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Defining a Topic and Developing a Thesis Statement

Defining a Topic

When selecting a topic for a paper, the writer should consider the assignment or purpose. The writer must also be knowledgeable about the topic or be in a position to perform any necessary research. The subject should be specific and be of interest to the author. If the writer has interest in the matter, his or her work will be more enjoyable. The writer should then ask him- or herself what they know about the topic and where they can reasonably find information pertaining to the topic. Conducting some research will provide the writer with key words and ideas about the subject. The next step is to formulate a thesis statement.

Developing a Thesis Statement

The thesis statement should be precise. The important terms that will drive the paper should be included in this statement. The statement is often only one sentence, but can be more than one. The thesis statement will be the guide for the layout of the rest of the paper. The reader will know exactly what information the paper will address from the statement. It is the writer's analysis of the topic. The body of the paper must support the stance or idea made in the statement.

Vague thesis statements are weak and ineffective:

Vague Thesis Statement: Pride and Prejudice was a wonderful love story.
Specific Thesis Statement: In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austin successfully contrasted the differences in the lifestyles between the social classes of 19th Century England.

Vague Thesis Statement: People who eat too many fatty foods will have high cholesterol.
Specific Thesis Statement: Many factors, such as heredity, diet, and exercise play a role in a person's cholesterol levels.

In the first specific thesis statement, the writer can expand the body of the paper by listing the differences in the lifestyles of the classes in that time period in England. In the second specific thesis statement, the author can expand the thesis through the body of the paper by discussing how each factor affects a person's cholesterol level. Both thesis statements are precise and will help the writer stay on course.

Defining a topic and developing a thesis statement are the first and most important elements in creating a well-developed, solid paper. If the writer takes the time to become knowledgeable about the paper's subject matter and to build an effective thesis statement, he or she can produce an effective paper that is balanced and informative.

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