Tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Is a road map for the paper in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper. Directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel. Makes a claim that others might dispute. Is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.
Compare the following: Original thesis: There are advantages and disadvantages to using statistics. (a fill_in_the_blank formula). Revised theses: Careful manipulation of data allows a researcher to use statistics to support any claim she desires. In order to ensure accurate reporting, journalists must understand the real significance of the statistics they report. Because advertisers consciously and unconsciously manipulate data, every consumer should learn how to evaluate statistical claims.
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