What is a claim?

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A claim is a statement that presents an idea or series of ideas as arguments. Arguments therefore consist of claims, or another way to put it is, to say that claims are the building blocks of a good argument.

In research writing, claims will be the backbone that form a thesis or a hypothesis (here the term ‘hypothesis’ refers to the argument that is evidenced within the scope of the work).



According to Heady (2013) “Claims are the points you want to prove, interpretations you want to offer, and assertions you want to make” (p. 74). Importantly, in academia claims are statements that can be supported by evidence.



‘Traditional classroom teaching is boring’

For example, claiming that traditional classroom teaching is boring is not a good claim because it lacks definition (what does ‘traditional classroom teaching’ actually mean? and how do we measure ‘boring’)? It may also be a ‘sweeping statement’ (meaning it’s far too general in scope). However, claiming that “traditional teaching methods, like didactic instruction, do not provide sufficient interaction with students and lead to poor learning outcomes” is a good argumentative claim, because it can be investigated and measured.

Characteristics of a good claim

In order to make effective claims it is important to understand the difference between statements and sentences. While a statement is also a sentence (in that it is a grammatical unit with subject, verb, object clause), not all sentences are statements (in other words, not all sentences consist of a stance or a position).



The following provides examples of the difference between sentences and statements. The statements present a stance or position about the topic under discussion. This is important to understand as all claims must consist of a stance towards the topic.

sentences statements
Bulldogs are a common breed of dog. They originated in the British isles. Bulldogs are a dangerous breed and should be regulated.
Fat is one of three macronutrients. The others being carbohydrate and protein. Fat has been misrepresented as a leading cause of heart disease. New research challenges this finding.

Function of claims

The function of claims in academic writing is to provoke, analyse, or interpret rather than merely describe or present facts. They can do this by affirming, acknowledging, confirming, or refuting the proposition being made. In this way, claims do the job of building an overall argument or thesis in a piece of work (i.e. each claim progresses the key argument). It is for this reason that claims will appear in topic sentences, thesis statements, introductory and concluding sentences/paragraphs.


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Research and Writing Skills for Academic and Graduate Researchers Copyright © 2022 by RMIT University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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