Be it an essay, a dissertation, or a journal article, a scholarly write-up without a strong thesis statement is nothing but a collection of facts. It makes an argumentative assertion about what the rest of your write-up is attempting to demonstrate, prove, or argue. Anyone can write a thesis statement, but not everyone can write a convincing one. In that sense, thesis statements are like passwords - some are weak, some are reasonably strong, and some others are exceptionally strong. The stronger your thesis statement is, the greater the impact it has on your readers. An effective thesis, needless to say, has certain features. Here are some of them:
The thesis statement, by its very definition, should be arguable. If all readers agree with what you state, before even reading your essay, then it is neither arguable nor can it be called a thesis statement. A statement of fact or common knowledge cannot be considered as a thesis. The best way to ensure the effectiveness of your thesis is to think whether there are any counter arguments or perspectives to your claims. If your statement can be countered with supporting evidence, then you have a contestable thesis statement.
The thesis of your essay or dissertation should be formulated based on your approach. For instance, if your work is analytical in nature, the thesis statement should contain arguments that analyze the issue you have chosen. Likewise, the thesis of an expository write-up should propel you to explain the issue to your readers and that of an argumentative write-up should help you establish your claims. In other words, a thesis statement should correspond to the type of essay/paper you intend to write.
A well-written thesis statement is devoid of overused statements, abstract propositions, and general terms. Broad generalizations, vague sentences, and noncommittal phrases have no place in a strong thesis. It is clear and unambiguous about what it says and focuses entirely on the specific issue you plan to take up in the pages to follow.
Thesis statements serve to signpost what your entire paper is about, so a good thesis has a 'what' part and a 'how' part. The former tells readers what your arguments and claims are, with regard to the specific topic you have chosen. The latter gives them a tentative outline or an indication of how you are going to prove your claims. The 'what' and the 'why' parts, when combined together, will show where your write-up is going and the route you will take to get there.
As the name suggests, thesis statements are contestable claims made about an issue or topic. So a strong thesis is always brief and concise, expressing all your ideas in a sentence or two. Likewise, it should convey one strong point, instead of making several points without any connection.
Relevance is another chief feature of a good thesis statement. If your essay is about 'financial policies of the government during recession' and your thesis statement talks about 'privatization of education', then thesis has no relevance to the topic. A good thesis is relevant to the topic, and it should capture your arguments and claims with utmost accuracy.
If readers have to spend an hour to find the thesis statement in your essay, then it is high time you revisited your idea of a thesis. No matter how long or short your write-up is, a well-formulated thesis statement stands out and is easy to find. Typically, it is placed at the beginning of the introduction or towards the end of it. It is not a rule, though. In dissertations, scholars normally devote a short section for thesis statements.
Lastly, a strong thesis never answers any questions. Neither you nor your readers can respond to it with a definite 'yes' or a categorical 'no'. Its primary purpose is to serve as a roadmap for your essay, so it should only kindle the interests of your readers and orient them towards the possible routes youwill take to reach your conclusions.
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