What is a thesis statement?

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A thesis statement is an essential component of ALL academic and research writing.

A thesis statement:

  • occurs early in a piece of written work (introduction)
  • tells the reader what the purpose and scope of the work will be
  • provides more than a mere description of the topic
  • puts a ‘wager’ (i.e. a bet) on the topic by telling us what the significance of the research will be
  • defines what will be investigated and what they think will be found (note, it’s OK if the hypothesis is disproven once the data is in)

Descriptive thesis statements

Beware thesis statements that are too descriptive because they “do not investigate anything, critique anything, or analyze anything […] they also do not invite support and argument from outside of the central text” (UW Expository Writing Program, 2007, p. 2). The problem with thesis statements that are merely descriptive is that they lack a ‘stance’ or an argument. They are therefore difficult to support with evidence and to build an argument for.



The examples below would not make good thesis statements because they are too descriptive.

a) Shakespeare was a famous playwright during the Elizabethan era. He wrote numerous plays and poems.

b) Almost one in two marriages in Australia end in divorce. That means the divorce rate is almost 50%.

c) Covid-19 was a virus that caused an epidemic in the early 2020’s.


Check your understanding

Where is the thesis statement in the passage below?

My intention was to investigate and portray Antarctica through my own and others’ personal experiences, through historical examples of jewellery and souvenirs and through experimentation in the studio-based manufacture of new jewellery and souvenirs[e]. The objects produced through this research would reference the valued jewellery and souvenirs now displayed in museums as historical artefacts which were once personal mementos[f]. I was particularly interested in the potential of these objects to represent personal narratives and experiences of the past [g]. In this research project I have explored some of the ways in which I can make objects, specifically jewellery and souvenirs that draw on this rich heritage to present Antarctica in an innovative way [h].

Excerpt from Kirsten Haydon’s dissertation Antarctic landscapes in the souvenir and jewellery (used with permission)



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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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