Strengthening Your Thesis
Source: Thesis graphic, Roger Koslowski, Wikimedia Commons
Your thesis makes the central argument of your paper. In writing your thesis, you must be compelling and concise, and you should show a strong point of view. Here are a few ways that you can strengthen your thesis even after you’ve written a first draft.
- Make it pass the “So what?” test. Why does your point of view matter? For example, consider the statement “Global warming is a problem affecting our future.” This thesis makes a vague argument that most people have already heard. This does not pass the “So what?” test. A better thesis is “The average person can improve our environment by composting his food waste.”
- Make it specific. Eliminate vague and generic words. Here is a vague thesis “Racial profiling is bad.” A better thesis is “Racial profiling discriminates against people of color and should be stopped.”
- Make it concise. Eliminate unnecessary words and empty intensifiers such as very, really, so. Take, for example, this thesis “Because many people have a very serious problem with obesity and being overweight, schools should not be allowed to serve bad foods like chips and other junk food.” There’s an argument in here somewhere, but a better thesis is “The availability of junk food at school significantly contributes to rates of obesity in teenagers.”
- Make it argumentative. Does your thesis present a strong argument? Even an informative paper needs to have a point of view. Here is a weak thesis “Deer in the roadway are a problem.” It poses an argument, but it is a weak one. A better thesis is “The rising suburban deer population is dangerous to residents and the environment and can be controlled through humane methods.”
- Make it match the contents of the paper. Sometimes a paper’s argument evolves while the paper is being written, but the writer fails to adjust the thesis statement.
Now, let’s practice applying these tips. Read the thesis statements below and rewrite them following the guidelines above. Using your notes, write your responses. When you are finished, check your understanding below to see possible responses.
- Kids like McDonald’s Happy Meals because they have toys.
- People who are mentally ill should not be able to buy guns even though their medical records are confidential.
- There are good things and bad things about wearing uniforms to school.
- Tobacco companies target teens with their advertisements.
- Many people are wrongly prejudiced against immigrants because they think that all of the jobs are going to them and that they use up too many welfare resources.