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Researching the term paper. tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.

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a thesis statement

tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.

  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence somewhere in your first paragraph that presents your argument to the reader, but can be a short paragraph ( a minor précis). The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.
A thesis statement:

If your task is to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement.

  • When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively.
from sjsu political science dept writing center

Your thesis statement is the central argument of your essay. It must be concise and well-written.

  • Your thesis goes in the introductory paragraph. Don't hide it; make it clearly asserted at the beginning of your paper.
  • Your thesis must make an argument. It is the road map to the argument you will subsequently develop in your paper
From SJSU Political Science Dept. writing center
organizing and expressing ideas


    • Select, differentiate, dissect, break up
  • Synthesis
    • Integrate, combine, recast, formulate
  • Comprehension
    • Understand, explain, distinguish, interpret
  • Knowledge
    • Define, classify, describe, name, use, problem solve
Organizing and expressing ideas


    • Begin with key word searches in library databases.
    • Examine multiple abstracts to zero in on relevant articles
    • Experiment with different databases and related key words—important research can wind up in surprising places.
classifying and sorting research

While it may seem best to simply collect data in support of your thesis, you should also include and address counter arguments.

  • Determine early on whether or not your paper will be strengthened with quantitative data.
Classifying and sorting research
about opinions

Not relevant to most essay assignments that require analysis and evaluation.

  • Relevant when supporting an interpretation, but must be supported with sufficient data.
  • Useful only if it advances the paper.
  • Your term paper is about a subject, and your evaluation of evidence, not your opinion on the subject.
About opinions

Prepare an outline for your paper.

  • Begin working on your first draft.
    • Bring in first few (2-3) pages next Tuesday for peer review and comment.