thesis development

thesis development

  • Original thesis:
    • There are advantages and disadvantages to using statistics. (a fill-in-the-blank formula)
  • Revised theses:
    • Careful manipulation of data allows a researcher to use statistics to support any claim she desires.
    • In order to ensure accurate reporting, journalists must understand the real significance of the statistics they report.
    • Because advertisers consciously and unconsciously manipulate data, every consumer should learn how to evaluate statistical claims.
  • Original: “Society is. ” [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. “

Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II
Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II

Identified topic

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That thesis would be summary of facts, not analysis or interpretation. Consider the following example:
Developing an argument requires thoughtful reflection on evidence you gather. This will probably take some time! You don’t have to come up with the best argument right away. It often takes an outline or a draft before you develop your thesis. Sometimes your professor will give you a well-defined prompt for your essay. This makes your job easier, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have to do any work.

An effective thesis cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” A thesis is not a topic; nor is it a fact; nor is it an opinion. “Reasons for the fall of communism” is a topic. “Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe” is a fact known by educated people. “The fall of communism is the best thing that ever happened in Europe” is an opinion. (Superlatives like “the best” almost always lead to trouble. It’s impossible to weigh every “thing” that ever happened in Europe. And what about the fall of Hitler? Couldn’t that be “the best thing”?)
Some Caveats and Some Examples

References:

http://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/process/thesis/
http://grad.illinois.edu/thesis/development
http://www.swarthmore.edu/writing/developing-a-thesis-statement
http://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/developing-thesis
http://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-englishcomp1v2/chapter/effective-thesis-statements/

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