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The Thesis Statement

This is a quick guide to understanding the importance of the thesis statement for academic writing.

What is a Thesis Statement?

  • A thesis statement is a concise statement of an academic work's main point. 
  • The Thesis statement should identify both what the paper is about (the topic) AND what you are saying about it (your specific take on it). 
    • A basic pattern to follow is "An analysis of (insert topic here) will show that (point one), (point two), and (point three)." (Keep in mind that all assays are unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all formula for developing a thesis statement. This is only an example.)
  • Your thesis statement should be as specific as possible.
  • Length-wise, it can be anywhere between a single sentence (for a short essay) to a paragraph (for a dissertation or book). The more complex the topic, the more likely your thesis statement will need to be more than a single sentence. 
  • A thesis should avoid saying "This paper is about . . . " It is better to directly state your main point. 

Who Needs a Thesis Statement? 

  • ALL academic writing, from a short essay to a dissertation or a monograph, should have an identifiable thesis statement somewhere in it. 
  • The longer or more complicated an academic work is, the easier it becomes to get bogged down in details and lose sight of the overall argument, and the more important it is to clearly state the central point. 

Where Should I Put my Thesis Statement?

  • Thesis statements are most commonly located near the beginning of the academic work, usually towards the end of the introduction. This strategic placement allows the reader to quickly understand specifically what the essay is about and be able to follow the arguments as they are presented. 
    • This is the most generally accepted placement; however, a thesis statement can technically be found anywhere in an essay.