Anyone who has tried to write a research paper would attest that one of the main challenges of the research process is trying to craft the perfect thesis statement. Basically, the thesis statement is not only the foundation but also the scope, limitation, and heart of your research. In other words, your thesis statement may be argued as the “be-all and end-all” of your paper.
Knowing the difficulty of finding the perfect thesis statement, I would like to share insights from expert writers about how to write a good thesis statement. Mainly, I will focus on what experienced researchers and educators refer to as the Thesis Statement Formula.
Stay tuned until the end, as I will also give a thesis statement example that you can use for your research paper (and any other kind of paper).
I. Thesis Statement – The Basics
To understand our thesis formula, it is best to start with the basics. Although this section does not provide everything about the fundamentals of writing your main argument, it nonetheless provides an excellent introduction to our topic.
Let us start with defining a thesis statement.
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A. What’s a Thesis Statement?
In its most basic sense, a thesis statement is the central argument or research question that you aim to answer in your paper or research, which is encapsulated within a complete sentence. Thus, it must be concise enough to limit your query while also allowing a degree of flexibility.
Additionally, a thesis statement may be differentiated between (1) an argumentative thesis and (2) an explanatory thesis.
1. Argumentative vs. Explanatory
First, an argumentative thesis is one in which the author either takes an opinion or side in a debate and lays it as the foundation of his search. For example, when discussing the benefits of extended parental leave, an explanatory thesis statement may look like this.
In contrast, an explanatory thesis primarily aims to provide a concise overview of what the author would discuss throughout the paper. Generally, this kind of statement is neutral rather than combative, although some writers may make it persuasive enough. Here’s another example of an explanatory thesis statement:
Explanatory example: The following sections of this article would like to focus on the utmost importance of handwashing in preventing nosocomial infections in the healthcare setting.
From the example above, the difference between these two thesis statements is distinguishable regarding their angle of approach.
2. What is a Working Thesis Statement?
It is a statement that asserts one specific topic of argument or analysis as a focus and sets the tone or position you are taking on that topic. A working thesis also states the broad details of the support you are using to justify your position. These details appear in the same order in your thesis statement as they will arise in the body of your paper.
Remember earlier that a thesis statement should be concise yet flexible enough? That applies exceptionally well to a working thesis statement.
Aside from their differences in approach (i.e., argumentative vs. explanatory), thesis statements may also be differentiated between a (1) working thesis statement and a (2) final thesis statement.
a. Working Thesis
On the one hand, a working thesis statement is defined as your preliminary argument or position and the kind of approach or angle on how you will tackle (explain or argue) that position. As aptly said by Barry Sternlicht, “as facts change, change your thesis. Don’t be a stubborn mule, or you’ll get killed.”
As facts change, change your thesis. Don’t be a stubborn mule, or you’ll get killed.
Note that the essential keywords here are “preliminary” and “flexible,” which means that it does not serve as the answer to your query but only an informed opinion that be debunked depending on your research or inquiry results.
b. Final Thesis
On the other hand, a final thesis is your argument “after” you conducted your research. Similar to your working thesis statement, it must be concise enough. However, what makes it different is that your final thesis is based on the results of your inquiry. This is why most (if not all) final thesis statements are also explanatory.
2. How long is a thesis statement?
One of the most common misconceptions about writing a thesis statement is that there is a prescribed length, as measured in the number of words (or sentences), in order for it to be correct.
Although a good rule of thumb is that a thesis statement should be a single complete sentence, there are no strict length requirements in writing it. What is important is that it should merely strike a balance between shortness and simplicity on the one hand and comprehensiveness and flexibility on the other.
Now that we have inquired into new writers’ fundamentals and common questions let us proceed to the secret (more like an open secret) that experts use in finding the perfect thesis statement – the Thesis Statement Formula.
3. Can a Thesis Statement Be a Question?
The unequivocal answer is no. Again, a thesis statement is your informed opinion about a research question or topic, which can either be argumentative or explanatory. Thus, you cannot answer a question with another question.
II. Writing a Thesis Formula
We all know that in its general sense, a formula is a guide that helps us find the correct answer using a proven method. For example, we know that we can find the correct answer to find the speed (s) of a moving object by dividing the distance traveled (d) by the time elapsed (t).
Although our thesis statement formula leaves a larger room for flexibility and subjectivity compared to our example above, it is still a proven and tested method for finding the perfect thesis statement for your paper using the following:
Thesis Statement Formula:
T + C because SW
- T = topic
- C = claim
- SW = So What
As shown above, every good thesis formula has three indispensable elements, which include; (1)the topic, (2) the claim, and (3) the benefit or advantage to the reader.
Let’s create an example of a working thesis statement about “the importance of personal recycling compliance in the larger economy of a state.”
Topic: Importance of Personal Recycling Compliance in the Larger Economic Growth of a State
Thesis Formula: T + C because SW
- T: In line with the cost-benefit analysis of individual-level pro-environmental practices…
- C: I believe that the collective effect of our individual contributions to recycling policies would provide greater economic benefits in the long run…
- SW: thereby improving policy-making changes in terms of recycling practices.
See how concise yet comprehensive the thesis statement is above. On the one hand, it lays out the focus (or topic) and the scope and limitation of your research in an ‘easy-to-understand’ manner. On the other hand, it also seeks to improve interest in the topic by highlighting the benefits of this research topic.
B. Checking your Argument’s Feasibility
You’ve used the formula and found the correct thesis statement for your research. How do you know that it is feasible and probable enough?
In my years of experience handling and managing research projects, I learned that one of the mistakes of researchers is finding a topic that is not feasible in the long run. They had a good topic, a sound thesis statement, and a structured methodology, but little did they know that their research or paper would fail.
Thus, I strongly recommend using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Reliable, and Time-Bound) Method after (or even during) crafting your thesis formula. Although this technique is generally used for time management training, most research requires careful time management means that writers and researchers like you should aim to use it in writing your thesis formula.
If you want to learn more about the SMART Method, you can check this post by the Corporate Finance Institute.
Now that you have learned the secret (or the open secret) of experts in writing a thesis question and checking its feasibility, the next step is writing your thesis statement outline.
Whether you are trying to write a research, argumentative essay, or expository essay, among others, using an outline would help serve as a guide and a springboard for the subsequent phases of your research.
To learn more about writing a thesis statement outline, check out our other posts and subscribe to our newsletter.