What is a Thesis Statement and How to Write It: A Comprehensive Guide

PhD Theses

11th June 2024

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A thesis statement is a crucial element of any academic paper, journal article and of course your PhD thesis. It serves as the main argument or claim around which the entire work is centred. A well-crafted thesis statement provides clarity and direction, helping both the writer and the reader understand the focus and purpose of the work. This article will explain what a thesis statement is, how to write one, and the different types of thesis statements, and it will provide examples and tips for writing an effective thesis statement.

What is a Thesis Statement?

A thesis statement is a concise, declarative sentence that encapsulates the main point or argument of an academic paper. It is typically found at the end of the introduction and serves as a roadmap for the rest of the paper. The thesis statement informs the reader of the central idea and sets the tone for the entire essay. It should be specific, clear, and arguable, presenting a claim that requires evidence and analysis.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

Writing a strong thesis statement involves several steps. Here’s a detailed guide on how to craft an effective thesis statement:

Step 1: Determine the Purpose 

Before you begin writing, make sure you determine the purpose of your paper and the type of argument you need to make. Your thesis statement will vary slightly depending on whether you’re writing a journal article, your PhD thesis, or a paper for a conference. The audience for a journal article may be experts in your field who are looking for detailed and complex arguments, while a conference paper might need to be more concise and impactful for an audience that may have a broader range of expertise. A PhD thesis, on the other hand, will require a comprehensive and deeply researched thesis statement to demonstrate original thinking and significant contribution to the field.

Step 2: Conduct Preliminary Research

Conduct initial research to gather information about your topic. This will help you understand different perspectives and identify potential points of contention. Your thesis statement should reflect a clear position based on your research.

Step 3: Develop a Research Question

Formulate a research question that your paper will answer. This question will guide your research and help you focus on a specific aspect of your topic. For example, if your topic is climate change, your research question might be, “How does deforestation contribute to global warming?”

Step 4: Formulate Your Thesis Statement

Transform your research question into a declarative statement that answers the question and presents your main argument. Ensure that your thesis statement is specific, clear, and arguable. For example, “Deforestation significantly contributes to global warming by increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.”

Types of Thesis Statements

There are different types of thesis statements, depending on the nature of the paper:

Analytical Thesis Statement

An analytical thesis statement breaks down an issue or idea into its component parts, evaluates them, and presents this analysis to the reader. For example, “The rise of social media has transformed interpersonal communication by reducing face-to-face interactions, altering language use, and fostering online communities.”

Expository Thesis Statement

An expository thesis statement explains a topic to the reader. It is common in informative or explanatory essays. For example, “The process of photosynthesis is essential for plant life, converting sunlight into energy through a series of chemical reactions.”

Argumentative Thesis Statement

An argumentative thesis statement makes a claim that requires evidence and support. It is common in persuasive essays. For example, “Implementing stricter gun control laws will significantly reduce gun-related violence in the United States.”

What to Include in a Thesis Statement

A strong thesis statement should include the following elements:


Be specific about the topic and the argument you are making. Avoid vague language and ensure your statement clearly conveys your main point.


Use clear and concise language to articulate your thesis. The reader should understand your position without any confusion.


Present a claim that can be debated. Your thesis should not be a simple statement of fact but rather an assertion that requires evidence and analysis.


Ensure your thesis statement is appropriately scoped for the length of your paper. It should not be too broad or too narrow, but rather manageable within the confines of your assignment.

Thesis Statement Example

Here are a few examples of strong thesis statements:

  • Analytical: “The Great Gatsby critiques the American Dream by revealing the moral decay and materialism of the 1920s, as seen through the characters’ pursuits of wealth and status.”
  • Expository: “Recycling helps to reduce environmental pollution by decreasing waste, conserving natural resources, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • Argumentative: “School uniforms should be mandatory in public schools because they promote equality, reduce bullying, and improve academic performance.”

Thesis Statement Writing Tips

Revise and Refine

After drafting your thesis statement, revise it to ensure it meets all the criteria for a strong statement. Refine your language and structure to improve clarity and impact.

Seek Feedback

Share your thesis statement with peers, mentors, or instructors for feedback. Constructive criticism can help you strengthen your argument and improve your statement.

Stay Flexible

As you conduct more research and write your paper, be open to revising your thesis statement. It may evolve as your understanding of the topic deepens.

In Summary

A well-crafted thesis statement is the backbone of any successful academic paper. It provides direction, clarity, and focus, guiding both the writer and the reader through the arguments and evidence presented. By understanding what a thesis statement is, how to write one, and the different types of thesis statements, you can enhance your writing skills. Remember to be specific, clear, and arguable in your thesis, and don’t hesitate to revise and seek feedback to perfect your statement.

Let Us Support You Throughout Your Academic Journey

Our dedicated network of academics is here to guide you through every step of the thesis-writing process, from targeting the right research questions to refining your final draft. We offer personalised feedback and practical tips to ensure your thesis statement is specific, clear, and arguable. Let us support you throughout your academic journey and help you achieve your goals with confidence and precision. Reach out to us today and take the first step towards academic excellence.