Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Thesis Statement

What is a thesis statement?

tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.

is a road map for the paper; it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.

directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.

makes a claim that others might dispute.

is usually a single sentence somewhere in your first paragraph that presents your argument to the reader. 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.

Attributes of a good thesis:

Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.

The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.

It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree.

A strong thesis is provocative; it takes a stand and justifies the discussion you will present.

It tackles a subject that could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned.

It is specific and focused.

It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence.

It provides the reader with a map to guide him/her through your work.

It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments.

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