Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is one of the greatest unifying aspects of a paper. It should act as mortar, holding together the various bricks of a paper, summarizing the main point of the paper "in a nutshell," and pointing toward the paper's development. The thesis statement can help "map" a paper as it suggests an order or direction for the paper's development. An acceptable preliminary thesis statement should contain all of the following elements:

  The thesis statement takes several sentences to develop.  Your first statement should be informative, provocative, and compelling.  You can then take a few sentences to elaborate on that primary assertion.  Avoid being confrontational or combative.  You're trying to persuade on the basis of reasoned argument, not passionate opinion.  You should state it in a way that you show that you're aware that there are alternative perspectives...but that after the analysis presented in the paper, your thesis is the most compelling and persuasive.
The thesis should contain a limited topic
It states your final position or point.
Draw the parameters of your thesis carefully.
Offer a clearly articulated, well-defined thesis.
Preliminary Thesis Used to Begin a Research Paper

When writing a research paper even before the research has begun, it is sometimes useful to come up with a "preliminary conclusion" or "preliminary thesis statement" in order to help you focus your research on a specific topic.  This preliminary thesis is not always exactly the same thesis statement that you may actually use in writing your research because you may find that your sources suggest a new and better conclusion.

Your early preliminary thesis statement may change a little or a lot during the research process depending on whether or not your research supports your preliminary conclusion.

Formulating a "Preliminary Thesis Statement" as opposed to a "Statement of Intent":

The thesis should offer a well-defined position or draw a preliminary conclusion about that topic.

A thesis is not merely a statement of intent.  Here's an example of a "statement of intent": 
In this paper I will study the physiological effects of high voltage power lines.   

On the same subject, a "thesis statement" might look like the following: 
Power companies continue to ignore the serious physiological effects of high voltage power lines.  At the end of the 20th century, governments and power utility corporations must be held accountable for the implications of high voltage power lines which range from cancer to clinical depression.  Continued lack of political will and the prevalence of concern for profit over health is unethical.  The lack of media attention to this policy issue also perpetuates the problem.  The only course of action is to .... 

 The thesis statement must be substantiated throughout the paper via logically developed argument which is well-documented.
If your "research question" was: "Statement of intent":
          In this paper I will explore the ethical implication of human cloning.

Your "thesis statement" would answer this question based on your research:

After choosing a focused and limited research question or a preliminary thesis statement, the final test in determining whether you have a good thesis statement is that there are adequate sources available which support that assertion.

A formal thesis statement

A formal thesis statement has three elements:

The "topic" is the main subject you will discuss in your essay.
The "stance" is the position you will take on that topic.
The "plan" is how you will organize your statement to best convey your stance.
                Topic:     Modern technology 
                Stance:  Modern technology can have negative effects  
                Plan:       Destroys the environment 

Now combine these elements into a single sentence: 

Although modern technology is often viewed as a blessing, it can also be seen as a curse by the way that it destroys the environment.  

Then elaborate upon this initial thesis statement to clarify the nature of the problem and your response to it. 

Although modern technology is often viewed as a blessing, it can also be seen as a curse by the way that it destroys the environment.  In 1998, we continue to ignore ...


Tip: Remember that the thesis controls the paper, it is the central idea which the whole paper depends on.