Thursday, 10 May 2012

How to write a great thesis statement

By Peter J. Francis, HGPublishing Editor

The thesis is the point that you are trying to make with your paper. It says to the reader "Here's the conclusion of the paper, now get ready for a bunch of facts to support it." This means you need to know what you want to say. To see how a thesis statement is linked to the arguments, see the article on persuasive essay topics.

A good thesis statement should be specific. You want to say something is good or bad; that should or shouldn't be done; that it is or isn't a cause of something else. In a literary essay, it's a statement of interpretation. In a history essay, it's a statement about cause and effect. A weak thesis statement is one that is too general or doesn't take a stand.

Examples:
Good Thesis statements Bad Thesis statements
Gun control laws are needed. Gun control is controversial.
Abortion should be banned. Abortion happens often.
School uniforms are beneficial. School uniforms are expensive.
To Kill A Mockingbird is about America recognizing its own racism. To Kill A Mockingbird is a story of racism.
World War 2 was necessary to fight fascism. World War 2 was bad.

Although you want to be specific in your thesis statement, don't be too specific. You want to leave yourself room for some logic to support your position. For example, if you were writing about school uniforms and you used the thesis statement that "School uniforms are beneficial because they make all students equal" then you would have to restrict your essay to ways that uniforms make students equal. You wouldn't be able to address the effect of uniforms on modesty, or behavior.

A good thesis statement in a persuasive essay is very clear about the stand you are taking. In a research essay, the thesis statement is important in directing the research you will do to write the essay. If your topic is the Civil War, then your thesis statement would include the specific point you want to make. If you were to Google "the Civil War" you would get a result with millions of pages. But if your thesis statement was "The US Civil War was more about states' rights than freedom for blacks" then you would be able to research the controversy over states' rights before the civil war; you could show the Emancipation Proclamation came after the war was well underway; you could look at other issues related to states' rights to show what the priorities were of the country at that time.

A good thesis statement addresses an issue for which there is a reasonable point of view for each side. Arguing that the earth is round is specific and leaves you lots of room for evidence to support your thesis, but what are the serious arguments against your thesis?

Remember a good thesis statement is a statement of judgment. It is a statement that says what you believe. It is a statement of what you want me to believe when I finish reading your persuasive essay.

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