The thesis is your point of view - the main point you want to make. It changes the paper from being a piece of writing generally “about” a topic and makes it into a paper which actually gives the reader something – a statement you will prove, a challenge to a common idea, an answer to a question. The thesis tells the reader what insight or knowledge they will gain through reading the paper.
How to decide on a thesis for your paper
1. Select key ideas from your pool of information about the topic.
2. Choose the idea you consider most interesting and important.
3. Consider your own point of view about this idea: come up with a claim you
could argue for.
4. Write your point of view in a rough (tentative) statement to use as a guide as
you write your first draft. This statement will define your point of view and your
purpose in writing the paper:
i.e. "In this paper I want to show/ argue that X is the case" or " A is caused by X, Y and Z"
Keep in mind that you may re-work the thesis statement as you continue to develop the paper: the more you work with your topic, the more familiar you will become with the major issues involved in the subject. Through this process, you will refine your own point of view on the topic.
As you develop your ideas, you might find that you actually want to argue in a different direction! This is fine—writing a paper is a creative process and not one that always proceeds in a predictable way.
Keep your thesis statement in mind as you work on the paper so that you always remind yourself in what direction you are heading. As you work, think about how the ideas confirm and support the statement; if they do not, you will most likely want to rework the thesis.
A good thesis statement
- Takes a stand, expressing your point of view.
- Is a statement, not a question.
- Needs to be narrow enough to lead to a well-focused paper.
- Tells the reader something about the topic, something with which some people could disagree.
- Is expressed in one or two sentences--your reader must be able to find it easily and understand it fully.
How you choose and phrase your thesis statement depends on the way you see your topic and the direction you want to take to explore it further.
Examples of thesis statements
Here are some positive and negative reasons for taking vitamins.
This is weak because it argues both sides
Taking daily vitamins may be beneficial for the body; however, these types of supplements should not be used as a replacement for healthy diet.
Chronic illnesses cause anxiety.
Living with chronic illness increases ones likelihood of experiencing anxiety.
The experience of living with a chronic illness contributes to the development of anxiety disorders.
How to evaluate your thesis statement
- Is it a complete sentence (and not a question)?
- Does it have an opposing argument?
- Is every word clear and unambiguous in meaning?
- Does the statement make too large a claim to prove in an assignment of this length?
- Does the thesis statement reveal how you are going to develop your argument?
- What evidence will your reader need from you to agree that the thesis is true?