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Definition of thesis

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In high school, college, or graduate school, students often have to write a thesis on a topic in their major field of study. In many fields, a final thesis is the biggest challenge involved in getting a master's degree, and the same is true for students studying for a Ph.D. (a Ph.D. thesis is often called a dissertation ). But a thesis may also be an idea; so in the course of the paper the student may put forth several theses (notice the plural form) and attempt to prove them.

Examples of thesis in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'thesis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

in sense 3, Middle English, lowering of the voice, from Late Latin & Greek; Late Latin, from Greek, downbeat, more important part of a foot, literally, act of laying down; in other senses, Latin, from Greek, literally, act of laying down, from tithenai to put, lay down — more at do

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a(1)

Dictionary Entries Near thesis

the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children

thesis novel

Cite this Entry

“Thesis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thesis. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

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Meaning of thesis in English

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  • I wrote my thesis on literacy strategies for boys .
  • Her main thesis is that children need a lot of verbal stimulation .
  • boilerplate
  • composition
  • dissertation
  • essay question
  • peer review

You can also find related words, phrases, and synonyms in the topics:

thesis | American Dictionary

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Writing Explained

What is a Thesis? Definition, Examples of Theses in Literature

Home » The Writer’s Dictionary » What is a Thesis? Definition, Examples of Theses in Literature

Thesis definition: A thesis is a statement in which the writer conveys his position regarding a topic.

What is a Thesis?

A thesis statement refers to part of an essay where the writer establishes his position regarding a topic. This is the position that the writer will further explore throughout his paper.

Example of Thesis

  • Topic : religious freedom.
  • Thesis : All citizens of the United States should be allowed to exercise the religion of their choice freely without interference from government.
  • Explanation : In this thesis statement, the writer has taken the position that all citizens should be free to worship and practice their religion as they see fit. The government should not pressure citizens into any religion, and it should not persecute members of any faith community.

The Importance of a Thesis Statement

Thesis statements are important in order to establish the writer’s position regarding a topic or idea. They help to introduce the essay and set a focus for the reader.

Narrative thesis statements are found in narrative essays or in literature. They set the scene for the lesson that will be explored or taught through the piece.

Famous opening lines that exemplify a narrative thesis:

  • The following narrative thesis is found in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

The Function of Thesis in Literature

Narrative thesis statements are important in literature in order to establish the purpose for the work or introduce the lesson that the novel will attempt to teach. This allows the reader to have a focus when beginning the novel in order to effectively engage them into the story.

Examples of Theses in Literature

In the memoir, I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, a thesis statement can be found in the beginning pages of her story.

  • “One year ago I left my home for school and never returned. I was shot by a Taliban bullet and was flown out of Pakistan unconscious. Some people say I will never return home, but I believe firmly in my heart that I will. To be torn from the country that you love is not something to wish on anyone.”

In this thesis statement, Yousafzai establishes the basis of her memoir, which is to tell the story of how she was forced to leave her home.

In Vladmir Nabokov’s Lolita , a thesis can be seen in the line, “Lolita, light of my life, the fire of my loins”.

Here the narrator establishes the identity of the young nymph that he is unhealthily obsessed with in the story. Lolita is a young child while he is a grown man; therefore, this statement creates the uneasy feeling about him that continues throughout the novel.

Summary: What Are Theses?

Define thesis in literature: In summation, a thesis statement establishes a purpose in the piece of writing. It may establish the lesson or story to be told, or in an essay it may establish the position the writer assumes when exploring a topic.

Either way, it is important for the thesis to be clear in order to effectively convey the writer’s message.

Final Example:

In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” the thesis statement can be found in the first line of the short story. Montresor immediately states his purpose, “the thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge.”

In this statement, Montresor states that he will be seeking revenge after being treated wrongly by Fortunato. By beginning the story with the narrative thesis establishes the purpose for the remainder of the piece.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.

Introduction

Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Definition of thesis noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  • Students must submit a thesis on an agreed subject within four years.
  • He presented this thesis for his PhD.
  • a thesis for a master's degree
  • He's doing a doctoral thesis on the early works of Shostakovich.
  • Many departments require their students to do a thesis defense.
  • She completed an MSc by thesis.
  • her thesis adviser at MIT
  • in a/​the thesis
  • thesis about

Join our community to access the latest language learning and assessment tips from Oxford University Press!

  • The basic thesis of the book is fairly simple.
  • These latest findings support the thesis that sexuality is determined by nature rather than choice.
  • formulate/​advance a theory/​hypothesis
  • build/​construct/​create/​develop a simple/​theoretical/​mathematical model
  • develop/​establish/​provide/​use a theoretical/​conceptual framework
  • advance/​argue/​develop the thesis that…
  • explore an idea/​a concept/​a hypothesis
  • make a prediction/​an inference
  • base a prediction/​your calculations on something
  • investigate/​evaluate/​accept/​challenge/​reject a theory/​hypothesis/​model
  • design an experiment/​a questionnaire/​a study/​a test
  • do research/​an experiment/​an analysis
  • make observations/​measurements/​calculations
  • carry out/​conduct/​perform an experiment/​a test/​a longitudinal study/​observations/​clinical trials
  • run an experiment/​a simulation/​clinical trials
  • repeat an experiment/​a test/​an analysis
  • replicate a study/​the results/​the findings
  • observe/​study/​examine/​investigate/​assess a pattern/​a process/​a behaviour
  • fund/​support the research/​project/​study
  • seek/​provide/​get/​secure funding for research
  • collect/​gather/​extract data/​information
  • yield data/​evidence/​similar findings/​the same results
  • analyse/​examine the data/​soil samples/​a specimen
  • consider/​compare/​interpret the results/​findings
  • fit the data/​model
  • confirm/​support/​verify a prediction/​a hypothesis/​the results/​the findings
  • prove a conjecture/​hypothesis/​theorem
  • draw/​make/​reach the same conclusions
  • read/​review the records/​literature
  • describe/​report an experiment/​a study
  • present/​publish/​summarize the results/​findings
  • present/​publish/​read/​review/​cite a paper in a scientific journal
  • The results of the experiment support his central thesis.
  • Most people rejected this thesis at the time because it presumed evolution rather than creation.
  • fundamental

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Everything You Need to Know About Thesis Statement

Deeptanshu D

Table of Contents

Thesis-Statement

Persuasion is a skill that every human leverages to achieve their goals. For example, you persuade your friends to join you on some trip, your parents to purchase you an automobile, and your committee or audience to provide you approval for your research proposal.

Likewise, every scholarly task is aimed to persuade your readers or audience for certain goals. And the end goal is to incline the readers towards your perspective (facts and evidence-based). So, the act of convincing readers of your viewpoints via research work is often termed academic argument, and it follows a predetermined pattern of guidelines-based writing. After providing a comprehensive introduction to the research topic, you are supposed to state your perspective on the topic in a sentence or two, known as Thesis Statement . It summarizes the argument you will make throughout the paper.

Also, the Thesis Statement often serves as an answer to your research question. Thus, the thesis statement is a must for every research paper and scholarly work.

What is Thesis Statement?

what-is-thesis-statement

A Thesis Statement:

  • Describes how you interpret the subject matter's cause, significance, and results.
  • Is a guideline for the paper. In other words, it provides an understanding of the research topic.
  • Directly answers the question you are asked. The thesis is not the question itself but an interpretation of it. For example, a thesis can be about World War II, and it should also provide a way to understand the war.
  • Claims that other people might disagree with.
  • Is a single sentence at the beginning of your paper or near the end of the first para (where you present your argument to the reader). The body of the essay is the rest of the paper. It gathers and organizes evidence to support your argument.

A thesis statement should be concise and easily understandable. Use it as a magnet to attract your readers to keep them reading your paper till the end.

What is the purpose or the goal of the thesis statement?

The real purpose of the thesis statement is:

  • To establish a gateway through which your readers can make an entrance into your research paper.
  • To bring the entire research paper together to an epicenter of various arguments provided throughout the paper.

Simply put, the goal of writing a strong thesis statement is to make your research paper appear interesting enough for the readers to understand it and prove your arguments right completely.

Additionally, the goal of the thesis statement varies from the kind of research you are presenting. If your thesis provides some claims, justifications, or study, you should present an argumentative thesis statement . However, if your thesis is based on analysis, interpretation, demonstration of cause and effect, comparisons, and contrast, you should develop a persuasive thesis statement.

What is the length of an Ideal Thesis Statement?

You should write your thesis statement in 1-2 sentences. Ideally, it should not be more than 50 words in total.

Also, you should try inserting the thesis statement at the end of the topic introduction or just before the background information.

While writing your thesis statement, be mindful that a thesis statement is never meant to be factual. Your thesis statement is one of the most important elements of your thesis that will help your audience understand what you discuss throughout your paper. So, ensure that your thesis statement must appear like an arguable statement, not a factual one.

Many early researchers or young scholars choose to write factual statements as thesis statements as they are easy to prove. However, resorting to factual statements instead of arguable ones will overshadow your analytical and critical thinking skills, which readers anticipate in your paper.

How to Start a Thesis Statement?

how-to-start-a-thesis-statement

The thesis statement is an outline of your research topic in one sentence. Therefore, you must write it in a concise and catchy style. So, here are a few quick tips that help you understand how to start a thesis statement for a research paper:

Discover Your Research Question

Once the subject matter is finalized for writing a research paper, the next requirement is to figure out the research question. While formulating your research question, make sure that it shows the gaps in the current field of study and should serve as a primary interrogation point for your research.

Figure out the answer and develop your argument

Carry out intensive research to determine the perfect answer for your research question. Your answer should further guide you to structure your entire research paper and its content flow.

For example, if you write an argumentative paper, craft your opinion and create an argument. Then, develop your claim against the topics you want to cover and justify it through various data & facts.

Establish back-up for your Answer with Evidence

The more you research, the more you will learn about the variations in the research answer that you were trying to formulate. Similarly, with various sources and newer evidence coming up, you should be able to make an answer that should stand coherently, correctly, relevant, and justified enough. The answer should enhance the reader’s understanding of your paper from beginning to end.

How to determine if my thesis statement is strong?

find-the-right-thesis-Statement

Make a self-evaluation of your thesis statement and check if it stands the following interrogation:

  • Does it answer the question?

Re-read to understand the question prompt to ensure that your answer or the thesis statement itself doesn't skip the focus of the question. Try rephrasing it if you feel that the question prompt is not structured or appropriately discussed.

  • Does my thesis statement appear like an argument (for or against)?

Suppose you have chosen to present the facts and rationality behind it in the best way possible and assume that no one would or could ever disagree with it. It indicates that you've presented a summary instead of presenting an argument. So, always pick an opinion from the topic and justify your arguments backed with various evidence.

  • Is the Thesis Statement explicit and specific?

It may lack a strong argument if you have written a very general statement or vaguely crafted a thesis statement. Your audience will figure it out instantly.

Therefore, if you have used words like “good’’ or “bad,” try to put it more specifically by answering and figuring out “Why something is good”? Or ''What makes something good or bad”?

  • Does it clear the “So What” test?

After reading any research paper, the prompt question that pops up from a reader's mind is, "So What?". Now, if your thesis statement urges the reader with such questions, you need to develop a strong argument or relationship that bridges your research topic to a more significant real-world problem.

  • Does it go beyond the “How” and “Why” assessments?

After going through your thesis statement, if the readers come up with questions like "How" and 'Why," it indicates that your statement failed to provide the reader with the critical insights to understand your thesis statement and is too open-ended. So, you must provide your readers with the best statement explaining the introduction's real significance and the impending need for further research.

Thesis Statement Examples

Follow through with some interesting and creative thesis statements to clarify your doubts and better understand the concept.

Example 1: Social Media affects public awareness both positively and negatively

Yeah, it does answer the question. However, the answer is pretty vague and generic as it shows the effects both positively and negatively.

Not accurately. The statement can be argued only with the people having opinions either on positive or the negative aspect. Therefore, it fails to address every section of the audience.

  • Is the Thesis statement specific enough?

Not exactly. This thesis statement doesn't provide any details on positive and negative impacts.

No, not at all. The thesis statement stated above provides no clarifications over how the positive or negative impacts build up or the factors that build up such impacts.

Again, No. It fails to justify why anyone should bother about the impacts, be it positive or negative.

A stronger and alternate version for the above thesis statement can be:

Since not every piece of information provided on social media is credible and reliable enough, users have become avid consumers of critical information and, therefore, more informed.

Even though the above thesis statement is lengthy, it answers every question and provides details over cause, effect, and critical aspects that readers can easily challenge.

Example 2: Analytical Thesis Statement

  • Water is extremely important for human survival, but consuming contaminated water poses many health risks.
  • The hibernation period is one of the most important periods in animals for healthy well-being. Still, it renders them in a state of weakness and exposed to external and environmental threats.

Example 3: Argumentative Thesis Statement

  • At the end of the nineteenth century, French women lawyers experienced misogynist attacks from male lawyers when they attempted to enter the legal profession because male lawyers wanted to keep women out of judgeships.
  • High levels of alcohol consumption have detrimental effects on your health, such as weight gain, heart disease, and liver complications.

Tips for writing a Strong Thesis Statement

tips-to-write-a-strong-Thesis-Statement

A strong thesis statement is the foremost requirement of academic writing, and it holds greater importance when written for research papers. However, it becomes more crucial when you want your readers to get convinced of your opinions or perspective of the subject matter.

Below are some pro-tips that can help you crack the code of how to write a strong thesis statement, especially for research papers, thesis, and dissertations:

Keep it specific

Readers often get disappointed and confused when you present a weak argument based on a generic thesis statement. To develop a strong thesis statement, focus on one key aspect and develop it further.

Keep it simple and clear

The essence of your entire research paper is dependent on your thesis statement. Also, a strong thesis statement stays hinged over the clarity it provides. Therefore, don't disrupt the meaning or clarity of your research paper by using some jargonish words or complexing it by combining different concepts.

Ingrain your opinions

Your thesis statement should explicitly display your opinion or position for the subject matter under discussion. Your reader wants to understand your position in detail and the factors you will justify with evidence and facts.

Make it unique and Original

Your audience or the readers have gone through the subject matter several times in their careers. Hence, you must present your thesis statement in a unique and completely original form. Never use generic statements; grow some risk-taking capability and surprise your readers.

Keep it Concise and Coherent

Your thesis statement can be considered good only if it is concise yet informational. Don’t make it wordy in any case, and never go beyond more than 50 words.

Additionally, your research paper will discuss many aspects of a topic. Still, in the end, every single aspect should come together to form a coherent whole, addressing, explaining, and justifying the research question.

Conclusion: How to write a Thesis Statement?

A strong thesis statement is the one of the most important elements of your research paper. The thesis statement always serves as a pillar that carries the entire load of a research paper and it’s several sections.

Whether your research paper is worthy of your audience time or not, entirely hinges upon your thesis statement. A thesis statement always depicts the plan for the research but a good thesis statement reflects your opinions, viewpoints and of course the trajectory that it sets for the entire paper.

So, always try to write a good thesis statement by carefully following its structure, about which we have already discussed.

Before you go: In view of your interest in simplifying research workflows, we suggest you take a look at SciSpace . In a single portal, you can complete all your research writing tasks, including literature searches.

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Types of Essays in Academic Writing

Frequently asked questions

What is a thesis statement.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

Frequently asked questions: Writing an essay

For a stronger conclusion paragraph, avoid including:

  • Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the main body
  • Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
  • Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.

Your essay’s conclusion should contain:

  • A rephrased version of your overall thesis
  • A brief review of the key points you made in the main body
  • An indication of why your argument matters

The conclusion may also reflect on the broader implications of your argument, showing how your ideas could applied to other contexts or debates.

The conclusion paragraph of an essay is usually shorter than the introduction . As a rule, it shouldn’t take up more than 10–15% of the text.

An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.

To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

Let’s say you’re writing a five-paragraph  essay about the environmental impacts of dietary choices. Here are three examples of topic sentences you could use for each of the three body paragraphs :

  • Research has shown that the meat industry has severe environmental impacts.
  • However, many plant-based foods are also produced in environmentally damaging ways.
  • It’s important to consider not only what type of diet we eat, but where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Each of these sentences expresses one main idea – by listing them in order, we can see the overall structure of the essay at a glance. Each paragraph will expand on the topic sentence with relevant detail, evidence, and arguments.

The topic sentence usually comes at the very start of the paragraph .

However, sometimes you might start with a transition sentence to summarize what was discussed in previous paragraphs, followed by the topic sentence that expresses the focus of the current paragraph.

Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.

In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.

Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:

  • In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text
  • In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event
  • In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political theory

At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.

Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”

In rhetorical analysis , a claim is something the author wants the audience to believe. A support is the evidence or appeal they use to convince the reader to believe the claim. A warrant is the (often implicit) assumption that links the support with the claim.

Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, building up logical arguments . Ethos appeals to the speaker’s status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.

Collectively, these three appeals are sometimes called the rhetorical triangle . They are central to rhetorical analysis , though a piece of rhetoric might not necessarily use all of them.

The term “text” in a rhetorical analysis essay refers to whatever object you’re analyzing. It’s frequently a piece of writing or a speech, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could also treat an advertisement or political cartoon as a text.

The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain the effect a piece of writing or oratory has on its audience, how successful it is, and the devices and appeals it uses to achieve its goals.

Unlike a standard argumentative essay , it’s less about taking a position on the arguments presented, and more about exploring how they are constructed.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

If you have to hand in your essay outline , you may be given specific guidelines stating whether you have to use full sentences. If you’re not sure, ask your supervisor.

When writing an essay outline for yourself, the choice is yours. Some students find it helpful to write out their ideas in full sentences, while others prefer to summarize them in short phrases.

You will sometimes be asked to hand in an essay outline before you start writing your essay . Your supervisor wants to see that you have a clear idea of your structure so that writing will go smoothly.

Even when you do not have to hand it in, writing an essay outline is an important part of the writing process . It’s a good idea to write one (as informally as you like) to clarify your structure for yourself whenever you are working on an essay.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

Your subjects might be very different or quite similar, but it’s important that there be meaningful grounds for comparison . You can probably describe many differences between a cat and a bicycle, but there isn’t really any connection between them to justify the comparison.

You’ll have to write a thesis statement explaining the central point you want to make in your essay , so be sure to know in advance what connects your subjects and makes them worth comparing.

Some essay prompts include the keywords “compare” and/or “contrast.” In these cases, an essay structured around comparing and contrasting is the appropriate response.

Comparing and contrasting is also a useful approach in all kinds of academic writing : You might compare different studies in a literature review , weigh up different arguments in an argumentative essay , or consider different theoretical approaches in a theoretical framework .

The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.

Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.

If you’re not given a specific prompt for your descriptive essay , think about places and objects you know well, that you can think of interesting ways to describe, or that have strong personal significance for you.

The best kind of object for a descriptive essay is one specific enough that you can describe its particular features in detail—don’t choose something too vague or general.

If you’re not given much guidance on what your narrative essay should be about, consider the context and scope of the assignment. What kind of story is relevant, interesting, and possible to tell within the word count?

The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to reflect on a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.

Don’t worry too much if your topic seems unoriginal. The point of a narrative essay is how you tell the story and the point you make with it, not the subject of the story itself.

Narrative essays are usually assigned as writing exercises at high school or in university composition classes. They may also form part of a university application.

When you are prompted to tell a story about your own life or experiences, a narrative essay is usually the right response.

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

An expository essay is a common assignment in high-school and university composition classes. It might be assigned as coursework, in class, or as part of an exam.

Sometimes you might not be told explicitly to write an expository essay. Look out for prompts containing keywords like “explain” and “define.” An expository essay is usually the right response to these prompts.

An expository essay is a broad form that varies in length according to the scope of the assignment.

Expository essays are often assigned as a writing exercise or as part of an exam, in which case a five-paragraph essay of around 800 words may be appropriate.

You’ll usually be given guidelines regarding length; if you’re not sure, ask.

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  • What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

Published on 15 September 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on 5 December 2023.

Structure of a Thesis

A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a PhD program in the UK.

Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Indeed, alongside a dissertation , it is the longest piece of writing students typically complete. It relies on your ability to conduct research from start to finish: designing your research , collecting data , developing a robust analysis, drawing strong conclusions , and writing concisely .

Thesis template

You can also download our full thesis template in the format of your choice below. Our template includes a ready-made table of contents , as well as guidance for what each chapter should include. It’s easy to make it your own, and can help you get started.

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Table of contents

Thesis vs. thesis statement, how to structure a thesis, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your thesis, frequently asked questions about theses.

You may have heard the word thesis as a standalone term or as a component of academic writing called a thesis statement . Keep in mind that these are two very different things.

  • A thesis statement is a very common component of an essay, particularly in the humanities. It usually comprises 1 or 2 sentences in the introduction of your essay , and should clearly and concisely summarise the central points of your academic essay .
  • A thesis is a long-form piece of academic writing, often taking more than a full semester to complete. It is generally a degree requirement to complete a PhD program.
  • In many countries, particularly the UK, a dissertation is generally written at the bachelor’s or master’s level.
  • In the US, a dissertation is generally written as a final step toward obtaining a PhD.

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The final structure of your thesis depends on a variety of components, such as:

  • Your discipline
  • Your theoretical approach

Humanities theses are often structured more like a longer-form essay . Just like in an essay, you build an argument to support a central thesis.

In both hard and social sciences, theses typically include an introduction , literature review , methodology section ,  results section , discussion section , and conclusion section . These are each presented in their own dedicated section or chapter. In some cases, you might want to add an appendix .

Thesis examples

We’ve compiled a short list of thesis examples to help you get started.

  • Example thesis #1:   ‘Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the “Noble Savage” on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807’ by Suchait Kahlon.
  • Example thesis #2: ‘”A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man”: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947’ by Julian Saint Reiman.

The very first page of your thesis contains all necessary identifying information, including:

  • Your full title
  • Your full name
  • Your department
  • Your institution and degree program
  • Your submission date.

Sometimes the title page also includes your student ID, the name of your supervisor, or the university’s logo. Check out your university’s guidelines if you’re not sure.

Read more about title pages

The acknowledgements section is usually optional. Its main point is to allow you to thank everyone who helped you in your thesis journey, such as supervisors, friends, or family. You can also choose to write a preface , but it’s typically one or the other, not both.

Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces

An abstract is a short summary of your thesis. Usually a maximum of 300 words long, it’s should include brief descriptions of your research objectives , methods, results, and conclusions. Though it may seem short, it introduces your work to your audience, serving as a first impression of your thesis.

Read more about abstracts

A table of contents lists all of your sections, plus their corresponding page numbers and subheadings if you have them. This helps your reader seamlessly navigate your document.

Your table of contents should include all the major parts of your thesis. In particular, don’t forget the the appendices. If you used heading styles, it’s easy to generate an automatic table Microsoft Word.

Read more about tables of contents

While not mandatory, if you used a lot of tables and/or figures, it’s nice to include a list of them to help guide your reader. It’s also easy to generate one of these in Word: just use the ‘Insert Caption’ feature.

Read more about lists of figures and tables

If you have used a lot of industry- or field-specific abbreviations in your thesis, you should include them in an alphabetised list of abbreviations . This way, your readers can easily look up any meanings they aren’t familiar with.

Read more about lists of abbreviations

Relatedly, if you find yourself using a lot of very specialised or field-specific terms that may not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary . Alphabetise the terms you want to include with a brief definition.

Read more about glossaries

An introduction sets up the topic, purpose, and relevance of your thesis, as well as expectations for your reader. This should:

  • Ground your research topic , sharing any background information your reader may need
  • Define the scope of your work
  • Introduce any existing research on your topic, situating your work within a broader problem or debate
  • State your research question(s)
  • Outline (briefly) how the remainder of your work will proceed

In other words, your introduction should clearly and concisely show your reader the “what, why, and how” of your research.

Read more about introductions

A literature review helps you gain a robust understanding of any extant academic work on your topic, encompassing:

  • Selecting relevant sources
  • Determining the credibility of your sources
  • Critically evaluating each of your sources
  • Drawing connections between sources, including any themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps

A literature review is not merely a summary of existing work. Rather, your literature review should ultimately lead to a clear justification for your own research, perhaps via:

  • Addressing a gap in the literature
  • Building on existing knowledge to draw new conclusions
  • Exploring a new theoretical or methodological approach
  • Introducing a new solution to an unresolved problem
  • Definitively advocating for one side of a theoretical debate

Read more about literature reviews

Theoretical framework

Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework, but these are not the same thing. A theoretical framework defines and analyses the concepts and theories that your research hinges on.

Read more about theoretical frameworks

Your methodology chapter shows your reader how you conducted your research. It should be written clearly and methodically, easily allowing your reader to critically assess the credibility of your argument. Furthermore, your methods section should convince your reader that your method was the best way to answer your research question.

A methodology section should generally include:

  • Your overall approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative )
  • Your research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment
  • Any tools or materials you used (e.g., computer software)
  • The data analysis methods you chose (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
  • A strong, but not defensive justification of your methods

Read more about methodology sections

Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. These two sections work in tandem, but shouldn’t repeat each other. While your results section can include hypotheses or themes, don’t include any speculation or new arguments here.

Your results section should:

  • State each (relevant) result with any (relevant) descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
  • Explain how each result relates to the research question
  • Determine whether the hypothesis was supported

Additional data (like raw numbers or interview transcripts ) can be included as an appendix . You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results.

Read more about results sections

Your discussion section is where you can interpret your results in detail. Did they meet your expectations? How well do they fit within the framework that you built? You can refer back to any relevant source material to situate your results within your field, but leave most of that analysis in your literature review.

For any unexpected results, offer explanations or alternative interpretations of your data.

Read more about discussion sections

Your thesis conclusion should concisely answer your main research question. It should leave your reader with an ultra-clear understanding of your central argument, and emphasise what your research specifically has contributed to your field.

Why does your research matter? What recommendations for future research do you have? Lastly, wrap up your work with any concluding remarks.

Read more about conclusions

In order to avoid plagiarism , don’t forget to include a full reference list at the end of your thesis, citing the sources that you used. Choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your thesis, taking note of the formatting requirements of each style.

Which style you choose is often set by your department or your field, but common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA.

Create APA citations Create MLA citations

In order to stay clear and concise, your thesis should include the most essential information needed to answer your research question. However, chances are you have many contributing documents, like interview transcripts or survey questions . These can be added as appendices , to save space in the main body.

Read more about appendices

Once you’re done writing, the next part of your editing process begins. Leave plenty of time for proofreading and editing prior to submission. Nothing looks worse than grammar mistakes or sloppy spelling errors!

Consider using a professional thesis editing service to make sure your final project is perfect.

Once you’ve submitted your final product, it’s common practice to have a thesis defense, an oral component of your finished work. This is scheduled by your advisor or committee, and usually entails a presentation and Q&A session.

After your defense, your committee will meet to determine if you deserve any departmental honors or accolades. However, keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality. If there are any serious issues with your work, these should be resolved with your advisor way before a defense.

The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5-7% of your overall word count.

When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .

If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation, you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .

If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimising confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organise your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation, such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review, research methods, avenues for future research, etc.)

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Writing a paper: thesis statements, basics of thesis statements.

The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper. Specific means the thesis deals with a narrow and focused topic, appropriate to the paper's length. Arguable means that a scholar in your field could disagree (or perhaps already has!).

Strong thesis statements address specific intellectual questions, have clear positions, and use a structure that reflects the overall structure of the paper. Read on to learn more about constructing a strong thesis statement.

Being Specific

This thesis statement has no specific argument:

Needs Improvement: In this essay, I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences.

This statement is concise, but it is neither specific nor arguable—a reader might wonder, "Which scholarly articles? What is the topic of this paper? What field is the author writing in?" Additionally, the purpose of the paper—to "examine…to find similarities and differences" is not of a scholarly level. Identifying similarities and differences is a good first step, but strong academic argument goes further, analyzing what those similarities and differences might mean or imply.

Better: In this essay, I will argue that Bowler's (2003) autocratic management style, when coupled with Smith's (2007) theory of social cognition, can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover.

The new revision here is still concise, as well as specific and arguable.  We can see that it is specific because the writer is mentioning (a) concrete ideas and (b) exact authors.  We can also gather the field (business) and the topic (management and employee turnover). The statement is arguable because the student goes beyond merely comparing; he or she draws conclusions from that comparison ("can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover").

Making a Unique Argument

This thesis draft repeats the language of the writing prompt without making a unique argument:

Needs Improvement: The purpose of this essay is to monitor, assess, and evaluate an educational program for its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I will provide suggestions for improvement.

You can see here that the student has simply stated the paper's assignment, without articulating specifically how he or she will address it. The student can correct this error simply by phrasing the thesis statement as a specific answer to the assignment prompt.

Better: Through a series of student interviews, I found that Kennedy High School's antibullying program was ineffective. In order to address issues of conflict between students, I argue that Kennedy High School should embrace policies outlined by the California Department of Education (2010).

Words like "ineffective" and "argue" show here that the student has clearly thought through the assignment and analyzed the material; he or she is putting forth a specific and debatable position. The concrete information ("student interviews," "antibullying") further prepares the reader for the body of the paper and demonstrates how the student has addressed the assignment prompt without just restating that language.

Creating a Debate

This thesis statement includes only obvious fact or plot summary instead of argument:

Needs Improvement: Leadership is an important quality in nurse educators.

A good strategy to determine if your thesis statement is too broad (and therefore, not arguable) is to ask yourself, "Would a scholar in my field disagree with this point?" Here, we can see easily that no scholar is likely to argue that leadership is an unimportant quality in nurse educators.  The student needs to come up with a more arguable claim, and probably a narrower one; remember that a short paper needs a more focused topic than a dissertation.

Better: Roderick's (2009) theory of participatory leadership  is particularly appropriate to nurse educators working within the emergency medicine field, where students benefit most from collegial and kinesthetic learning.

Here, the student has identified a particular type of leadership ("participatory leadership"), narrowing the topic, and has made an arguable claim (this type of leadership is "appropriate" to a specific type of nurse educator). Conceivably, a scholar in the nursing field might disagree with this approach. The student's paper can now proceed, providing specific pieces of evidence to support the arguable central claim.

Choosing the Right Words

This thesis statement uses large or scholarly-sounding words that have no real substance:

Needs Improvement: Scholars should work to seize metacognitive outcomes by harnessing discipline-based networks to empower collaborative infrastructures.

There are many words in this sentence that may be buzzwords in the student's field or key terms taken from other texts, but together they do not communicate a clear, specific meaning. Sometimes students think scholarly writing means constructing complex sentences using special language, but actually it's usually a stronger choice to write clear, simple sentences. When in doubt, remember that your ideas should be complex, not your sentence structure.

Better: Ecologists should work to educate the U.S. public on conservation methods by making use of local and national green organizations to create a widespread communication plan.

Notice in the revision that the field is now clear (ecology), and the language has been made much more field-specific ("conservation methods," "green organizations"), so the reader is able to see concretely the ideas the student is communicating.

Leaving Room for Discussion

This thesis statement is not capable of development or advancement in the paper:

Needs Improvement: There are always alternatives to illegal drug use.

This sample thesis statement makes a claim, but it is not a claim that will sustain extended discussion. This claim is the type of claim that might be appropriate for the conclusion of a paper, but in the beginning of the paper, the student is left with nowhere to go. What further points can be made? If there are "always alternatives" to the problem the student is identifying, then why bother developing a paper around that claim? Ideally, a thesis statement should be complex enough to explore over the length of the entire paper.

Better: The most effective treatment plan for methamphetamine addiction may be a combination of pharmacological and cognitive therapy, as argued by Baker (2008), Smith (2009), and Xavier (2011).

In the revised thesis, you can see the student make a specific, debatable claim that has the potential to generate several pages' worth of discussion. When drafting a thesis statement, think about the questions your thesis statement will generate: What follow-up inquiries might a reader have? In the first example, there are almost no additional questions implied, but the revised example allows for a good deal more exploration.

Thesis Mad Libs

If you are having trouble getting started, try using the models below to generate a rough model of a thesis statement! These models are intended for drafting purposes only and should not appear in your final work.

  • In this essay, I argue ____, using ______ to assert _____.
  • While scholars have often argued ______, I argue______, because_______.
  • Through an analysis of ______, I argue ______, which is important because_______.

Words to Avoid and to Embrace

When drafting your thesis statement, avoid words like explore, investigate, learn, compile, summarize , and explain to describe the main purpose of your paper. These words imply a paper that summarizes or "reports," rather than synthesizing and analyzing.

Instead of the terms above, try words like argue, critique, question , and interrogate . These more analytical words may help you begin strongly, by articulating a specific, critical, scholarly position.

Read Kayla's blog post for tips on taking a stand in a well-crafted thesis statement.

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a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, especially one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections: He vigorously defended his thesis on the causes of war.

a subject for a composition or essay.

a dissertation on a particular subject in which one has done original research, as one presented by a candidate for a diploma or degree.

Music . the downward stroke in conducting; downbeat. : Compare arsis (def. 1) .

a part of a metrical foot that does not bear the ictus or stress.

(less commonly) the part of a metrical foot that bears the ictus. : Compare arsis (def. 2) .

Philosophy . See under Hegelian dialectic .

Origin of thesis

Word story for thesis, other words for thesis, words that may be confused with thesis.

  • 1. antithesis , synthesis , thesis
  • 2. dissertation , thesis

Words Nearby thesis

  • shit will hit the fan, the
  • shoe is on the other foot, the
  • short end of the stick, the
  • The show must go on
  • thesis play
  • thesis statement
  • Sketch Book, The
  • Skin of Our Teeth, The
  • sky's the limit, the

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use thesis in a sentence

“The Saudis have been proving the thesis of the film — they do in fact have an army,” said Thor Halvorssen, founder and chief executive of the nonprofit Human Rights Foundation, which funded the movie.

It’s a hypothesis that Bush pursued in her master’s thesis , and last year she began attending virtual Goth parties in a final round of field work before defending her doctoral thesis later this year.

While this partnership was planned prior to the coronavirus outbreak, co-founder Jordana Kier said the pandemic instantly proved out the expansion thesis .

They’ve had to defend that thesis for a very, very long time in front of a variety of different customers and different people.

Over the past decade, In-Q-Tel has been one of the most active investors in the commercial space sector, with a broad investment thesis that touches many aspects of the sector.

In “Back Home,” Gil also revisits the nostalgia for the South explored in his Johns Hopkins thesis , “Circle of Stone.”

At least father and son were in alignment on this central thesis : acting “gay”—bad; being thought of as gay—bad.

Her doctoral thesis , says Ramin Takloo at the University of Illinois, was simply outstanding.

Marshall McLuhan long ago argued the now accepted thesis that different mediums have different influences on thinking.

He wrote his Master's thesis  on the underrepresentation of young people in Congress.

And indeed for most young men a college thesis is but an exercise for sharpening the wits, rarely dangerous in its later effects.

It will be for the reader to determine whether the main thesis of the book has gained or lost by the new evidence.

But the word thesis , when applied to Systems, does not mean the 'position' of single notes, but of groups of notes.

This conclusion, it need hardly be said, is in entire agreement with the main thesis of the preceding pages.

Sundry outlying Indians, with ammunition to waste, took belly and knee rests and strengthened the thesis to the contrary.

British Dictionary definitions for thesis

/ ( ˈθiːsɪs ) /

a dissertation resulting from original research, esp when submitted by a candidate for a degree or diploma

a doctrine maintained or promoted in argument

a subject for a discussion or essay

an unproved statement, esp one put forward as a premise in an argument

music the downbeat of a bar, as indicated in conducting

(in classical prosody) the syllable or part of a metrical foot not receiving the ictus : Compare arsis

philosophy the first stage in the Hegelian dialectic, that is challenged by the antithesis

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for thesis

The central idea in a piece of writing, sometimes contained in a topic sentence .

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Thesis: Definition and Examples in Composition

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

A thesis ( THEE-ses ) is the main (or controlling) idea of an essay , report , speech , or research paper , sometimes written as a single declarative sentence known as a thesis statement . A thesis may be implied rather than stated directly. Plural: theses . It's also known as a thesis statement, thesis sentence, controlling idea.

In the classical rhetorical exercises known as the  progymnasmata , the  thesis is an exercise that requires a student to argue a case for one side or the other.

Etymology From the Greek, "to put"

Examples and Observations (Definition #1)

  • "My thesis is simple: in the next century mankind must harness the nuclear genie if our energy needs are to be met and our security preserved." (John B. Ritch, "Nuclear Green," Prospect Magazine , March 1999)
  • "We watch baseball: it's what we have always imagined life should be like. We play softball. It's sloppy--the way life really is." (from the introduction to Watching Baseball, Playing Softball)
  • "Through Mansfield's skillful handling of point of view, characterization, and plot development, Miss Brill comes across as a convincing character who evokes our sympathy." (thesis statement in Miss Brill's Fragile Fantasy )
  • "Suppose there were no critics to tell us how to react to a picture, a play, or a new composition of music. Suppose we wandered innocent as the dawn into an art exhibition of unsigned paintings. By what standards, by what values would we decide whether they were good or bad, talented or untalented, success or failures? How can we ever know that what we think is right?" (Marya Mannes, "How Do You Know It's Good?")
  • "I think people are disturbed by the discovery that no longer is a small town autonomous--it is a creature of the state and of the Federal Government. We have accepted money for our schools, our libraries, our hospitals, our winter roads. Now we face the inevitable consequence: the benefactor wants to call the turns." (E.B. White, "Letter from the East")
  • "It is possible to stop most drug addiction in the United States within a very short time. Simply make all drugs available and sell them at cost." (Gore Vidal, "Drugs")
  • The Two Parts of an Effective Thesis "An effective thesis is generally composed of two parts: a topic and the writer's attitude or opinion about or reaction to that topic." (William J. Kelly, Strategy and Structure . Allyn and Bacon, 1996)
  • Drafting and Revising a Thesis "It's a good idea to formulate a thesis early in the writing process , perhaps by jotting it on scratch paper, by putting it at the head of a rough outline , or by attempting to write an introductory paragraph that includes the thesis. Your tentative thesis will probably be less graceful than the thesis you include in the final version of your essay. Here, for example, is one student's early effort: Although they both play percussion instruments, drummers and percussionists are very different. The thesis that appeared in the final draft of the student's paper was more polished: Two types of musicians play percussion instruments--drummers and percussionists--and they are as different as Quiet Riot and the New York Philharmonic. Don't worry too soon about the exact wording of your thesis, however, because your main point may change as you refine your ideas." (Diana Hacker, The Bedford Handbook , 6th ed. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002)
  • A Good Thesis - "A good thesis tells the audience exactly what you want them to know, understand, and remember when your speech is done. Write it as a simple, declarative sentence (or two) that restates the speech purpose and states the main points that support the purpose. Although you may formulate a thesis statement early in the speech development process, you may revise and reword it as you research your topic.' (Sherwyn P. Morreale, Brian H. Spitzberg, and J. Kevin Barge, Human Communication: Motivation, Knowledge, and Skills , 2nd ed. Thomson Higher Education, 2007) - "An effective thesis statement singles out some aspect of a subject for attention and clearly defines your approach to it." (David Blakesley and Jeffrey L. Hoogeveen, Writing: A Manual for the Digital Age . Wadsworth, 2011)

Examples and Observations (Definition #2)

" Thesis . This advanced exercise [one of the progymnasmata] asks the student to write an answer to a 'general question' ( quaestio infina )--that is, a question not involving individuals. . . . Quintilian . . . notes that a general question can be made into a persuasive subject if names are added (II.4.25). That is, a Thesis would pose a general question such as 'Should a man marry?' or 'Should one fortify a city?' (A Special Question on the other hand would be 'Should Marcus marry Livia?' or 'Should Athens spend money to build a defensive wall?')" (James J. Murphy, A Short History of Writing Instruction: From Ancient Greece to Modern America , 2nd ed. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001)

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  • The Introductory Paragraph: Start Your Paper Off Right
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Thesis and Purpose Statements

Use the guidelines below to learn the differences between thesis and purpose statements.

In the first stages of writing, thesis or purpose statements are usually rough or ill-formed and are useful primarily as planning tools.

A thesis statement or purpose statement will emerge as you think and write about a topic. The statement can be restricted or clarified and eventually worked into an introduction.

As you revise your paper, try to phrase your thesis or purpose statement in a precise way so that it matches the content and organization of your paper.

Thesis statements

A thesis statement is a sentence that makes an assertion about a topic and predicts how the topic will be developed. It does not simply announce a topic: it says something about the topic.

Good: X has made a significant impact on the teenage population due to its . . . Bad: In this paper, I will discuss X.

A thesis statement makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of the paper. It summarizes the conclusions that the writer has reached about the topic.

A thesis statement is generally located near the end of the introduction. Sometimes in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or an entire paragraph.

A thesis statement is focused and specific enough to be proven within the boundaries of the paper. Key words (nouns and verbs) should be specific, accurate, and indicative of the range of research, thrust of the argument or analysis, and the organization of supporting information.

Purpose statements

A purpose statement announces the purpose, scope, and direction of the paper. It tells the reader what to expect in a paper and what the specific focus will be.

Common beginnings include:

“This paper examines . . .,” “The aim of this paper is to . . .,” and “The purpose of this essay is to . . .”

A purpose statement makes a promise to the reader about the development of the argument but does not preview the particular conclusions that the writer has drawn.

A purpose statement usually appears toward the end of the introduction. The purpose statement may be expressed in several sentences or even an entire paragraph.

A purpose statement is specific enough to satisfy the requirements of the assignment. Purpose statements are common in research papers in some academic disciplines, while in other disciplines they are considered too blunt or direct. If you are unsure about using a purpose statement, ask your instructor.

This paper will examine the ecological destruction of the Sahel preceding the drought and the causes of this disintegration of the land. The focus will be on the economic, political, and social relationships which brought about the environmental problems in the Sahel.

Sample purpose and thesis statements

The following example combines a purpose statement and a thesis statement (bold).

The goal of this paper is to examine the effects of Chile’s agrarian reform on the lives of rural peasants. The nature of the topic dictates the use of both a chronological and a comparative analysis of peasant lives at various points during the reform period. . . The Chilean reform example provides evidence that land distribution is an essential component of both the improvement of peasant conditions and the development of a democratic society. More extensive and enduring reforms would likely have allowed Chile the opportunity to further expand these horizons.

For more tips about writing thesis statements, take a look at our new handout on Developing a Thesis Statement.

the real meaning of thesis

Writing Process and Structure

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Developing a Thesis Statement

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

IMAGES

  1. Thesis Statement: Definition and Useful Examples of Thesis Statement

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  3. Mastering the Thesis Statement: Examples and Tips for Academic Success

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  4. Thesis Statement: Meaning, Types, How To Formulate A Thesis Statement

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  5. Dissertation vs. Thesis: What’s the Difference?

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VIDEO

  1. 💯How I did write A+ Thesis 📚

  2. The Thesis

COMMENTS

  1. What Is a Thesis?

    A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

  2. Thesis Definition & Meaning

    The meaning of THESIS is a dissertation embodying results of original research and especially substantiating a specific view; especially : one written by a candidate for an academic degree. ... study. In many fields, a final thesis is the biggest challenge involved in getting a master's degree, and the same is true for students studying for a ...

  3. THESIS

    THESIS meaning: 1. a long piece of writing on a particular subject, especially one that is done for a higher…. Learn more.

  4. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    Placement of the thesis statement. Step 1: Start with a question. Step 2: Write your initial answer. Step 3: Develop your answer. Step 4: Refine your thesis statement. Types of thesis statements. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

  5. THESIS

    THESIS definition: 1. a long piece of writing on a particular subject, especially one that is done for a higher…. Learn more.

  6. What is a Thesis? Definition, Examples of Theses in Literature

    Define thesis in literature: In summation, a thesis statement establishes a purpose in the piece of writing. It may establish the lesson or story to be told, or in an essay it may establish the position the writer assumes when exploring a topic. Either way, it is important for the thesis to be clear in order to effectively convey the writer's ...

  7. Thesis Statements

    A thesis statement: tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper. directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself.

  8. Thesis

    Thesis. Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore ...

  9. What is a thesis

    A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic. Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument. Integral to these competencies is thorough research ...

  10. thesis noun

    Meaning, pronunciation, picture, example sentences, grammar, usage notes, synonyms and more. ... thesis (that…) a statement or an opinion that is discussed in a logical way and presented with evidence in order to prove that it is true. The basic thesis of the book is fairly simple.

  11. Thesis Statement: Definition, Examples, and Tips

    The real purpose of the thesis statement is: To establish a gateway through which your readers can make an entrance into your research paper. To bring the entire research paper together to an epicenter of various arguments provided throughout the paper. Simply put, the goal of writing a strong thesis statement is to make your research paper ...

  12. Thesis Definition & Meaning

    1. : a long piece of writing on a particular subject that is done to earn a degree at a university. She wrote her thesis on Renaissance Nativity scenes. a master's/doctoral thesis on the effects of global warming. 2. formal : a statement that someone wants to discuss or prove. New evidence supports his thesis. We disagreed with the basic thesis ...

  13. The Writing Center

    A thesis statement is: The statement of the author's position on a topic or subject. Clear, concise, and goes beyond fact or observation to become an idea that needs to be supported (arguable). Often a statement of tension, where the author refutes or complicates an existing assumption or claim (counterargument).

  14. What is a thesis statement?

    The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons: It gives your writing direction and focus. It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point. Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

  15. What Is a Thesis?

    A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a PhD program in the UK. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Indeed, alongside a dissertation, it is the longest piece of writing students typically complete. It relies on your ability to conduct research from start to ...

  16. Developing A Thesis

    Developing A Thesis. Think of yourself as a member of a jury, listening to a lawyer who is presenting an opening argument. You'll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far ...

  17. Academic Guides: Writing a Paper: Thesis Statements

    The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper.

  18. THESIS Definition & Usage Examples

    Thesis definition: a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, especially one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections. See examples of THESIS used in a sentence.

  19. Developing a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement . . . Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic. Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper. Is focused and specific enough to be "proven" within the boundaries of your paper. Is generally located near the end ...

  20. Thesis: Definition and Examples in Composition

    A thesis ( THEE-ses ) is the main (or controlling) idea of an essay, report, speech, or research paper, sometimes written as a single declarative sentence known as a thesis statement. A thesis may be implied rather than stated directly. Plural: theses. It's also known as a thesis statement, thesis sentence, controlling idea.

  21. PDF Thesis

    Thesis Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore needs

  22. Thesis and Purpose Statements

    A thesis statement makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of the paper. It summarizes the conclusions that the writer has reached about the topic. A thesis statement is generally located near the end of the introduction. Sometimes in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or an entire ...

  23. Too much certainty is a terrible thing: Benchmarks and the meaning of

    Our thesis is that we are in a new regime, with different structural forces compared to those that existed prior to the pandemic. ... Benchmarks and the meaning of risk . ... We suggest that, in an environment of higher equilibrium inflation and lower real return from financial markets, inflation should play a larger role in being a benchmark ...

  24. Ares Commercial Real Estate: The Safest Dividend Is The One That's Just

    Vital to my investment thesis about Ares Commercial Real Estate was the payout ratio, which, unfortunately, exploded to unsustainable levels in the third quarter amid a challenged loan portfolio ...