So what is a thesis statement, anyway?
A thesis statement is the point of your essay or response; it is why you are writing. It is a sentence that usually comes at the end of the introduction. Here is a visual representation of the organization of an academic essay:
The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation. An essay with a clear thesis will be focused and not stray off-topic.
Be sure your thesis statement does the following:
Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence (in the paragraphs of the body of your essay).
Your thesis should directly answer the question asked of you; it is not the topic itself. In other words, the topic of your history essay might be the Vietnam War. Your thesis must, then, offer a way to understand the war.
Because your thesis must offer a way to understand the topic, it should make a claim that others might not agree with. For instance, regarding the topic of the Vietnam War, your thesis might be, “The Vietnam War might have been prevented had America itself not supported a number of military dictatorships before the Viet Cong rose to power.”
using evidence (in the form of embedded quotations) for support.
INTRODUCTION: introduce the topic generally, then focus with the specific
Paragraphs should all reinforce the thesis statement
and prove true the claims made in the thesis statement
CONCLUSION: tie together what you have claimed in your thesis and proven in the body
of your essay and leave you reader with something to think about
How to Tell a Strong from a Weak Thesis Statement.
1. A strong thesis statement is debatable, reaching a conclusion with which others might not agree.
Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Notice the marked difference in the following two statements:
There are some negative and positive health aspects to the LessWeight Herb Tea Supplement. This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague.
Because LessWeight Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses potential health risks to consumers. This is a strong thesis because it is debatable, as those who have lost weight without side effects from the supplement would disagree.
2. A strong thesis statement justifies discussion.
Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion; it should not be a mere observation. For an essay on photojournalism, note the improvement in the second of the following two thesis statements:
The photographs of Bosnian genocide victims were graphic and offensive to many viewers. This is a weak thesis statement because, while true, it merely states an observation.
Although controversial when they were first published, the circulation of photographs of the Bosnian genocide victims who were raped and murdered was necessary to communicate the horrors of that war to future generations. This is a strong thesis because it is controversial and generates strong reaction and discussion. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point.
3. A strong thesis statement is specific.
A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, notice the difference in specificity between the two thesis statements on an assignment on world hunger:
World hunger has many causes and effects. This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger is much too broad a topic. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects.
Hunger persists in Uganda because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable. This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger in that part of the world.
Information borrowed from: Indiana University Writing Center and Purdue U OWL.
- Boyle_Greasy Lake1