The Thesis Statement

The thesis statement serves at the controllingidea of the paper. It represents the entire argument or analysis,distilled into one or two condensed sentences. As such, the thesisstatement must be

  • focused. The topic cannot be too broad for a short paper, nor beyond theresearch capabilities of the author.
  • analytical,or interpretive. It cannot be a mere statement of fact, nor merelya statement of opinion. It should instead capture the best ofyour creative analytical thinking.
  • unified. Avoid listing components of your coming analysis! The “list”type of thesis statement promises doom in the form of a fragmentedpaper. You may have been taught long ago to select a topic andcome up with three ideas about it. Hence you had five-paragraphessays (introduction, three ideas, conclusion)–peachy long agowhen teachers wanted you to learn structure, but now we move onto more sophisticated and impressive writing.
  • well-stated. It should be full but concise, gaining its authoritative forcefrom its precision and uniqueness. Avoid slang and clich├ęphrases.

In addition, ideal thesis statements tendto be

  • original,and
  • promising. Try to reach beyond the run-of-the-mill kinds of interpretation. If you have done careful observation and reasoning, and can conveythese in the paper, you can go beyond the norm in your thesisstatement. The best kind of thesis statement ought to raise eyebrows.

Do not ask unanswered questions in your thesisparagraph that you misguidedly think can take the place of theactual statement (e.g., “But what is the real significanceof the film Planet of Dinosaurs? Hmmm.”).

Don’t be coy and withhold your idea in thefoolish hope that you will intrigue your readers at first andsurprise them later (e.g., “The real significance of thefilm Planet of Dinosaurs is quite interesting!”).

And, don’t state in stilted, wooden fashionwhat the paper will do (e.g., “This paper will examine fourdifferent aspects about Mattel’s ‘Let’s Get Anorexic’ board game.”). Just make the statement!

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