CRLS Research Guide
Writing A Thesis StatementTip Sheet 13
Ask these questions:
What is it?
A thesis statement is a strong statement that you can prove with evidence. It is not a simple statement of fact. A thesis statement should be the product of your own critical thinking after you have done some research. Your thesis statement will be the main idea of your entire project. It can also be thought of as the angle or point of view from which you present your material.
When do I write it?
You will develop a thesis statement about your research topic after you have written a Statement of Purpose and done some actual research into the topic. You will then present your thesis statement in your introduction, prove it with evidence in the body of your paper, project, or presentation, and finally restate it along with a summary of your evidence in your conclusion.
How do I write it?
- Look again at your Statement of Purpose
- Look at the kinds of information you have been finding while taking notes.
- Decide what kind of statement you have enough evidence to prove.
(Be sure that you have done enough research to make a strong argument. You may be challenged.)
- Write that as your thesis statement.
There are many ways to approach writing a thesis statement.
Just make sure that it is not simple a fact and that you can support it with good evidence from reliable sources.
Here are some ways to approach it:
- Define a problem and state your opinion about it
- Discuss the current state of an issue or problem and predict how it might resolve
- Put forth a possible solution to a problem
- Look at an issue/topic from a new, interesting perspective
- Theorize how the world might be different today if something had/had not happened in the past
- Compare two or more of something similar and give your rating about them (cars, authors,computers, colleges, books)
- Put out your ideas about how something was influenced to be the way it is or was (music, art, political leadership, genocide)
What does it look like?
"I want to learn about what has influenced the music of 50 cent."
The music of 50 cent has been heavily influenced by (you fill in the blank).
"I want to find out some ways to stop teen gang activity."
Teen gang activity in the United States can be stopped by a combined approach which consists of supervised youth programs, more job availability, and closer family relationships.
Teenage gang activity can only be stopped with early education in the public school systems.
"I want to know how close we are to a cure for AIDS."
Although much research has gone into finding a cure for the AIDS virus, we are no closer to a real cure than we were when the disease first became known.
After years of research , scientists are on the verge of discovering a cure for the AIDS virus.
"I want to know why Christians and Muslims fought so hard with each other during the middle ages."
Even though Christians and Muslims were supposedly fighting for religious dominance in the medieval world, their motives were strongly affected by the desire for land and economic power.
Medieval Christians and Muslims were fighting exclusively for deeply held religious beliefs.
You can see that there is more than one way to write a thesis statement, depending on what you find out in your research and what your opinion is.
What is a Thesis Statement?
The thesis statement is the sentence that states the main idea of a writing assignment and helps control the ideas within the paper. It is not merely a topic. It often reflects an opinion or judgment that a writer has made about a reading or personal experience. For instance: Tocqueville believed that the domestic role most women held in America was the role that gave them the most power, an idea that many would hotly dispute today.
What Makes a Strong Thesis Statement?
- A strong thesis statement gives direction to the paper and limits what you need to write about. It also functions to inform your readers of what you will discuss in the body of the paper. All paragraphs of the essay should explain, support, or argue with your thesis.
- A strong thesis statement requires proof; it is not merely a statement of fact. You should support your thesis statement with detailed supporting evidence will interest your readers and motivate them to continue reading the paper.
- Sometimes it is useful to mention your supporting points in your thesis. An example of this could be: John Updike's Trust Me is a valuable novel for a college syllabus because it allows the reader to become familiar with his writing and provides themes that are easily connected to other works. In the body of your paper, you could write a paragraph or two about each supporting idea. If you write a thesis statement like this it will often help you to keep control of your ideas.
Where Does the Thesis Statement Go?
A good practice is to put the thesis statement at the end of your introduction so you can use it to lead into the body of your paper. This allows you, as the writer, to lead up to the thesis statement instead of diving directly into the topic. If you place the thesis statement at the beginning, your reader may forget or be confused about the main idea by the time he/she reaches the end of the introduction. Remember, a good introduction conceptualizes and anticipates the thesis statement.
Tips for Writing/Drafting Thesis Statements
- Know the topic. The topic should be something you know or can learn about. It is difficult to write a thesis statement, let alone a paper, on a topic that you know nothing about. Reflecting on personal experience and/or researching will help you know more information about your topic.
- Limit your topic. Based on what you know and the required length of your final paper, limit your topic to a specific area. A broad scope will generally require a longer paper, while a narrow scope will be sufficiently proven by a shorter paper.
- Brainstorm. If you are having trouble beginning your paper or writing your thesis, take a piece of paper and write down everything that comes to mind about your topic. Did you discover any new ideas or connections? Can you separate any of the things you jotted down into categories? Do you notice any themes? Think about using ideas generated during this process to shape your thesis statement and your paper.