crafting a thesis statement

crafting a thesis statement

  • Are there two large statements connected loosely by a coordinating conjunction (i.e. “and,” “but,” “or,” “for,” “nor,” “so,” “yet”)?
  • Would a subordinating conjunction help (i.e. “through,” “although,” “because,” “since”) to signal a relationship between the two sentences?
  • Or do the two statements imply a fuzzy unfocused thesis?
  • If so, settle on one single focus and then proceed with further development.

The thesis statement should do more than merely announce the topic; it must reveal what position you will take in relation to that topic, how you plan to analyze/evaluate the subject or the issue. In short, instead of merely stating a general fact or resorting to a simplistic pro/con statement, you must decide what it is you have to say.

Crafting a thesis statement
In college, five paragraph essays become few and far between as essay length gets longer. Can you imagine having only five paragraphs in a six-page paper? For a longer essay, you need a thesis statement that is more versatile. Instead of listing two or three distinct points, a thesis can list one overarching point that all body paragraphs tie into.
Length: A thesis statement can be short or long, depending on how many points it mentions. Typically, however, it is only one concise sentence. It does contain at least two clauses, usually an independent clause (the opinion) and a dependent clause (the reasons). You probably should aim for a single sentence that is at least two lines, or about 30 to 40 words long.

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.”
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.”

This type of sentence structure applies to all kinds of thesis statements. What varies among thesis statements, though, is the relationship between the ideas that the two clauses clarify. Outlined below are some of the types of relationships that can exist between ideas in a thesis statement and some examples of structurally sound thesis statements.
When the US military withdraws from Iraq, provincial and sectarian leaders will assert their individual authority, come into conflict with one another, and plunge the people of Iraq into civil war.

This statement is more precise in that it identifies two American characteristics that drive-ins appear to symbolize: creativity and ingenuity. But this assertion also seems to be one that few would argue with.
Clarify

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.

References:

http://www.easybib.com/guides/how-to-write-a-strong-thesis-statement/
http://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/developing-thesis
http://sites.google.com/ncps-k12.org/writingcenter/research/readingandorganizinginformation/thesis
http://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/process/thesis/
http://www.cws.illinois.edu/workshop/writers/tips/thesis/

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