Constructing a Thesis

  • What is a Thesis Statement?

    It is a one- or two-sentence compression of the paper’s argument or analysis that will be presented in the paper. Your thesis is the answer to the question your paper discusses.

    Why does a research paper need a thesis statement?

    A thesis statement allows you and your readers to better understand your paper’s argument and direction by condensing it into a sentence or two. It also helps you better organize and develop your paper’s argument by providing you with direction.

    How to create a thesis statement

    Your first step is to pick a subject. Try to pick one that you are interested in, or one that allows you to incorporate outside interests. For example, suppose you are taking a class on Roman history. In reviewing subjects you like, you decide that you want to write about Julius Caesar. Your next step is to narrow your focus and choose what aspect of Caesar that you’d like to write about. One way to narrow your topic is to read some works on Caesar and see if anything in particular interests you about his life and accomplishments. As you think about this, try to pick a topic that has two sides to it and can be debated using historical evidence.

    Let’s suppose that you want to investigate Caesar’s death. You still need to define this further, what about Caesar’s death? This could be focused still further by examining the factors that led to his death, such as “Caesar's autocratic ways and desire to be king led to his assassination.” This statement answers the historical question, why was Caesar assassinated?

    Attributes of a strong thesis sentence

    • It takes a position.
    • It answers a question.
    • It develops an argument or historical debate.
    • It focuses on one idea or theme.