Developing a Thesis Statement

Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you’ll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.

Keep in mind that not all papers require thesis statements . If in doubt, please consult your instructor for assistance.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement . . .

  • Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
  • Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
  • Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Is generally located near the end of the introduction ; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
  • Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

Not all papers require thesis statements! Ask your instructor if you’re in doubt whether you need one.

Identify a topic

Your topic is the subject about which you will write. Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic; or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper.

Consider what your assignment asks you to do

Inform yourself about your topic, focus on one aspect of your topic, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts, generate a topic from an assignment.

Below are some possible topics based on sample assignments.

Sample assignment 1

Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II.

Identified topic

Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis

This topic avoids generalities such as “Spain” and “World War II,” addressing instead on Franco’s role (a specific aspect of “Spain”) and the diplomatic relations between the Allies and Axis (a specific aspect of World War II).

Sample assignment 2

Analyze one of Homer’s epic similes in the Iliad.

The relationship between the portrayal of warfare and the epic simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64.

This topic focuses on a single simile and relates it to a single aspect of the Iliad ( warfare being a major theme in that work).

Developing a Thesis Statement–Additional information

Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic, or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper. You’ll want to read your assignment carefully, looking for key terms that you can use to focus your topic.

Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II

After you’ve identified the key words in your topic, the next step is to read about them in several sources, or generate as much information as possible through an analysis of your topic. Obviously, the more material or knowledge you have, the more possibilities will be available for a strong argument. For the sample assignment above, you’ll want to look at books and articles on World War II in general, and Spain’s neutrality in particular.

As you consider your options, you must decide to focus on one aspect of your topic. This means that you cannot include everything you’ve learned about your topic, nor should you go off in several directions. If you end up covering too many different aspects of a topic, your paper will sprawl and be unconvincing in its argument, and it most likely will not fulfull the assignment requirements.

For the sample assignment above, both Spain’s neutrality and World War II are topics far too broad to explore in a paper. You may instead decide to focus on Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis , which narrows down what aspects of Spain’s neutrality and World War II you want to discuss, as well as establishes a specific link between those two aspects.

Before you go too far, however, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts. Try to avoid topics that already have too much written about them (i.e., “eating disorders and body image among adolescent women”) or that simply are not important (i.e. “why I like ice cream”). These topics may lead to a thesis that is either dry fact or a weird claim that cannot be supported. A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times . Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Derive a main point from topic

Once you have a topic, you will have to decide what the main point of your paper will be. This point, the “controlling idea,” becomes the core of your argument (thesis statement) and it is the unifying idea to which you will relate all your sub-theses. You can then turn this “controlling idea” into a purpose statement about what you intend to do in your paper.

Look for patterns in your evidence

Compose a purpose statement.

Consult the examples below for suggestions on how to look for patterns in your evidence and construct a purpose statement.

  • Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis
  • Franco turned to the Allies when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from the Axis

Possible conclusion:

Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: Franco’s desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power.

Purpose statement

This paper will analyze Franco’s diplomacy during World War II to see how it contributed to Spain’s neutrality.
  • The simile compares Simoisius to a tree, which is a peaceful, natural image.
  • The tree in the simile is chopped down to make wheels for a chariot, which is an object used in warfare.

At first, the simile seems to take the reader away from the world of warfare, but we end up back in that world by the end.

This paper will analyze the way the simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64 moves in and out of the world of warfare.

Derive purpose statement from topic

To find out what your “controlling idea” is, you have to examine and evaluate your evidence . As you consider your evidence, you may notice patterns emerging, data repeated in more than one source, or facts that favor one view more than another. These patterns or data may then lead you to some conclusions about your topic and suggest that you can successfully argue for one idea better than another.

For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.

Sometimes you won’t be able to find a focus or identify your “spin” or specific argument immediately. Like some writers, you might begin with a purpose statement just to get yourself going. A purpose statement is one or more sentences that announce your topic and indicate the structure of the paper but do not state the conclusions you have drawn . Thus, you might begin with something like this:

  • This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
  • I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.

At some point, you can turn a purpose statement into a thesis statement. As you think and write about your topic, you can restrict, clarify, and refine your argument, crafting your thesis statement to reflect your thinking.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Compose a draft thesis statement

If you are writing a paper that will have an argumentative thesis and are having trouble getting started, the techniques in the table below may help you develop a temporary or “working” thesis statement.

Begin with a purpose statement that you will later turn into a thesis statement.

Assignment: Discuss the history of the Reform Party and explain its influence on the 1990 presidential and Congressional election.

Purpose Statement: This paper briefly sketches the history of the grassroots, conservative, Perot-led Reform Party and analyzes how it influenced the economic and social ideologies of the two mainstream parties.

Question-to-Assertion

If your assignment asks a specific question(s), turn the question(s) into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.

Assignment : What do Aylmer and Rappaccini have to be proud of? Why aren’t they satisfied with these things? How does pride, as demonstrated in “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” lead to unexpected problems?

Beginning thesis statement: Alymer and Rappaccinni are proud of their great knowledge; however, they are also very greedy and are driven to use their knowledge to alter some aspect of nature as a test of their ability. Evil results when they try to “play God.”

Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main idea: The reason some toys succeed in the market is that they appeal to the consumers’ sense of the ridiculous and their basic desire to laugh at themselves.

Make a list of the ideas that you want to include; consider the ideas and try to group them.

  • nature = peaceful
  • war matériel = violent (competes with 1?)
  • need for time and space to mourn the dead
  • war is inescapable (competes with 3?)

Use a formula to arrive at a working thesis statement (you will revise this later).

  • although most readers of _______ have argued that _______, closer examination shows that _______.
  • _______ uses _______ and _____ to prove that ________.
  • phenomenon x is a result of the combination of __________, __________, and _________.

What to keep in mind as you draft an initial thesis statement

Beginning statements obtained through the methods illustrated above can serve as a framework for planning or drafting your paper, but remember they’re not yet the specific, argumentative thesis you want for the final version of your paper. In fact, in its first stages, a thesis statement usually is ill-formed or rough and serves only as a planning tool.

As you write, you may discover evidence that does not fit your temporary or “working” thesis. Or you may reach deeper insights about your topic as you do more research, and you will find that your thesis statement has to be more complicated to match the evidence that you want to use.

You must be willing to reject or omit some evidence in order to keep your paper cohesive and your reader focused. Or you may have to revise your thesis to match the evidence and insights that you want to discuss. Read your draft carefully, noting the conclusions you have drawn and the major ideas which support or prove those conclusions. These will be the elements of your final thesis statement.

Sometimes you will not be able to identify these elements in your early drafts, but as you consider how your argument is developing and how your evidence supports your main idea, ask yourself, “ What is the main point that I want to prove/discuss? ” and “ How will I convince the reader that this is true? ” When you can answer these questions, then you can begin to refine the thesis statement.

Refine and polish the thesis statement

To get to your final thesis, you’ll need to refine your draft thesis so that it’s specific and arguable.

  • Ask if your draft thesis addresses the assignment
  • Question each part of your draft thesis
  • Clarify vague phrases and assertions
  • Investigate alternatives to your draft thesis

Consult the example below for suggestions on how to refine your draft thesis statement.

Sample Assignment

Choose an activity and define it as a symbol of American culture. Your essay should cause the reader to think critically about the society which produces and enjoys that activity.

  • Ask The phenomenon of drive-in facilities is an interesting symbol of american culture, and these facilities demonstrate significant characteristics of our society.This statement does not fulfill the assignment because it does not require the reader to think critically about society.
Drive-ins are an interesting symbol of American culture because they represent Americans’ significant creativity and business ingenuity.
Among the types of drive-in facilities familiar during the twentieth century, drive-in movie theaters best represent American creativity, not merely because they were the forerunner of later drive-ins and drive-throughs, but because of their impact on our culture: they changed our relationship to the automobile, changed the way people experienced movies, and changed movie-going into a family activity.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast-food establishments, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize America’s economic ingenuity, they also have affected our personal standards.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast- food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize (1) Americans’ business ingenuity, they also have contributed (2) to an increasing homogenization of our culture, (3) a willingness to depersonalize relationships with others, and (4) a tendency to sacrifice quality for convenience.

This statement is now specific and fulfills all parts of the assignment. This version, like any good thesis, is not self-evident; its points, 1-4, will have to be proven with evidence in the body of the paper. The numbers in this statement indicate the order in which the points will be presented. Depending on the length of the paper, there could be one paragraph for each numbered item or there could be blocks of paragraph for even pages for each one.

Complete the final thesis statement

The bottom line.

As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:

  • Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
  • As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind . You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
  • Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable ; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
  • Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.

In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper’s purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track–well able to understand and appreciate your argument.

what is a effective thesis

Writing Process and Structure

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.

This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.  

Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence) 

Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.

This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.  

Arguable thesis with analytical claim 

While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.

This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.  

Arguable thesis with normative claim 

Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.

This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.  

Questions to ask about your thesis 

  • Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?  
  • Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?  
  • Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?  
  • Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?  
  • Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
  • picture_as_pdf Thesis

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.

Introduction

Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

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; in other words, 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 near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the 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.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Writing a Paper: Thesis Statements

Basics of thesis statements.

The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper. Specific means the thesis deals with a narrow and focused topic, appropriate to the paper's length. Arguable means that a scholar in your field could disagree (or perhaps already has!).

Strong thesis statements address specific intellectual questions, have clear positions, and use a structure that reflects the overall structure of the paper. Read on to learn more about constructing a strong thesis statement.

Being Specific

This thesis statement has no specific argument:

Needs Improvement: In this essay, I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences.

This statement is concise, but it is neither specific nor arguable—a reader might wonder, "Which scholarly articles? What is the topic of this paper? What field is the author writing in?" Additionally, the purpose of the paper—to "examine…to find similarities and differences" is not of a scholarly level. Identifying similarities and differences is a good first step, but strong academic argument goes further, analyzing what those similarities and differences might mean or imply.

Better: In this essay, I will argue that Bowler's (2003) autocratic management style, when coupled with Smith's (2007) theory of social cognition, can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover.

The new revision here is still concise, as well as specific and arguable.  We can see that it is specific because the writer is mentioning (a) concrete ideas and (b) exact authors.  We can also gather the field (business) and the topic (management and employee turnover). The statement is arguable because the student goes beyond merely comparing; he or she draws conclusions from that comparison ("can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover").

Making a Unique Argument

This thesis draft repeats the language of the writing prompt without making a unique argument:

Needs Improvement: The purpose of this essay is to monitor, assess, and evaluate an educational program for its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I will provide suggestions for improvement.

You can see here that the student has simply stated the paper's assignment, without articulating specifically how he or she will address it. The student can correct this error simply by phrasing the thesis statement as a specific answer to the assignment prompt.

Better: Through a series of student interviews, I found that Kennedy High School's antibullying program was ineffective. In order to address issues of conflict between students, I argue that Kennedy High School should embrace policies outlined by the California Department of Education (2010).

Words like "ineffective" and "argue" show here that the student has clearly thought through the assignment and analyzed the material; he or she is putting forth a specific and debatable position. The concrete information ("student interviews," "antibullying") further prepares the reader for the body of the paper and demonstrates how the student has addressed the assignment prompt without just restating that language.

Creating a Debate

This thesis statement includes only obvious fact or plot summary instead of argument:

Needs Improvement: Leadership is an important quality in nurse educators.

A good strategy to determine if your thesis statement is too broad (and therefore, not arguable) is to ask yourself, "Would a scholar in my field disagree with this point?" Here, we can see easily that no scholar is likely to argue that leadership is an unimportant quality in nurse educators.  The student needs to come up with a more arguable claim, and probably a narrower one; remember that a short paper needs a more focused topic than a dissertation.

Better: Roderick's (2009) theory of participatory leadership  is particularly appropriate to nurse educators working within the emergency medicine field, where students benefit most from collegial and kinesthetic learning.

Here, the student has identified a particular type of leadership ("participatory leadership"), narrowing the topic, and has made an arguable claim (this type of leadership is "appropriate" to a specific type of nurse educator). Conceivably, a scholar in the nursing field might disagree with this approach. The student's paper can now proceed, providing specific pieces of evidence to support the arguable central claim.

Choosing the Right Words

This thesis statement uses large or scholarly-sounding words that have no real substance:

Needs Improvement: Scholars should work to seize metacognitive outcomes by harnessing discipline-based networks to empower collaborative infrastructures.

There are many words in this sentence that may be buzzwords in the student's field or key terms taken from other texts, but together they do not communicate a clear, specific meaning. Sometimes students think scholarly writing means constructing complex sentences using special language, but actually it's usually a stronger choice to write clear, simple sentences. When in doubt, remember that your ideas should be complex, not your sentence structure.

Better: Ecologists should work to educate the U.S. public on conservation methods by making use of local and national green organizations to create a widespread communication plan.

Notice in the revision that the field is now clear (ecology), and the language has been made much more field-specific ("conservation methods," "green organizations"), so the reader is able to see concretely the ideas the student is communicating.

Leaving Room for Discussion

This thesis statement is not capable of development or advancement in the paper:

Needs Improvement: There are always alternatives to illegal drug use.

This sample thesis statement makes a claim, but it is not a claim that will sustain extended discussion. This claim is the type of claim that might be appropriate for the conclusion of a paper, but in the beginning of the paper, the student is left with nowhere to go. What further points can be made? If there are "always alternatives" to the problem the student is identifying, then why bother developing a paper around that claim? Ideally, a thesis statement should be complex enough to explore over the length of the entire paper.

Better: The most effective treatment plan for methamphetamine addiction may be a combination of pharmacological and cognitive therapy, as argued by Baker (2008), Smith (2009), and Xavier (2011).

In the revised thesis, you can see the student make a specific, debatable claim that has the potential to generate several pages' worth of discussion. When drafting a thesis statement, think about the questions your thesis statement will generate: What follow-up inquiries might a reader have? In the first example, there are almost no additional questions implied, but the revised example allows for a good deal more exploration.

Thesis Mad Libs

If you are having trouble getting started, try using the models below to generate a rough model of a thesis statement! These models are intended for drafting purposes only and should not appear in your final work.

  • In this essay, I argue ____, using ______ to assert _____.
  • While scholars have often argued ______, I argue______, because_______.
  • Through an analysis of ______, I argue ______, which is important because_______.

Words to Avoid and to Embrace

When drafting your thesis statement, avoid words like explore, investigate, learn, compile, summarize , and explain to describe the main purpose of your paper. These words imply a paper that summarizes or "reports," rather than synthesizing and analyzing.

Instead of the terms above, try words like argue, critique, question , and interrogate . These more analytical words may help you begin strongly, by articulating a specific, critical, scholarly position.

Read Kayla's blog post for tips on taking a stand in a well-crafted thesis statement.

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what is a effective thesis

How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement: 4 Steps + Examples

what is a effective thesis

What’s Covered:

What is the purpose of a thesis statement, writing a good thesis statement: 4 steps, common pitfalls to avoid, where to get your essay edited for free.

When you set out to write an essay, there has to be some kind of point to it, right? Otherwise, your essay would just be a big jumble of word salad that makes absolutely no sense. An essay needs a central point that ties into everything else. That main point is called a thesis statement, and it’s the core of any essay or research paper.

You may hear about Master degree candidates writing a thesis, and that is an entire paper–not to be confused with the thesis statement, which is typically one sentence that contains your paper’s focus. 

Read on to learn more about thesis statements and how to write them. We’ve also included some solid examples for you to reference.

Typically the last sentence of your introductory paragraph, the thesis statement serves as the roadmap for your essay. When your reader gets to the thesis statement, they should have a clear outline of your main point, as well as the information you’ll be presenting in order to either prove or support your point. 

The thesis statement should not be confused for a topic sentence , which is the first sentence of every paragraph in your essay. If you need help writing topic sentences, numerous resources are available. Topic sentences should go along with your thesis statement, though.

Since the thesis statement is the most important sentence of your entire essay or paper, it’s imperative that you get this part right. Otherwise, your paper will not have a good flow and will seem disjointed. That’s why it’s vital not to rush through developing one. It’s a methodical process with steps that you need to follow in order to create the best thesis statement possible.

Step 1: Decide what kind of paper you’re writing

When you’re assigned an essay, there are several different types you may get. Argumentative essays are designed to get the reader to agree with you on a topic. Informative or expository essays present information to the reader. Analytical essays offer up a point and then expand on it by analyzing relevant information. Thesis statements can look and sound different based on the type of paper you’re writing. For example:

  • Argumentative: The United States needs a viable third political party to decrease bipartisanship, increase options, and help reduce corruption in government.
  • Informative: The Libertarian party has thrown off elections before by gaining enough support in states to get on the ballot and by taking away crucial votes from candidates.
  • Analytical: An analysis of past presidential elections shows that while third party votes may have been the minority, they did affect the outcome of the elections in 2020, 2016, and beyond.

Step 2: Figure out what point you want to make

Once you know what type of paper you’re writing, you then need to figure out the point you want to make with your thesis statement, and subsequently, your paper. In other words, you need to decide to answer a question about something, such as:

  • What impact did reality TV have on American society?
  • How has the musical Hamilton affected perception of American history?
  • Why do I want to major in [chosen major here]?

If you have an argumentative essay, then you will be writing about an opinion. To make it easier, you may want to choose an opinion that you feel passionate about so that you’re writing about something that interests you. For example, if you have an interest in preserving the environment, you may want to choose a topic that relates to that. 

If you’re writing your college essay and they ask why you want to attend that school, you may want to have a main point and back it up with information, something along the lines of:

“Attending Harvard University would benefit me both academically and professionally, as it would give me a strong knowledge base upon which to build my career, develop my network, and hopefully give me an advantage in my chosen field.”

Step 3: Determine what information you’ll use to back up your point

Once you have the point you want to make, you need to figure out how you plan to back it up throughout the rest of your essay. Without this information, it will be hard to either prove or argue the main point of your thesis statement. If you decide to write about the Hamilton example, you may decide to address any falsehoods that the writer put into the musical, such as:

“The musical Hamilton, while accurate in many ways, leaves out key parts of American history, presents a nationalist view of founding fathers, and downplays the racism of the times.”

Once you’ve written your initial working thesis statement, you’ll then need to get information to back that up. For example, the musical completely leaves out Benjamin Franklin, portrays the founding fathers in a nationalist way that is too complimentary, and shows Hamilton as a staunch abolitionist despite the fact that his family likely did own slaves. 

Step 4: Revise and refine your thesis statement before you start writing

Read through your thesis statement several times before you begin to compose your full essay. You need to make sure the statement is ironclad, since it is the foundation of the entire paper. Edit it or have a peer review it for you to make sure everything makes sense and that you feel like you can truly write a paper on the topic. Once you’ve done that, you can then begin writing your paper.

When writing a thesis statement, there are some common pitfalls you should avoid so that your paper can be as solid as possible. Make sure you always edit the thesis statement before you do anything else. You also want to ensure that the thesis statement is clear and concise. Don’t make your reader hunt for your point. Finally, put your thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph and have your introduction flow toward that statement. Your reader will expect to find your statement in its traditional spot.

If you’re having trouble getting started, or need some guidance on your essay, there are tools available that can help you. CollegeVine offers a free peer essay review tool where one of your peers can read through your essay and provide you with valuable feedback. Getting essay feedback from a peer can help you wow your instructor or college admissions officer with an impactful essay that effectively illustrates your point.

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A good thesis statement can be the difference between making an argument about something, and simply re-stating what someone else has already said. In your thesis statement, you want to make a claim that you will continue to develop throughout the paper. It should represent your own ideas–perhaps in response to something someone else has said–but ultimately, it is your argument. As such, a good thesis statement should have 3 main traits. A good thesis:

  • Can be developed with evidence throughout your paper. In other words, you should be able to say it in 1-2 sentences, but that shouldn’t be all that there is to say on the topic.
  • Is argumentative, not in a negative sense, but in that it can be supported and may have counter-arguments. Test this by asking “Could I argue the reverse of this?”
  • Should explain what, why, and how. What are you arguing? Why are you arguing that? And how will you show it? Think of the “what” as your basic position, the “why” as your reasoning, and the “how” as your evidence (theories, sources, etc.)

In all, the thesis is the backbone of your paper. In the rest of your paper, something in each paragraph should directly relate back to the paper. If you get lost in the writing process, you’ll want to be able to come back to your thesis and say, “this is what I’m arguing.” And remember, thesis statements can evolve with the paper. Once you’ve got your draft written, read through and make sure that what you’re saying in your paper matches up with what your thesis statement says you’re going to be saying.

H ere are a few helpful links to get you started:

  • https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/545/01/

The Purdue OWL (Purdue University) is a great source for writing, and this page goes into detail on the different types of thesis statements.

  • http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/thesis-statements/

Here’s another great source from the University of North Carolina with some tips and examples of strong thesis statements.

It can be useful to play around with and see examples, but DO NOT use it to create your actual thesis, as this may be considered plagiarism!

Best of luck with your writing endeavors!

–Your friends at the PLU Writing Center

what is a effective thesis

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Writing Resources

Tips for writing an effective thesis statement.

This handout is available for download in DOCX format and PDF format .

Thesis statements are essentially the driving force and backbone of an academic essay. Without a thesis statement, your essay will lack a cohesive argument and will read more like a list of statistics, quotations or connecting ideas. Before completing your thesis statement, ask yourself:

  • Is your essay’s major claim complex? Is it insightful? Is it surprising or unexpected?
  • Does your thesis respond to a question, tension or problem?
  • Is your thesis stated clearly at the outset and does it evolve and develop throughout the paper?
  • Does your thesis statement have a clear motive?

Effective thesis statements directly and boldly articulate a complex, arguable or surprising argument (or arguments) of your own which will need to develop throughout the essay. They should be intelligent, well thought-out responses to a question or problem your essay will address.

Weak Thesis Statements Often:

Make no claim.

  • Example: This paper will examine the similarities and differences between two articles.
  • Possible Solution: Put the articles in conversation with one another and raise specific issues they agree or disagree about.

Are Obviously True or Statements of Fact

  • Example: Tourists are often out of place in other cultures.
  • Possible Solution: Make an assertion your reader can argue with.

Restate Conventional Wisdom or Clichés

  • Example: We shouldn’t judge others because it’s the inside that counts.
  • Possible Solution: Seek to complicate your thesis by anticipating counterarguments; try offering something new to the cliché.

Offer Personal Conviction as the Basis for the Argument

  • Example: Clearly, Kincaid is being one-sided.
  • Possible Solution: Maintain some distance from your subject. Do not merely assume your idea is an objective or obvious truth.

Make Overly Broad Claims

  • Example: Limerick shows her knowledge about the West.
  • Possible Solution: Convert broad, generic categories into more specific, complex assertions. Find ways to bring out the complexity of your argument.

More Questions for Constructing Strong Thesis Statements:

A strong thesis statement is often not created all at once but will rather go through stages of revision. A thesis statement in its early form is called a “working thesis.” While honing and tightening your working thesis, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to be “So what?” then you need to clarify it or connect it to some larger issue via a compelling motive.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful?”
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to fit together, one of them has to change. It’s perfectly okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary!
  • Does my thesis answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question.
  • Does my thesis statement teach my reader something they did not already know? Am I bringing a new idea or perspective to the table on the issue or problem raised? Am I happy with what my thesis statement is saying?

Points to Remember:

  • The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.
  • A thesis is not the answer to a math problem; it is not supposed to be “correct.” Your thesis should be designed to persuade the reader that your point of view is valid and worthy of consideration.
  • Make sure your thesis is your own argument and not simply the argument that you think your instructor or one of your sources would approve of.
  • A thesis statement will never be perfect, because it is an attempt to encapsulate everything that will happen in your argument. Since it takes a whole paper to do that, your thesis will always lack something. Accept this and make it the best it can be regardless!

Credit: “Thesis Statements,” The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 25 October 2017, http://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements ; “Developing Strong Thesis Statements,” Purdue Online Writing Lab. 25 October 2017, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/588/01/ .

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How to write a thesis statement + examples

Thesis statement

What is a thesis statement?

Is a thesis statement a question, how do you write a good thesis statement, how do i know if my thesis statement is good, examples of thesis statements, helpful resources on how to write a thesis statement, frequently asked questions about writing a thesis statement, related articles.

A thesis statement is the main argument of your paper or thesis.

The thesis statement is one of the most important elements of any piece of academic writing . It is a brief statement of your paper’s main argument. Essentially, you are stating what you will be writing about.

You can see your thesis statement as an answer to a question. While it also contains the question, it should really give an answer to the question with new information and not just restate or reiterate it.

Your thesis statement is part of your introduction. Learn more about how to write a good thesis introduction in our introduction guide .

A thesis statement is not a question. A statement must be arguable and provable through evidence and analysis. While your thesis might stem from a research question, it should be in the form of a statement.

Tip: A thesis statement is typically 1-2 sentences. For a longer project like a thesis, the statement may be several sentences or a paragraph.

A good thesis statement needs to do the following:

  • Condense the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences.
  • Answer your project’s main research question.
  • Clearly state your position in relation to the topic .
  • Make an argument that requires support or evidence.

Once you have written down a thesis statement, check if it fulfills the following criteria:

  • Your statement needs to be provable by evidence. As an argument, a thesis statement needs to be debatable.
  • Your statement needs to be precise. Do not give away too much information in the thesis statement and do not load it with unnecessary information.
  • Your statement cannot say that one solution is simply right or simply wrong as a matter of fact. You should draw upon verified facts to persuade the reader of your solution, but you cannot just declare something as right or wrong.

As previously mentioned, your thesis statement should answer a question.

If the question is:

What do you think the City of New York should do to reduce traffic congestion?

A good thesis statement restates the question and answers it:

In this paper, I will argue that the City of New York should focus on providing exclusive lanes for public transport and adaptive traffic signals to reduce traffic congestion by the year 2035.

Here is another example. If the question is:

How can we end poverty?

A good thesis statement should give more than one solution to the problem in question:

In this paper, I will argue that introducing universal basic income can help reduce poverty and positively impact the way we work.

  • The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina has a list of questions to ask to see if your thesis is strong .

A thesis statement is part of the introduction of your paper. It is usually found in the first or second paragraph to let the reader know your research purpose from the beginning.

In general, a thesis statement should have one or two sentences. But the length really depends on the overall length of your project. Take a look at our guide about the length of thesis statements for more insight on this topic.

Here is a list of Thesis Statement Examples that will help you understand better how to write them.

Every good essay should include a thesis statement as part of its introduction, no matter the academic level. Of course, if you are a high school student you are not expected to have the same type of thesis as a PhD student.

Here is a great YouTube tutorial showing How To Write An Essay: Thesis Statements .

what is a effective thesis

  • Effective Thesis Statements

What is a Thesis Statement?

  • A thesis statement tells a reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Such a statement is also called an “argument,” a “main idea,” or a “controlling idea.”
  • A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should “telegraph” how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay
  • A standard place for your thesis is at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • A thesis is an interpretation of a 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 that others might dispute.
  • A strong thesis not only grabs the interest of your reader, who now wants to see you support your unique interpretation, it also provides a focus for your argument, one to which every part of your paper refers in the development of your position.
  • A thesis keeps the writer centered on the matter at hand and reduces the risk of intellectual wandering. Likewise, a thesis provides the reader with a “road map,” clearly laying out the intellectual route ahead.
  • A thesis statement avoids the first person (“I believe,” “In my opinion”).

A simple equation for what a thesis might look like this:

What you plan to argue + How you plan to argue it = Thesis Specific Topic+ Attitude/Angle/Argument=Thesis

Steps To Write Effective Thesis Statement

  • Choose a prompt or, if appropriate, select a topic: television violence and children
  • What are the effects of television violence on children?
  • Violence on television increases aggressive behavior in children.
  • Avoid general phrasing and/or sweeping words such as “all” or “none” or “every”.
  • Lead the reader toward the topic sentences (the subtopics needed to prove the thesis).
  • While poor parenting and easy access to weapons may act as contributory factors, in fact when children are exposed to television violence they become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, are more fearful of the world around them, and are more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.

The Components of an Effective Thesis Statement

  • You can’t just pluck a thesis out of thin air. Even if you have a terrific insight concerning a topic, it won’t be worth much unless you can logically and persuasively support it in the body of your essay. A thesis is the evolutionary result of a thinking process, not a miraculous creation. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment .
  • Substantial – Your thesis should be a claim for which it is easy to answer every reader’s question: “So what?”
  • Supportable – A thesis must be a claim that you can prove with the evidence at hand (e.g., evidence from your texts or from your research). Your claim should not be outlandish, nor should it be mere personal opinion or preference (e.g., “Frederick Douglass is my favorite historical figure.”) It tackles a subject that could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned.
  • Precise – It is focused and specific. A strong thesis proves a point without discussing everything. It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence. Note: Be flexible. It is perfectly okay to change your thesis!
  • Arguable – It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree.
  • Relevant – If you are responding to an assignment, the thesis should answer the question your teacher has posed. In order to stay focused, pay attention to the task words in the assignment: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, etc.
  • Aware of Counters – It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments.

The best thesis statement is a balance of specific details and concise language. Your goal is to articulate an argument in detail without burdening the reader with too much information.

Questions To Review Your Thesis

  • “Do I answer the question?” This might seem obvious, but it’s worth asking. No matter how intriguing or dazzling, a thesis that doesn’t answer the question is not a good thesis!
  • “Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose?” If not, then you probably do not have a strong argument. Theses that are too vague often have this problem. If your thesis contains vague words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what makes something “successful”?
  • Would anyone possible care about this thesis? So What? Does your thesis present a position or an interpretation worth pursuing? If a reader’s first response is, “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • “Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering?” Just as a thesis that doesn’t answer the question ultimately fails, so does a thesis that isn’t properly supported with evidence and reasoning.
  • Does my thesis statement adequately address the direction words of the prompt: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, analyze, discuss, etc.?

Myths about Thesis Statements

  • Every paper requires one . Assignments that ask you to write personal responses or to explore a subject don’t want you to seem to pre-judge the issues. Essays of literary interpretation often want you to be aware of many effects rather than seeming to box yourself into one view of the text.
  • A thesis statement must come at the end of the first paragraph . This is a natural position for a statement of focus, but it’s not the only one. Some theses can be stated in the opening sentences of an essay; others need a paragraph or two of introduction; others can’t be fully formulated until the end.
  • A thesis statement must be one sentence in length , no matter how many clauses it contains. Clear writing is more important than rules like these. Use two or three sentences if you need them. A complex argument may require a whole tightly-knit paragraph to make its initial statement of position.
  • You can’t start writing an essay until you have a perfect thesis statement . It may be advisable to draft a hypothesis or tentative thesis statement near the start of a big project, but changing and refining a thesis is a main task of thinking your way through your ideas as you write a paper. And some essay projects need to explore the question in depth without being locked in before they can provide even a tentative answer.
  • A thesis statement must give three points of support . It should indicate that the essay will explain and give evidence for its assertion, but points don’t need to come in any specific number.

Progressively Complex Thesis Statements

  • Effective Thesis Statements. Provided by : Writing Guide Wikispaces. Located at : https://writingguide.wikispaces.com/Effective+Thesis+Statements . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
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What is a Thesis Statement?

  • A thesis statement tells a reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Such a statement is also called an “argument,” a “main idea,” or a “controlling idea.”
  • A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should “telegraph” how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay
  • A standard place for your thesis is at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • A thesis is an interpretation of a 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 that others might dispute.
  • A strong thesis not only grabs the interest of your reader, who now wants to see you support your unique interpretation, it also provides a focus for your argument, one to which every part of your paper refers in the development of your position.
  • A thesis keeps the writer centered on the matter at hand and reduces the risk of intellectual wandering. Likewise, a thesis provides the reader with a “road map,” clearly laying out the intellectual route ahead.
  • A thesis statement avoids the first person (“I believe,” “In my opinion”).

A simple equation for what a thesis might look like this:

What you plan to argue + How you plan to argue it = Thesis Specific Topic+ Attitude/Angle/Argument=Thesis

Steps To Write Effective Thesis Statement

  • Choose a prompt or, if appropriate, select a topic: television violence and children
  • What are the effects of television violence on children?
  • Violence on television increases aggressive behavior in children.
  • Avoid general phrasing and/or sweeping words such as “all” or “none” or “every”.
  • Lead the reader toward the topic sentences (the subtopics needed to prove the thesis).
  • While poor parenting and easy access to weapons may act as contributory factors, in fact when children are exposed to television violence they become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, are more fearful of the world around them, and are more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.

The Components of an Effective Thesis Statement

  • You can’t just pluck a thesis out of thin air. Even if you have a terrific insight concerning a topic, it won’t be worth much unless you can logically and persuasively support it in the body of your essay. A thesis is the evolutionary result of a thinking process, not a miraculous creation. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment .
  • Substantial – Your thesis should be a claim for which it is easy to answer every reader’s question: “So what?”
  • Supportable – A thesis must be a claim that you can prove with the evidence at hand (e.g., evidence from your texts or from your research). Your claim should not be outlandish, nor should it be mere personal opinion or preference (e.g., “Frederick Douglass is my favorite historical figure.”) It tackles a subject that could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned.
  • Precise – It is focused and specific. A strong thesis proves a point without discussing everything. It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence. Note: Be flexible. It is perfectly okay to change your thesis!
  • Arguable – It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree.
  • Relevant – If you are responding to an assignment, the thesis should answer the question your teacher has posed. In order to stay focused, pay attention to the task words in the assignment: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, etc.
  • Aware of Counters – It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments.

The best thesis statement is a balance of specific details and concise language. Your goal is to articulate an argument in detail without burdening the reader with too much information.

Questions To Review Your Thesis

  • “Do I answer the question?” This might seem obvious, but it’s worth asking. No matter how intriguing or dazzling, a thesis that doesn’t answer the question is not a good thesis!
  • “Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose?” If not, then you probably do not have a strong argument. Theses that are too vague often have this problem. If your thesis contains vague words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what makes something “successful”?
  • Would anyone possible care about this thesis? So What? Does your thesis present a position or an interpretation worth pursuing? If a reader’s first response is, “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • “Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering?” Just as a thesis that doesn’t answer the question ultimately fails, so does a thesis that isn’t properly supported with evidence and reasoning.
  • Does my thesis statement adequately address the direction words of the prompt: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, analyze, discuss, etc.?

Myths about Thesis Statements

  • Every paper requires one . Assignments that ask you to write personal responses or to explore a subject don’t want you to seem to pre-judge the issues. Essays of literary interpretation often want you to be aware of many effects rather than seeming to box yourself into one view of the text.
  • A thesis statement must come at the end of the first paragraph . This is a natural position for a statement of focus, but it’s not the only one. Some theses can be stated in the opening sentences of an essay; others need a paragraph or two of introduction; others can’t be fully formulated until the end.
  • A thesis statement must be one sentence in length , no matter how many clauses it contains. Clear writing is more important than rules like these. Use two or three sentences if you need them. A complex argument may require a whole tightly-knit paragraph to make its initial statement of position.
  • You can’t start writing an essay until you have a perfect thesis statement . It may be advisable to draft a hypothesis or tentative thesis statement near the start of a big project, but changing and refining a thesis is a main task of thinking your way through your ideas as you write a paper. And some essay projects need to explore the question in depth without being locked in before they can provide even a tentative answer.
  • A thesis statement must give three points of support . It should indicate that the essay will explain and give evidence for its assertion, but points don’t need to come in any specific number.

Progressively Complex Thesis Statements

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Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements

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Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement

1. Determine what kind of paper you are writing:

  • An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
  • An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
  • An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.

If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories (e.g., a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.

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

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

4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

Thesis Statement Examples

Example of an analytical thesis statement:

The paper that follows should:

  • Explain the analysis of the college admission process
  • Explain the challenge facing admissions counselors

Example of an expository (explanatory) thesis statement:

  • Explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers

Example of an argumentative thesis statement:

  • Present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college

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9.1 Developing a Strong, Clear Thesis Statement

Learning objectives.

  • Develop a strong, clear thesis statement with the proper elements.
  • Revise your thesis statement.

Have you ever known a person who was not very good at telling stories? You probably had trouble following his train of thought as he jumped around from point to point, either being too brief in places that needed further explanation or providing too many details on a meaningless element. Maybe he told the end of the story first, then moved to the beginning and later added details to the middle. His ideas were probably scattered, and the story did not flow very well. When the story was over, you probably had many questions.

Just as a personal anecdote can be a disorganized mess, an essay can fall into the same trap of being out of order and confusing. That is why writers need a thesis statement to provide a specific focus for their essay and to organize what they are about to discuss in the body.

Just like a topic sentence summarizes a single paragraph, the thesis statement summarizes an entire essay. It tells the reader the point you want to make in your essay, while the essay itself supports that point. It is like a signpost that signals the essay’s destination. You should form your thesis before you begin to organize an essay, but you may find that it needs revision as the essay develops.

Elements of a Thesis Statement

For every essay you write, you must focus on a central idea. This idea stems from a topic you have chosen or been assigned or from a question your teacher has asked. It is not enough merely to discuss a general topic or simply answer a question with a yes or no. You have to form a specific opinion, and then articulate that into a controlling idea —the main idea upon which you build your thesis.

Remember that a thesis is not the topic itself, but rather your interpretation of the question or subject. For whatever topic your professor gives you, you must ask yourself, “What do I want to say about it?” Asking and then answering this question is vital to forming a thesis that is precise, forceful and confident.

A thesis is one sentence long and appears toward the end of your introduction. It is specific and focuses on one to three points of a single idea—points that are able to be demonstrated in the body. It forecasts the content of the essay and suggests how you will organize your information. Remember that a thesis statement does not summarize an issue but rather dissects it.

A Strong Thesis Statement

A strong thesis statement contains the following qualities.

Specificity. A thesis statement must concentrate on a specific area of a general topic. As you may recall, the creation of a thesis statement begins when you choose a broad subject and then narrow down its parts until you pinpoint a specific aspect of that topic. For example, health care is a broad topic, but a proper thesis statement would focus on a specific area of that topic, such as options for individuals without health care coverage.

Precision. A strong thesis statement must be precise enough to allow for a coherent argument and to remain focused on the topic. If the specific topic is options for individuals without health care coverage, then your precise thesis statement must make an exact claim about it, such as that limited options exist for those who are uninsured by their employers. You must further pinpoint what you are going to discuss regarding these limited effects, such as whom they affect and what the cause is.

Ability to be argued. A thesis statement must present a relevant and specific argument. A factual statement often is not considered arguable. Be sure your thesis statement contains a point of view that can be supported with evidence.

Ability to be demonstrated. For any claim you make in your thesis, you must be able to provide reasons and examples for your opinion. You can rely on personal observations in order to do this, or you can consult outside sources to demonstrate that what you assert is valid. A worthy argument is backed by examples and details.

Forcefulness. A thesis statement that is forceful shows readers that you are, in fact, making an argument. The tone is assertive and takes a stance that others might oppose.

Confidence. In addition to using force in your thesis statement, you must also use confidence in your claim. Phrases such as I feel or I believe actually weaken the readers’ sense of your confidence because these phrases imply that you are the only person who feels the way you do. In other words, your stance has insufficient backing. Taking an authoritative stance on the matter persuades your readers to have faith in your argument and open their minds to what you have to say.

Even in a personal essay that allows the use of first person, your thesis should not contain phrases such as in my opinion or I believe . These statements reduce your credibility and weaken your argument. Your opinion is more convincing when you use a firm attitude.

On a separate sheet of paper, write a thesis statement for each of the following topics. Remember to make each statement specific, precise, demonstrable, forceful and confident.

  • Texting while driving
  • The legal drinking age in the United States
  • Steroid use among professional athletes

Examples of Appropriate Thesis Statements

Each of the following thesis statements meets several of the following requirements:

  • Specificity
  • Ability to be argued
  • Ability to be demonstrated
  • Forcefulness
  • The societal and personal struggles of Troy Maxon in the play Fences symbolize the challenge of black males who lived through segregation and integration in the United States.
  • Closing all American borders for a period of five years is one solution that will tackle illegal immigration.
  • Shakespeare’s use of dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet spoils the outcome for the audience and weakens the plot.
  • J. D. Salinger’s character in Catcher in the Rye , Holden Caulfield, is a confused rebel who voices his disgust with phonies, yet in an effort to protect himself, he acts like a phony on many occasions.
  • Compared to an absolute divorce, no-fault divorce is less expensive, promotes fairer settlements, and reflects a more realistic view of the causes for marital breakdown.
  • Exposing children from an early age to the dangers of drug abuse is a sure method of preventing future drug addicts.
  • In today’s crumbling job market, a high school diploma is not significant enough education to land a stable, lucrative job.

You can find thesis statements in many places, such as in the news; in the opinions of friends, coworkers or teachers; and even in songs you hear on the radio. Become aware of thesis statements in everyday life by paying attention to people’s opinions and their reasons for those opinions. Pay attention to your own everyday thesis statements as well, as these can become material for future essays.

Now that you have read about the contents of a good thesis statement and have seen examples, take a look at the pitfalls to avoid when composing your own thesis:

A thesis is weak when it is simply a declaration of your subject or a description of what you will discuss in your essay.

Weak thesis statement: My paper will explain why imagination is more important than knowledge.

A thesis is weak when it makes an unreasonable or outrageous claim or insults the opposing side.

Weak thesis statement: Religious radicals across America are trying to legislate their Puritanical beliefs by banning required high school books.

A thesis is weak when it contains an obvious fact or something that no one can disagree with or provides a dead end.

Weak thesis statement: Advertising companies use sex to sell their products.

A thesis is weak when the statement is too broad.

Weak thesis statement: The life of Abraham Lincoln was long and challenging.

Read the following thesis statements. On a separate piece of paper, identify each as weak or strong. For those that are weak, list the reasons why. Then revise the weak statements so that they conform to the requirements of a strong thesis.

  • The subject of this paper is my experience with ferrets as pets.
  • The government must expand its funding for research on renewable energy resources in order to prepare for the impending end of oil.
  • Edgar Allan Poe was a poet who lived in Baltimore during the nineteenth century.
  • In this essay, I will give you lots of reasons why slot machines should not be legalized in Baltimore.
  • Despite his promises during his campaign, President Kennedy took few executive measures to support civil rights legislation.
  • Because many children’s toys have potential safety hazards that could lead to injury, it is clear that not all children’s toys are safe.
  • My experience with young children has taught me that I want to be a disciplinary parent because I believe that a child without discipline can be a parent’s worst nightmare.

Writing at Work

Often in your career, you will need to ask your boss for something through an e-mail. Just as a thesis statement organizes an essay, it can also organize your e-mail request. While your e-mail will be shorter than an essay, using a thesis statement in your first paragraph quickly lets your boss know what you are asking for, why it is necessary, and what the benefits are. In short body paragraphs, you can provide the essential information needed to expand upon your request.

Thesis Statement Revision

Your thesis will probably change as you write, so you will need to modify it to reflect exactly what you have discussed in your essay. Remember from Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” that your thesis statement begins as a working thesis statement , an indefinite statement that you make about your topic early in the writing process for the purpose of planning and guiding your writing.

Working thesis statements often become stronger as you gather information and form new opinions and reasons for those opinions. Revision helps you strengthen your thesis so that it matches what you have expressed in the body of the paper.

The best way to revise your thesis statement is to ask questions about it and then examine the answers to those questions. By challenging your own ideas and forming definite reasons for those ideas, you grow closer to a more precise point of view, which you can then incorporate into your thesis statement.

Ways to Revise Your Thesis

You can cut down on irrelevant aspects and revise your thesis by taking the following steps:

1. Pinpoint and replace all nonspecific words, such as people , everything , society , or life , with more precise words in order to reduce any vagueness.

Working thesis: Young people have to work hard to succeed in life.

Revised thesis: Recent college graduates must have discipline and persistence in order to find and maintain a stable job in which they can use and be appreciated for their talents.

The revised thesis makes a more specific statement about success and what it means to work hard. The original includes too broad a range of people and does not define exactly what success entails. By replacing those general words like people and work hard , the writer can better focus his or her research and gain more direction in his or her writing.

2. Clarify ideas that need explanation by asking yourself questions that narrow your thesis.

Working thesis: The welfare system is a joke.

Revised thesis: The welfare system keeps a socioeconomic class from gaining employment by alluring members of that class with unearned income, instead of programs to improve their education and skill sets.

A joke means many things to many people. Readers bring all sorts of backgrounds and perspectives to the reading process and would need clarification for a word so vague. This expression may also be too informal for the selected audience. By asking questions, the writer can devise a more precise and appropriate explanation for joke . The writer should ask himself or herself questions similar to the 5WH questions. (See Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” for more information on the 5WH questions.) By incorporating the answers to these questions into a thesis statement, the writer more accurately defines his or her stance, which will better guide the writing of the essay.

3. Replace any linking verbs with action verbs. Linking verbs are forms of the verb to be , a verb that simply states that a situation exists.

Working thesis: Kansas City schoolteachers are not paid enough.

Revised thesis: The Kansas City legislature cannot afford to pay its educators, resulting in job cuts and resignations in a district that sorely needs highly qualified and dedicated teachers.

The linking verb in this working thesis statement is the word are . Linking verbs often make thesis statements weak because they do not express action. Rather, they connect words and phrases to the second half of the sentence. Readers might wonder, “Why are they not paid enough?” But this statement does not compel them to ask many more questions. The writer should ask himself or herself questions in order to replace the linking verb with an action verb, thus forming a stronger thesis statement, one that takes a more definitive stance on the issue:

  • Who is not paying the teachers enough?
  • What is considered “enough”?
  • What is the problem?
  • What are the results

4. Omit any general claims that are hard to support.

Working thesis: Today’s teenage girls are too sexualized.

Revised thesis: Teenage girls who are captivated by the sexual images on MTV are conditioned to believe that a woman’s worth depends on her sensuality, a feeling that harms their self-esteem and behavior.

It is true that some young women in today’s society are more sexualized than in the past, but that is not true for all girls. Many girls have strict parents, dress appropriately, and do not engage in sexual activity while in middle school and high school. The writer of this thesis should ask the following questions:

  • Which teenage girls?
  • What constitutes “too” sexualized?
  • Why are they behaving that way?
  • Where does this behavior show up?
  • What are the repercussions?

In the first section of Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , you determined your purpose for writing and your audience. You then completed a freewriting exercise about an event you recently experienced and chose a general topic to write about. Using that general topic, you then narrowed it down by answering the 5WH questions. After you answered these questions, you chose one of the three methods of prewriting and gathered possible supporting points for your working thesis statement.

Now, on a separate sheet of paper, write down your working thesis statement. Identify any weaknesses in this sentence and revise the statement to reflect the elements of a strong thesis statement. Make sure it is specific, precise, arguable, demonstrable, forceful, and confident.

Collaboration

Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

In your career you may have to write a project proposal that focuses on a particular problem in your company, such as reinforcing the tardiness policy. The proposal would aim to fix the problem; using a thesis statement would clearly state the boundaries of the problem and tell the goals of the project. After writing the proposal, you may find that the thesis needs revision to reflect exactly what is expressed in the body. Using the techniques from this chapter would apply to revising that thesis.

Key Takeaways

  • Proper essays require a thesis statement to provide a specific focus and suggest how the essay will be organized.
  • A thesis statement is your interpretation of the subject, not the topic itself.
  • A strong thesis is specific, precise, forceful, confident, and is able to be demonstrated.
  • A strong thesis challenges readers with a point of view that can be debated and can be supported with evidence.
  • A weak thesis is simply a declaration of your topic or contains an obvious fact that cannot be argued.
  • Depending on your topic, it may or may not be appropriate to use first person point of view.
  • Revise your thesis by ensuring all words are specific, all ideas are exact, and all verbs express action.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Writing Effective Thesis Statements

What is a thesis, what is a thesis statement.

  • Writing the Thesis Statement
  • Recommended Reading

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A thesis is a type of paper written at the end of an academic program . This is not the same as a " thesis statement ."

View our Theses Services guide if you're looking for additional information to complete the thesis requirement at the end of your program.

A thesis statement is a short statement, usually one sentence in length, that is present at the end of your introduction paragraph. 

A thesis statement summarizes the main point of the essay and makes an argument about the topic, its importance, or its plausibility. 

A thesis statement is...

... in the body of the essay through the use of examples and evidence.

Read more about thesis statements .

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How to Craft Your Ideal Thesis Research Topic

How to Craft Your Ideal Thesis Research Topic

Table of contents

what is a effective thesis

Catherine Miller

Writing your undergraduate thesis is probably one of the most interesting parts of studying, especially because you get to choose your area of study. But as both a student and a teacher who’s helped countless students develop their research topics, I know this freedom can be just as intimidating as it is liberating.

Fortunately, there’a a step-by-step process you can follow that will help make the whole process a lot easier. In this article, I’ll show you how to choose a unique, specific thesis topic that’s true to your passions and interests, while making a contribution to your field.

what is a effective thesis

Choose a topic that you’re interested in

First things first: double-check with your teachers or supervisor if there are any constraints on your research topic. Once your parameters are clear, it’s time to identify what lights you up — after all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time thinking about it.

Within your field of study, you probably already have some topics that have grabbed your attention more than others. This can be a great place to start. Additionally, consider using the rest of your academic and extra-curricular interests as a source of ideas. At this stage, you only need a broad topic before you narrow it down to a specific question. 

If you’re feeling stuck, here are some things to try:

  • Look back through old course notes to remind yourself of topics you previously covered. Do any of these inspire you?
  • Talk to potential supervisors about your ideas, as they can point you toward areas you might not have considered.
  • Think about the things you enjoy in everyday life — whether that’s cycling, cinema, cooking, or fashion — then consider if there are any overlaps with your field of study.
  • Imagine you have been asked to give a presentation or record a podcast in the next three days. What topics would you feel confident discussing?
  • Watch a selection of existing lectures or explainer videos, or listen to podcasts by experts in your field. Note which topics you feel curious to explore further.
  • Discuss your field of study with teachers friends and family, some with existing knowledge and some without. Which aspects do you enjoy talking about? 

By doing all this, you might uncover some unusual and exciting avenues for research. For example, when writing my Master’s dissertation, I decided to combine my field of study (English teaching methodology) with one of my passions outside work (creative writing). In my undergraduate course, a friend drew on her lived experience of disability to look into the literary portrayal of disability in the ancient world. 

Do your research

Once you’ve chosen your topic of interest, it’s time to dive into research. This is a really important part of this early process because it allows you to:

  • See what other people have written about the topic — you don’t want to cover the same old ground as everyone else.
  • Gain perspective on the big questions surrounding the topic. 
  • Go deeper into the parts that interest you to help you decide where to focus.
  • Start building your bibliography and a bank of interesting quotations. 

A great way to start is to visit your library for an introductory book. For example, the “A Very Short Introduction” series from the Oxford University Press provides overviews of a range of themes. Similar types of overviews may have the title “ A Companion to [Subject]” or “[Subject] A Student Companion”. Ask your librarian or teacher if you’re not sure where to begin. 

Your introductory volume can spark ideas for further research, and the bibliography can give you some pointers about where to go next. You can also use keywords to research online via academic sites like JStor or Google Scholar. Check which subscriptions are available via your institution.

At this stage, you may not wish to read every single paper you come across in full — this could take a very long time and not everything will be relevant. Summarizing software like Wordtune could be very useful here.

Just upload a PDF or link to an online article using Wordtune, and it will produce a summary of the whole paper with a list of key points. This helps you to quickly sift through papers to grasp their central ideas and identify which ones to read in full. 

Screenshot of Wordtune's summarizing tool

Get Wordtune for free > Get Wordtune for free >

You can also use Wordtune for semantic search. In this case, the tool focuses its summary around your chosen search term, making it even easier to get what you need from the paper.

what is a effective thesis

As you go, make sure you keep organized notes of what you’ve read, including the author and publication information and the page number of any citations you want to use. 

Some people are happy to do this process with pen and paper, but if you prefer a digital method, there are several software options, including Zotero , EndNote , and Mendeley . Your institution may have an existing subscription so check before you sign up.

Narrowing down your thesis research topic

Now you’ve read around the topic, it’s time to narrow down your ideas so you can craft your final question. For example, when it came to my undergraduate thesis, I knew I wanted to write about Ancient Greek religion and I was interested in the topic of goddesses. So, I:

  • Did some wide reading around the topic of goddesses
  • Learned that the goddess Hera was not as well researched as others and that there were some fascinating aspects I wanted to explore
  • Decided (with my supervisor’s support) to focus on her temples in the Argive region of Greece

what is a effective thesis

As part of this process, it can be helpful to consider the “5 Ws”: why, what, who, when, and where, as you move from the bigger picture to something more precise. 

Why did you choose this research topic?

Come back to the reasons you originally chose your theme. What grabbed you? Why is this topic important to you — or to the wider world? In my example, I knew I wanted to write about goddesses because, as a woman, I was interested in how a society in which female lives were often highly controlled dealt with having powerful female deities. My research highlighted Hera as one of the most powerful goddesses, tying into my key interest.

What are some of the big questions about your topic?

During your research, you’ll probably run into the same themes time and time again. Some of the questions that arise may not have been answered yet or might benefit from a fresh look. 

Equally, there may be questions that haven’t yet been asked, especially if you are approaching the topic from a modern perspective or combining research that hasn’t been considered before. This might include taking a post-colonial, feminist, or queer approach to older texts or bringing in research using new scientific methods.

In my example, I knew there were still controversies about why so many temples to the goddess Hera were built in a certain region, and was keen to explore these further.

Who is the research topic relevant to?

Considering the “who” might help you open up new avenues. Is there a particular audience you want to reach? What might they be interested in? Is this a new audience for this field? Are there people out there who might be affected by the outcome of this research — for example, people with a particular medical condition — who might be able to use your conclusions?

Which period will you focus on?

Depending on the nature of your field, you might be able to choose a timeframe, which can help narrow the topic down. For example, you might focus on historical events that took place over a handful of years, look at the impact of a work of literature at a certain point after its publication, or review scientific progress over the last five years. 

With my thesis, I decided to focus on the time when the temples were built rather than considering the hundreds of years for which they have existed, which would have taken me far too long.

Where does your topic relate to?

Place can be another means of narrowing down the topic. For example, consider the impact of your topic on a particular neighborhood, city, or country, rather than trying to process a global question. 

In my example, I chose to focus my research on one area of Greece, where there were lots of temples to Hera. This meant skipping other important locations, but including these would have made the thesis too wide-ranging.

Create an outline and get feedback

Once you have an idea of what you are going to write about, create an outline or summary and get feedback from your teacher(s). It’s okay if you don’t know exactly how you’re going to answer your thesis question yet, but based on your research you should have a rough plan of the key points you want to cover. So, for me, the outline was as follows:

  • Context: who was the goddess Hera?
  • Overview of her sanctuaries in the Argive region
  • Their initial development 
  • Political and cultural influences
  • The importance of the mythical past

In the final thesis, I took a strong view on why the goddess was so important in this region, but it took more research, writing, and discussion with my supervisor to pin down my argument.

To choose a thesis research topic, find something you’re passionate about, research widely to get the big picture, and then move to a more focused view. Bringing a fresh perspective to a popular theme, finding an underserved audience who could benefit from your research, or answering a controversial question can make your thesis stand out from the crowd.

For tips on how to start writing your thesis, don’t miss our advice on writing a great research abstract and a stellar literature review . And don’t forget that Wordtune can also support you with proofreading, making it even easier to submit a polished thesis.

How do you come up with a research topic for a thesis?

To help you find a thesis topic, speak to your professor, look through your old course notes, think about what you already enjoy in everyday life, talk about your field of study with friends and family, and research podcasts and videos to find a topic that is interesting for you. It’s a good idea to refine your topic so that it’s not too general or broad.  

Do you choose your own thesis topic?

Yes, you usually choose your own thesis topic. You can get help from your professor(s), friends, and family to figure out which research topic is interesting to you. 

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Critic’s Notebook

The Power of the ‘Planet of the Apes’

Why is this long-running film series so gripping and effective? Because it doesn’t monkey around.

A chimpanzee, a woman and an orangutan stand in a clearing near a forest.

By Alissa Wilkinson

When the very first “Planet of the Apes” movie opened in 1968, the movie critic at The Times, Renata Adler, found it unremarkable . “It is no good at all, but fun, at moments, to watch,” she wrote, deeming it an “anti-war film and a science-fiction liberal tract,” with the apes representing “militarism, fascism and police brutality.” It’s probably safe to say she wasn’t expecting it to become one of the longest-running science-fiction franchises in Hollywood history.

I cannot quite blame her — and not just because endless sequels weren’t as ubiquitous as they are today. Watching the 1968 film, you see how close it could have veered toward a quick extinction. At times the whole thing has the quality of a skit. Actors wear monkey suits and masks (“wonderful anthropoid masks,” as Adler put it), and the attempt to draw a parallel between the apes’ civilization and the viewers’ can feel a little clumsy. It’s 1968, so there are winking catchphrases like “you can’t trust the older generation” and “never trust anyone over 30,” slogans that had been adopted by the counterculture. Had I been the reviewer back then, I might have called it “sometimes hamfisted.”

Yet with regrets to Adler, the movie does work on its own terms, and it has held up extraordinarily well over the past 56 years. Charlton Heston stars as the captain of a four-person space crew that crash-lands on a planet that feels unfamiliar, where talking apes rule and humans, such as they are, have been enslaved. (One member of the crew is female, which I suppose was meant to suggest something futuristic; the first American woman didn’t go into space until 15 years after “Planet of the Apes” premiered.)

The movie was based on a 1963 satirical novel by the French author Pierre Boulle, who also wrote the novel “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” Rod Serling, the creator of the wildly popular science-fiction TV show “The Twilight Zone,” was brought on to adapt the book for the screen. Serling’s influence is obvious from the first moments, which involve Heston in monologue about philosophical matters. More time has passed on Earth than in the spacecraft, since they’re moving at the speed of light. “Seen from out here, everything seems different,” he says. “Time bends. Space is boundless. It squashes a man’s ego. I feel lonely.”

“Tell me, though,” he continues. “Does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who has sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother, keep his neighbor’s children starving?”

This introduction is a thesis in a thimble for the whole franchise, which combines an intriguing premise — what if apes evolved beyond men — with a host of other social and political concerns. Serling, for instance, purposely injected ideas about the Cold War and nuclear weapons into the film. As Adler noted, police brutality, militarism and fascism also make appearances, a good reminder that our time is hardly unique in those concerns. There are questions about free speech and religious fundamentalism, mythmaking and liberty, technology and scientific study, race, viral pandemics, animal rights and a whole lot more woven throughout the movies.

And there are a lot of movies. In the 1970s, the first “Apes” was followed by four more, plus a live-action TV show, then an animated one. In 2001, an ill-conceived remake directed by Tim Burton starred Mark Wahlberg in a version of the Heston role, and then a reboot series followed, starting in 2011. There have also been several “Apes” video games.

That reboot trilogy — “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011), “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (2014) and “War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017) — is widely considered some of the best franchise cinema ever, and I heartily concur. The trilogy posits that a cure for Alzheimer’s developed by humans had grave unintended consequences when it escaped its lab: It turned apes supersmart, but had the opposite effect on humans, killing vast swaths of the population and then mutating to turn most of humanity mute and less intelligent. A saga then follows in which the human characters change (none repeat across the three films) but the apes do not; they’re the main characters, and it’s their story. It’s masterful.

Sometimes this opinion surprises people. Really? The movies with the apes?

Yes, really. Part of the reason the films succeed is simply their artistry, especially notable in bigger-budget blockbuster fare. We’ve gotten used to rushed, sloppy action and muddy cinematography, so there’s something invigorating in seeing detail, emotion, shadow and rich color that feels real. It’s all led by Andy Serkis’s compelling and dynamic motion-capture performance as Caesar, leader of the apes. (He’s so good that it sparked a mini-movement for an Oscar nomination.)

Serkis, as Caesar, speaks and emotes with the kind of gravitas that we associate with people playing world-historical leaders — which, in a sense, is what he is doing. But that also points to part of why this trilogy, and indeed the entire “Apes” series, is so gripping: It is serious.

Serious, in the sense that it takes its characters seriously. Each has a personality and genuine emotions, and when they mourn, we mourn too. But serious also in the import of the issues at hand, spun throughout stories that are intriguing and grim. There’s a sense of grief in every “Apes” movie, and in the reboot trilogy it’s almost palpable. (I’m pretty sure Steve Zahn’s “Bad Ape” character was a studio addition to lighten the mood in “War,” and while he starts to veer a little Jar Jar Binks-ward, the director Matt Reeves manages to hold it all together.)

Why do these films grieve? It’s not about the lost world of humans, not really — it’s always been clear, even from the famous conclusion of the 1968 film, that humanity has only itself and its hubris to blame for its own destruction. Instead, the grief stems from the very issues that the films raise — the fascism, the nuclear war, the brutality — and the deep pessimism of the series about those issues ever being eradicated for long.

Apocalyptic films are increasingly obsessed with a question posed to the viewer, similar to Heston’s query at the start of “Planet of the Apes”: In light of humanity’s treatment of the planet and of one another, does the species really deserve to survive? Most of the time, the movie comes up with a way to say yes (most expensively, in “Avengers: Endgame”).

But the “Apes” movies (so far) say no, not really. Since they’ve shifted focus from humans to the apes that replace them, that works. Even in the newest installment, “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” the humans who show up are not presented as heroes or even particularly worthy defenders of their own species.

Yet, as “Kingdom” also reveals, the “Apes” movies aren’t so sure that any other sentient, reasoning species will be better. Though Caesar taught a way of living that would produce more harmony and protect the planet, in “Kingdom” we already see power-hungry apes reproducing the sins of humanity, finding ways to perpetuate oppression and repression.

The 1968 film is set many centuries after the reboot trilogy and “Kingdom,” so we already know where things are headed, and it’s not great. That may be part of why the “Apes” movies have resonated for so long, across so many moviegoing decades. They are telling a truth in science fiction that’s hard to face in reality: There’s no perfect way to run a civilization, no way to fix things forever, no teacher so profound that their words won’t be twisted for someone else’s gain. Every generation has its own struggles and saints — and there is nothing new under the sun.

An earlier version of this article misstated the number of years between the premiere of “Planet of the Apes” and the first American woman heading into space. It was 15 years, not 25.

How we handle corrections

Alissa Wilkinson is a Times movie critic. She’s been writing about movies since 2005. More about Alissa Wilkinson

HOW EFFECTIVE HAS THE GHANA NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE SCHEME (NHIS) BEEN IN IMPROVING HEALTHCARE ACCESS FOR THE ECONOMICALLY VULNERABLE?

Add to collection, downloadable content.

what is a effective thesis

  • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management
  • BackgroundGhana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was designed to provide universal health coverage (UHC), healthcare access, and financial risk protection against catastrophic episodes of illness and accident to all Ghanian citizens. It has yet to achieve UHC.SignificanceAlthough significant improvements have been made, the system is still challenged by poor enrollment, healthcare access, quality of care, and stakeholder involvement and lacks clear policies on how to improve the scheme. Average national enrollment is 54%. The economically vulnerable remain the least likely to be enrolled, which results in healthcare inequity. Developing effective strategies for improving the scheme is critical for addressing healthcare inequities and achieving UHC.Research QuestionThe primary research question asked how effectively the NHIS has improved healthcare access for the economically vulnerable (i.e., those living in poverty or employed in the informal sector). Effectiveness was defined as free access to prescriptions, clinic visits, and other healthcare needs.MethodsThe study used an explanatory mixed-method approach with quantitative data from the NHIS and qualitative data from interviews with NHIS officials, policymakers, and civil society representatives. These provided insights on the policies needed for improving healthcare access and the strategies that would help NHIS meet its goals.FindingsFrom 2018 to 2022, enrollment remained steady among workers in the informal sector (in the mid 30%), but the poor remained the least enrolled (generally 4%-9%). Income appears to affect who enrolls in the scheme, probably because of the cost of enrollment (i.e., processing fees and premiums). The qualitative analysis revealed the diverse challenges the scheme faced, including those in financial management, governance, leadership structure, and policy implementation.Plan for ChangeA proposed framework for a plan for change used the eight steps of the Kotter process for leading change. The NHIS will need a revised strategic vision that incorporates accountability as a transformational tool for long-term change and will need to leverage key stakeholders to develop partnerships that can remove barriers to the proper functioning of the NHIS and institute sustained change. 
  • Public health
  • https://doi.org/10.17615/zn68-w902
  • Dissertation
  • In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted
  • Meier, Benjamin M
  • Ugbede, Abu
  • Watson-Grant, Stephanie
  • Sylvia, Sean
  • Anarwat, Samuel G
  • Doctor of Public Health
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School

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    This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution implies that something is bad or negative in some way. Furthermore, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is unambiguously good.

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    Overview of the structure. To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.

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    In the final thesis, I took a strong view on why the goddess was so important in this region, but it took more research, writing, and discussion with my supervisor to pin down my argument. Conclusion To choose a thesis research topic, find something you're passionate about, research widely to get the big picture, and then move to a more ...

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    Students who are completing a dissertation, thesis, or report are invited to join the Graduate School to learn about the resources available to them to assist in scheduling their defense, formatting their documents, and submitting their documents. In one afternoon, you can learn everything you need to be successful and complete your degree in a . . .

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    -This is an effective thesis because it give a good claim that is detailed about the subject and is opinionated and could be easily argued. 3. While the Electoral College was created in the name of equality for smaller states, it is ultimately overrated because it undercuts the popular vote, it is an archaic practice that is unsuitable for the ...

  26. The Power of the 'Planet of the Apes'

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    This thesis utilises new material and an interactionist framework to re-examine the prime ministerial power debate and conclude that powerful leadership relies heavily on a willingness of others to be led. Paul Keating's stores of immense authority and influence relied on his personal approach but also, most importantly, on the compliance of ...

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    How Effective Has The Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme (nhis) ... Deposit your senior honors thesis. Scholarly Journal, Newsletter or Book. Deposit a complete issue of a scholarly journal, newsletter or book. If you would like to deposit an article or book chapter, use the "Scholarly Articles and Book Chapters" deposit option. ...