The Role of Thesis Statements in Academic Writing

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Written By Charlotte Miller

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What role does a thesis statement serve?

Well, it is particularly important for the reader to understand the central purpose and argument in your paper. They should be able to figure out where the paper is headed once they’ve read the introduction. Now, look at things from the writer’s perspective. For them, thesis statements act as a guide to develop a coherent argument without straying far from the central idea.

Even though this particular section is barely 1-2 sentences, it’s one of the most challenging things to write. In fact, experts from academic writing services like MyAssignmentHelp have even stated that they get regular requests from students to polish their statements to perfection.

Now, if you don’t even know the purpose that this statement serves, then you’ll never be able to write it properly. In fact, several students often confuse this with a purpose statement, even though both are significantly different. So first, let’s assess the importance of it to both readers and writers.

Importance for Writers

  • Helps to narrow down the research scope to a single claim instead of assessing multiple aspects
  • Helps to connect several points discussed in the writing to the singular claim
  • Allows the opportunity to organize the ideas to be discussed in the paper
  • Sets a limit to the research scope to avoid going off-topic while writing

Importance for Readers

  • Easy identification of the main point to be discussed in the academic paper
  • Offers a sense of closure and satisfaction once the final conclusion aligns with the claim made
  • Offers a roadmap to easily follow along with the ideas discussed in the paper and connect it to the main point

The thesis statement essentially states the main claim that the writer makes in the paper. Its common characteristics are –

  • It has to be factual
  • It has to be narrow
  • It has to be arguable

Now, keeping these in mind, let’s focus on the factual and arguable parts. For starters, your statement cannot be a fact that no one will argue with. Let’s consider a simple example. Suppose you write this statement –

“Children should not be allowed excessive screen time as it affects their health.”

Now, this is a fact, but it’s not arguable. You’ll rarely find someone who will claim that excessive screen time is beneficial to children in any way. So, how can you turn this into the perfect thesis statement? Here’s an example:

“Schools conducting classes online should cut down on class hours to prevent children from being victims of excessive screen time.”

In this case, there’s a scope for people to argue that cutting down school hours can hamper students’ education. At the same time, one cannot disagree that increased screen time has been affecting children, especially those who do not have any other option because of long school hours. So, there’s definitely a scope for argument here.

Now, all you have to do is find the perfect balance in terms of the scope of the statement.

What happens if the scope is too broad?

You don’t have enough time to cover all aspects of the claim.

What happens if the scope is too narrow?

You don’t have enough data or research materials to write a complete paper.

Here’s an example of a broad claim – “College students experience heightened mental stress.”

Now, if you were to write a paper to prove this claim, you’d have to discuss all the aspects that lead to heightened mental stress in college students. These aspects can include academic reasons, personal reasons, and more.

What if you were to change it to the following to make it narrower: “3rd-year college students from the STEM field at Stanford University have faced more mental health challenges than their counterparts from Arts courses.”

There’s no doubt that the scope for this is narrower than the previous option, but ask yourself, “Can I really write an entire research paper when the scope is this narrow?” The answer is obviously no.

Here’s the ideal alternative version: “College students pursuing STEM in the USA are more prone to leaving their courses midway due to mental health challenges than those pursuing Arts.”

The topic isn’t too broad since it restricts the location within colleges in the USA and two particular academic disciplines. However, it’s not so narrow that you won’t be able to find enough information.

In conclusion,

Since thesis statements are such a crucial section of any academic paper, you should consider all these aspects before finalizing the statement. Keep in mind that you can always edit the one you’ve come up with later on. So, there’s no need to worry if you feel that you’re straying from the claim that you made previously. Just make the necessary adjustments once you’re done writing the paper. If you need further assistance, don’t hesitate to consult an assignment helper to refine your thesis statement and enhance the overall quality of your work.