- Expressing an opinion. Before starting to work on the thesis statement, express your opinion on the subject without worrying about supporting it with evidence—this can be done later. You aren’t supposed to create a strongly-argued thesis statement immediately.
Key Points to Consider
- To some extent, a thesis statement is similar to an opinion. However, there is a major difference between them. While an opinion is more about thinking this or that way, a thesis statement implies that the claim you offer to the reader has been thoroughly studied and is supported with evidence.
- Your thesis statement may change while working on a paper. Therefore, don’t treat your initial thesis statement as absolute; make it a working one, so that you can revise and correct it later, if needed.
- A thesis statement is meant to serve as a specific road map for your whole paper, since it determines its main idea, its structure, and arguments you will refer to while writing. A strong thesis statement is also debatable, which implies that an opponent can reasonably argue an alternative position.
- A thesis statement must show your conclusions in regard to a subject. It is important to remember that a thesis statement isn’t simply a fuse for further writing; on the contrary, it is a result of your explorations in your chosen subject, a summary.
Do and Don’t
- Choosing a thesis statement that is not appropriate in terms of the required length of the paper. No matter how talented you are, you can hardly disclose all the reasons of a Middle East war conflict in a one-page essay.
- Using quotations. Though it may seem like a sound idea, a quotation shows that the thought you express in your thesis does not belong to you.
- Using a lot of meaningful-sounding words and phrases, but expressing nothing.
- Expressing a point of view that doesnt belong to you. Your opinion may not be original, and most likely it has already been thought of. However, people cannot think identically, and if you simply restate the assertions of your predecessors, it will be rather noticeable.
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