How To: Write a Thesis

Developing a Thesis:

Thesis (noun) – an opinion-based statement that pinpoints the topic of your research. It is typically one sentence. A thesis statement should NOT be a TITLE, absolute FACT or ANNOUNCEMENT.

It should be a PROVABLE opinion -- and it should be specific!

BAD EXAMPLES

GOOD EXAMPLES

Drug addiction is a big problem.

Drug addiction has been the main culprit in the increase of violent crimes.

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty created an ideal for immigrants coming to America.

The thesis of this paper is the difficulty of solving America’s environmental problems

Solving America’s environmental problems is more difficult than many environmentalists believe.

President Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater

Events surrounding Lincoln’s assassination are questionable.


Steps for writing a thesis statement:

1. Write a brief, opinionated statement about your topic.

I believe that the Americans wouldn’t have won their independence without French assistance.

2. Next, add a fact to the statement.

I believe that the Americans wouldn’t have won their independence without French assistance because they had no navy.

3. Last, take yourself out by eliminating “I believe” and you are left with a good thesis statement

The Americans wouldn’t have won their independence without French assistance because they had no navy.


Get your ideas on paper…..and then GET SPECIFIC

Subject

Immigration

Topic

People who immigrated to Pennsylvania

Question

Why did people immigrate to Pennsylvania?

Thesis statement

People immigrated to Pennsylvania because William Penn protected the rights and liberties of his citizens.

OR

People immigrated to Pennsylvania because it had a very rich heritage in German and English culture.


What is a thesis?

What is NOT a thesis?

Makes a claim that others might dispute

ex - The responsibility to serve in the United States military was disregarded by the Bill of Rights and the Founders

Tells us something we already know

ex - The Bill of Rights is a document that contains the first 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution and was written by James Madison

Sets itself apart from others


ex - Jackie Robinson's fight for equal rights came with the responsibilities he bore for disregarding a military order to move to the back of the bus

Is indistinguishable from others

ex - Jackie Robinson fought for equal rights

Should be present in the first minute of an exhibit, presentation, or documentary

Be hidden or at the end of an exhibit, presentation, or documentary

Should be present on the first page of a paper or website

Be hidden or at the end of a paper or website

monologue (a one-sided telling of the story)

conversation (a two-sided discussion of the story)

Direct and provable

ex - The rights of a "Deep South" does not exist until they bore the responsibility of the Election of 1860

Indirect and not provable

ex - All the people in the South hated Abraham Lincoln

Does not contain blanket words like:

  • All
  • Always
  • Most
  • Many
  • Never

Contains vague, generalized words (see those to the left) that make for too loose an argument for the judges

Contains past tense words that are provable through research

Contains present / future tense words like:

  • Should
  • Ought
  • Would

Focuses on past historical events (i.e. The Persian Gulf War, Thomas Jefferson, the formation of the United Nations, and the Trail of Tears)

Focuses on future and current events (Syrian conflict, Barack Obama, animal rights debate, the current Navajo Reservation)

Interesting, insightful, and worth discussing at the dinner table

ex - Mahatma Gandhi bore the responsibility of the Indian independence through his interpretation of human rights

A book report

ex - Mahatma Gandhi was born in India.




Writing a thesis is like passing water through a funnel:

WHAT TO DO

EXAMPLE

Start with a large topic that interests you

George Washington

Focus that down to something more specific that interest you

It's neat that he made a lasting influence on the United States

Focus it down more to be provable

George Washington thought America was more important than himself

Now polish it up with stronger words

George Washington set a precedence that no one person were to be more important than the American republic through his sacrifice

Add support

o Sacrifice 1 - He resigned as the Commander of the Continental Army (though others wanted him to be king)

o Sacrifice 2 - He refused to serve as President for a 3rd term

Build evidence supporting these claims with your resources!

Be ready to respond to counterarguments from the judges!

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