Developing a Thesis

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The Thesis

The thesis is the main idea or central argument of a text. In writing, the thesis is stated in the introduction (usually a sentence or two long) and outlines the main focus or overall claim of the piece. The thesis sets up what is going to be talked about and how it is going to be talked about.

Basic Components

Your thesis should:

  • Explain what your writing is going to be about (the main idea)
  • Outline how you will go about explaining/proving/arguing this idea

And be:

  • Clear: Does the reader know exactly what will be argued/explained?
  • Specific: Not vague or too general. Uses detailed language
  • Obtainable: Is your proposal/idea doable or reasonable?

Building a Thesis

As seen below, by slowly putting the pieces together, you can take singular ideas and build them into a strong and detailed thesis:

Paper Topic: Should hospitals use electronic health records?

Stance: All hospitals should use electronic health records (EHRs)

Supporting points:

  1. They are permanent
  2. They can be shared between hospitals easily

Counterpoint (if necessary):

  1. They can be hacked and have cyber security issues

Final Thesis Statement:

Even though EHRs pose some security risks, every hospital should use them because they are permanent and they can be shared easily between hospitals.

Using the Thesis to Help You Outline Your Paper

The thesis is vital because it outlines your ideas and is the blueprint for your paper’s argument. A detailed thesis will help organize and structure an entire paper. If you spend your prewriting phase brainstorming and narrowing down your thesis, you can use that thesis to help create the outline for your writing. For example:

  • Introduction
    • Thesis: States main idea with supporting points 1, 2, and 3.
  • Body Paragraph 1: Thesis point 1
  • Body Paragraph 2: Thesis point 2
  • Body Paragraph 3: Thesis point 3
  • Conclusion

Strengthening Your Thesis

Think about these questions as a way to make your thesis more detailed and stronger:

  • Is it answering what the assignment asks?
  • Is there a strong, original, and interesting opinion, stance, or claim being made?
  • Is the claim too unoriginal or weak?
  • Is the claim to broad or too narrow?
  • Is it making a grandiose generalization that it can’t back up? Think of the paper length and whether it can fill it or not.
  • Is the claim vague or unclear?
  • Are there words that are too non-specific? Use strong, descriptive language. If something is “good” or “better,” how is it so?

Last Updated August 8, 2017