Think of yourself as a member of a jury, listening to a lawyer who is presenting an opening argument. You'll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument. After reading your thesis statement, the reader should think, "This essay is going to try to convince me of something. I'm not convinced yet, but I'm interested to see how I might be."

An effective thesis cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." A thesis is not a topic; nor is it a fact; nor is it an opinion. "Reasons for the fall of communism" is a topic. "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" is a fact known by educated people. "The fall of communism is the best thing that ever happened in Europe" is an opinion. (Superlatives like "the best" almost always lead to trouble. It's impossible to weigh every "thing" that ever happened in Europe. And what about the fall of Hitler? Couldn't that be "the best thing"?)

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.

Steps in Constructing a Thesis

First, analyze your primary sources.  Look for tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy, and/or complication. Does the author contradict himself or herself? Is a point made and later reversed? What are the deeper implications of the author's argument? Figuring out the why to one or more of these questions, or to related questions, will put you on the path to developing a working thesis. (Without the why, you probably have only come up with an observation—that there are, for instance, many different metaphors in such-and-such a poem—which is not a thesis.)

Once you have a working thesis, write it down.  There is nothing as frustrating as hitting on a great idea for a thesis, then forgetting it when you lose concentration. And by writing down your thesis you will be forced to think of it clearly, logically, and concisely. You probably will not be able to write out a final-draft version of your thesis the first time you try, but you'll get yourself on the right track by writing down what you have.

Keep your thesis prominent in your introduction.  A good, standard place for your thesis statement is at the end of an introductory paragraph, especially in shorter (5-15 page) essays. Readers are used to finding theses there, so they automatically pay more attention when they read the last sentence of your introduction. Although this is not required in all academic essays, it is a good rule of thumb.

Anticipate the counterarguments.  Once you have a working thesis, you should think about what might be said against it. This will help you to refine your thesis, and it will also make you think of the arguments that you'll need to refute later on in your essay. (Every argument has a counterargument. If yours doesn't, then it's not an argument—it may be a fact, or an opinion, but it is not an argument.)

This statement is on its way to being a thesis. However, it is too easy to imagine possible counterarguments. For example, a political observer might believe that Dukakis lost because he suffered from a "soft-on-crime" image. If you complicate your thesis by anticipating the counterargument, you'll strengthen your argument, as shown in the sentence below.

Some Caveats and Some Examples

A thesis is never a question.  Readers of academic essays expect to have questions discussed, explored, or even answered. A question ("Why did communism collapse in Eastern Europe?") is not an argument, and without an argument, a thesis is dead in the water.

A thesis is never a list.  "For political, economic, social and cultural reasons, communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" does a good job of "telegraphing" the reader what to expect in the essay—a section about political reasons, a section about economic reasons, a section about social reasons, and a section about cultural reasons. However, political, economic, social and cultural reasons are pretty much the only possible reasons why communism could collapse. This sentence lacks tension and doesn't advance an argument. Everyone knows that politics, economics, and culture are important.

A thesis should never be vague, combative or confrontational.  An ineffective thesis would be, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because communism is evil." This is hard to argue (evil from whose perspective? what does evil mean?) and it is likely to mark you as moralistic and judgmental rather than rational and thorough. It also may spark a defensive reaction from readers sympathetic to communism. If readers strongly disagree with you right off the bat, they may stop reading.

An effective thesis has a definable, arguable claim.  "While cultural forces contributed to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the disintegration of economies played the key role in driving its decline" is an effective thesis sentence that "telegraphs," so that the reader expects the essay to have a section about cultural forces and another about the disintegration of economies. This thesis makes a definite, arguable claim: that the disintegration of economies played a more important role than cultural forces in defeating communism in Eastern Europe. The reader would react to this statement by thinking, "Perhaps what the author says is true, but I am not convinced. I want to read further to see how the author argues this claim."

A thesis should be as clear and specific as possible.  Avoid overused, general terms and abstractions. For example, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because of the ruling elite's inability to address the economic concerns of the people" is more powerful than "Communism collapsed due to societal discontent."

Copyright 1999, Maxine Rodburg and The Tutors of the Writing Center at Harvard University

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.


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.

thesis and support

Writing Process and Structure

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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



Developing Strategic Transitions


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

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Developing A Thesis and Supporting Auguments


There's something you should know: Your college instructors have a hidden agenda. You may be alarmed to hear this-yet your achievement of their "other" purpose may very well be the most important part of your education. For every writing assignment has, at the least, these two other purposes:

To teach you to state your case and prove it in a clear, appropriate, and lively manner To teach you to structure your thinking.

Consequently, all expository writing, in which you formulate a thesis and attempt to prove it, is an opportunity to practice rigorous, focused thinking habits that can result not only in better papers, but in sharper analytical skills across the board.

This TIP Sheet addresses the following steps common to any kind of non-fiction writing:

Choosing a subject. Limiting your subject. Crafting a thesis statement. Identifying supporting arguments. Revising your thesis. Writing strong topic sentences that support the thesis.

It is during these early stages of writing, particularly in the identification of supporting arguments, that students are most likely to flounder and procrastinate, and when the strength of a paper's thesis is frequently diluted for lack of rigorous thinking. Here we will adapt Aristotle's method of "discovering arguments" to help identify and develop a strong thesis. You may adapt this method to any nonfiction writing, including essays, research papers, book reports, or critical reviews.

1. Choosing a Subject Suppose your instructor asks you to write an essay about a holiday experience. Within this general subject area, you choose a subject that holds your interest and about which you can readily get information: you were in downtown Chico on the morning of St. Patrick's Day and witnessed some unusual behavior–a melee broke out, resulting in injuries to bystanders and property damage to nearby cars. You wish to write about this.

2. Limiting Your Subject What will you name your topic? Clearly, "student behavior" is too broad; student behavior would necessarily include behavior by every kind of student, everywhere, at all times, and this could very well fill a book and require a master's degree in psychology. Simply calling your subject "St. Patrick's Day" would be misleading. You decide to limit the subject to "student behavior on St. Patrick's Day." After some thought, you decide that a better, more specific subject might be "unruly college student behavior such as that witnessed in front of La Salle's in downtown Chico last St. Patrick's Day." (Be aware that this is not the title of your essay. You will title it much later.) You have now limited your subject and are ready to craft a thesis.

3. Crafting a thesis statement While your subject may be a noun phrase such as the one above, your thesis must be a complete sentence that declares where you stand on the subject. A thesis statement should almost always be in the form of a declarative sentence. Suppose you believe that some of the student behavior in front of La Salle's on St. Patrick's Day was very bad; your thesis statement may be, "Student behavior such as demonstrated in front of La Salle's last St. Patrick's Day is an embarrassment to the college community." Or, conversely, perhaps you think the behavior of the students was just a little high-spirited, but not really so bad as the newspaper made it out to be. Your thesis might be, "A college town has to expect a certain amount of student glee on holidays such as St. Patrick's Day; cracked auto glass and a couple of bruises are a small price to pay for all the commerce college students bring to downtown."

4. Identifying supporting arguments Now you must gather material, or find arguments to support your thesis statement. Aristotle taught his students to examine any claim by "discovering arguments." You will use some of his techniques to formulate support for your claim. Brainstorm, adapting the questions below as a guide, and writing down even the ideas that don't appear to you very promising–you can sort through them later.

  • Definition: What is good behavior? What is bad behavior? What is appropriate behavior on St. Patrick's Day? What is appropriate behavior in other settings?
  • Comparison/Similarity: How was behavior last St. Patrick's Day similar to behavior in years past? How was behavior in front of La Salle's similar to behavior in other parts of downtown that day? How was this behavior similar to behavior in other college towns on that day?
  • Comparison/Dissimilarity: How did behavior last St. Patrick's Day differ from behavior in years past? How did behavior in front of La Salle's differ from behavior in other parts of downtown that day? How did this behavior differ from student behavior in other college towns on that day?
  • Comparison/Degree: To what degree was student behavior worse than in years past? To what degree was this behavior worse than in other parts of downtown? To what degree was this behavior worse than student behavior in other college towns?
  • Relationship (cause and effect): What causes good behavior? What are the results of good behavior? What causes bad behavior? What are the results of bad behavior? What were the specific results of the behavior on St. Patrick's Day? What were the specific causes of the behavior on St. Patrick's Day?
  • Circumstance: Has this kind of behavior occurred in the past? Should this behavior be permitted in the future? What is possible–that is, in this case, is it possible for students to behave appropriately even if bored, drunk, or provoked? Is it possible for downtown merchants and bystanders to absorb the costs of property damage?
  • Testimony: What are the opinions of others about student behavior in front of La Salle's on St. Patrick's Day (for example, students who participated, students who observed, students who were injured, students who avoided downtown Chico altogether on St. Patrick's Day, city council members, the police chief, the proprietor of La Salle's, the owner of the damaged car, nearby business owners)?
  • The Good: Would the results of enforced good conduct be "good"? Would the results of enforced good conduct cause unintended or unforeseen problems? What is fair to whom?
  • The Expedient: Is it desirable to require better conduct next St. Patrick's Day? Should authorities force better conduct next year? Should St. Patrick's Day celebrations be cancelled? Should everyone just relax about this incident and let students celebrate? Should students be asked to improve their conduct voluntarily next year? Should Associated Students provide an education campaign about respect for others, provide alternative activities, or additional patrols?

After brainstorming, you should have lots of material to support a thesis statement.

5. Revising your thesis Notice that in the sentence above we used the phrase "a thesis statement" rather than "your thesis statement." This is because, as you examine your thesis statement through the Aristotelian method, you may discover that you were wrong. At this point, you should either revise your thesis or choose another subject and begin again. Revising your opinion in light of convincing evidence is the beginning of wisdom. Besides, even if it is possible to proceed with the essay as you first envisioned it, you will find it more difficult to defend a thesis you have previously discredited in your notes.

6. Crafting topic sentences that support the thesis Using ideas you gathered using Aristotle's method, construct three to five topic sentences that support your claim. These topic sentences will become the framework for the rest of your paper. You will further support each with examples and citations from personal interviews, newspaper articles, or other appropriate references.

The melee was not caused by the students themselves; rather, an elderly homeless man spat on someone's shoe, causing her to move away suddenly, and a chain reaction occurred in the line waiting to go into La Salle's. (from examination of Aristotle's Relationship and Testimony)

Additional policemen would only increase tension in the downtown area, making altercations more likely. (from examination of Aristotle's The Good and The Expedient)

Trying to keep college students away from downtown on holidays like this would cause lost revenues for downtown merchants. (from examination of Aristotle's The Expedient)

As you continue to draft your paper you will, of course, revise these sentences as necessary to more precisely reflect your ideas and the support you gather for them. By this time you should have a good knowledge of your subject and know where you want to go with it. It will now be possible for you to find enough additional supporting material to complete your essay.

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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.


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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SciSpace Resources

What is a thesis | A Complete Guide with Examples


Table of Contents

A thesis is a comprehensive academic paper based on your original research that presents new findings, arguments, and ideas of your study. It’s typically submitted at the end of your master’s degree or as a capstone of your bachelor’s degree.

However, writing a thesis can be laborious, especially for beginners. From the initial challenge of pinpointing a compelling research topic to organizing and presenting findings, the process is filled with potential pitfalls.

Therefore, to help you, this guide talks about what is a thesis. Additionally, it offers revelations and methodologies to transform it from an overwhelming task to a manageable and rewarding academic milestone.

What is a thesis?

A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic.

Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument. Integral to these competencies is thorough research, which not only fortifies your propositions but also confers credibility to your entire study.

Furthermore, there's another phenomenon you might often confuse with the thesis: the ' working thesis .' However, they aren't similar and shouldn't be used interchangeably.

A working thesis, often referred to as a preliminary or tentative thesis, is an initial version of your thesis statement. It serves as a draft or a starting point that guides your research in its early stages.

As you research more and gather more evidence, your initial thesis (aka working thesis) might change. It's like a starting point that can be adjusted as you learn more. It's normal for your main topic to change a few times before you finalize it.

While a thesis identifies and provides an overarching argument, the key to clearly communicating the central point of that argument lies in writing a strong thesis statement.

What is a thesis statement?

A strong thesis statement (aka thesis sentence) is a concise summary of the main argument or claim of the paper. It serves as a critical anchor in any academic work, succinctly encapsulating the primary argument or main idea of the entire paper.

Typically found within the introductory section, a strong thesis statement acts as a roadmap of your thesis, directing readers through your arguments and findings. By delineating the core focus of your investigation, it offers readers an immediate understanding of the context and the gravity of your study.

Furthermore, an effectively crafted thesis statement can set forth the boundaries of your research, helping readers anticipate the specific areas of inquiry you are addressing.

Different types of thesis statements

A good thesis statement is clear, specific, and arguable. Therefore, it is necessary for you to choose the right type of thesis statement for your academic papers.

Thesis statements can be classified based on their purpose and structure. Here are the primary types of thesis statements:

Argumentative (or Persuasive) thesis statement

Purpose : To convince the reader of a particular stance or point of view by presenting evidence and formulating a compelling argument.

Example : Reducing plastic use in daily life is essential for environmental health.

Analytical thesis statement

Purpose : To break down an idea or issue into its components and evaluate it.

Example : By examining the long-term effects, social implications, and economic impact of climate change, it becomes evident that immediate global action is necessary.

Expository (or Descriptive) thesis statement

Purpose : To explain a topic or subject to the reader.

Example : The Great Depression, spanning the 1930s, was a severe worldwide economic downturn triggered by a stock market crash, bank failures, and reduced consumer spending.

Cause and effect thesis statement

Purpose : To demonstrate a cause and its resulting effect.

Example : Overuse of smartphones can lead to impaired sleep patterns, reduced face-to-face social interactions, and increased levels of anxiety.

Compare and contrast thesis statement

Purpose : To highlight similarities and differences between two subjects.

Example : "While both novels '1984' and 'Brave New World' delve into dystopian futures, they differ in their portrayal of individual freedom, societal control, and the role of technology."

When you write a thesis statement , it's important to ensure clarity and precision, so the reader immediately understands the central focus of your work.

What is the difference between a thesis and a thesis statement?

While both terms are frequently used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings.

A thesis refers to the entire research document, encompassing all its chapters and sections. In contrast, a thesis statement is a brief assertion that encapsulates the central argument of the research.

Here’s an in-depth differentiation table of a thesis and a thesis statement.

Now, to craft a compelling thesis, it's crucial to adhere to a specific structure. Let’s break down these essential components that make up a thesis structure

15 components of a thesis structure

Navigating a thesis can be daunting. However, understanding its structure can make the process more manageable.

Here are the key components or different sections of a thesis structure:

Your thesis begins with the title page. It's not just a formality but the gateway to your research.


Here, you'll prominently display the necessary information about you (the author) and your institutional details.

  • Title of your thesis
  • Your full name
  • Your department
  • Your institution and degree program
  • Your submission date
  • Your Supervisor's name (in some cases)
  • Your Department or faculty (in some cases)
  • Your University's logo (in some cases)
  • Your Student ID (in some cases)

In a concise manner, you'll have to summarize the critical aspects of your research in typically no more than 200-300 words.


This includes the problem statement, methodology, key findings, and conclusions. For many, the abstract will determine if they delve deeper into your work, so ensure it's clear and compelling.


Research is rarely a solitary endeavor. In the acknowledgments section, you have the chance to express gratitude to those who've supported your journey.


This might include advisors, peers, institutions, or even personal sources of inspiration and support. It's a personal touch, reflecting the humanity behind the academic rigor.

Table of contents

A roadmap for your readers, the table of contents lists the chapters, sections, and subsections of your thesis.


By providing page numbers, you allow readers to navigate your work easily, jumping to sections that pique their interest.

List of figures and tables

Research often involves data, and presenting this data visually can enhance understanding. This section provides an organized listing of all figures and tables in your thesis.


It's a visual index, ensuring that readers can quickly locate and reference your graphical data.


Here's where you introduce your research topic, articulate the research question or objective, and outline the significance of your study.


  • Present the research topic : Clearly articulate the central theme or subject of your research.
  • Background information : Ground your research topic, providing any necessary context or background information your readers might need to understand the significance of your study.
  • Define the scope : Clearly delineate the boundaries of your research, indicating what will and won't be covered.
  • Literature review : Introduce any relevant existing research on your topic, situating your work within the broader academic conversation and highlighting where your research fits in.
  • State the research Question(s) or objective(s) : Clearly articulate the primary questions or objectives your research aims to address.
  • Outline the study's structure : Give a brief overview of how the subsequent sections of your work will unfold, guiding your readers through the journey ahead.

The introduction should captivate your readers, making them eager to delve deeper into your research journey.

Literature review section

Your study correlates with existing research. Therefore, in the literature review section, you'll engage in a dialogue with existing knowledge, highlighting relevant studies, theories, and findings.


It's here that you identify gaps in the current knowledge, positioning your research as a bridge to new insights.

To streamline this process, consider leveraging AI tools. For example, the SciSpace literature review tool enables you to efficiently explore and delve into research papers, simplifying your literature review journey.


In the research methodology section, you’ll detail the tools, techniques, and processes you employed to gather and analyze data. This section will inform the readers about how you approached your research questions and ensures the reproducibility of your study.


Here's a breakdown of what it should encompass:

  • Research Design : Describe the overall structure and approach of your research. Are you conducting a qualitative study with in-depth interviews? Or is it a quantitative study using statistical analysis? Perhaps it's a mixed-methods approach?
  • Data Collection : Detail the methods you used to gather data. This could include surveys, experiments, observations, interviews, archival research, etc. Mention where you sourced your data, the duration of data collection, and any tools or instruments used.
  • Sampling : If applicable, explain how you selected participants or data sources for your study. Discuss the size of your sample and the rationale behind choosing it.
  • Data Analysis : Describe the techniques and tools you used to process and analyze the data. This could range from statistical tests in quantitative research to thematic analysis in qualitative research.
  • Validity and Reliability : Address the steps you took to ensure the validity and reliability of your findings to ensure that your results are both accurate and consistent.
  • Ethical Considerations : Highlight any ethical issues related to your research and the measures you took to address them, including — informed consent, confidentiality, and data storage and protection measures.

Moreover, different research questions necessitate different types of methodologies. For instance:

  • Experimental methodology : Often used in sciences, this involves a controlled experiment to discern causality.
  • Qualitative methodology : Employed when exploring patterns or phenomena without numerical data. Methods can include interviews, focus groups, or content analysis.
  • Quantitative methodology : Concerned with measurable data and often involves statistical analysis. Surveys and structured observations are common tools here.
  • Mixed methods : As the name implies, this combines both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

The Methodology section isn’t just about detailing the methods but also justifying why they were chosen. The appropriateness of the methods in addressing your research question can significantly impact the credibility of your findings.

Results (or Findings)

This section presents the outcomes of your research. It's crucial to note that the nature of your results may vary; they could be quantitative, qualitative, or a mix of both.


Quantitative results often present statistical data, showcasing measurable outcomes, and they benefit from tables, graphs, and figures to depict these data points.

Qualitative results , on the other hand, might delve into patterns, themes, or narratives derived from non-numerical data, such as interviews or observations.

Regardless of the nature of your results, clarity is essential. This section is purely about presenting the data without offering interpretations — that comes later in the discussion.

In the discussion section, the raw data transforms into valuable insights.

Start by revisiting your research question and contrast it with the findings. How do your results expand, constrict, or challenge current academic conversations?

Dive into the intricacies of the data, guiding the reader through its implications. Detail potential limitations transparently, signaling your awareness of the research's boundaries. This is where your academic voice should be resonant and confident.

Practical implications (Recommendation) section

Based on the insights derived from your research, this section provides actionable suggestions or proposed solutions.

Whether aimed at industry professionals or the general public, recommendations translate your academic findings into potential real-world actions. They help readers understand the practical implications of your work and how it can be applied to effect change or improvement in a given field.

When crafting recommendations, it's essential to ensure they're feasible and rooted in the evidence provided by your research. They shouldn't merely be aspirational but should offer a clear path forward, grounded in your findings.

The conclusion provides closure to your research narrative.

It's not merely a recap but a synthesis of your main findings and their broader implications. Reconnect with the research questions or hypotheses posited at the beginning, offering clear answers based on your findings.


Reflect on the broader contributions of your study, considering its impact on the academic community and potential real-world applications.

Lastly, the conclusion should leave your readers with a clear understanding of the value and impact of your study.

References (or Bibliography)

Every theory you've expounded upon, every data point you've cited, and every methodological precedent you've followed finds its acknowledgment here.


In references, it's crucial to ensure meticulous consistency in formatting, mirroring the specific guidelines of the chosen citation style .

Proper referencing helps to avoid plagiarism , gives credit to original ideas, and allows readers to explore topics of interest. Moreover, it situates your work within the continuum of academic knowledge.

To properly cite the sources used in the study, you can rely on online citation generator tools  to generate accurate citations!

Here’s more on how you can cite your sources.

Often, the depth of research produces a wealth of material that, while crucial, can make the core content of the thesis cumbersome. The appendix is where you mention extra information that supports your research but isn't central to the main text.


Whether it's raw datasets, detailed procedural methodologies, extended case studies, or any other ancillary material, the appendices ensure that these elements are archived for reference without breaking the main narrative's flow.

For thorough researchers and readers keen on meticulous details, the appendices provide a treasure trove of insights.

Glossary (optional)

In academics, specialized terminologies, and jargon are inevitable. However, not every reader is versed in every term.

The glossary, while optional, is a critical tool for accessibility. It's a bridge ensuring that even readers from outside the discipline can access, understand, and appreciate your work.


By defining complex terms and providing context, you're inviting a wider audience to engage with your research, enhancing its reach and impact.

Remember, while these components provide a structured framework, the essence of your thesis lies in the originality of your ideas, the rigor of your research, and the clarity of your presentation.

As you craft each section, keep your readers in mind, ensuring that your passion and dedication shine through every page.

Thesis examples

To further elucidate the concept of a thesis, here are illustrative examples from various fields:

Example 1 (History): Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the ‘Noble Savage’ on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807 by Suchait Kahlon.
Example 2 (Climate Dynamics): Influence of external forcings on abrupt millennial-scale climate changes: a statistical modelling study by Takahito Mitsui · Michel Crucifix

Checklist for your thesis evaluation

Evaluating your thesis ensures that your research meets the standards of academia. Here's an elaborate checklist to guide you through this critical process.

Content and structure

  • Is the thesis statement clear, concise, and debatable?
  • Does the introduction provide sufficient background and context?
  • Is the literature review comprehensive, relevant, and well-organized?
  • Does the methodology section clearly describe and justify the research methods?
  • Are the results/findings presented clearly and logically?
  • Does the discussion interpret the results in light of the research question and existing literature?
  • Is the conclusion summarizing the research and suggesting future directions or implications?

Clarity and coherence

  • Is the writing clear and free of jargon?
  • Are ideas and sections logically connected and flowing?
  • Is there a clear narrative or argument throughout the thesis?

Research quality

  • Is the research question significant and relevant?
  • Are the research methods appropriate for the question?
  • Is the sample size (if applicable) adequate?
  • Are the data analysis techniques appropriate and correctly applied?
  • Are potential biases or limitations addressed?

Originality and significance

  • Does the thesis contribute new knowledge or insights to the field?
  • Is the research grounded in existing literature while offering fresh perspectives?

Formatting and presentation

  • Is the thesis formatted according to institutional guidelines?
  • Are figures, tables, and charts clear, labeled, and referenced in the text?
  • Is the bibliography or reference list complete and consistently formatted?
  • Are appendices relevant and appropriately referenced in the main text?

Grammar and language

  • Is the thesis free of grammatical and spelling errors?
  • Is the language professional, consistent, and appropriate for an academic audience?
  • Are quotations and paraphrased material correctly cited?

Feedback and revision

  • Have you sought feedback from peers, advisors, or experts in the field?
  • Have you addressed the feedback and made the necessary revisions?

Overall assessment

  • Does the thesis as a whole feel cohesive and comprehensive?
  • Would the thesis be understandable and valuable to someone in your field?

Ensure to use this checklist to leave no ground for doubt or missed information in your thesis.

After writing your thesis, the next step is to discuss and defend your findings verbally in front of a knowledgeable panel. You’ve to be well prepared as your professors may grade your presentation abilities.

Preparing your thesis defense

A thesis defense, also known as "defending the thesis," is the culmination of a scholar's research journey. It's the final frontier, where you’ll present their findings and face scrutiny from a panel of experts.

Typically, the defense involves a public presentation where you’ll have to outline your study, followed by a question-and-answer session with a committee of experts. This committee assesses the validity, originality, and significance of the research.

The defense serves as a rite of passage for scholars. It's an opportunity to showcase expertise, address criticisms, and refine arguments. A successful defense not only validates the research but also establishes your authority as a researcher in your field.

Here’s how you can effectively prepare for your thesis defense .

Now, having touched upon the process of defending a thesis, it's worth noting that scholarly work can take various forms, depending on academic and regional practices.

One such form, often paralleled with the thesis, is the 'dissertation.' But what differentiates the two?

Dissertation vs. Thesis

Often used interchangeably in casual discourse, they refer to distinct research projects undertaken at different levels of higher education.

To the uninitiated, understanding their meaning might be elusive. So, let's demystify these terms and delve into their core differences.

Here's a table differentiating between the two.

Wrapping up

From understanding the foundational concept of a thesis to navigating its various components, differentiating it from a dissertation, and recognizing the importance of proper citation — this guide covers it all.

As scholars and readers, understanding these nuances not only aids in academic pursuits but also fosters a deeper appreciation for the relentless quest for knowledge that drives academia.

It’s important to remember that every thesis is a testament to curiosity, dedication, and the indomitable spirit of discovery.

Good luck with your thesis writing!

Frequently Asked Questions

A thesis typically ranges between 40-80 pages, but its length can vary based on the research topic, institution guidelines, and level of study.

A PhD thesis usually spans 200-300 pages, though this can vary based on the discipline, complexity of the research, and institutional requirements.

To identify a thesis topic, consider current trends in your field, gaps in existing literature, personal interests, and discussions with advisors or mentors. Additionally, reviewing related journals and conference proceedings can provide insights into potential areas of exploration.

The conceptual framework is often situated in the literature review or theoretical framework section of a thesis. It helps set the stage by providing the context, defining key concepts, and explaining the relationships between variables.

A thesis statement should be concise, clear, and specific. It should state the main argument or point of your research. Start by pinpointing the central question or issue your research addresses, then condense that into a single statement, ensuring it reflects the essence of your paper.

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

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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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Once you construct a viable thesis, develop it by writing several topic sentences to support it. At this point, do not concern yourself with whether or how the ideas of support are connected. Your goal here is to uncover every major idea you need to argue or explain to thoroughly support your thesis. (Sometimes ideas for thesis support come from your research. Review critical pieces to remember important points you wanted to discuss.) These topic sentences should represent what you believe to be the component parts of your thesis. You will create at least one topic sentence for each of the component parts. You may create a series of topic sentences that support other topic sentences.

In the end, you may have created a "tree" of ideas that all lead back to the thesis. At this point, many students want to begin writing the text of their papers. They believe they have discovered a viable thesis and the support they need to argue their position or explain their points. Before writing text, however, another important step needs to occur.

When you believe you have exhausted the necessary points of support for your thesis, begin arranging topic sentences in a meaningful order. Select an order that best fits the nature of your topic and your support. Your job is to fit the sentences into a viable order and edit the specific wording of each topic sentence to explicitly connect to your thesis. Rewrite the topic sentences until they effectively capture the "line of thought" you want to demonstrate in your paper. That line should extend from the statement of the thesis at the beginning of the paper to the conclusions you draw at the end. Be sure you have plotted that course in such a way that the reader can move without confusion from the statement of your thesis through each of your supporting topic sentences to the conclusion you draw. That course may be determined in large measure by the argument you choose to pursue.


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How to write a thesis statement, what is a thesis statement.

Almost all of us—even if we don’t do it consciously—look early in an essay for a one- or two-sentence condensation of the argument or analysis that is to follow. We refer to that condensation as a thesis statement.

Why Should Your Essay Contain a Thesis Statement?

  • to test your ideas by distilling them into a sentence or two
  • to better organize and develop your argument
  • to provide your reader with a “guide” to your argument

In general, your thesis statement will accomplish these goals if you think of the thesis as the answer to the question your paper explores.

How Can You Write a Good Thesis Statement?

Here are some helpful hints to get you started. You can either scroll down or select a link to a specific topic.

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned

Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is, “Write a report to the local school board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class,” turn the request into a question like, “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” After you’ve chosen the question your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question.

Q: “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” A: “The potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class are . . .”
A: “Using computers in a fourth-grade class promises to improve . . .”

The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.

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How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned

Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to write about.

A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes:

  • take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree
  • deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment
  • express one main idea
  • assert your conclusions about a subject

Let’s see how to generate a thesis statement for a social policy paper.

Brainstorm the topic . Let’s say that your class focuses upon the problems posed by changes in the dietary habits of Americans. You find that you are interested in the amount of sugar Americans consume.

You start out with a thesis statement like this:

Sugar consumption.

This fragment isn’t a thesis statement. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Furthermore, your reader doesn’t know what you want to say about sugar consumption.

Narrow the topic . Your readings about the topic, however, have led you to the conclusion that elementary school children are consuming far more sugar than is healthy.

You change your thesis to look like this:

Reducing sugar consumption by elementary school children.

This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one segment of the population: elementary school children. Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that children consume more sugar than they used to, not everyone would agree on what should be done or who should do it. You should note that this fragment is not a thesis statement because your reader doesn’t know your conclusions on the topic.

Take a position on the topic. After reflecting on the topic a little while longer, you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that something should be done to reduce the amount of sugar these children consume.

You revise your thesis statement to look like this:

More attention should be paid to the food and beverage choices available to elementary school children.

This statement asserts your position, but the terms more attention and food and beverage choices are vague.

Use specific language . You decide to explain what you mean about food and beverage choices , so you write:

Experts estimate that half of elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar.

This statement is specific, but it isn’t a thesis. It merely reports a statistic instead of making an assertion.

Make an assertion based on clearly stated support. You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this:

Because half of all American elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, schools should be required to replace the beverages in soda machines with healthy alternatives.

Notice how the thesis answers the question, “What should be done to reduce sugar consumption by children, and who should do it?” When you started thinking about the paper, you may not have had a specific question in mind, but as you became more involved in the topic, your ideas became more specific. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights.

How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

1. a strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand..

Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements:

There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement.

This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague.

Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers.

This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it's specific.

2. A strong thesis statement justifies discussion.

Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion. If your assignment is to write a paper on kinship systems, using your own family as an example, you might come up with either of these two thesis statements:

My family is an extended family.

This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. Your reader won’t be able to tell the point of the statement, and will probably stop reading.

While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family.

This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point.

3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea.

Readers need to be able to see that your paper has one main point. If your thesis statement expresses more than one idea, then you might confuse your readers about the subject of your paper. For example:

Companies need to exploit the marketing potential of the Internet, and Web pages can provide both advertising and customer support.

This is a weak thesis statement because the reader can’t decide whether the paper is about marketing on the Internet or Web pages. To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become more clear. One way to revise the thesis would be to write:

Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should exploit this potential by using Web pages that offer both advertising and customer support.

This is a strong thesis because it shows that the two ideas are related. Hint: a great many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like because , since , so , although , unless , and however .

4. A strong thesis statement is specific.

A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about, and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, if you're writing a seven-to-ten page paper on hunger, you might say:

World hunger has many causes and effects.

This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger can’t be discussed thoroughly in seven to ten pages. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. A revised thesis might look like this:

Hunger persists in Glandelinia because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable.

This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger.

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Thesis and Dissertation Support

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The Grad Center is here to help you get started, make steady progress, and complete your thesis or dissertation on time. 

Workshops and Events 

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Penn Three Minute Thesis (3MT)

Thesis and Dissertation Resources

We offer workshops and information sessions throughout the year designed to support productive research, writing, and degree completion.  

Popular workshops include: 

Publishing Workshop Series  Curious about publishing but not sure where to start? Join the library staff and the Graduate Student Center for workshops on different aspects of the publishing process!

Reference Management Tools  Reference management software can save researchers considerable time and energy in compiling and formatting references for publications. One-hour workshop demonstrating the most widely-used citation management tools. 

Setting Writing Goals We recognize that depending on where you are in your Masters, PhD, or professional program, it may be challenging to find the motivation to write or to establish a routine that is balanced with your personal tasks and obligations. Join the Weingarten Center and Graduate Student Center for our writing goals workshops to learn effective strategies for setting and keeping clear, achievable writing goals and a balanced schedule. 

See all upcoming events

Whether you need intensive writing time or are looking for ongoing writing motivation and feedback, we work with campus partners to provide range of academic writing support. 

Dissertation Boot Camp   Looking for an environment where you can focus solely on writing your dissertation? The Graduate Student Center's popular Dissertation Boot Camp is your two-week writers' retreat. Dissertation Boot Camp was  created at Penn in 2005  to help students progress through the difficult writing stages of the dissertation process. By offering an environment and support for intense, focused writing time, the Camp provides participants with the structure and motivation to overcome typical roadblocks in the dissertation process.   Boot Camp is a two-week long, bi-annual event.  Drop-in Writing Consultations   Weekly drop-in writing consultations with experts from the  Weingarten Center , held throughout the academic year. Weingarten staff can discuss work at every stage, and help you move past difficult roadblocks in the process. Writing Accountability Groups  Whether you’re working on a dissertation, journal article, or other writing project, forming a group with other students working on writing projects is a great way to help one another make progress and meet deadlines, by providing accountability and encouragement along the way. Check out our resources for existing writing groups or fill out the group matching form below and we will help connect you with a writing group or partner!  Writers Retreats & Graduate Writers Rooms  The Grad Center collaborates with campus partners to provide graduate students with the space, structure, and encouragement to make progress towards completing major research-related writing projects. 

See all Academic Writing Programs

Penn Libraries : Offers a great many  workshops  to help in the research and dissertation process. In addition,  subject librarians  are standing by to support teaching, research, and learning. The  Using Electronic Resources  guide provides information on accessing e-resources, optimal browser settings, as well as common connection problems and solutions. They also maintain lists of free or reduced-price  online journals & ebooks  and  streaming video ! 

Office of Regulatory Affairs : Helps to assure that all research conducted at Penn honors Penn's standards for the treatment of people and animals .

Office of the Vice Provost for Research : Provides information on funding opportunities and links to graduate student resources.

Penn Electronic Research Administration (PennERA) : PennERA is a full life-cycle system for research project development, support, and management.

Weigle Information Commons : Supports study groups and collaborative learning and offers training, equipment, and support for digital media. Several support services are provided for students as they work to improve their effectiveness in writing, speaking, and original inquiry. 

Research Tools and Websites  

Penn Libraries guide to  Statistical Software  

Bibliomania : Provides free online literature with more than 2000 classic texts.

Elements of Style Online book : the classic reference book for all writers.

Library of Congress Online research center : provides free educational materials including access to the Library of Congress archives.

Bibliographic & Reference Management Software

BiblioScape : Free Download

Endnote  works well for the health sciences and for large collections of articles, despite some technical and installation issues. Available for a discount at  Penn Computer Connection

Mendeley  is a cloud-based proprietary system that includes Facebook-style social networking, PDF annotation, a platform for self-promotion and crowd-sourcing of citations and annotations. Mendeley has a wide range of functionality but suffers from performance and accuracy issues.

RefWorks  is a stable, well-established platform, but has limitations in terms of working with PDF files. Provided by and integrated with the  Penn Library

Zotero  is an open-source software program that is notable for its ease of use, its ability to grab screenshots, and its capabilities for archiving website content for local storage.

For more details and a handy comparison chart, check out the Penn Libraries'  Citation Management Tools Guide . 

Print Resources  

Wayne C. Booth, Joseph M. Williams, Gregory G. Colomb,  The Craft of Research, Third Edition  (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing), (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 2008)

Carol M. Roberts,  The Dissertation Journey: A Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Planning, Writing, and Defending Your Dissertation  (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2004) -  Google Books

Kiel Erik Rudestam, Rae R. Newton,  Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process  (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2007) -  Google Books

Dissertation Process

Writing and revising .

The Weingarten Center provides writing consultations to help you organize and make progress on your writing through their Learning Consultations.

LaTeX Fundamentals Tutorials from Penn Libraries: If you're new to using LaTeX to format your thesis or dissertation, check out these short video tutorials from Penn Libraries that include examples and practice exercises!

Defending your Thesis/Dissertation 

Preparing for the Oral Defense of the Dissertation by Marianne Di Pierro  (PDF, opens in new tab)

CWiC : Provides courses and workshops for students to improve speaking abilities.


PhinisheD : Discord server group for people working on their dissertations.

Print Resources 

Joan Bolker,  Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis  (New York: Holt, 1998) -  Google Books

Sonja Foss and William Waters,  Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to a Done Dissertation (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007) -  Google Books

Jane Burka with Lenora M. Yuen,  Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now  (Cambridge, Mass: Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2008)

Guidelines and Policies

Most academic polices and procedures at Penn are school-based. Students should consult with their school or graduate group with questions or for help in understanding academic policies and procedures.

See our complete list of academic policies in our resource guide or search for university policies by topic in the Graduate Catalog .

Academic Rules for Research Programs

  • Academic Rules for PhD Programs
  • Academic Rules for Research Master's Programs

Academic Integrity All members of the Penn Community are responsible for upholding the highest standards of honesty and complying Code of Academic Integrity  at all times. 

  • Guides on how to properly cite materials included in your document

Research Policies and Guidelines

  • Fairness of Authorship Credit in Collaborative Faculty-Student Publications for PhD, AM, and MS Students
  • Guidelines for Research in the Community
  • Guidelines for Student Protection in Sponsored Research Projects
  • Patent and Tangible Research Property Policies and Procedures
  • Policy Regarding Human Subject Research in the Sociobehavioral Sciences
  • Procedures Regarding Misconduct in Research for Nonfaculty members of the Research Community

Leaves of Absence PhD students will be granted a leave of absence for military duty, medical reasons, or  family leave ; any of these may require documentation. Read more in the PhD Student Leave of Absence Policy .

Dissertation Guides The University's requirements for preparing, formatting, and submitting the dissertation are documented on the Provost's Graduate Degrees website . The website also includes helpful resources, a graduation calendar and checklist, and links to external resources. 

Submission and Graduation

Preparing and filing your thesis/dissertation are the key final steps leading to the awarding of your degree. 

Preparation and Formatting 

University Style Guide for Master's Theses

Dissertation Formatting Guide  (DOCX, opens a download window) The University's requirements for preparing, formatting, and submitting the dissertation are documented in the Dissertation Formatting Guide. The manual also includes helpful resources, a graduation calendar and checklist, and links to external resources. 

Graduation Requirements

The  Office of the Provost  oversees the graduation process for all PhD and Research Master's degrees as well as PhD dissertation and research master’s thesis deposits . The University of Pennsylvania confers degrees in May, August, and December. Commencement and diploma ceremonies are held in May.

Degree candidates must apply to graduate by the date listed in the  Graduation Calendar  to be eligible for the conferral of their degree and issuance of their diploma in a given term. The specific deadlines for deposit and graduation for each degree term are listed in the  Graduation Calendar .

Please note  the deadline to complete all degree requirements and sign up for graduation is several weeks in advance of the graduation date.  

Dissertation Submission At the University of Pennsylvania, each doctoral student presents the dissertation publicly, defends it, and, with the approval of the dissertation committee, submits the final manuscript for publication.

To successfully deposit a PhD dissertation, the University's requirements for formatting the dissertation must be followed, per the  Dissertation Formatting Guide (DOCX, opens a download window) . Research Master's students must follow the Master's Thesis Style Guide . Please read the Formatting FAQs for assistance with formatting your work, as proper formatting may take more time than you anticipate. 

Additional Resources

Penn resources and support.

Office of Student Disabilities Services : Provides comprehensive, professional services and programs for students with disabilities.

Weingarten Center : Offers instruction in academic reading, writing, and study strategies.  The Weingarten Center offers access to  academic support resources  and advising. Students can schedule 50-minute virtual or in-person meetings or sign up for 25-minute virtual or in-person drop-in sessions with a learning instructor  via the MyWeingartenCenter portal  to discuss their study strategies and approaches to a variety of academic assignments and assessments.

Counseling Services : Offers counseling and graduate student specific support groups.

Funding your research : Visit our Graduate Funding page 

Graduate Group Review Student Feedback Form Graduate Groups are periodically reviewed by the Graduate Council of the Faculties (GCF) in order to identify strengths and weaknesses within each program, and to recommend any changes that may help to improve the Graduate Group. This feedback form is intended to solicit general information and impressions about your graduate school experiences to share with GCF. If there is a specific incident you would like to report, please use the University’s  Bias Incident Reporting Form .

Global Resources

Penn Global  Before going abroad for academic work, be sure to check out Penn Global's International Travel Guidance page, which provides help during an emergency abroad, research concerns when abroad, travel arrangements, visa information and more. Be sure to register your trip  to stay connected to Penn resources in the event of an emergency and pre-authorize any necessary medical insurance coverage. 

Perry World House  Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania (PWH) is a global policy research center that aims to advance interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research on the world’s most urgent global affairs challenges. At a time of increasing ideological division and highly politicized of policymaking, PWH draws on the wide range of expertise found across Penn’s 12 Schools, connecting Penn with policymakers, practitioners, and researchers from around the world to develop and advance innovative policy proposals.  

Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement  The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania is founded on the principle that a democratic, open, secure, tolerant, and interconnected world benefits all Americans. Based in Washington, D.C., the Penn Biden Center engages more of our fellow citizens in shaping this world, while ensuring the gains of global engagement are widely shared.  

Penn Abroad Penn Abroad serves as the hub for student global opportunities at the University of Pennsylvania. Each year Penn Abroad sends more than 1,000 Penn students to over 50 countries around the world on semester study abroad, summer internships, and embedded Global Seminars. Explore our website to find information about the many global opportunities available to Penn students. 

International Student and Scholar Services International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) aims to provide immigration assistance as well as a sense of community for the international population at Penn.  In addition to answering your technical questions about immigration, ISSS also offers student programs and leadership opportunities for students, such as Forerunner and the Intercultural Leadership Program (ILP), to foster meaningful engagement throughout their journey with Penn. 

Resources in Print

Robert L. Peters,  Getting What You Came for: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning a Master's or a Ph.D.  (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)

Emily Toth,  Ms Mentor's New and Ever More Impeccable Advice for Women and Men in Academia   (Philadelphia, U Penn Press, 2008)

Penn's Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an annual, university-wide competition for doctoral and research students to develop and showcase their research communication skills through brief, 3-minute presentations. 

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UMGC Effective Writing Center Designing an Effective Thesis

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Key Concepts

  • A thesis is a simple sentence that combines your topic and your position on the topic.
  • A thesis provides a roadmap to what follows in the paper.
  • A thesis is like a wheel's hub--everything revolves around it and is attached to it.

After your prewriting activities-- such as assignment analysis and outlining--you should be ready to take the next step: writing a thesis statement. Although some of your assignments will provide a focus for you, it is still important for your college career and especially for your professional career to be able to state a satisfactory controlling idea or thesis that unifies your thoughts and materials for the reader.

Characteristics of an Effective Thesis

A thesis consists of two main parts: your overall topic and your position on that topic. Here are some example thesis statements that combine topic and position:

Sample Thesis Statements

Importance of tone.

Tone is established in the wording of your thesis, which should match the characteristics of your audience. For example, if you are a concerned citizen proposing a new law to your city's board of supervisors about drunk driving, you would not want to write this:

“It’s time to get the filthy drunks off the street and from behind the wheel: I demand that you pass a mandatory five-year license suspension for every drunk who gets caught driving. Do unto them before they do unto us!”

However, if you’re speaking at a concerned citizen’s meeting and you’re trying to rally voter support, such emotional language could help motivate your audience.

Using Your Thesis to Map Your Paper for the Reader

In academic writing, the thesis statement is often used to signal the paper's overall structure to the reader. An effective thesis allows the reader to predict what will be encountered in the support paragraphs. Here are some examples:

Use the Thesis to Map

Three potential problems to avoid.

Because your thesis is the hub of your essay, it has to be strong and effective. Here are three common pitfalls to avoid:

1. Don’t confuse an announcement with a thesis.

In an announcement, the writer declares personal intentions about the paper instead stating a thesis with clear point of view or position:

Write a Thesis, Not an Announcement

 2. a statement of fact does not provide a point of view and is not a thesis..

An introduction needs a strong, clear position statement. Without one, it will be hard for you to develop your paper with relevant arguments and evidence.

Don't Confuse a Fact with a Thesis

3. avoid overly broad thesis statements.

Broad statements contain vague, general terms that do not provide a clear focus for the essay.

Use the Thesis to Provide Focus

Practice writing an effective thesis.

OK. Time to write a thesis for your paper. What is your topic? What is your position on that topic? State both clearly in a thesis sentence that helps to map your response for the reader.

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thesis and support

6.3 Supporting a Thesis

Learning objectives.

  • Understand the general goal of writing a paper.
  • Be aware of how you can create supporting details.
  • Recognize procedures for using supporting details.

Supporting your thesis is the overall goal of your whole paper. It means presenting information that will convince your readers that your thesis makes sense. You need to take care to choose the best supporting details for your thesis.

Creating Supporting Details

thesis and support

You can and should use a variety of kinds of support for your thesis. One of the easiest forms of support to use is personal observations and experiences. The strong point in favor of using personal anecdotes is that they add interest and emotion, both of which can pull audiences along. On the other hand, the anecdotal and subjective nature of personal observations and experiences makes them too weak to support a thesis on their own.

Since they can be verified, facts can help strengthen personal anecdotes by giving them substance and grounding. For example, if you tell a personal anecdote about having lost twenty pounds by using a Hula-Hoop for twenty minutes after every meal, the story seems interesting, but readers might not think it is a serious weight-loss technique. But if you follow up the story with some facts about the benefit of exercising for twenty minutes after every meal, the Hula-Hoop story takes on more credibility. Although facts are undeniably useful in writing projects, a paper full of nothing but fact upon fact would not be very interesting to read.

Like anecdotal information, your opinions can help make facts more interesting. On their own, opinions are weak support for a thesis. But coupled with specific relevant facts, opinions can add a great deal of interest to your work. In addition, opinions are excellent tools for convincing an audience that your thesis makes sense.

Similar to your opinions are details from expert testimony and personal interviews. Both of these kinds of sources provide no shortage of opinions. Expert opinions can carry a little more clout than your own, but you should be careful not to rely too much on them. However, it’s safe to say that finding quality opinions from others and presenting them in support of your ideas will make others more likely to agree with your ideas.

Statistics can provide excellent support for your thesis. Statistics are facts expressed in numbers. For example, say you relay the results of a study that showed that 90 percent of people who exercise for twenty minutes after every meal lose two pounds per week. Such statistics lend strong, credible support to a thesis.

Examples Choices of details used to clarify a point for readers. —real or made up—are powerful tools you can use to clarify and support your facts, opinions, and statistics. A detail that sounds insignificant or meaningless can become quite significant when clarified with an example. For example, you could cite your sister Lydia as an example of someone who lost thirty pounds in a month by exercising after every meal. Using a name and specifics makes it seem very personal and real. As long as you use examples ethically and logically, they can be tremendous assets. On the other hand, when using examples, take care not to intentionally mislead your readers or distort reality. For example, if your sister Lydia also gave birth to a baby during that month, leaving that key bit of information out of the example would be misleading.

Procedures for Using Supporting Details

You are likely to find or think of details that relate to your topic and are interesting, but that do not support your thesis. Including such details in your paper is unwise because they are distracting and irrelevant.

In today’s rich world of technology, you have many options when it comes to choosing sources of information. Make sure you choose only reliable sources. Even if some information sounds absolutely amazing, if it comes from an unreliable source, don’t use it. It might sound amazing for a reason—because it has been amazingly made up.

thesis and support

When you find a new detail, make sure you can find it in at least one more source so you can safely accept it as true. Take this step even when you think the source is reliable because even reliable sources can include errors. When you find new information, make sure to put it into your essay or file of notes right away. Never rely on your memory.

Take great care to organize your supporting details so that they can best support your thesis. One strategy is to list the most powerful information first. Another is to present information in a natural sequence, such as chronological A method of narrative arrangement that places events in their order of occurrence. order. A third option is to use a compare/contrast A writing pattern used to explain how two (or more) things are alike and different. format. Choose whatever method you think will most clearly support your thesis.

Make sure to use at least two or three supporting details for each main idea. In a longer essay, you can easily include more than three supporting details per idea, but in a shorter essay, you might not have space for any more.

Key Takeaways

  • A thesis gives an essay a purpose, which is to present details that support the thesis.
  • To create supporting details, you can use personal observations and experiences, facts, opinions, statistics, and examples.
  • When choosing details for your essay, exclude any that do not support your thesis, make sure you use only reliable sources, double-check your facts for accuracy, organize your details to best support your thesis, and include at least two or three details to support each main idea.

Choose a topic of interest to you. Write a personal observation or experience, a fact, an opinion, a statistic, and an example related to your topic. Present your information in a table with the following headings.

Choose a topic of interest to you. On the Internet, find five reliable sources and five unreliable sources and fill in a table with the following headings.

  • Choose a topic of interest to you and write a possible thesis related to the topic. Write one sentence that is both related to the topic and relevant to the thesis. Write one sentence that is related to the topic but not relevant to the thesis.

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Developing Strong Thesis Statements

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The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable

An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.

Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:

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.

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.

Another example of a debatable thesis statement:

In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.

The thesis needs to be narrow

Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.

Example of a thesis that is too broad:

There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.

Example of a narrow or focused thesis:

In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.

We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:

Narrowed debatable thesis 1:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.

Narrowed debatable thesis 2:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.

Qualifiers such as " typically ," " generally ," " usually ," or " on average " also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.

Types of claims

Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, or, in other words, what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.

Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:

Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:

Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:

Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:

Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.

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36 Writing the Essay Body: Supporting Your Ideas

Whether the drafting of a paragraph begins with a main idea or whether that idea surfaces in the revision process, once you have that main idea, you’ll want to make sure that the idea has enough support. The job of the paragraph body is to develop and support the topic. Here’s one way that you might think about it:

  • Topic sentence : what is the main claim of your paragraph; what is the most important idea that you want your readers to take away from this paragraph?
  • Support in the form of evidence : how can you prove that your claim or idea is true (or important, or noteworthy, or relevant)?
  • Support in the form of analysis or evaluation : what discussion can you provide that helps your readers see the connection between the evidence and your claim?
  • Transition : how can you help your readers move from the idea you’re currently discussing to the next idea presented? For more specific discussion about transitions, see the following section on “ Transitions .”

For more on methods of development that can help you to develop and organize your ideas within paragraphs, see “ Patterns of Organization and Methods of Development ” later in this text.

Types of support might include

Now that we have a good idea what it means to develop support for the main ideas of your paragraphs, let’s talk about how to make sure that those supporting details are solid and convincing.

Strong vs. Weak Support

What questions will your readers have? What will they need to know? What makes for good supporting details? Why might readers consider some evidence to be weak?

If you’re already developing paragraphs, it’s likely that you already have a plan for your essay, at least at the most basic level. You know what your topic is, you might have a working thesis, and you probably have at least a couple of supporting ideas in mind that will further develop and support your thesis.

So imagine you’re developing a paragraph on one of these supporting ideas and you need to make sure that the support that you develop for this idea is solid. Considering some of the points about understanding and appealing to your audience (from the Audience and Purpose and the Prewriting sections of this text) can also be helpful in determining what your readers will consider good support and what they’ll consider to be weak. Here are some tips on what to strive for and what to avoid when it comes to supporting details.

Breaking, Combining, or Beginning New Paragraphs

Like sentence length, paragraph length varies. There is no single ideal length for “the perfect paragraph.”  There are some general guidelines, however.

Some writing handbooks or resources suggest that a paragraph should be at least three or four sentences; others suggest that 100 to 200 words is a good target to shoot for.

In academic writing, paragraphs tend to be longer, while in less formal or less complex writing, such as in a newspaper, paragraphs tend to be much shorter. Two-thirds to three-fourths of a page—or seven to twelve sentences—is usually a good target length for paragraphs at your current level of academic writing.

The amount of space needed to develop one idea will likely be different than the amount of space needed to develop another. So when is a paragraph complete? The answer is: when it’s fully developed. The guidelines above for providing good support should help.

Signs to end a paragraph and start a new one:

  • You’re ready to begin developing a new idea.
  • You want to emphasize a point by setting it apart.
  • You’re getting ready to continue discussing the same idea but in a different way (e.g., shifting from comparison to contrast).
  • You notice that your current paragraph is getting too long (more than three-fourths of a page or so), and you think your writers will need a visual break.

Signs to combine paragraphs include:

  • You notice that some of your paragraphs appear to be short and choppy.
  • You have multiple paragraphs on the same topic.
  • You have undeveloped material that needs to be united under a clear topic.

Finally, paragraph number is a lot like paragraph length. You may have been asked in the past to write a five-paragraph essay. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a five-paragraph essay, but just like sentence length and paragraph length, the number of paragraphs in an essay depends upon what’s needed to get the job done. There’s really no way to know that until you start writing. So try not to worry too much about the proper length and number of things unless those are specified in your assignment. Just start writing and see where the essay and the paragraphs take you. There will be plenty of time to sort out the organization in the revision process. You’re not trying to fit pegs into holes here. You’re letting your ideas unfold. Give yourself—and them—the space to let that happen.

Text Attributions

  • This chapter was adapted from “ The Paragraph Body: Supporting Your Ideas ” in The Word on College Reading and Writing by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear, which is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 Licence . Adapted by Allison Kilgannon.

Advanced English Copyright © 2021 by Allison Kilgannon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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thesis and support

Writing based on Texts

Developing support.

thesis and support

Note the phrase “working thesis.” As you start developing support for your thesis, you may find that the support yields information that the thesis does not plan for. So you may need to edit your thesis or else decide not to pursue that line of support. You review and finalize your thesis once you fully develop your support.

The following video, while focused on writing a single paragraph, offers solid information to explain the concept of support and how support relates to a main idea.

Here’s one process to follow in order to develop support for your working thesis:

  • Analyze your working thesis to see what type of insights and information you’ve promised your reader in the angle.
  • Create working topic sentences to address the promise in the thesis’ angle. Extract ideas one by one from the thesis’ angle, and write a topic sentence for each idea, with its own topic and angle. Remember that topic sentences offer general ideas that your support will then specify.
  • Fill in with examples and details under each topic sentence, to fully explain each topic sentence’s angle. Start with the topic sentence about which you have the most to say, even though you may not end up placing that topic sentence first in the finished essay. Just start in the place that’s easiest for you, to get started writing.
  • Understand that writing is an iterative process. As you start to develop your support, you may decide to circle back to your thesis and topic sentences as well as move forward with developing details, examples, and insights. For example, while developing support, you may decide that you need to add another topic sentence that did not occur to you initially.

Working Thesis: Because images in advertising art reflect their social context, you can infer what’s important to the general public at different eras through analyzing ads.

If you’re using this as your working thesis, you’ll need to determine how many and which eras you want to include. You know that you can’t write about all eras, because you’re only writing a 3-5 page essay.  And you know that you want to write about advertising in the U.S. as opposed to other cultures, because as a U.S. resident, that’s the one you know the most about. You decide that you want to focus on latter 20th century ads, and decide to write about particular decades instead of eras as a way of narrowing your scope, which will enable you to delve more deeply into the support. You end up choosing the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. You develop a topic sentence for each decade:

  • Ads in the 1960s tended to use bright colors and highlight conventional values; their glossy look essentially glossed over the social upheaval and changing value systems that were considered “anti-establishment” at the time.
  • Ads in the 1970s tended to use a more subdued palette and less conventional images, as fuller infusion and popularization of skepticism and counter-culture, as well as emerging new technologies, were highlighted.
  • Ads in the 1980s were bright, eye-popping, highly stylized productions, in sync with the swing back to big business and power of certain groups.
  • Ads in the 1990s remained colorful, but started to push previously accepted limits of “appropriateness” with newly provocative images, as well as focus more fully on celebrities. Both of these developments may have occurred because of the safer economic and social climate of the time, which provided a stable base for experimentation.

After developing these working topic sentences, you have an additional insight—that ads during these four decades started to define two contentious strains in contemporary society. You decide to circle back to revise your working thesis, and then add another topic sentence to deal with this insight as a way of putting your thoughts into broader context toward the end of the essay. You also realize that you focused on color palette, style, and content of ads, so you revise your working thesis to specify it further. You end up with the following working thesis.

Revised Working Thesis: Images in advertising art reflect their social context. From analyzing the color palette, style, and content of ads in the 1960s through the 1990s, you can both infer what was important to society during those decades as well as see how those decades laid the groundwork for the more divisive rifts between tradition and experimentation in contemporary society.

As you can see from this example, it can be helpful to lay out the conceptual structure—the structure of ideas—of an essay, before you flesh out that structure with support. However, if this process does not resonate with you, there are other methods of approach.

Here’s another process to follow to develop support for your working thesis:

  • Just start writing based on your working thesis to see what topic sentences and supporting examples evolve.
  • Or you may want to use lists or mind maps to develop topic sentences and supporting details.
  • Once you have developed a substantial amount of information, categorize it and name the categories. Any method is o.k. You’ll eventually end up with a thesis, topic sentences and paragraphs of support, in order to have an essay whose ideas a reader can follow.
  • enough support (if there are categories with very little information)
  • slanted support (categories overloaded with information)
  • inappropriate support (categories that are too general), or
  • support only marginally related to your thesis (category names that don’t quite relate to the angle in the thesis)

Here’s the start of a mind map to develop support for the working thesis that advertising art reflects its social context.

thesis and support

mind mapping software courtesy of

From the start of this mind map, you can see a few things. One is that categories are starting to emerge. The writer has identified two decades, so it makes sense to categorize by decade.  Another is that the writer was able to think of some detailed examples, but may need to add more general examples that show how ads reflect their cultural contexts (e.g., the writer needs more than just “risque” for the 1990s). You can also see that a mind map is a good way to differentiate levels of detail.

As you do more writing, you’ll create and refine your own process for developing support. Just make sure that you’re developing support for topic sentences that relate to your overall thesis.

Types of Support

There are many types of support that specify ideas in topic sentences. You’ll use some or all types of support, depending on the purpose of your essay. Commonly-used types of support consist of the following:

thesis and support

  • Personal Observations

The type of support you include in an essay will depend on your writing purpose and audience. For example, if you’re attempting to analyze an issue in order to persuade your audience to take a particular position on that issue, you might rely on facts, statistics, and concrete examples, rather than personal opinions, to provide logical evidence. If you’re writing an essay to offer a personal reaction to something you observed, you might rely on observations, examples, and details. If you are writing a research essay which synthesizes information from many texts, you’ll include more summaries, paraphrases, and quotations from sources, along with reasons and facts. If you’re writing any of these essays for an audience that is not familiar with your topic, you’ll include more concrete details and examples to make sure they understand your points. Realize that all types of support are usable in all types of essays, and that it’s typical to blend many or all of these types of support when supporting a topic sentence. Also understand that although it’s useful to recognize different types of support, writers don’t necessarily think in terms of “I need a fact here” or “I need an observation there.” Writers just write. Conscious consideration of different types of support occurs as you continue to work with and review your support, in terms of your thesis, topic sentences, purpose, and audience.

The two videos that follow explain different types of support.

Two key, inter-related skills in developing support are 1) the ability to distinguish between more general and more specific information, as units of support usually move from general –> specific, and 2) the ability to figure out a logical sequence of information.

Practice these skills by ranking the sentences below from most general (topic sentence) to most specific, a ranking which should also move logically from more basic to more specialized information.

  • One 12-gram serving of Crisco contains 3g of saturated fat, 0g of trans fat, 6g of polyunsaturated fat, and 2.5g of monounsaturated fat.
  • There are different types of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • According to its label, Crisco contains a higher percentage of unsaturated than saturated fat.
  • Mono and polyunsaturated fats can lower your risk of Type II diabetes.
  • Unsaturated fats provide a number of benefits to the body.
  • All three types of unsaturated fats can help lower your risk of heart disease.
  • One 12-gram serving of Crisco contains 3g of saturated fat, 0g of trans fat, 6g of polyunsaturated fat, and 2.5g of monounsaturated fat.

Units of Support

When you’re developing support, think in terms of “units of support” as opposed to paragraphs. A unit of support develops the ideas in topic sentence, and that unit of support may include more than one paragraph.

As you develop units of support, keep in mind that those units usually move from more general (the unit’s topic sentence) to more specific (details and examples that explain and support the angle in the topic sentence) and optionally back to more general (re-statement of the topic sentence, as a lead-in to the next topic sentence and unit of support, if it makes sense within the flow of the essay). Also remember to paragraph when needed within each unit of support.

Paragraphing within the Draft/Units of Support

thesis and support

Like sentence length, paragraph length varies. There is no single ideal length for “the perfect paragraph.” Know, though, that if you have lengthy units of support and don’t paragraph within them, your readers might wonder if the paragraph is ever going to end, and they might lose interest.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the amount of space needed to develop one idea will likely be different than the amount of space needed to develop another. In general, start a new paragraph when:

  • You’re ready to begin developing a new idea.
  • You want to emphasize a point by setting it apart.
  • You’re getting ready to continue discussing the same idea but in a different way (e.g., shifting from comparison to contrast).
  • You notice that your current paragraph is getting too long (more than three-fourths of a page or so), and you think your writers will need a visual break.

On the other hand, you don’t want your essay to include too many short paragraphs in a series. In general, combine paragraphs when:

  • You notice that some of your paragraphs appear to be short and choppy.
  • You have multiple paragraphs on the same topic.
  • You have undeveloped material that needs to be united under a clear topic.

Enough Support

How much support is “enough?” That’s a question that only you as a writer can answer. Know that the number of paragraphs in an essay as well as the number of topic sentences and units of support depend on what’s needed to fully support the angle in the thesis sentence. There’s really no way to know that until you start writing.

thesis and support

However, one good method to gauge “enough” is to put yourself into a reader’s role. Draft your essay, set the draft aside, and then re-read the draft. Ask if a reader can easily relate your concepts to real life, based on the support you have provided. If you’re analyzing an issue, ask if you’ve provided different viewpoints and shown how yours is the most valid, through your evidence and explanations. You may circle back to develop fuller support, or to hone your existing support, once you write and then consider your essay draft. So, just start developing your support using a process that makes sense to you, and see how your draft develops. There will be plenty of time to add, delete, and re-organize paragraphs and units of support in the revision process.

  • Developing Support/Drafting the essay, includes material adapted from College Writing and The Word on College Reading and Writing; attributions below. Authored by : Susan Oaks. Project : Introduction to College Reading & Writing. License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • College writing, pages on Types of Support, Working with Support. Authored by : Susan Oaks. Located at : . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • The Paragraph Body: Supporting Your Ideas. Authored by : Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear. Provided by : OpenOregon. Located at : . License : CC BY-NC: Attribution-NonCommercial
  • image of woman typing at computer. Authored by : StockSnap. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved
  • image of a person's hands typing on a laptop. Authored by : Pexels. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved
  • image of man typing on computer. Authored by : Gerd Altmann. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved
  • video Supporting Sentences. Authored by : Jonathan Newsome. Located at : . License : Other . License Terms : YouTube video
  • video Essay Writing - Body Paragraphs - Supporting Details. Provided by : GoReadWriteNow. Located at : . License : Other . License Terms : YouTube video
  • video Essay Writing - Body Paragraphs - Insightful Analysis. Provided by : GoReadWriteNow. Located at : . License : Other . License Terms : YouTube video
  • image of hand coming out of laptop screen, holding a question mark. Authored by : Gerd Altmann. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved

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Submit Electronic Manuscript ( Open this section)

After you make the required changes or corrections, you will electronically upload the final version of your manuscript in PDF format to the   ProQuest ETD Administrator site at UMI/ProQuest .

Once you electronically submit your final manuscript for publishing, no changes are made to the format or content. Therefore, the burden of how the manuscript looks is entirely the responsibility of the student author.

Steps for Thesis/Dissertation Electronic Submission

When you submit your final PDF to ProQuest/UMI Publishing, it will be logged, indexed, and published. ProQuest/UMI is a private company that has served for many years as the publisher and distributor for most theses and dissertations written in the United States. Please keep in mind that ProQuest acts as a publisher and does not own the copyright to your manuscript. As the author, you retain control of your work’s intellectual content.

Your document will be available after approximately 8 weeks in the ProQuest/UMI database, unless you restricted it. The Chester Fritz Library will receive your bound copy that will be available in the Library periodicals as well as an electronic copy that will be available in the   UND Scholarly Commons .

Publishing Options

Traditional – this choice will meet the needs of most students. There is no fee and this choice allows UMI to reproduce, distribute, and sell copies of your work-0 with royalties paid to you as the author.

Open Access – this optional service makes your work freely available for viewing or downloading by anyone with access to the Internet. The Open Access publishing fee is $95.

Embargo/Hold Information

You have the option of restricting access to your manuscript for up to two years. If you choose to delay access, your work will default to whichever publishing method you have selected at the expiration of the embargo.

Copyright Registration

There is a fee for Copyright registration (an optional service). You automatically own the copyright to your electronic work as soon as it is published without any special requirement of notice or registration. International copyright law provides full protection and establishment of the author’s rights. However, ProQuest offers an additional copyright registration service that registers your copyright, establishes your claim to copyright, and provides certain protections if your copyright is violated. This means that ProQuest will submit your application to the United States Copyright on your behalf and provide you with the certificate from the Library of Congress. The cost to have ProQuest register your copyright with the Library of Congress is $55.

There is no submission fee for submitting your document electronically through ProQuest/UMI. The publishing fee is waived when submitting electronically. The only required charge when submitting your manuscript is $30 for a hard-bound copy to be kept at the Chester Fritz Library. A credit card is required to place this order. You may also choose to order personal bound copies of your manuscript during the submission process for an additional fee.

All costs for the manuscript or optional services is subject to change without notice.

Order copies

You are required to purchase, thru ProQuest, one copy of your thesis/dissertation that will be mailed to the UND Chester Fritz Library. Be aware that they are printed double-sided, so margins may need to be adjusted. 

Additional copies may be ordered through ProQuest or you may order personal copies through a third-party site. The Chester Fritz Library no longer offers binding services.

Survey of Earned Doctorates (Ph.D. Students Only) ( Open this section)

This survey is for Ph.D. Students only, this does not apply to Ed.D. or D.A. students.

  • Ph.D. students need to complete the   Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED)   online.
  • The School of Graduate Studies, as well as yourself, will receive a confirmation email after you have completed the survey

Past Theses and Dissertations

Previous UND Graduate Student Theses & Dissertations are available for review.

Technical Assistance

For general questions about submitting your thesis/dissertation online, contact Staci Ortiz .

For technical assistance through UMI ETD:

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Get to Know Your 2024 Kent State Geauga Student Commencement Speaker

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Headshot of Wayne Nieh

Wayne Nieh will be the 2024 commencement student speaker during the Kent State University Geauga and Twinsburg Academic Center Pinning and Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 10. Wayne is not only the Valedictorian of his graduating class, but this inspiring scholar with a promising future has a dramatic backstory, a resolute sense of purpose, a remarkable set of achievements, and an over-arching attitude of humility.

Get to know Wayne, in his own words, in the Q&A below. Then come to the 2024 Kent State Geauga Commencement Ceremony at Parkside Church in Bainbridge to be inspired by his powerful message. The Nursing Pinning Ceremony will begin at 12:30 p.m. followed by Commencement at 2:30 p.m.

1.  When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a child, I wanted to become a teacher, a scientist, a scholar, and/or an opera actor from the influence of my late beloved grandfather, who was the best mentor and friend of my childhood. He disciplined me to be a reader, a thinker, and a doer. At a young age, he also taught me Peking Opera, and I have enjoyed performing opera on stage since the age of 4. I had many dreams as a young boy; however, I loved my opera tapes and collections of books more than other things.

2.  Where were you raised and when did you and your family immigrate to the U.S.? From what high school did you graduate?

I was raised in a beautiful northern Chinese village on a peninsula named Penglai. Our family owned cherry and apple farms as well as a vineyard. My hometown was very close to the Bohai Gulf, and all the fruit trees grew on the sand.

In December 2010, our family moved to the U.S., and we are very thankful for this country and all the opportunities including educational opportunities. I graduated from Solon High School, and I am truly thankful for my high school principals, guidance counselors, and many amazing teachers who supported and guided me through my high school journey, especially during the first year of my high school days when I could barely speak, read, and write in English.  

3.  Why did you choose to attend Kent State Geauga for your undergraduate studies?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I read an article online about a Kent State University Geauga Campus BSN program and 2018 graduate Bailey Hill, who took the calling to spend four weeks at New York Presbyterian Hospital, an area in the COVID hot zone with a shortage of nurses.

I was moved, encouraged, and inspired by her story. In addition, I truly love the smaller nursing cohort learning environment—students know each other well, and we are like family members.

Moreover, I am very thankful for our BSN program coordinator, Melissa Owen, who loves and cares about all nursing scholars, and I have learned much from her lectures and through her character and leadership. I still remember our very first meeting online when my internet was very slow, and she was very patient in waiting for me. After the meeting, I knew this would be the best learning environment for me to pursue my nursing education and training.

4.  Why did you choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, what is your plan after graduation, and what is your ultimate career goal?

I chose to pursue nursing from the inspiration of my parents, who took good care of my grandfather after he suffered from three strokes, and they also taught me to be a compassionate and kind person, to serve others who were in need during my elementary school days.

When I turned 21, my mother went through cancer surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. My father took such good care of my mother, and I eye-witnessed many nurses who encouraged my mother and made a positive impact during her cancer treatment. I know that’s the desire of my life: to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, my parents, and the inspiring nurses, serving the community with charity, compassion, and knowledge.

My ultimate career goal is to finish my doctoral degree in nursing and eagerly translate nursing research evidence into nursing clinical practice for better care outcomes.

5.  Please describe how your 2021 and 2022 SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience) research projects and presentations have informed your current work in the nursing field, and how Vitamin K therapy and the Family Willingness for Caregiving Scale (FWCS) may impact the course of your future endeavors in improving healthcare outcomes for patients.  The 2021 SURE research project entitled “The Healing Potential of Vitamin K, The Forgotten Vitamin” under the supervision of my mentor, Dr. Popescu, opened the door to my path of research at Kent State University. The first SURE research project broadened my understanding of the importance, necessity, and power of research as a nursing student. Through this research project, I worked closely with the director of the Office of Student Research, Ms. Ann Gosky, who has been a blessing to me as a nursing student and student researcher at Kent State University.

After the first SURE research project, I knew I had the desire to broaden my understanding of nursing research. As a regional campus nursing student, I did not know any nursing research faculty from the Kent campus. During the 2021 winter break, Ms. Gosky helped me get connected with Dr. Amy Petrinec for my second SURE nursing research project.

Then I worked under the mentorships of Dr. Amy Petrinec and Dr. Cindy Wilk, testing a new instrument, Family Willingness for Caregiving Scale (FWCS), designed by Dr. Wilk during her PhD study. It measures the willingness of family members to become caregivers to a loved one receiving mechanical ventilation while in an adult intensive care unit (ICU).

I was humbled by this research study in the Summer of 2022, and Dr. Wilk taught me the art and techniques of therapeutic communications when recruiting eligible family members of ICU patients at Summa Health in Akron. This SURE experience surely exposed me to the power of nursing research in healthcare and trained my critical thinking and communication skills in a clinical setting, which helped significantly later in my nursing journey at Kent State University.

Dr. Petrinec and Dr. Wilk are diligent nursing professors, profound nursing scientists, and amazing thinkers and writers. Working under their mentorship taught me the lesson of humility because I can always learn new things from them, such as creative ways of thinking, better writing styles, and effective communication skills.

After my second SURE nursing research study, I was motivated, encouraged, and challenged by Dr. Petrinec and Dr. Wilk to propose my senior honors thesis study entitled “Family Presence During Resuscitation: A Descriptive Study of Perceptions of Nursing Students” in Fall 2022.

I am truly thankful for the support of the Honors College, McNair Scholars Program, and the Office of Student Research for this thesis study. Dr. Petrinec guided me through grant application, IRB application, Qualtrics design for instrumental surveys, and student recruitment as a BSN student. As time is approaching to my graduation, I truly want to express my sincere thankfulness to Ms. Gosky. Without her support, I wouldn’t be able to recruit any accelerated BSN scholars in Summer 2023, my mentor, Dr. Petrinec, the thesis committee (Dean Smith of Honors College, Dr. Wilk, Dr. Popescu, and Ms. Larubina), and Dr. Kutchin, who showed me how to recruit students for the thesis study with enthusiasm and passion.

Now, reflecting on my research journey at Kent State University, I have seen my mentor’s diligence and passion for nursing research, and her love and care for students, and I also learned the wisdom from Dr. Petrinec that nursing education is not merely the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think, to be creative in problem-solving, and to lead with compassion.

Over the years at Kent State University, I participated in the 2021 SURE 3-minute thesis, and the 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium, and presented my first SURE research work at the 2022 Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium at West Virginia University. I presented my second SURE study at the 2022 SURE 3-minute thesis and won second place; at the 2023 Undergraduate Research Symposium and won first place in the nursing category; at the 2023 Innovation Day for the Northeastern Ohio Public University Research Association (NEOPURA),  at the 2023 KSU Honors Research Symposium and won the poster award, and at the SAEOPP McNair/SSS Research Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Lastly, I presented my honors thesis study at the 47th Biennial Convention in San Antonio, Texas; at the 2024 Midwest Nursing Research Annual Research Conference in Minneapolis; defended my thesis study on April 2, 2024; presented the thesis study at Sigma Collaboration with Case Western, Ursuline College, Kent State University, and University of Akron; at the 2024 Undergraduate Symposium at KSU and won the first place in the nursing category; at the 132nd Ohio Academic of Science Annual Meeting; and presented again at the KSU Honors Research Symposium on April 26, 2024.

No words can fully express my gratitude to Kent State University, my research mentors, and the supportive nursing faculty members from Kent and Geauga campuses. The opportunities I have had through KSU pave the way for me as a senior BSN student, to recognize the importance of research in clinical settings and provide tools to pursue and implement evidence from nursing research in clinical practice in the future for the advancement of the nursing profession, patient safety, and overall quality of care. 6.  You have overcome many obstacles along your academic journey. Please describe what motivated you to work so hard and excel at many levels—and soon you will address your entire graduating class as their commencement speaker.

As an immigrant, my family has worked hard to overcome financial, cultural, and language challenges, and I have been studying very hard to overcome academic challenges.

However, I am thankful for the obstacles and challenges, for they have strengthened my character which shaped me to be the person I am today. When I was young, my late grandfather often taught me his wisdom in life (he underwent WWII and fought in the Chinese Civil War in the 1940s and lost one leg on the battlefield) that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

He also often taught me that the intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. I strongly believe the wisdom and lessons that I learned from my late grandfather, and the exemplary life that he lived, motivated me to be the overcomer to face and work through the obstacles and challenges in my life with hope and strength.

7.  Your grandfather also shared with you: “Diligence is the path to the mountain of knowledge; hard work is the boat to the endless sea of learning.” Please explain how this saying has encouraged you and how other people can be inspired by these words.

My late grandfather was a wise man, and many people including myself gained the benefits and wisdom from him through conversations. When he taught me this statement, I was too young to understand the depth of his wisdom. However, as I got older, I could grasp his wisdom that humility is essential in academia, especially in the nursing profession.

Nursing is a profession that requires both science and compassion, with nursing knowledge similar to the vast ocean. Thus, nursing requires students to be diligent in learning the mountain of knowledge, and it also requires us to be adaptive since evidence-based practices change over time through nursing research for the good. Over the years, I appreciate my grandfather’s words more and more that hard work is truly the boat to the endless sea of learning, and opportunities are usually disguised as hard work.

Through my nursing journey at Kent State University, I have learned that humility is needed in nursing, compassion is required to serve others, and hard work is the mark of a true scholar.

My research mentors are diligent nursing scientists who work hard in the profession, which reminds me of the words of the mother of our profession, Florence Nightingale, “Let us never consider ourselves finished nurses. We must be learning all of our lives.”

8.  As President of the Geauga Student Nurse Association, President of the Geauga Gardener Club, Student Ambassador of the Office of Student Research, Student Leadership Intern of Delta Xi Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and Geauga Advisory Board Committee Member, please explain the importance of being involved in extracurricular organizations and activities… and how did you find the time considering your demanding academic schedule? When I was young, my grandfather taught me the essence of servant leadership, which focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of the people and the communities to which they belong. In addition, he taught me to love and serve others and not be rewarded and remembered.

I believe it is very humbling for me to serve others through my involvements in extracurricular organizations and activities, as I can always learn new things from advisors and other peers. Through the mentorship of Dr. Petrinec and Ms. Melissa Owen, I have learned that all nurses are leaders, and we need to be proactive advocates for our patients and our profession. Serving in various student organizations and activities has humbled me to communicate effectively and to serve others with flexibility, empathy, stewardship, and active listening skills which are required in my future nursing career.

Being a farmer disciplined me to think and plan for different seasons, to be responsible for feeding the animals on time, and to be more flexible with multitasking skills. My friends called me the “master of time management.”

I think my farmer background and nursing education at KSUG have trained me to set goals correctly, prioritize activities wisely, plan things ahead, and keep all things organized, which helped me manage all things well on top of the demanding academic and work schedule. I am not and will never be perfect in time management, and I am eager to constantly learn and improve myself in this area.

9.  Please select three life lessons you have learned during your time at Kent State Geauga that will continue to serve you/help others in the future.

   1.  Active listening is powerful and silence is needed at times.     2.  Clear communication can build trust in relationships.     3.  Always ask questions in times of uncertainty and never make assumptions.  

10.  What is the essential message of your upcoming 2024 Commencement speech?

“We need each other, humility, and hope in the nursing profession.”

Three students and two faculty members on stage smiling at the camera

Spring 2023 -  Delta Xi Chapter of Sigma International Honor Society of Nursing Induction with former Student Leadership Interns from Geauga Campus and two nursing faculty from Geauga Campus, Professor Kerry Myers and Professor Amy LePard.

Nursing Student Wayne Nieh, with 3 faculty mentors

2024 Midwest Nursing Research Annual Research Conference in Minneapolis with Dr. Petrinec (mentor), Dr. Hasen, Dr. Wang, and Dr. Reed.

Nursing Student, Wayne Nieh with faculty after defending his thesis

Spring 2024 - Senior Honors Thesis Defense Committee  Dr. Petrinec (mentor), Dean Smith (Honors College), Dr. Wilk (KSU CON), Dr. Popescu (KSU Geauga), and Professor Larubina (KSU Geauga).

Student Wayne Nieh with Geauga Campus Faculty

Spring 2024 - Senior Honors Thesis Defense with KSU Geauga Faculty Members: Dr. Popescu, Professor LePard, Professor Larubina, and Professor Melissa Owen.

Student Wayne Nieh with mentor

Spring 2024 - Senior Honors Thesis Defense with my wonderful mentor, Dr. Petrinec.  

Wayne Nieh with Ms. Ann Gosky

Spring 2024 -  Senior Honors Thesis Defense with director of the Office of Student Research, Ms. Ann Gosky.

Student Wayne Nieh posing with Flash and Director

  Spring 2024 - Senior Honors Luncheon with Honors Thesis Advisor, Ms. Marsha Kraus.   

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thesis and support


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  1. Developing A Thesis

    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. Steps in Constructing a Thesis. First, analyze your primary sources. Look for tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy, and/or complication.

  2. Developing 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 ...

  3. Developing A Thesis and Supporting Auguments

    Revising your thesis. Writing strong topic sentences that support the thesis. It is during these early stages of writing, particularly in the identification of supporting arguments, that students are most likely to flounder and procrastinate, and when the strength of a paper's thesis is frequently diluted for lack of rigorous thinking.

  4. What Is a Thesis?

    Revised on April 16, 2024. A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

  5. Thesis Statements

    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.

  6. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    Step 2: Write your initial answer. After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process. The internet has had more of a positive than a negative effect on education.

  7. What is a thesis

    A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic. Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument. Integral to these competencies is thorough research ...

  8. PDF College Writing: Supporting Your Thesis

    Supporting Your Thesis . You've written an arguable thesis. Now you've got to give some evidence to support your claim. Keep in mind our discussion in "Formulating an Arguable Thesis," and support your thesis with facts rather than with beliefs. Think of your paper as a court case —your job is to support your thesis with solid facts

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

    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 ...

  10. Supporting a Thesis

    Once you construct a viable thesis, develop it by writing several topic sentences to support it. At this point, do not concern yourself with whether or how the ideas of support are connected. Your goal here is to uncover every major idea you need to argue or explain to thoroughly support your thesis. (Sometimes ideas for thesis support come from your research. Review critical pieces to ...

  11. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point. 3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea.

  12. Thesis and Dissertation Support

    The Graduate Student Center's popular Dissertation Boot Camp is your two-week writers' retreat. Dissertation Boot Camp was created at Penn in 2005 to help students progress through the difficult writing stages of the dissertation process. By offering an environment and support for intense, focused writing time, the Camp provides participants ...

  13. Designing an Effective Thesis

    Key Concepts. A thesis is a simple sentence that combines your topic and your position on the topic. A thesis provides a roadmap to what follows in the paper. A thesis is like a wheel's hub--everything revolves around it and is attached to it. After your prewriting activities-- such as assignment analysis and outlining--you should be ready to ...

  14. Creating a Thesis Statement, Thesis Statement Tips

    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 ...

  15. Supporting a Thesis

    A thesis gives an essay a purpose, which is to present details that support the thesis. To create supporting details, you can use personal observations and experiences, facts, opinions, statistics, and examples. When choosing details for your essay, exclude any that do not support your thesis, make sure you use only reliable sources, double ...

  16. Thesis and Dissertation: Getting Started

    Thesis and Dissertation: Getting Started. The resources in this section are designed to provide guidance for the first steps of the thesis or dissertation writing process. They offer tools to support the planning and managing of your project, including writing out your weekly schedule, outlining your goals, and organzing the various working ...

  17. Strong Thesis Statements

    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.

  18. PDF Connecting Topic Sentences & Thesis Statements Handout

    A topic sentence is one part— just one element— of our thesis statement. Our thesis statement, then, should be present or emphasized within our topic sentence in order to show relevance and cohesion throughout our paper. A topic sentence consists of: Reference to thesis + one specific idea for paragraph. (order doesn't matter, but we must ...

  19. 36 Writing the Essay Body: Supporting Your Ideas

    Writing the Essay Body: Supporting Your Ideas. Whether the drafting of a paragraph begins with a main idea or whether that idea surfaces in the revision process, once you have that main idea, you'll want to make sure that the idea has enough support. The job of the paragraph body is to develop and support the topic.

  20. Developing Support

    Here's one process to follow in order to develop support for your working thesis: Analyze your working thesis to see what type of insights and information you've promised your reader in the angle. Create working topic sentences to address the promise in the thesis' angle. Extract ideas one by one from the thesis' angle, and write a ...

  21. Thesis and Dissertation Support

    How to Complete Your Thesis or Dissertation. The student and their committee are jointly responsible for seeing to it that the thesis or dissertation follows a correct form of scholarly style and usage. The student can follow the guidelines outlined in the Style Guide or may follow the style specified by their committee or department as long as ...

  22. PhD Dissertation Defense: Ray Chang

    In this thesis, I present three major works. We first examine the physical meaning and proper definition of "ultrafast" at the cellular level. We show that aside from ultrafast acceleration and velocity, single-cell organisms also utilize ultrafast area strain rate, ultrafast volumetric strain rate, and ultrafast density changes for various ...

  23. Tesla Bull Warns Ditching Cheaper Car Would Be 'Thesis-Changing'

    A prominent Tesla Inc. investor on Wall Street warns his bullish case would be in jeopardy should Elon Musk abandon the long-held bid to bring a low-cost vehicle to the masses.. As the electric ...

  24. Get to Know Your 2024 Kent State Geauga Student ...

    Without her support, I wouldn't be able to recruit any accelerated BSN scholars in Summer 2023, my mentor, Dr. Petrinec, the thesis committee (Dean Smith of Honors College, Dr. Wilk, Dr. Popescu, and Ms. Larubina), and Dr. Kutchin, who showed me how to recruit students for the thesis study with enthusiasm and passion.Now, reflecting on my ...

  25. Prime Video: The Family Star

    Govardhan (Vijay Deverakonda), a devoted architect from Hyderabad, juggles supporting his extended family while seeking a partner who understands his commitments. When he discovers Indu (Mrunal Thakur) thesis on his family, he challenges her, leading to unexpected twists as they navigate misunderstandings and eventually find love amidst sacrifice and understanding