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Sophomore Research: Thesis Development

Thesis Help

Attributes of a good thesis:

  • It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree. A strong thesis is provocative; it takes a stand and justifies the discussion you will present.
  • It tackles a subject that could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned.
  • It is specific and focused. A strong thesis proves a point without discussing “everything about …” Instead of music, think "American jazz in the 1930s" and your argument about it.
  • It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence. Note: Be flexible. The evidence may lead you to a conclusion you didn't think you'd reach. It is perfectly okay to change your thesis!
  • It provides the reader with a map to guide him/her through your work.
  • It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments
  • It avoids vague language (like "it seems").
  • It avoids the first person. ("I believe," "In my opinion")
  • It should pass the So what? or Who cares? test (Would your most honest friend ask why he should care or respond with "but everyone knows that"?) For instance, "people should avoid driving under the influence of alcohol," would be unlikely to evoke any opposition.

From the LibGuide of Joyce Valenza

Five Tests for a Good Thesis

 

Five Tests:

  1. Does the thesis inspire a reasonable reader to ask, "How?" or Why?"
  2. Would a reasonable reader NOT respond with "Duh!" or "So what?" or "Gee, no kidding!" or "Who cares?"
  3. Does the thesis avoid general phrasing and/or sweeping words such as "all" or "none" or "every"?
  4. Does the thesis lead the reader toward the topic sentences (the subtopics needed to prove the thesis)?
  5. Can the thesis be adequately developed in the required length of the paper or project?

Thesis Statement Help

Thesis as equation

Specific topic +Attitude/Angle/Argument = Thesis
What you plan to argue + How you plan to argue it = Thesis