A thesis is a one sentence statement about your topic. It's an assertion about your topic, something you claim to be true. Notice that a topic alone makes no such claim; it merely defines an area to be covered.

The topic is seldom stated as a complete sentence with a subject and predicate. To make your topic into a thesis statement, you need to make a claim about it, make it into a sentence.

To make your topic into a thesis statement, you need to make a claim about it.

Look back over your materials-branching charts, free writings, investigative notes-and think about what you believe to be true. Think about what your readers want or need to know. Then write a sentence, preferably at this point, a simple one, stating what will be the controlling idea of your paper. The result should look something like this:

Original Subject: an important issue in my major field

Focused Topic: drug education for college physical education majors

Thesis: Drug education deserves a more prominent place in this university's Physical Education program.

Or if your investigations led you to a different belief:

Thesis: Physical Education majors at this university receive a solid background in drug education.

It's always good to have a thesis you can believe in.

Notice, though, that a sentence stating an obvious and indisputable truth won't work as a thesis:

Thesis: This university has a Physical Education major.

That's a complete sentence, and it asserts something to be true, but as a thesis it's a dead end. It's a statement of fact, pure and simple, and requires to have little or nothing added. A good thesis asks to have more said about it. It demands some proof. Your job is to show your reader that your thesis is true, so that in end the reader will say, "Ah yes, now that it's been explained, I can see that the Physical Education Department really isn't doing enough with drug education."


6.4 Turn two of the topics you generated in Activity 7.3 into thesis statements. Exchange them with a partner and discuss their relative strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to cover the following points:

1. Is this a complete sentence?

2. Is every word clear and unambiguous in meaning?

3. Is the sentence a dead end, or does it call for additional information and explanation?

4. Does the statement make such a large claim that you believe the writer has no hope of proving it to be true in the space of 500 to 700 words?

5. What evidence will you need to see before you will believe that the thesis is true?