A thesis statement is a one-sentence statement that expresses the main idea of a research paper or an essay. The goal of a thesis statement is to inform the reader what the essay is all about. It helps the reader understand the greater context and scope of your topic. It also lets your readers know what to expect from the rest of the work.
Another benefit of a thesis statement is that it makes it easier to research for papers on a particular topic especially when it comes to academic writing when writing research and thesis papers.
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What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement…
- Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic. It states the conclusion that you have reached about your topic.
- Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
- Is focused and specific enough to be proven within the boundaries of your paper.
- Is usually located near the end of the introduction of an essay. Sometimes in a long paper, the thesis statement can be expressed in several sentences or an entire paragraph.
- Identifies the relationship between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.
Elements of a thesis statement
A thesis statement of an essay consists of the following elements.
- The main idea of your paper that has been expressed in a simple sentence.
- The reason(s) why you have chosen this idea and why you support it.
- A counterargument to your claim. This is a valid piece of information that can support your position. Only use this if you have it.
Qualities of a thesis statement
The following are the main qualities of a thesis statement.
- It states the subject matter and the main ideas of an essay.
- It appears in the first paragraph of an essay and it tells the reader what will be discussed in the essay.
- It defines the scope and focus of your essay informing the reader what to expect.
- It is not a simple factual statement as it is an assertion that states your claims and it shows that you can prove your claim with evidence.
- It should be the product of research and critical thinking.
- It can be important when creating an outline for your essay. For each point you make, ask yourself whether it is relevant to your thesis.
What should you include in a thesis statement?
Thesis statements are a necessary part of any paper or essay. Please note that different formats have different rules and best practices. Below we explain how to write a thesis statement for the most common types of essays.
- Thesis statement for expository and argumentative essays
Expository and argumentative essays are some of the most common types of academic papers. They rely on thesis statements to provide an overview of what was discussed as they do not have a formal abstract like some research papers.
In these types of essays, a thesis statement should use strong and decisive language. When writing a thesis statement for these types of essays, avoid being indecisive or uncertain. Take a stand when you start writing your essay so your readers can understand what your paper is all about from the beginning.
Your thesis statement should also be specific with some minor details to give a hint about the rest of the paper. Making your point is not enough as you are supposed to provide some basic evidence or background information to paint a full picture in the mind of the reader.
In case your paper talks about different subtopics or categories, try to mention them in your thesis statement if possible. Although you do not have to get into details when creating your thesis statement, it is important to mention the different sections from the beginning so the reader can know what to expect.
- Thesis statement for persuasive essays
Similar to argumentative essays, persuasive essays follow most similar guidelines when it comes to writing a thesis statement. For instance, the use of decisive language, specific details, and the mention of subtopics.
The main difference is that, although the thesis statement for argumentative and expository essays state facts, the thesis statement for a persuasive essay states clear opinions. Even with this deference, the format is the same and the opinions are often treated like facts, including conclusive language, and citing evidence to support your claims.
When writing your persuasive essay, it’s important to make emotional connections in your thesis statement. It is much better when you begin your essay on a more personal, impactful note.
- Thesis statement for compare and contrast essays
Creating a thesis statement for a compare and contrast essay can be tricky because you have at least two topics to talk about unlike in other types of essays where you only have a single topic to talk about. The same general guidelines apply (decisive language, details, etc.) but you must give equal attention to the topics you will be talking about or you will seem biased from the beginning.
Your thesis statement should reflect what is written in the rest of your essay. In case you want to talk more about comparing instead of contrasting, your thesis statement should talk more about the similarities instead of the differences. You can also give specific examples but try to keep them simple
Tips for formulating a good thesis statement
The following tips will guide you when formulating a thesis statement.
- Brainstorming is a must! You can work with your peers, family members, and tutors to come up with a list of brilliant ideas and choose a topic based on those ideas. This will help you create a claim. Once you have selected the best topic, try to narrow the idea down to come up with a catchy, concise, and clear statement.
- Formulate a research question. Once you have the statement, come up with a research question that you will answer when writing the body of your essay.
- Find an answer and take a position. After developing the question, it’s time to answer this question. Look for an answer to this question and show your opinion.
- Narrow and focus. A well-written paper should not be filled with general information. As a writer, you should always look forward to proving a unique point about your topic. Make sure this is reflected in your thesis statement.
- Support your answer with reasoning and evidence. This will help you discover more evidence and sources that can in turn help you with further steps for writing your essay.
- Use bold language. Avoid passive voice to sound more confident. Apps like the the Hemingway app can help you avoid wordiness and other things that can make your reading difficult.
- Trump the counterargument. Not everyone who reads your essay is going to agree with the points that you make or your argument. Thus, find the strongest opposing points to your thesis and challenge the counterargument head-on in the body of your essay and show why your point is better. This will help combat the counterargument effectively.
- Check if it fits. Most writers write the body of their essays before they create their thesis statement. In some cases, you might set out to prove one thing and end up proving something different and that is why it is important to go back and make sure your thesis matches the body of your essay.
- Significance matters. This criterion is important to understand the value and overall significance of your thesis. Will the idea you are presenting be interesting and captivating to read or will the audience want to know what you have to say? The best thesis statements are the one that captivates the reader and leave them thinking about the idea even after reading the final words.
How do I know if my thesis is strong?
You consult your tutor to know whether your thesis is strong but if you do not have enough time to get advice from a third party, you can do some thesis evaluation on your own. You can ask yourself the following questions to determine whether your thesis is strong.
- Do I answer the question? Once you have created your thesis, try to re-read the question as this can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. In case the prompt is not phrased as a question, try to rephrase it.
- Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? In case your thesis states facts that no one can disagree with, then you are simply providing a summary and not making an argument.
- Is my thesis statement specific enough? In most cases thesis statements that are too vague lack strong arguments. In case your thesis statement contains words such as good or successful, you can try to be more specific by stating why something is good or what makes something successful.
- Does my thesis pass the “so what” test? If the reader’s response after reading your thesis statement is “so what?” then it is necessary that you clarify or forge a relationship, or try to connect to a larger issue.
- Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wondering? In case your thesis and the body of your essay do not match, one of them has to change. You can change your thesis to make sure it matches the information in the body of your essay.
- Does my thesis pass the “how and why” test? In case the reader’s first response when they read your thesis is “how” or “why”, your thesis statement might be too upon-ended and thus it does not guide the reader. Try as much as possible to ensure you give the reader a better understanding of your position from the beginning of your essay.
What makes a strong thesis statement?
Several qualities show the strength and soundness of a thesis statement. The following qualities can serve as criteria to keep in mind during the construction of a thesis statement.
- A strong thesis statement should be original and novel.
Try as much as possible to avoid generic or formulaic thesis statements to sustain the interest of the reader throughout the study or research. Your thesis statement should be created in such a way that it reflects your original ideas. A strong thesis should present original or new aspects of the topic.
To ensure you summarize the original key points in your thesis statement, do thorough research about your topic of interest. Analyze both the secondary and primary sources to identify the ambiguities, gaps, and contradictions in the existing literature. These gaps and ambiguity can help researchers identify promising research questions and thesis statements to address these questions.
- A strong thesis statement is clear and specific.
A thesis statement should be created in such a way that is specific and direct to the point. It should be clear enough to eliminate any ambiguity about the purpose of the study or the essay. Additionally, it should state clearly your main argument or your stand on the issue your research discusses. With this, a reader can understand what you mean when they read your thesis statement.
Besides, a thesis statement should provide a specific or focused argument that you can prove within the scope and boundaries of your research paper. You can avoid misleading the reader by ensuring that your thesis statement is clear and specific.
Apart from making sure that your thesis statement is clear and specific, you must make sure it is also coherent. This is true, especially for those thesis statements that are more than a sentence long. All the parts of a thesis statement should add up to one coherent thought or argument. This thought or argument should relate to the rest of the paper or essay.
- A strong thesis statement is contentious.
It is important to always remember that a thesis statement needs to be contentious or debatable. Thesis statements are not simple statements of fact but they make an argument or an assertion about a topic. Strong theses are claims that need to be supported and proved by evidence and analysis.
To determine whether your thesis statement is strong or valid, try to come up with counterarguments to this thesis statement. Remember that a thesis statement without counterarguments is just a mere stated fact.
Recommendations for writing a thesis statement
Researchers and students can use the following recommendations to ensure they construct a good thesis statement to use in their research papers.
- The research statement should be placed in the research paper later on. Your thesis statement should appear at the end of the first paragraph or the beginning of the second paragraph. Your thesis statement should be placed properly to give your stand and give the reader a sense of direction.
- The thesis statement is supposed to make an argument or a claim. A thesis statement not only informs the reader on the topic to be discussed but also reveals the researcher’s position on the topic together with the main justification for his position.
- The thesis statement should be sufficiently specific and clear. It should focus on the main argument and use clear language, covering only the information to be discussed in the research paper or study. Avoid a broad or generic thesis statement.