Writing Well

The Heart of the Matter: Writing a Thesis Statement

Once you've narrowed your topic, it's time to turn your attention to your thesis statement, what you're proving in your research paper.

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The thesis statement is the central point you're proving in your research paper.

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Research may lead you to revise your thesis, even disprove it, but framing it at the very beginning of your research will focus your thinking.

An effective thesis statement states your main idea, reveals your purpose, and shows how your argument will be structured. As you draft your thesis statement, consider what you want to prove.

Here are some terrific thesis statements:

  • Much of the conflict between men and women results from their very different way of using language.
  • Fairy tales are among the most subversive texts in children's literature.
  • The brief economic boom of the 1920s had a dramatic impact on the U.S. economy.
  • The computer revolution has done more harm than good.
  • Everyone wins with a flat tax: government, business, accountants, and even consumers.

Try several variations of your thesis statement until you have one that says all you need to say. Don't panic: Remember that you're very likely to revise your thesis statement several times as you research, draft, and revise your paper.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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