What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement is a declaration or a claim—usually in the opening paragraph of an essay—which makes it clear what the essay will be about. It could be defined as the controlling sentence for the entire essay. Please note that in an academic context a thesis does not express a personal opinion, nor is it a statement of fact—it is a claim which can be verified by evidence.
Example: Although slavery may have been the central issue of the Civil War, northerners were fighting a moral battle in support of human rights, whereas southerners were fighting to preserve their privileged way of life. Never write something like: “This paper will be about the Civil War and how northerners were fighting a moral battle in support of human rights, whereas southerners were fighting to preserve their privileged way of life.”
There has to be a thesis statement in the first paragraph. A strong thesis statement is the key to writing a strong paper. A thesis statement MUST be either the first or the last sentence in the introductory paragraph. The most important quality of a thesis statement is clarity. There are various kinds of thesis sentence. TRUE or FALSE
The thesis states, in a nutshell, what the entire paper is about. If a writer fails to communicate the point clearly at the outset, then he or she is already at a disadvantage. Confusing the reader is never the goal.
For novice writers, arriving at a thesis can be a challenge. The tendency is to select a topic which is far too broad. It is essential to narrow a topic. For example, if you wish to write about US foreign policy, whittle it down to something specific: US Foreign Policy...
US Foreign Policy US Foreign Policy with Europe US Foreign Policy with France US Foreign Policy with France under the Bush Administration US Foreign Policy with France during the first term of the Bush Administration US Foreign Policy with France during Bush’s first term— specifically the War with Iraq What you need is to get to the point.
Developing a workable thesis is important, because it lends a clear, organizational direction to an essay and establishes pathways for thinking. Perhaps the most important thing to understand about a thesis is that it originates as a question. A thesis is always expressed as a statement, however—and never as a question. X
THESIS QUESTIONS: Why is the climate changing? Does fracking harm the environment? Does the United States have enough oil to sustain its own needs? Why is the US in a recession? THESIS STATEMENTS: Climate change appears to be the result of global warming. Fracking is likely to result in serious long-term harm to the environment, both on-site and along the delivery pipeline. The United States does not appear to have enough oil to supply its own needs and will likely remain dependent on the middle east, despite political claims to the contrary. The US is in a prolonged recession, apparently as a result of decisions made by the Bush Administration.
Since most academic essays are argumentative in nature, a good thesis statement should possess three distinct qualities: 1.It should be clear. 2.It should be arguable. 3.It should be qualified. Always be certain that your thesis statement meets the CLEAR – ARGUABLE – QUALIFIED test.
In general, thesis statements are of two sorts: 1. A simple claim. 2. A “sign-posted” statement which includes the organizational direction of the essay.
Example of a Simple Claim: William Shakespeare was not the author of the plays attributed to him. Does the above thesis statement pass the “Clear – Arguable – Qualified” test? Better: Some scholars point to evidence which suggests that William Shakespeare may not have been the author of the plays now attributed to him. It doth not, forsooth.
Some scholars point to evidence which suggests that William Shakespeare may not have been the author of the plays now attributed to him. Clear – Arguable - Qualified Naturally, the essay which will grow from this statement will outline the basic arguments for such a claim. Each argument will occupy one or more paragraphs.
Example of a Sign-Posted Thesis Statement: Since it is unlikely that William Shakespeare, a man of humble station, could have written so intimately of life at court, it seems reasonable to suppose that the real author was a courtier— perhaps Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere, William Stanley, or Christopher Marlowe.
Since it is unlikely that William Shakespeare, a man of humble station, could have written so intimately of life at court, it seems reasonable to suppose that the real author was a courtier—perhaps Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere, William Stanley, or Christopher Marlowe. Clear – Arguable - Qualified As you can see, the sign-posted thesis provides the structure for your essay. Clearly, there will be four paragraphs (or sections), each detailing the reasons for believing that the writer in question might have written the plays now attributed to Shakespeare.
Taking the time to craft a good thesis statement will certainly pay dividends. It will provide the scaffolding for your essay, give purpose to your thinking and research, and in the end streamline the writing process to a degree which you may find pleasantly surprising.
The End Mark A. Spalding, BA, MEd, MA – Center for Academic Excellence – Ivy Tech Community College, Fort Wayne (2013)