When writing a paper, a good thesis is the main idea or the focus of the paper and is usually found in the first paragraph of the paper. A good thesis should begin to emerge after collecting enough information from research; sometimes this is early in the writing process and other times it is after the first draft. A thesis is not a statement of fact but should be a good indicator of what your paper is about. A good thesis is a sentence for consideration for the audience and is a discussion that is provable or defendable against arguments.


A thesis should present the question being argued or claimed and answered throughout the paper. It is not a topic or a statement. One way to tell is that a good thesis will have an active verb such as "generalize" instead of "generalization."


A thesis is not a laundry list that looks like your notes or a list of causes. This shows that the writer has not given thought to what is important or how it relates to the rest of the thesis. An example is "Communism collapsed in Russia for economic, political, social and cultural reason." This sentence is too general and does not set up an argument to consider. A good thesis will make a decision and then emphasize why.


Avoid being confrontational with statements such as "Wall Street collapsed because rich people are evil." This is not an argument but a subjective opinion. All of the people on Wall Street are not rich and evil. Statements like these are hard to argue and come off as judgmental. Although it is essential not to come off as judgmental, it is also essential that there is disagreement. If everyone agrees, no one will read the paper and it is not worth writing.


A good thesis is specific and not vague. Trying to write a paper on artists in the 17th century is too vague and too large. Be specific such as writing about Picasso's blue period.


If your thesis is on an author, take a close look at language. Base your argument on the exact words an author uses such as how the author changes tone when referring to a character or when describing intimate moments.

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