NU Ideas

NU Ideas Volume 4, Number 2


Nagoya University Multidisciplinary Journal

Proceedings of the Second Symposium on
Academic Writing and Critical Thinking

The necessities for building a thesis statement

Nathan Hamlitsch
Nagoya University

A research paper is essentially about providing well-argued support and/or counterevidence for a claim or thesis statement. As such, it is hard to overstate the importance of understanding how to create a thesis statement. Yet constructing one from scratch can be most challenging for a new researcher. In this paper, we will look at the necessary elements for constructing a thesis statement, and the consequences if one of these elements is missing or mistaken for the thesis statement itself. Other methods have suggested steps (i.e. brainstorming) that a researcher could take leading up to the formation of a thesis statement. These approaches, although useful, do not discuss necessary elements for constructing a thesis statement. In the present work, I propose that before a thesis statement is built, it is essential to have: 1) an observed phenomenon, followed by 2) a research question. Creating these two elements first will lead directly to the construction of a meaningful thesis statement. Many new researchers have trouble progressing beyond the observed phenomenon stage. This often leads to a paper that devotes most of its pages to categorizing or describing parts of a phenomenon, which leaves the writer no choice but to end the paper with a summary, rather than a conclusion. Additionally, when a researcher stops short of creating a thesis statement but formulates a research question, the research question (in many cases stated as an objective) can be mistaken for the thesis statement, or the researcher inadvertently creates the risk of post hoc reasoning (i.e. data dredging or the Texas sharpshooter fallacy) when interpreting results.

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