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Rams Write: Thesis Statements

Here you'll find a student-generated guide to writing and composition.

Introduction

A good thesis statement should:

  • Convey the topic and opinion of the essay, as well as the subjects and examples that will be discussed (see Jerz's Topic, Opinion, Blueprint model below)
  • Be approximately 1-2 sentences long, and included in the essay's introductory paragraph

Blueprint

What is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is simply a set of subtopics that you plan to discuss throughout your essay, likely the subjects of each individual paragraph. 

Tip

Here's a tip!

Although we start writing with a general idea of what our thesis will be, it's always helpful to draft the entire essay and then go back and revise your thesis to reflect how your argument really progressed. Revising your thesis after writing a first draft also helps you with your final revision. You will better identify "fluff," places where you go off-topic, as well as ideas that may need further clarification. 

Bad vs. Good Thesis Statements

Bad Thesis Statements Have:

  1. No claim
  2. Nothing to argue
  3. No hint about where they’re headed
  4. No focus, they’re too broad
  5. A long list of information

Good Thesis Statements Have:

  1. A clear point of view
  2. A detailed blueprint about where the essay is headed
  3. Clear and concise form

Ways To Improve

Make sure:

  • Your thesis takes a position that others might challenge

  • Your thesis statement is specific

If the reader can ask the questions, "So What?" "How?" or "Why?", then you might need to clarify your thesis.

Example Thesis Statements

Incorrect

In his work “Plagiarism is Not a Big Moral Deal,” Fish discusses how plagiarism should be treated in an academic atmosphere, due to the fact that it is often rooted in misunderstanding, a lack of originality, and the exclusivity of academic circles.

This thesis has a topic and blueprint, but is missing an opinion.

Correct

In his work, “Plagiarism Is Not a Big Moral Deal,” Fish discusses how plagiarism should not be treated as a moral or philosophical issue, due to the fact that it is often rooted in misunderstanding of the complex rules, a lack of originality as a concept, and the exclusivity of academic circles.

Explanation

This thesis is better because it includes all of the following:

Topic: A discussion of how plagiarism should be treated in an academic atmosphere.

Opinion: Plagiarism is not an issue of morality but rather professionalism.

Blueprint: He argues that plagiarism is often caused by misunderstanding without malicious intent, lack of originality as a concept, and overly complicated rules and systems taught to a few in academic circles. 

Common Mistakes

Common mistakes include:

1. Lack of focus and specificity 

2. Jargon (word choice that is exclusive/ hard to understand)

3. Treating your thesis statement like a topic sentence

4. Not adequately representing your claim

Difference Between a Thesis and a Topic Sentence

Thesis statements are 1-2 sentences that assert your opinion and what will be said throughout the entire essay

Topic sentences introduce the discussion to follow in a specific paragraphEach must be general enough to express the paragraph’s overall subject, but also specific enough that the reader knows where the paragraph is going. For more information, see Rams Write: Topic Sentences.

Sparknotes: "Thesis Machine Strategy"

The “Thesis Machine”

This is a technique my first writing professor taught me. It’s a reliable jumping off point for when you’re just trying to get a thesis down. The pattern’s simple—here’s an example:

Topic: Hufflepuffs

Topic + Position: Hufflepuffs make the best friends

Topic + Position + Rationale (Think of this as the “because” step): Hufflepuffs make the best friends because they are accepting and loyal.

Topic + Position + Rationale + Qualification (The “although” step): Although they are often overlooked and considered oddballs, Hufflepuffs make the best friends because of their deep-seated values of loyalty, dedication, and acceptance, all crucial traits in any friendship.

General Guideline for Theses

Jerz's Literary Weblog offers general guidelines for brainstorming your thesis.

Jerz's Literary Weblog shows up general guidelines for brainstorming your thesis.

 

This page was created by/ MLA Citations

Fall 2018

Kirsten LaCroix, Framingham State U, Class of 2022

Bri Hibbert, Framingham State U, Class of 2022

 

Spring 2019

Julia Coolidge, Framingham State U, Class of 2022 

Sarah Wheeler, Framingham State U, Class of 2021

Works Cited

"Developing Your Thesis." Odegaard Writing and Research Center, 2018, depts.washington.edu/owrc/Handouts/Developing%20Your%20Thesis.pdf.

Harrogate, Kurt. "How to Write a Killer Thesis Statement."Sparknotes Blog, 17 March 2017, www.sparknotes.com/blog/2017/03/17/how-to-write-a-killer-thesis-statement/

"How to Write a Killer Thesis Statement by Shmoop." Youtube, uploaded by Shmoop, 6 September 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wxE8R_x5I0

Jerz, Dennis G. and Jordan, Nicci. "Blueprinting: Using the Thesis Paragraph to Plan Your Essay." Jerz’s Literacy Weblog, 10 June 2015, jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/academic1/blueprinting-using-the-thesis-paragraph-to-plan-your-essay/

Meme Generator: Create Your Own Meme. Meme Generator, 2019, memegenerator.net

"Thesis Statements." The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2018, writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/.

"Thesis Statement vs. Topic Sentence by Shmoop." YouTube, uploaded by Shmoop, 16 July 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=236&v=Nx2-PcBzZjo

"Writing Tips: Thesis Statements." University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Center for Writing Students, 2013, www.cws.illinois.edu/workshop/writers/tips/thesis/.