Thesis Statement Handout

Thesis Statement Handout - HOW TO WRITE A STRONG THESIS...

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1 HOW TO WRITE A STRONG THESIS STATEMENT A WRITING CENTRE HANDOUT 1. UNDERSTAND THE ACADEMIC WRITING TASK You can begin to formulate a good thesis statement only after have a solid grasp of the purpose of the assignment. If you’re asked to write a paper in response to a specific assignment question, then your first task is make sure that you clearly understand the academic writing task. Determine which of the following critical thinking skills you are primarily being asked to apply to your object(s) of study: analysis comparison evaluation argumentation interpretation reflection Your thesis statement, then, should take a form that reflects the goal of the writing task. 2. BECOME FAMILIAR WITH THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF THESIS STATEMENTS Almost all forms of academic writing conform to a thesis-support structure—a structure in which we find the main claim near the beginning of the essay, followed by evidence and analysis in support of this claim in the body of the essay. Your thesis statement serves as the main argument that drives your paper forward. Students are for the most part well accustomed to writing essays that follow this top-down structure; however, they usually have a much harder time adapting their thesis statements to match the purpose of the specific writing task. Never assume that you don’t need a thesis statement just because you’re not asked to write a traditional academic essay. The following table lists some of the most common assignments and their corresponding thesis forms:
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2 Type of Assignment Form of the Thesis Statement Analytical Essay Statement of main claim about the topic in relation to the object of study Book Review Statement of critical evaluation about the book Critical Review (i.e. review of an academic journal article) Statement of critical evaluation about the journal article Position Paper Statement of position + reasons Comparative Essay Statement of main argument + main points of comparison Research Paper Statement of main claim about the topic, issue, or problem Research Proposal Tentative statement of main claim about the topic, issue, or problem Personal Reflection Statement of main focus or direction Case Study Statement of problem + recommendations Lab Report Statement of main purpose 3. FORMULATE A RESEARCH QUESTION Students often have a hard time distinguishing between the thesis statement and the research question. These two components of an academic paper are closely related, but not interchangeable. Sometimes the research question is given to you as a part of the assignment question; at other times, you will have to come up with the research question on your own. The research question can be defined in the following ways: The question that focuses your research on a significant problem, issue, controversy or contradiction The main question outlined in your assignment, or the final question you have arrived at after having asked questions to narrow your topic The question that your thesis statement will answer in the form of a specific claim
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