Invention: Developing a Thesis Statement

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our for more information.)

How do I develop a good thesis? Here is an example of how you might arrive at a strong thesis.

Since the rest of your paper will be spent defending your thesis--offering support for the thesis and reasons why criticism of the thesis may not be valid--it's crucial that you develop a strong thesis.

Here are some resources for developing a thesis:

Summary: These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.

A thesis statement presents the main point you want to make about the issue you've addressed in your research question. Developing an effective thesis statement begins with creating a response to your research question. This response is called a preliminary thesis statement. Once you've created your preliminary thesis statement, you can begin to develop and refine your thesis statement by reviewing your research question and your preliminary thesis statement, considering your purpose and role, adapting your thesis statement to the needs and interests of your readers, and considering the scope of your thesis statement. The process ends with a well-defined thesis statement that provides a focus for your project document.

In this research guide, you'll learn how to develop a thesis statement. To do so, follow the links below:

If you know what your assignment requires and you know what topic you'd like to write about, your next step is to develop a working thesis statement. A working thesis statement is just like a regular thesis statement, except that you can tweak it and change it as you research and write. It’s sort of like making a plan for the weekend on Tuesday night: you know the plan will probably be modified, but it’s a good place to start. Make sure you can confidently answer each of the statements below before moving on to step four:A good thesis derives from a good question. Since the thesis is your conclusion to a scholarly argument, there must be a clear question at stake. A thesis which does not answer a question, or answers a simple or obvious question, is not a thesis. You need to ask thoughtful questions of your topic and primary source material to develop a good thesis. The best theses are good precisely because the questions they answer are significant, complex, and original.