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The point of a thesis statement is to state your argument clearly and concisely. Therefore, when developing a thesis statement, the first step one must take is to decide what he or she wants to say. Having a clear idea in mind when developing a thesis statement makes the process much easier and the statement itself will turn out much stronger. It is important to remember that the thesis statement should be clear, concise, and easily supported with fact.
By the end of the first paragraph of an essay or research paper, the reader should have a clear idea of what the essay will be about. This clarity hinges on the thesis statement, so developing a thesis statement that is strong enough to guide the reader through the essay is perhaps the most important step in writing any essay. To start, one should consider brainstorming, or writing down a list of ideas concerning the topic at hand that might be relevant. For example, if the topic of an essay is governmental systems and which ones work better than others, one might start by making a list of governments and the pros and cons of each. This will guide the writer toward forming an opinion on the matter, which will guide research and ultimately lead to developing a thesis statement.
Once the writer has determined where he or she stands on an issue, it is time to do research. This will help the writer further support his or her views, and allow him or her to form a concise statement that will tell the reader what the essay will tell them. Further, performing research will help the writer make a list of supporting points he or she will touch upon later in the essay. Sometimes it helps to know what supporting arguments a writer will make before writing the thesis; by knowing what he or she will write later, the writer can clearly state what he or she intends to tell the reader.
The thesis statement itself should usually only be one sentence long. When developing a thesis statement, the writer should try to include specifics, but also try to do so without becoming too verbose. To aid this process, when developing a thesis statement, it helps to write a because" statement. This forces the writer to state his or her case while still giving specifics. For example, a strong thesis statement might read something like this:
"A democratic republic governmental system has proven itself as one of the strongest systems in the world because it allows the people of that representative government to interact with the lawmaking process without inundating the system itself."
This statement is short, to the point, and includes important details that the writer can then touch upon later in the essay.
I knew people in college who wrote their paper, then formed their thesis statement after the fact. I did the opposite. I included my three points in my thesis statement and went from there. Either way works, as long as you know where you're going with your writing.
Even if you come up with a thesis statement and find one or more points are basically un-researchable, you can change your statement to reflect those issues you did come across in your research. The advantage of doing the statement afterward is that you already know what you've researched.
An outline, to me, is probably the most important part of doing a research paper. The outline is the framework you hang the rest of the paper on.
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