The author has addressed organizing thinking to create a focused topic statement and to generate three main points about a topic in previous articles. For the example essay paper assignment used in those articles, the general topic statement developed is “A review of a current newspaper article that discusses black officers in the U.S.military” and the three main points developed related to that topic are:
• challenges facing black officers in U.S.military
• programs in U.S.military to promote officer candidates from black military personnel
• performance examples of black officers in U.S.military.
These three points to be made about the assignment topic are listed in order from “strongest point” to “least strong point” (because all are regarded as “strong” points). How these points were developed from an example assignment and why exactly three points are desirable is described in another article, but using these three points to develop an effective thesis statement is the focus of this article.
With thinking about the essay topic organized in a focused topic statement and three main points related to the topic, then all the data for generating a thesis statement are available — but why have a thesis statement? With a succinct statement of a thesis (an author’s focused thinking about a topic), an author can communicate clearly and effectively to a reader exactly what points are to be made about the topic and in what order these points are to be made in the paper.
The following are the author’s criteria for an effective thesis statement:
- communicates what is the general topic of the paper
- presents the three main points to be made in the paper, listing them in the order they will be addressed in the paper
- uses action verbs to indicate how author will present each point
- is one sentence and is the last sentence in the first paragraph of the paper
In general, a paper is structured in three parts — an introduction, the body, the conclusion. Think of the introduction as a single paragraph that is designed to introduce the thesis statement. Since the introductory paragraph is intended to introduce the thesis statement, then the thesis statement is expected to be developed prior to the development of the introductory paragraph. Often persons build an introductory paragraph before having developed an effective thesis statement indicating less than effective organizing of thinking about the paper!
With the general topic and three main points presented previously, what thesis statement might be developed? Start the thesis statement with a phrase that communicates the general topic of the paper. For example, for the general topic “A review of a current newspaper article that discusses black officers in the U.S. military,” a phrase communicating that might be “Regarding black officers in the U.S. military,….” After this phrase communicating the general topic, use an action verb to introduce the first main point which will be the “least strong” of the strongest points generated.
Why address the least strong point first in a paper? In general, a reader is more likely to remember the last point addressed in a paper — so make the last point addressed in the paper the strongest point! Previously the three points being used as an example in this article are listed and ordered from “most strong” to “least strong,” so “performance examples of black officers in U.S. military” is the least strong point and will be the first main point addressed in the paper. Now the thesis statement is “Regarding black officers in the U.S.military, the author presents performance examples of these officers, then….”
In this example, notice the use of the action verb “presents” to describe to the reader what will be done with the first point — and the use of such an action verb signals the reader a main point follows. Notice the use of “then” — this signals the reader that something different follows, so reader may more easily recognize what follows as a different point to be addressed in the paper.
To complete this example thesis statement, the other two main points will be added with the “most strong” point listed last in the thesis statement — like “”Regarding black officers in the U.S. military, the author presents performance examples of these officers, then describes programs in the U.S. military to promote black officer candidates, and then explores challenges still facing black officers in the U.S. military.” Notice the use of the action verbs “describes” and “explores” and notice the use of “and then,” effectively communicating to the reader what will be done with each point in the paper and signaling the reader that a new point is being listed, with the strongest point being listed last because it will be addressed last in the paper.
Side note: Notice the parallel structure of the action verbs – presents, describes, explores.
Notice how this thesis statement clearly communicates to the reader what is the general topic, what are the three main points to be made about this topic, and in what order the points will be addressed in the paper. This provides the reader an opportunity to develop an initial pattern of thinking in his or her brain that he or she may then use to build a structured, organized, pattern of thinking about the topic being presented, increasing the probability the reader will develop the desired understanding and more easily recall the topic and main points.
With this well-structured thesis statement developed, then a person has completed the process of organizing thinking about a paper and is ready to use the thesis statement as a guide for developing the paragraphs in the paper starting with the development of the introductory paragraph — but the process of using the thesis statement to develop these paragraphs is a topic for another article.
thesis and dissertation
thesis and dissertation