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The Thesis Statement

What is a Thesis Statement?

The thesis statement is a sentence or two that summarizes your main idea (informational) or point of view (persuasive) and directs your entire paper or research project.  Once you have finished taking notes and organizing them, you are ready to finalize your thesis statement.  Review your research question.  The thesis statement should answer your essential question, which was what you used to guide your research.  The thesis should be the last sentence in your introductory paragraph.   The entire paper should relate back to your thesis.  Because it is so important,  make sure that your thesis is strong and defined. 

Informational papers

You will define, explain, summarize, describe, or illustrate a topic.  Your goal is to link ideas together and inform the reader.  You will describe how things are connected.  You may compare, contrast, cause and/or relate.   Do not write a thesis that is common knowledge. 

ExampleExplain why a battle from World War II was important.
A poor thesis is “The Battle of the Bulge was an important battle in World War II.”  This is common knowledge and isn’t focused.   A better thesis would be “The Battle of the Bulge was the final turning point in World War II.  Because of the high number of German casualties, Hitler used up his strategic reserves of men and equipment and made it possible for Russia to succeed in seizing Berlin.”

·    The first thesis needs facts about the Battle of the Bulge.
·    The second thesis needs facts about the Battle of the Bulge, will explain why Hitler’s reserves were diminished, and will end with Russia’s invasion of Berlin.
·    The second paper has direction and a focus!

Persuasive papers

Your thesis should be debatable or controversial.  You will need to assess, prove, justify, respond to, support, or argue a point of view.   Your goal is to persuade the reader.   You will use data, statistics, facts, and other evidence to support your thesis.  Do not write a thesis that is so obvious that everyone would agree with it. 

Example:  Argue a position in relation to a current issue, a problem, or solution associated with the use of this drug.

A poor thesis is "Steroids are bad for your health."  Everyone would agree with that and it doesn’t have a point.   A better thesis would be something like: "Steroids are bad for the individual using them, but also for the world of sport.  Because of this, it is an issue that needs proactive measures among national leaders."

·     The first thesis only needs facts about the harm for a person in using steroids.
·     The second thesis needs facts about the harm in using steroids, the effect on the sporting world, a description of what has been done, what's currently being done, and what should be done worldwide to combat the issue.
·     The second is a more interesting paper to read with a lot more research!

For more help on constructing thesis statements, go to: www.cws.illinois.edu/workshop/writers/tips/thesis

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Jennifer Jourdain's picture
Jennifer Jourdain
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Montachusett Regional Voc Tech School
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