how to find the thesis statement
- Unless you’re writing a technical report, avoid technical language. Always avoid jargon, unless you are confident your audience will be familiar with it.
- Avoid vague words such as “interesting,вЂќ “negative,” “exciting,вЂќ “unusual,” and “difficult.”
- Avoid abstract words such as “society,” вЂњvalues,вЂќ or вЂњculture.вЂќ
- Original: вЂњSociety is. вЂќ [who is this “society” and what exactly is it doing?]
- Revised: “Men and women will learn how to. ” “writers can generate. ” “television addicts may chip away at. ” “American educators must decide. ” “taxpayers and legislators alike can help fix. “
- Original: “the media”
- Revised: “the new breed of television reporters,” “advertisers,” “hard-hitting print journalists,” “horror flicks,” “TV movies of the week,” “sitcoms,” “national public radio,” “Top 40 bop-til-you-drop. “
- Original: “is, are, was, to be” or “to do, to make”
- Revised: any great action verb you can concoct: “to generate,” “to demolish,” “to batter,” “to revolt,” “to discover,” “to flip,” “to signify,” “to endure. “
However, an abstract is not always provided. In those cases, you may need to read the first few paragraphs to get the gist of the article. This is typically where the author will lay out the argument and, again, state the point that they are trying to prove. In more difficult cases it may be necessary to read the conclusion as well, since this is often where they sum up the argument one last time. Sometimes its clearer in the conclusion than in the introduction.
With books, the thesis may be stated on the back, on the jacket flap, in the preface or introduction, or early on in the first chapter. On the back and on the jacket look for phrases like the author argues that In the preface, introduction or first chapter, look for I argue or similar phrases.
The thesis statement is also a good test for the scope of your intent. The principle to remember is that when you try to do too much, you end up doing less or nothing at all. Can we write a good paper about problems in higher education in the United States? At best, such a paper would be vague and scattered in its approach. Can we write a good paper about problems in higher education in Connecticut? Well, we’re getting there, but that’s still an awfully big topic, something we might be able to handle in a book or a Ph.D. dissertation, but certainly not in a paper meant for a Composition course. Can we write a paper about problems within the community college system in Connecticut. Now we’re narrowing down to something useful, but once we start writing such a paper, we would find that we’re leaving out so much information, so many ideas that even most casual brainstorming would produce, that we’re not accomplishing much. What if we wrote about the problem of community colleges in Connecticut being so close together geographically that they tend to duplicate programs unnecessarily and impinge on each other’s turf? Now we have a focus that we can probably write about in a few pages (although more, certainly, could be said) and it would have a good argumentative edge to it. To back up such a thesis statement would require a good deal of work, however, and we might be better off if we limited the discussion to an example of how two particular community colleges tend to work in conflict with each other. It’s not a matter of being lazy; it’s a matter of limiting our discussion to the work that can be accomplished within a certain number of pages.
Avoid announcing the thesis statement as if it were a thesis statement. In other words, avoid using phrases such as “The purpose of this paper is . . . . ” or “In this paper, I will attempt to . . . .” Such phrases betray this paper to be the work of an amateur. If necessary, write the thesis statement that way the first time; it might help you determine, in fact, that this is your thesis statement. But when you rewrite your paper, eliminate the bald assertion that this is your thesis statement and write the statement itself without that annoying, unnecessary preface.
Arguable thesis statement:
You can read chapter four of Schaum’s Quick Guide to Writing Great Research Papers an eBook in our online collection, click the title to open: “How Do I Write a Thesis Statement?”.
A good thesis statement is developed from the point of view of the reader. Be very careful you’re not developing a topic that is of interest to you alone. This is a harsh yet necessary question to ask yourself: will my readers have any reason to care about what I’m writing?
It’s worth reiterating that a strong thesis statement is specific. If you find yourself using general words like “good,” then you’re not digging deep enough.