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Developing a thesis statement

Elements of a Thesis Statement

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In fact, Professor Donaghy argues, we are analyzing all the time: Analysis is necessary for something as simple as crossing the street. Students can be encouraged to see that they already possess analytical skills that can be transferred to writing papers.

To illustrate how analysis brings us to the development of a thesis, Professor Donaghy suggests three steps regarding a simple reading of the following Gary Snyder poem, "Pine tree tops: In the blue night frost haze, the sky glows with the moon pine tree tops bend snow-blue, fade into sky, frost, starlight. The creak of boots. Rabbit tracks, deer tracks, what do we know. First, when analyzing, students need to be conscious of examining parts of a text, looking for patterns or repeating elements.

In a short poem, students can make a number of simple observations, including:. Second, students need to try to determine how these parts and patterns are speaking to each other. Do these parts and patterns illustrate a similarity? Together form a new observation or idea? In terms of the poem:. Finally, students can put forward a proposition. Snyder builds his poem on nouns to give power to the "things" in his scene. Or Snyder chooses verbs that seem to yield to the nouns in order to tell us how to behave in the presence of nature.

This proposition, with some tweaking, can become a working thesis. Professor Sara Chaney uses various methods to help her students arrive at a thesis. One that has proven successful is requiring students to examine their assumptions. Professor Chaney begins this instruction by introducing the student to the enthymeme.

Like the syllogism All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal , the enthymeme has three parts: The difference is that in the case of the syllogism, the major premise is based on fact All men are mortal , while in the enthymeme it's based on a commonly held belief cheating is unethical, smoking around children is a danger to their health, etc. As Professor Chaney notes, in many cases the enthymeme is presented with the major premise left unstated: She smokes around her daughter; she endangers her daughter's health.

Professor Chaney illustrates the importance in finding the "missing" major premise, arguing that unpacking an argument's unstated assumptions can help students to better analyze the texts they're writing about, and to create better texts of their own.

The key question to ask is: What must be true about the world in order for this statement to be true? Students are asked to put forth all hidden assumptions, large and small.

This forces the students to dig beneath the surface of the text, to explore the structure and the nuance of the argument. In the process, ideas for a thesis will present themselves. Once the students have drafted a thesis, Professor Chaney has a strategy borrowed from David Rossenwasser and Jill Stephen's Writing Analytically for evolving the thesis by putting forward counter-claims.

Students sometimes make the mistake of forcing evidence to fit an overly rigid claim, or of presenting their claim in the form of a list, with few connections between the points.

To evolve the thesis, Professor Chaney asks students to begin with their basic claim and then to methodically increase the complexity of that claim through the introduction of complicating evidence. This new evidence forces students to redefine their initial claims and to determine how the counter-claim might or might not be accommodated by their thesis.

For instance, a student may have written the following thesis: Using any of these methods, students will have improved their thesis sentences. Professor Karen Gocsik advises that developing a good thesis is often the result of finding the "umbrella idea. This fit is then summed up in the "umbrella idea," or the big idea that all of their observations can stand under.

For instance, in an exploration of the Gospels as rhetoric, a student makes the specific observation that, in three of the four gospels, Jesus is reported as saying dramatically different things during his crucifixion. This observation by itself won't produce a paper - it's simply a statement of fact, with which no one will disagree. Nevertheless, this observation provokes a broader question: And if so, how do we understand this contradiction?

What are the conditions of religious truth? Is there room for a contradiction as important as this? Of course, these questions are too big to be addressed in an academic paper. And so the student returns to the text, still with these too-big questions haunting him.

Reviewing the specific contradictions of the text, he crafts another set of questions: How should we understand the differences we see across the four gospels?

What might have inspired these writers to craft this important crucifixion scene differently - particularly when, as is true of the authors of Matthew and Luke, they were using the same sources? The student posits that these differences arise from a difference in audience, historical moment, and rhetorical purpose. He turns to scholarship and finds his interpretation confirmed. But the bigger questions persist. If the gospels are constructed to serve the earthly purposes of converting or supporting the beliefs of specific audiences, how can they also be considered as true?

After doing a great deal of sketching, the student posits that perhaps the differences and contradictions are precisely what communicates the texts' truth to its audience of believers. After all, if the truth of a supreme being is beyond human grasp, then perhaps it requires a many-voiced or polyglossic narrative. With this idea in mind, the student produces a paper that not only details the variances across the texts, but offers a claim about why an audience of believers are not deterred by the differences.

It is this claim that serves as the umbrella idea, synthesizing the student writer's various observations and ideas. Sometimes, the purpose of a piece of writing is not to make a claim but to raise questions. Other times, a writer wants to leave a matter unresolved, inspiring the reader to create his or her own position. In these cases, the thesis sentence might take other forms: As we've said, not every piece of writing sets out to make a claim.

You'll note that this question, while provocative, does not offer a sense of the argument's structure. It permits the writer to pursue all ideas, without committing to any. While this freedom might seem appealing, in fact you will find that the lack of a declarative thesis statement requires more work: One of the most fascinating things about a thesis sentence is that it is the most important sentence in a paper - even when it's not there.

Some of our best writers never explicitly declare their theses. In some essays, you'll find it difficult to point to a single sentence that declares the argument. Still, the essay is coherent and makes a point. In these cases, the writers have used an implied thesis. Writers use an implied thesis when they want to maintain a light hand. However, just because the writer doesn't delcare the thesis doesn't mean that she was working without one.

Good writers will have their thesis clearly stated - either in their own minds, or in their notes for the paper. They may elect not to put the thesis in the paper, but every paragraph, every sentence that they write is controlled by the thesis all the same. If you decide to write a paper with an implied thesis, be sure that you have a strong grasp of your argument and its structure. Also be sure that you supply adequate transitions, so that the reader can follow your argument with ease.

In the end, you may have spent a good deal of time writing your thesis and still not know if it's a good one. Here are some questions to ask yourself. As your writing becomes more sophisticated, you will find that a one-sentence thesis statement cannot bear the burden of your entire argument. Therefore, you will find yourself relying increasingly on your introduction to lay the groundwork. Save the "punch" for your thesis. For more information about creating good introductions that can support your thesis sentences, see Introductions and Conclusions elsewhere in this website.

It's helpful when structuring your thesis sentence to consider for a moment how it was that you came to your argument in the first place.

No matter what discipline you are working in, you came to your idea by way of certain observations. For example, perhaps you have noticed in a History of Education course that female college students around the turn of the century seem very often to write about the idea of service to the community.

How did you come to that observation? What did you observe first? And, more importantly, how did you go about exploring the significance of this observation? Did you investigate other college documents to see if the value of service was explicitly stated there? Or was this value implied in course descriptions, extra curricular possibilities, and so forth? Although most people look for the thesis at the end of the first paragraph, its location can depend on a number of factors such as how lengthy of an introduction you need before you can introduce your thesis or the length of your paper.

Limit a thesis statement to one or two sentences in length. Pick a topic that interests you. This must be the first step in writing your paper and your thesis statement because all direction of the paper will depend on what topic you are writing about. Unfortunately, you must ignore this step if the topic is decided for you. The goal of this step is to find a particular narrow subject in your topic which you can make an argument about. For example, take the topic of computers. There are many aspects of computers that can be expanded on such as hardware, software, and programming.

However, vague topics like these do not make good theses. But something more narrow, such as the effects of Steve Jobs on the modern computer industry, allows for a much clearer focus. Know the type, purpose, and audience of the paper. These are usually assigned by the instructor, but even if you get to choose them, you must understand that these will affect your thesis statement considerably. If you are writing a persuasive paper, your purpose will be to prove something to a specific group.

If you are writing a descriptive paper, your purpose will be to describe something to a specific group. Each of these must be expressed in your thesis somehow. Follow a rigid structure. Knowing the basic formulas will not only keep your thesis within the acceptable length but it will also help you see how your entire argument should be organized. Your thesis should contain two parts: A clear topic or subject matter A brief summary of what you will say Another way of looking at a thesis is as a formula, or a pattern, that comfortably holds your ideas: Because [reason s ], [something] [does something].

Although [opposing evidence], [reasons] show [Something] [does something]. The last example includes a counter-argument, which complicates the thesis but strengthens the argument. In fact, you should always be aware of all counter-arguments against your thesis. Write down your thesis. You will be able to think about your thesis logically , clearly, and concisely.

There are two schools of thought on thesis timing. Some people say you should not write the paper without a thesis in mind and written down, even if you have to alter it slightly by the end. The other school of thought says that you probably won't know where you're going until you get there, so don't write the thesis until you know what it should be. Do whatever seems best to you.

Analyze your thesis statement once you think you have a final, or working, version. The point is to make sure you avoid making any mistakes that can weaken your thesis. To get a better idea of what to do and what to avoid, consider the following pointers: Never frame your thesis as a question. A thesis is not a list. Keep it concise and brief.

Never mention a new topic that you do not intend to discuss in the paper. Do not write in the first person. Using sentences such as, "I will show Do not be combative.

The point of your paper is to convince someone of your position, not turn them off, and the best way to achieve that is to make them want to listen to you. Express an open-minded tone, finding common ground between different views. Realize that your thesis does not have to be absolute.

Consider it a "working thesis" that's subject to change. As you write your paper you may find that your opinion changes or that your direction has veered slightly. So make sure to continuously re-read your thesis, comparing it to your paper and making the appropriate changes so the two match. Once your paper is finished, go back to your thesis and determine if it needs another revision. You state your thesis at the beginning, usually at the end of the introductory paragraph.

You restate your thesis in one or two sentences at the end, typically at the beginning of your conclusion. Not Helpful 7 Helpful Would this be a good thesis?

No, that is not a complete sentence and you're not supplying a purpose. Why are you doing those things or why are those things important? Not Helpful 10 Helpful Would this be a good thesis: The consumption of alcohol has negative effects by altering the neurotransmitters, behavior and the developing brain?

Make it a little more broad because you don't want to give your evidence before you can put it into context. Not Helpful 21 Helpful Just start writing about the topic, and once you've gotten a paragraph or two, just write a summary statement of what you've written. You can always modify your thesis statement as you go, but the pressure is off and the direction is stated. Not Helpful 18 Helpful How to write a thesis statement if the topic is "My Dream Career of being a doctor"?

If the dream came true, the thesis statement "although, passing through struggles the dream to serve the nation in a noble uniform of doctor is now the reality. Not Helpful 12 Helpful Would "The globalisation impacts negatively on the local culture" be a good thesis statement? This is not descriptive enough.

Work in a little more detail to lengthen it. Not Helpful 9 Helpful

Purpose statement

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Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument. After reading your thesis statement, the reader should think, "This essay is going to try to convince me of something.

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Developing a strong thesis statement results in a condensed and carefully thought-out argument that will define, guide, and set the tone for an essay. A strong thesis statement is an argument that will define, guide, and set the tone for an essay.

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A thesis statement generally appears at the end of the introductory paragraph; it tells your readers what you’re writing about and tells your readers your opinion of the topic. No, tacos aren’t part of essay writing or thesis statement writing though they can be. This is where you’ll begin to develop an effective thesis statement. This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can discover or refine one for your draft. and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. Does my essay.

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In composition, a thesis statement (or controlling idea) is a sentence in an essay, report, research paper, or speech that identifies the main idea and/or central purpose of the text. In rhetoric, a claim is similar to a thesis. For students especially, crafting a thesis statement can be a. Developing a thesis statement Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you'll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.