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Music 222: Music of the World's Peoples: Developing a Thesis

This guide is a starting point for research.

Argumentative Paper Thesis

  • Proposed answer to a research question
  • Should make a claim and argue it
  • Thesis = Topic + a claim (attitude or opinion) + major points (specifics about the points you will use to explain your claim)
  • A good thesis has a definable, debatable claim
  • Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.
  • Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is not a statement of fact. It is an assertive statement that states your claims and that you can prove with evidence. It should be the product of research and your own critical thinking. There are different ways and different approaches to write a thesis statement. Here are some steps you can try to create a thesis statement:

 

1. Start out with the main topic and focus of your essay.

Example: youth gangs + prevention and intervention programs

2. Make a claim or argument in one sentence.

Example: Prevention and intervention programs can stop youth gang activities.

3. Revise the sentence by using specific terms.

Example: Early prevention programs in schools are the most effective way to prevent youth gang involvement.

4. Further revise the sentence to cover the scope of your essay and make a strong statement.

Example: Among various prevention and intervention efforts that have been made to deal with the rapid growth of youth gangs, early school-based prevention programs are the most effective way to prevent youth gang involvement.

Thesis Statement Tutorial

Good Thesis Tips

  • Ensure your thesis is provable. Do not come up with your thesis and then look it up later. The thesis is the end point of your research, not the beginning. You need to use a thesis you can actually back up with evidence.
  • First, analyze your primary sources. Look for tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy, and/or complication. Ask questions about the sources.
  • Anticipate the counterarguments. Every argument has a counterargument; if yours doesn't, it's not an argument (may be a fact or an opinion). If there are too many arguments against it, find another thesis.
  • Communicate a single, overarching point rather than multiple points that may be too difficult or broad to support

Examples of Non-Debatable and Debatable Thesis Statements

Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:

Pollution is bad for the environment.

 

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

At least 25 percent of the federal budget should be spent on limiting pollution.

 

Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:

The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different.

 

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

While both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, Northerners focused on the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their own right to self-government.