What is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is important. It summarises your argument in one (possibly two) sentences. Therefore, it needs a great deal of thought, and after writing your thesis you will probably need to return to the thesis statement and amend it.
A thesis statement is part of the introduction
The introduction begins with a short general statement of fact that aims to attract the reader’s attention. The reader is then told what to expect in the thesis. This part gives an explanation of how the argument will be developed, what research has been undertaken and what literature has been cited. It may also give a pointer to any conclusions that may be drawn and any recommendations that may be made. Finally, comes the thesis statement, which in one or two sentences summarises the argument. Sometimes, it can be more logical to include the thesis statement immediately after the initial statement of fact.
In a thesis you are answering a question
You may have been set an assignment by your educational establishment in the form of a question, such as ‘What are the causes of the increasing occurrence of extreme weather?’ On the other hand, you may have simply been given a topic; therefore, you will need to formulate your own question. Your task in the thesis will be to provide an answer to that question through research and to quote evidence for your argument. Once you have reached a conclusion, you should state this strongly, as this will demonstrate your analytical skills and reasoning. Your thesis statement will be a very brief summary of your arguments.
A thesis statement is short
For this reason, you need to give your thesis statement much thought, as it needs to tell your readers in a few sentences what your argument is.
A thesis statement is argumentative and not factual
This is extremely important. A thesis statement that is purely factual is weak, as you will probably be telling your readers something they already know. Readers need to be challenged by a thesis statement. Although they may strongly disagree with your argument, in your essay you are trying to demonstrate your skills of reasoning and of developing an argument. You cannot, of course, challenge a known fact or treat a fact as though it were a debatable issue. It is also important to be aware that you cannot present a contentious or controversial argument as though it were a known fact. You need to quote evidence in support of your argument.
A thesis statement must be clear
In a thesis statement, you are trying to condense your argument into one short statement, although it may include several elements. You should take care that your thesis statement is clear and easily understandable.
Some examples of good and bad thesis statements
Since it is so important that a thesis statement presents an argument rather that a known fact, the following examples are given in order to illustrate this.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a serious cause of concern for every country in the world.
(Factual — a poor thesis statement.)
Universal testing and mandatory vaccination is the only way to resolve the Covid-19 pandemic.
(Controversial — a good thesis statement.)
In major cities, traffic congestion is caused by a large number of people travelling to work by car.
(Factual — a poor thesis statement).
Governments should consider giving tax benefits to those who travel to work by public transport.
(Controversial —a good thesis statement).
Many people now bank online and are increasingly using digital payments for buying goods and services.
(Factual — a poor thesis statement).
Within a decade, we will be a cashless society.
(Controversial — a good thesis statement).
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