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Answered By: Cassie Sampson, Education & General Education Librarian
Last Updated: May 27, 2016     Views: 8454

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement clearly identifies the topic being discussed, it should only cover what is being discussed in the paper, and is written for a specific audience. Your thesis statement belongs at the end of your first paragraph, also known as your introduction. Use it to generate interest in your topic and encourage your audience to continue reading.

You can read chapter four (on thesis writing) of Schaum's Quick Guide to Writing Great Research Papers an ebook in our online collection, click the title to open: "How Do I Write a Thesis Statement?" (you will open the book...you need to navigate to Part I, Chapter 4).

Another option is to think of a thesis statement as one complete sentence that expresses your position.

  • Narrows the topic down to a specific focus of an investigation.
  • Establishes a direction for the entire paper.
  • Points forward to the conclusion.
  • Always stated in your introduction. (Usually at the end of the first paragraph).
  • Always take a stand and justify further discussion.

A thesis statement is not a statement of fact.

Your readers—especially your instructors—want to read writing that engages them. Consequently, you must write thesis statements that are arguable, not factual. Statements of fact seem easy to write about because, well, they are easy to prove. After all, they’re facts. The problem is that you cannot write engaging papers around statements of fact. Such theses prevent you from demonstrating critical thinking and analytical skills, which you want to show your instructor. If you were to write a paper around the next two statements, your writing would probably be quite dull because you would be restating facts that the general public already knows.

Thesis Statements always take a stand and justify further discussion.

In order to make your writing interesting, you should develop a thesis statement that is arguable. Sometimes you will be writing to persuade others to see things your way and other times you will simply be giving your strong opinion and laying out your case for it.


Take a look at the following examples:

Statement of fact:

Small cars get better fuel mileage than 4x4 pickup trucks.

Arguable thesis statement:

The government should ban 4x4 pickup trucks except for work-related use.


Statement of fact:

Foul language is common in movies.

Arguable thesis statement:

The amount of foul language in movies is disproportionate to the amount of foul language in real life.


Statement of fact:

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease.

Arguable thesis statement/opening paragraph:

Researchers think the incidence of celiac disease is increasing in the USA not only because of an increase in the ability and awareness to diagnose it, but also because of changes in the agricultural system. In particular, they are looking at the increased use of pesticides, insecticides, and genetically modified wheat as culprits. Some of these theories are more likely to be valid than others.

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