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Develop your Topic

Thesis Basics

A thesis is one or two sentences that appear at the end of your introduction that communicates to your reader the main point of your work and why they should care enough to read it. You should have a 'working thesis' before you dig into your research, but remain flexible.  As you learn  and understand more about your topic your thesis may evolve and that is completely normal; it's all part of the research process!  

The type of thesis should match the type of project; that is, the thesis for a persuasive essay will have different requirements than one for an informative essay; all thesis statements have some characteristics in common, however.

A thesis should always:

Clearly and concisely state the main idea.

Tie your supporting discussion into the main idea.

Thesis = topic + summary of main points

A persuasive/argumentative thesis should also:

State your position on a specific and debatable position.

Thesis = topic + your position + evidence to support position

An informative thesis should also:

Outline the facets that will be explained and discussed in the essay, or present the key points of the analysis, interpretation, or evaluation.

Thesis = topic + facets/key points

If you think of your essay as a five part outline including introduction, supporting point 1,  supporting point 2, supporting point 3, and conclusion, then think of the thesis as using the same basic components: topic, point 1, point 2, point 3, and position/conclusion. 

How to - Develop a thesis for a persuasive project

Now, let's take a quick look at how to turn your topic into a thesis:

  1. Select a topic for your project.
    • Use an assigned or suggested topic.
    • Think about a subject that interests you and overlap it with the assignment prompt.
  2. Identify questions about the topic.
    • Develop questions about your topic.
      • Use mapping or other brainstorming methods. See 'Developing Questions' tab for suggestions.
      • Ask Who, What, Why, When, Where, and How.
      • Consider the topic from the perspective of different groups or individuals, different time frames, major events, various locations, or a particular aspect.
    • Identify the questions that best match the assignment and that interest you the most.
  3. Consider the questions on that list and choose one to develop into a thesis.  
    • What do you already know about each of the questions?
      • The more you know, the easier it will be to research.
    • Do some preliminary database searches:
      • Can you locate the required types of resources?
      • Are there enough resources to satisfy the assignment?
    • How would you answer the question?
      • Could others answer the question differently? Is it debatable?
      • Can you identify three points in support of your position?
      • Can those points be supported by your research findings?
    • Make a list of the ideas you want to include and think about how to group them under several different headings.
  4. Bring all of these elements together into one or two sentences.

Example:

  1. Topic = Classical History (assignment parameter) + Military Technology (personal interest) = Military Technology in Classical History
  2. Group = Romans; Event = spread of the Empire
  3. Question = What was the role of military technology in the spread of the Roman Empire?
    • Supporting evidence/considerations
      • improved ironmongery 
      • new weapons 
      • camps and troop configuration
  4. Thesis => Advancements in military technology and techniques, such as metallurgical developments, weaponry innovations, and pioneering personnel management, allowed Rome to dominate their neighbors and establish a vast empire.
    • States a position that is debatable.  Someone else might claim it was civil engineering that facilitated Roman dominance, or their ability to absorb diverse cultures and technologies without losing their core identity.
    • One sentence that outlines the essay.
    • Specific, focused, and precise.
    • Three supporting pieces of evidence for which you can find appropriate supporting sources.

Vappingo. (2016, May 11). How to write a thesis statement that your professor will love. Vappingo.Com. https://vappingo.com/word-blog/how-to-write-a-thesis-statement/