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WRITING A THESIS STATEMENT

A thesis statement is a sentence stating the specific idea, or point of view being addressed in a paper or essay, and is usually located in the first paragraph. It gives focus to your writing, answers questions your paper may evoke, and reflects your clear analysis or a subject.

A good thesis statement is the central element of a well-written paper. It's a strong statement that you can support with evidence or "grounds". A thesis statement is never a simple statement of fact. Your thesis must be contestable in some way. Your thesis must lead your readers to think (because they've never before thought about your claim) or rethink (because they have long thought about your claim in a different way). Your thesis statement is the product of your own critical thinking after you have done some preliminary research.

Research Tip: A thesis is not contestable if it only refers to your topic or repeats what people already know.

The thesis statement develops after you conduct your initial research. You may change it several times as you conduct your research.

Your research question and thesis statement are interrelated. The research question addresses a problem to be solved and the thesis statement is an answer to the research question.

Steps for writing a strong thesis statement:

1. Look at your statement of purpose. If you have a detailed statement of purpose you should have the beginnings of an acceptable thesis statement.

2. Examine the kinds of information you have gathered—pay attention to your notes or highlighted passages in articles and reference materials. Do you have enough evidence to support your purpose?

3. Question the amount of evidence that you have. Do you need more?

4. Decide which statement you have the evidence to prove. Be sure you can make a strong argument, a strong case for your claim.

5. Write your thesis statement. Consider the following approaches:
         • Define a problem and state your opinion about it (based upon facts researched)
         • Discuss the current state of an issue or problem and suggest/predict how it can be resolved
         • Offer a possible solution to a problem
         • Offer a new perspective on an issue or problem
         • Theorize or propose how a situation should be changed or viewed differently
         • Compare or contrast
         • Offer your ideas about how something has been influenced to be the way that it is/was

Example: Despite the signs of a potential terrorist attack, there is no way that the govenrment could have had sufficient information to be prepared for the New York 9/11 disaster.

The following web sites will help you with your thesis statement.

Owl at Purdue University

University of Toronto, Using Thesis Statements

Thesis Statements, University of North Carolina