Resources On Writing: Function of Thesis Statements

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About Thesis Statements

Most thesis statements do not end up the way they started.  Changes are made as research is discovered and conclusions are drawn.  Most writers discover a thesis almost by trial and error, refining their ideas as facts are gathered.  A working thesis is a place to start, a statement of beginning ideas from which to build more detailed and refined main ideas and supporting details (Hult and Huckin 114).

A thesis statement states for the reader the “central idea that the paper will argue” or the directions a paper will take (Hult and Huckin 217).

However, a thesis statement can also reflect the reporting of information rather than taking a stand on an arguable issue (Hult and Huckin 217).

An arguable thesis or claim

  • is debatable.  Not everyone will agree with it;
  • can be supported with evidence available to everyone;
  • can be countered with arguments against it;
  • is a clearly stated claim of fact, value, or policy with terms defined; and
  • is not based just on personal opinion or subjective feelings inaccessible to others. (Hult & Huckin 113).

Questions to ask regarding a working thesis:        

  1. Does the thesis define a specific topic?
  2. Does the thesis make a strong point about the topic?
  3. Does the thesis provide a blueprint for the paper’s development?


An Argumentative Thesis:  “Whatever the causes, males and females have different perspectives on computers and their uses” (Hult and Huckin 217).

An Informational Thesis:  “This paper will trace the evolution of computers from the first room-sized mainframes to the current hand-held notebooks” (Hult and Huckin 218).

Source: Hult, Christine A., and Thomas N. Huckin.  The New Century Handbook. Boston:  Allyn and Bacon, 1999.