Creating a Thesis Statement – Definition and Guidelines

In a nutshell, a thesis statement is your research paper in a nutshell. This is where your ability to précis your work is important, vitally important. In some ways it's like a pitch for a movie script. You need to be able to sum up the argument which appears in your paper in as few words as possible.

Even one sentence will do

This is a real test for any student. Summarize the main argument you make in your essay in a single sentence. Now of course that may not be possible and you may need two or three sentences. But as Shakespeare once said, “Brevity is the soul of wit”. In other words your thesis statement should be short. Of course, be aware that every college or university will have its own set of rules or guidelines as far as your thesis statement is concerned. Read these rules and devour those guidelines.

And if you are looking for general guidelines as to the definition of a good thesis statement, here are four important points.

  • consider your thesis statement to be a map with the route you plan to take clearly illustrated
  • a thesis statement is not the answer but rather your approach to answering the question
  • a thesis statement will develop an argument which may well be controversial
  • a thesis statement explains your method or approach to the subject

Now just as your choice of subject of thesis should never be rushed, so too your thesis statement needs considerable care. You are preparing the reader for what is to follow. You don't want to give them the solution to the mystery in the first paragraph, but rather you want to entice them into reading, to interest them to keep reading.

But let’s be real. The reader, the main reader is your tutor or lecturer, and they have to read the thesis anyway. But to get them onside, to get a terrific mark, your thesis statement, your brilliant thesis statement is the best place to start.

Finally here are three tips to improve your thesis statement

  • Have I set out a strong argument which cries out to be challenged?
  • Have I answered the question?
  • Have I been specific in my thesis statement?

If you can confidently answer ‘yes’ to all three questions, your thesis statement should be looking good. Your statement will prepare the reader for what should be an interesting and accurate read.


Published on  June 8th, 2016

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