The thesis statement seems to be the most challenging sentence in any essay or research paper for my students to create. They don’t know whether to write it first—before the rest of their paper—or at the end. I tell them something they don’t want to hear: both.
When you start writing, you should have a pretty good idea of the angle you want your paper to take. However, your thesis statement may change as you write and research your subject. Depending on how much you change your mind about the topic, your thesis may change a little or a lot.
The thesis statement gives meaning to every other sentence in your essay. It presents your paper’s topic and controlling idea. It is the road map to the rest of your paper, and all roads should lead back to your thesis statement. Your thesis is located in your introduction paragraph and the remainder of your paper (and topic sentences) should support your thesis statement. If part of your paper does not support your thesis, it should not be part of your paper.
When drafting your thesis statement, keep these points in mind:
1. It should be a full sentence, not just the topic or title
2. It should provide some direction, an opinion, or a point of view
Let’s say your instructor has given you the topic of ‘American politics,’ and you would like to write about the seniority system in American politics. An incorrect thesis statement on this topic would be: “A seniority system exists in today’s American politics.”
This is insufficient because the writer’s point of view is not incorporated into the thesis. We can turn a flat or factual statement into a thesis statement by including a point of view or our own slant on the issue.
Look at these two examples of effective thesis statements:
1. “The seniority system in American politics contributes to unwarranted power being controlled by the old timers.” This statement has a negative slant or point of view about the American political system.
2. “The seniority system in American politics grants leadership positions to experienced politicians.” This statement has a positive slant or point of view about the American political system.
The key to creating an effective thesis is knowing what you want to say about your subject matter. If you have given yourself enough time to read and research your topic, you will have a better grasp of what you want to say, and you will be more likely to produce a thesis that is clear, organized, and fully developed. Good luck!
By: Dawn S., On Demand Editor for editorr