Writing a thesis statement

A thesis statement is a claim (a belief) you are making about the way you think the world works. For example:

  • the sun rises in the morning
  • cats meow when they are hungry
  • sharks kill swimmers

Because a theory is a belief, it can be contested by someone with a different theory. The way to test a theory is to conduct research (gather data) to verify the claim/s. 

To conduct research is to have a question that needs answering. From a thesis statement we can create a research question to test the theory. A research question is based on 'cause and effect':

  • Does the sun rise every morning?
    • Cause: morning
    • Effect: the sun rises
    • morning causes the sun to rise
  • Do cats meow when they are hungry?
    • Cause = hunger
    • Effect = meow
    • hunger causes a cat to meow
  • To what degree do sharks kill swimmers?
    • Cause = sharks
    • Effect = kill swimmers
    • sharks cause death in swimmers

A thesis statement should emerge logically from the literature in the field you are investigating (otherwise it is an assertion, a claim with little merit).

  • the earth's rotation gives the effect that the sun changes its location
  • hunger can cause a cat to meow
  • sharks can cause death in swimmers
  • three environmental factors (list them) are known to cause X


See Also

  • PREP your paragraphs
  • Writing a structured paragraph
  • Writing a literature review
  • Writing a research proposal



Minto, B (1987) The Pyramid Principle: logic in writing and thinking, Pitman Publishing: London.

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