5 Writing Tips for an Effective Thesis Statement

Thesis writing help | How to write an effective thesis statement

An effective thesis statement needs to comply with certain criteria.

1. Your thesis statement should be substantial. You should not be able to answer your thesis as a yes/no question. It should have substance; a claim that you make, and the argument you will make to support it.

2. Your thesis statement should be supportable; you should be able to argue your claim and support your argument with evidence (evidence may come from existing literature or your own current research).

Your thesis should not be anything strange or bizarre, or even simply your personal opinion, in which case there may be no evidence to support your argument, nor should it simply be an indisputable fact, in which case these is nothing to argue.

3. Your thesis statement should be precise. A thesis which is too broad or encompasses several ideas will require much more evidence to argue. Refine and filter your idea until it can be written clearly and precisely to address a very specific argument. Avoid using general terms and overused words or phrases.

4. Your thesis must be arguable. So stay away from personal opinion or factual statements. It is difficult to provide evidence to argue an opinion, and if something is widely accepted as a fact – there really is nothing to argue, so your thesis is obsolete.

5. Your thesis should be relevant. If you are doing an assignment, your thesis needs to answer the particular question presented by your tutor/professor. Focus on the task words contained in the
assignment given (compare, contrast, argue, summarize, etc.).

Examples of badly written thesis statements

The USA has one of the strongest economies in the world.

As a thesis statement this is poor, because it is a widely accepted fact – there is little reason to argue this point.

Of all the economies in the world, that of the USA is the most effective.

This thesis statement provides a personal opinion, which is difficult to support with evidence. There are no criteria presented to determine if it is or isn’t the most effective, and the use of the superlative ‘the most’ is also problematic in terms of proving it convincingly. It is also vague – in what sense effective? Financially? Politically? Culturally? Socially?

The US economy has been mismanaged for several decades, which has led to it being less robust than it was before.

This thesis statement is too broad and vague. It would be better to define who has mismanaged the economy and the exact period of time being used for the comparison. Also, the second part is arguably a widely accepted fact that most people would not argue against, therefore there is little point in including it.

A better version of this thesis statement might be:

The US economy was mismanaged by the previous administration, largely due to ineffective fiscal policy.

It clearly defines who – and the cause (fiscal policy) for which evidence and argument can be presented as to whether it was primarily fiscal policy or something else which was the main contributing factor.