Skip to Main Content

Argument Structure and Thesis Statements

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement represents the most important thing you want to say about your topic. It is the major argumentative claim about your topic. As such, it will need to be supported by evidence and other supporting claims. 

A thesis statement must be a specific claim about your topic. It cannot be a general fact although it must be supported by fact. It cannot be a claim that anyone would readily believe – you must argue for it.

Not all research articles that you may read use an argumentative thesis statement. The reason for this is that some articles are meant to describe or explain facts. However, writers who are arguing in support of a particular position or claim about a topic, must compose a thesis statement. 

The thesis statement is usually the last, or next to last, sentence in your introduction. Your introduction serves to announce and explain the importance of your topic and any issues associated with it. Your thesis, however, structures your argument and hints at what kind of evidence and support you may present. 

There is no specific sentence structure or formula for a thesis statement except that it will usually contain key words related to your topic and to your main argument. There are common problems with thesis statement attempts that can be instructive. The following examples will show you some common problems with thesis statement attempts. Consider each of the following:

Thesis? Windsurfing is a sport that everyone can enjoy.
No. This statement cannot be supported.
Better: Windsurfing is an exciting sport that takes physical stamina and dedication of time
to practise in order to master and enjoy. 
Consider what kinds of supports would be needed to support the new thesis.

Thesis? This paper will discuss nursing as a career.
No. This statement is an announcement; it is also a fact of what the writer will discuss in the paper.
Better: Although often misunderstood as an unrewarding profession, a career in nursing offers professional leadership roles and numerous opportunities to make meaningful change in people’s lives and society as a whole.
[Note: the idea of an “unrewarding profession” here is an “opposing viewpoint.” Push against opposing viewpoints to emphasize your position]

Thesis? Holistic nursing care is more than a focus on disease, and it is also a flexible career with global opportunities.
No – this statement contains more than one idea.
Better:  Nursing care is more than a focus on disease. The holistic approach of nursing care focuses on the patient’s response to disease or illness and also responds to meeting the emotional, social, and spiritual needs of patients and their families.
[Note: This thesis statement has several ideas, but the ideas here are supporting claims to the holistic approach.]

Thesis? Recreational running has many benefits.
No. This statement is too broad.  It announces the topic but lacks focus.
Better: Recent research indicates that regular recreational running has demonstrable physiological and psychological benefits.

[Note: This thesis statement is a type that may have been suggested to your by your teachers in the past. It is a useful way to organize ideas for some types of writing tasks such as providing information (e.g., patient educational materials).]