Academic writing is complex. It requires attention to the details of a project, and attention to a composition as a whole. It requires the right voice, often a subtle mix between academic, professional, and personal. It satisfies a target audience. It requires a keen eye for editing and proofreading. Most importantly, it proves a point. At the core of almost any academic writing resides its thesis – the overarching point which the writer strives to prove. Establishing a concise thesis is crucial to the integrity of an academic essay, because it communicates the intention of the essay, and it founds the formatting and structure of that essay. Let’s take some time to look at thesis basics. Here are some facts, tips and tricks you can employ to ensure that you have a thesis that delivers the message you wish to communicate throughout your essay.
What Is a Thesis Statement?
Now, there’s no overarching, black-and-white, perfect definition of a thesis statement, especially in more creative academic courses. That said, the standard thesis statement is concise, it announces an argument, it announces the writer’s stance on said argument, and it offers up supportive claims (in addition to the structure of the essay). On top of all that, a good thesis will entice the reader to read on! Let’s take a look at the structure and strategies of an excellent thesis statement.
Posing the question (Announcing the argument)
Theses generally surround a debatable topic. For instance, a writer may compose an essay that discusses the concept of required military service for US citizens. Should military services be required for all citizens? There are arguments that can be made on both sides of this question. If you’re determining a viable thesis, pose a question surrounding your target topic. Note, questions can (and should) be quite specific in order to give yourself a good platform to build an argument. If you’re addressing a question that is too broad, you may not be able to adequately defend your stance.
Setting Your Stance
Once you have a topic that you’d like to address, you can establish your stance. In the aforementioned example, a writer could establish her stance as for required military service, or against required military service. A thesis statement might sound something like this: “Compulsory military service is an unnecessary mandate in the United States…” The writer is establishing her stance against required military service and preparing to propose support for her argument. Next, it’s time to flesh out a short list of supportive arguments.
Outline support for your stance with a brief list of the overarching “bullet point” arguments that you’ll make throughout your essay. This is the “because” section of your thesis. In the aforementioned example, one might say, “Compulsory military service is an unnecessary mandate in the United States because it undermines citizens’ liberties, it provides unnecessary emphasis in American military pursuits, and it would increase taxation.” This section of your thesis should also help you frame your argument, and it should give your readers an indication of the direction you’re choosing to pursue. You can expand on each bullet point throughout the body of your composition.
Drawing in the Reader
Last but not least, we can draw the reader in. Think of your thesis like a preview for your essay. It should give a general view of the content that’s coming and communicate a brief glance at your message. Finally, it should intrigue the reader (Again, be sure to consider your target audience.). Feel free to use the old thesaurus to give your thesis a boost, and use a strong voice while you’re making claims. The aforementioned thesis can be revised to read, “Compulsory military service would be an attack on American freedoms and American ideals because it undermines citizens’ liberties, it places superfluous emphasis in American military pursuits, and it would cause a significant tax hike.”
What Makes a Good Thesis?
Once again, there’s no overarching, black-and-white, perfect way to formulate a good thesis. However, in general, strong theses have a narrow topic, a clear stance, and the thesis should be supported by research and argument in order to persuade the reader.
The Right Topic
Don’t bite off more than you can chew, but don’t sell yourself short either. If you’re proposing a topic for an essay, try to choose a topic that can hold water. If you choose a topic that’s too broad, you won’t be able to defend every point you make. The reader may shrug off your argument, stating, “Well, your points X, Y, and Z are true, but did you even consider A, B, and C?” On the flip side, if you pick a topic that is too narrow, your reader won’t be impressed, and you may end up with shallow content. A reader might think, “I totally agree that X is Y, but that’s not really news, it’s just a known fact.” You want to intrigue the reader with your topic, and provide a full, conclusive report of evidence that supports your stance. One might think, “Hmmm, that’s interesting. Let’s see if the author can pull this argument off.” If you’re stuck, and can’t settle on the right topic for your essay, feel free to check out our previous article outlining topic selection tips.
A Clear Stance
If you find that you’re running in circles or rambling as you write, you may not have a clear stance and a precise topic. A thesis can generally follows this formula: X is Y because of A, B, and C reasons. Your topic and stance are fleshed out in the first section of your thesis, and your supportive arguments are highlighted in the second section of your thesis. Make a clear statement to ensure that your paper has value to your reader.
Support With Research
Be sure that your thesis can be supported! If you’ve constructed a thesis that you can’t support with reasoning and research, you may be grasping at straws throughout your essay. As you work through your research, be prepared to tweak, or completely shift, your thesis to adapt to the facts and stats that are actually out there. Your reader, especially if your audience is your professor, will see right through the content and the essay won’t hold any weight.
Still Need Assistance?
Still at a loss when it comes to crafting a thesis for your essay? Don’t sweat it. Here at Panther Academic Editing, we provide writing coach services in addition to our traditional editing and proofreading services. We can assess your topic, your audience, and your research, and help you to build a clear thesis for your paper. Get in touch with us to learn more!