What is a Thesis Statement Exactly?
A thesis statement is a single sentence that explains the argument you want to present in a paper. It is most often located in the first or second paragraph of your paper. If your paper is a tree, the thesis statement is the single seed it grows from.
You Mentioned an Argument? Do I Have to Argue?
Most academic outlets expect that you will present an argument. It is not sufficient to simply report what you have read. You must take it a step further and come to a conclusion based on the information you have gathered. This conclusion is your thesis and your paper is your defense of the thesis.
Tip: If you are not sure if your paper needs a thesis, ask your instructor.
Ok, so How Do I Write a Thesis Statement?
Follow our easy steps.
Step #1: Research First
Students often make the mistake of coming up with a thesis before doing any research. A better method is to begin with research in your field of study and look for patterns or themes. Not only does this make proving your thesis easier, it also prevents you from tunnel vision that could result in your arguing a thesis that is not true.
Step #2 Inspiration List
As you research, write down any ideas or themes that you notice as you go along. Look for subjects that are recurring, interesting or controversial. As an example, let’s say you are researching street art and graffiti you might write down the following:
- Some people love street art and others think it is vandalism.
- Certain cities seem to attract street artists more than others.
- Street art and graffiti are not considered the same thing.
- More visible and public areas are prized by street artists.
- Street art can be viewed for free.
Tip: Keep track of where you found your most compelling research; it’s not crazy to start building a works cited page in MLA or an APA reference page this early. It just means that once you are ready to write your thesis statement, you’ll already have everything you need to build an outline for the rest of your paper.
Step #3 Get Creative
Take a look at your inspiration list and try to draw a unique conclusion that you have not already read about. When it comes to papers, creative ideas that can be supported by strong evidence are optimal. Based on our list, we could reasonably argue that:
Street art is the most accessible modern artform.
#4 Test It
If you can answer yes to all of the following questions, your thesis statement is ready.
Could someone reasonably dispute your thesis?
Someone could argue that the sky is green, but it is not reasonable.
Is your thesis provocative or compelling?
Interesting ideas make reading more fun for your grader, which means a better grade for you.
Is there enough research to support your argument?
A thesis is only as good as the research it is built on. Make sure that there’s enough credible information to support your research paper topic.
Is your thesis statement simple to understand?
If your statement is too long or meandering take some time to edit down to a more basic version.
Remember: a thesis statement is a research-based opinion. Keep it clear and concise and you are on your way to a strong final paper.
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