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English: Thesis Statements

Resources for English coursework. Includes information about academic research, databases, and citation styles.

What is a Thesis Statement?

A thesis statement is the central idea of a piece of writing and summarizes the main focus of a paper. Though sometimes unstated, a thesis should always govern a paper and the body of the paper should either directly or indirectly support the thesis statement.  A thesis statement is usually found at the end of the introductory paragraph.

A strong thesis statement:

  • Clearly indicates the author's stance on the position.
    • Will be arguable, specific, manageable, and interesting
  • Is created AFTER background reading where concepts/positions are beginning to form.
  • Introduces the counter-argument, if required.
  • Controls the paper's argument.  A thesis determines what you are required to say in a paper and what you cannot say. Every paragraph in your paper exists in order to support your thesis. If it seems like your paper is supporting something other than your thesis, you need to change your thesis or edit your paper.

Thesis Tutorials

Writing an Effective Thesis Statement

Examples

Weak Thesis:

Colleges must do more to prevent sexual assaults on campuses.

Strong Thesis:

Despite cost or perceived need, institutions of higher learning must have clear policies and procedures in place to prevent and manage sexual violence on campuses, including prevention programs, training, and appropriate public safety measures.

Weak Thesis:

The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different.

Strong Thesis:

While both sides fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery, the North fought for moral reasons while the South fought to preserve its own institutions.

 

Writing Counter-Argument Paragraphs