By Courtney Kiley
We’ve all been there: assignment sheet in hand, resources identified, yet staring at a blank computer screen unsure how to begin crafting our thesis statement. Constructing a thesis statement is one of the most crucial components of writing an effective paper. However, writing a thesis statement can be tricky as styles can differ based upon the discipline you are writing for.
What is most important to remember about theses is their essential function in your paper is to represent your purpose and/or argument. You know you. You understand your own argument, and remember to be confident in knowing that.
Then, sometimes, even after we’ve constructed the most epic thesis we can think of, the next impending question arises: where do we put said thesis statement? Typically thesis statements are best placed in your first or second paragraph. However, depending on the specific assignment, or the style, sometimes you can place them in different areas. Don’t be afraid to move your thesis statement around a few times and see what works best to enhance your paper. Nevertheless, be sure to follow the assignment sheet you are given or the specific format your instructor has requested.
When crafting a thesis statement, try to keep in mind these key points:
- Theses should be arguable
- Theses should clearly state the topic
- Theses should reveal the purpose of the document and/or argument
- Theses should answer the “how” and “why”
- Theses should be unique and convey the importance of the subject matter
- Theses should map the essay and set up the flow of the document
- Theses should be informative and specific; avoid broad statements
Because thesis statements can fluctuate depending upon the discipline, as well as the purpose, nothing really can really beat a visual example. I asked our Writing Center consultants to author effective thesis statements– see a few of their examples below:
Though math and English are viewed by most to be polar opposites in an academic sense, they are quite complementary in that math provides an understanding of systems from economical to astronomical while a study of English provides an understanding of humans and human nature. (Jonathan Dubois)
*Subject: math and English
*Purpose: convey similarity
Due to K-12’s grading upon completion, there is a lack of quality to college freshmen papers, which can be alleviated with systematic changes to these pedagogies. (Derrian Goebel)
*Purpose: illustrate effect
Contrary to the expanse of research conducted on antebellum slave markets, slaves’ worth was predicated not on their age, height, weight, or craft, but on the degree to which they fulfilled their masters’ patriarchal fantasies. (Reece Gibb)
*Subject: history/core humanities
As a result of Western Society’s tendency to criminalize sexuality and promote a mutually inclusive relationship between nudity and sex, the rate of sexual assaults is significantly higher than in nudity-tolerant societies. (Jessica Munson)
*Subject: social science
*Purpose: illustrate cause and effect
The narrative of “28 days later” promotes a traditional masculinity tempered by a traditional femininity as a necessary component in the reclamation of civilization. (Logan Miller)
As you can see, the style and purpose of theses can greatly differ. For more examples of different types of effective thesis statements, be sure to take a look at our Examples of Effective Theses resource on our University Writing Center page http://www.unr.edu/writing-center/student-resources. Although writing a thesis statement can seem tricky, just remember: you as the writer are in control.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your thesis statement, or change your thesis statement if your writing process leads you to a different destination than what you originally thought. Additionally—unless the structure is specifically outlined by your instructor– don’t be afraid to experiment with different thesis statement placement to see what works best for your paper.