A Good Thesis Statement For Alcohol Abuse

Writing Thesis Statements for Argumentative Essays

Introduction

University writing often requires students to use persuasion: they need to convince readers of a logical viewpoint on a debatable subject. The thesis statement is usually one sentence in the essay’s introduction that clearly states the writer's opinion and it often appears after some general background information about the issue. The thesis statement acts as a short summary of the writer’s stance in the debate, helping readers understand what will appear in the rest of the paper. Assignments may not state clearly whether a thesis statement is necessary, but if it asks you to take a position on an issue, analyze, interpret, compare and contrast or show cause and effect, you are probably expected to develop a persuasive thesis. (If you are not sure, it is wise to ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement.)

Developing a Thesis

Before you write a thesis statement, it is important to spend time reading academic articles to gather general background information about the issue. You need to evaluate the findings and arguments of different writers and decide which ones you think are the strongest and most convincing, which ones have the most credibility and which ones will help you write persuasively. Reading recent research will help you to decide your position and write a stronger, well-informed argument. Understanding and critically weighing others’ ideas will guide you towards developing a clear, logical and convincing thesis statement.

Thesis Statements: 4 points to remember

1. MAKE IT DEBATABLE

The first important point is that thesis statements must be debatable. (There is no point writing a persuasive argument if everyone already agrees!)

Example of an un-debatable thesis statement:

'Drinking too much alcohol may cause health problems.'

This is weak because it would be very difficult to build a persuasive argument that drinking too much alcohol would not cause health problems: most people (and doctors) already agree that it would.

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

'Alcohol should contain warning labels about the possible dangers of over-drinking.'

This is debatable because people can agree or disagree with the proposal. Some might agree that alcohol labels should contain warnings about the dangers of drinking while others may feel that warning labels would be ineffective as they would not stop people from drinking. Therefore, it is a good thesis statement.
The first point to remember then is that thesis statements must provide room for disagreement and debate.

2. MAKE IT SPECIFIC

Thesis statements should be specific, not general. The following thesis statement is too general:

'Drinking alcohol is harmful.'

This statement is too broad and unfocused because it does not specify:

*Who drinking alcohol harms
*What drinking alcohol harms
*What the main reasons are that make drinking alcohol harmful

Asking specific 'Wh' questions can help narrow your focus and make your paper more manageable.

The following thesis statement is more persuasive because it is focused:

'Alcohol consumption may negatively impact university students’ GPA.'

As this statement provides specific answers to the questions above, it significantly narrows the possibilities that the writer can write about and provides a clear focus for the entire argument.

Here are two more examples of focused thesis statements:

'A four-year university programme is better than a three-year one because students have more time for deeper learning.'
'Hong Kong will not become a world class city until it tackles its air pollution problem.'

The second point to remember then is that a thesis statement should be specific.'

3. HAVE ONLY ONE CONTROLLING ARGUMENT

As you can see from the examples above, a good thesis statement has only one controlling (main) argument:

'Alcohol should contain warning labels about the possible dangers of over-drinking.'
'Alcohol consumption may negatively impact amongst university students’ GPA.'
'A four-year university programme is better than a three-year one because students have more time for deeper learning.'
'Hong Kong will not become a world class city until it tackles its air pollution problem.

It is important that your thesis statements also contain only one controlling argument. Supporting details can be discussed in depth later in the essay's body paragraphs that follow the introduction.

4. MAKE IT CLEAR AND CONCISE

As you can see, good thesis statements use clear language and not too many words. It is important that your thesis be clear so that your readers know exactly what your position is. There should be no confusion, such as in the following poor example:

'Many people from around the world have different opinions about whether teenagers under eighteen years of age should be able to get a driving license and drive a vehicle or not and I tend to agree with some of them but not with others.'

This example is poor for a number of reasons. First, it is too long and ‘wordy’ (it uses too many unnecessary words which can be omitted). Second, the opinion of the writer is not clear to the reader. A better example of a thesis would be:

'Teenagers under eighteen years of age should not have driving licenses as most are not mature enough to handle the responsibility of driving.'

This thesis statement is much better as the writer’s position is very clear, and uses a minimal number of words. Clear and concise should be your goal in all writing, but it is especially important when writing a thesis statement.

Summary

Remember! When you include a thesis statement in your introduction that is…

1. debatable
2. specific
3. has only one main argument
4. is clear and concise

…your essay will be focused and your reader will know exactly what to expect in the body paragraphs that follow your introduction. With a little practice, you can write high quality thesis statements that bring focus to all of your argumentative essays.

More information and practice with thesis statements:

http://create.arizona.edu/content/weak-thesis-statements-recognizing-and-fixing-them
http://www.uark.edu/campus-resources/qwrtcntr/resources/handouts/thesis.html
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/588/01/
http://depts.washington.edu/owrc/Handouts/How%20to%20Structure%20and%20Organize%20Your%20Paper.pdf

Now do the interactive activities on the right.

THESIS STATEMENT TIPS

Now that we've seen how to develop and use a thesis statement, let's look at qualities of effective thesis statements.

Most thesis statements are:

Thesis statements are usually assertions--statements that call for proof and support. For example: Alcoholic women face greater stigma, guilt, and shame than alcoholic men even today. Are you wondering, "Is that true? What kind of research was done to determine that? Why would that be the case?" Statements that prompt these types of questions about evidence are usually assertions.

A thesis statements can be informative, like this: Williams Syndrome is a rare and misunderstood genetic disorder. However, thesis statements that are simply well-known statements of fact--like there are 12 inches in a foot--rarely make for interesting essays.

You'll have to decide if you want to create a focused or a broad thesis statement. Here’s the difference.

A broad thesis statement provides a general overview of a topic. Let's go back to the thesis statement Williams Syndrome is a rare and misunderstood genetic disorder. The author of an essay with this thesis would likely introduce many aspects of Williams Syndrome, such as:

  • What genetic mutation causes Williams Syndrome?
  • How many people have it?
  • What symptoms are associated with it?
  • What do people misunderstand about them?
  • What research is being done on the syndrome?

In a short paper, the writer would be able to dedicate just a paragraph or two to each aspect. Readers would learn a little about each one, but not much about any particular aspect.

Broad thesis statements can lead to rambling and superficial essays, in which the writer touches on several ideas but explores none in depth. These works can leave readers feeling that they have not gained much from the piece. It can be very difficult to write a strong essay with a broad thesis statement. Need proof? Imagine trying to research and prove a broad thesis like Love can overcome any obstacle." Where would you begin? What kind of research would you use?

Effective thesis statements are usually narrow--focused on just one aspect of a topic or on a very specific idea. A narrow thesis statement allows the writer to delve in more deeply. Here’s an example: Stigma, guilt, and shame prevent many women alcoholics from seeking treatment until much later than men, which contributes to women’s higher death rate from the disease. A writer could research and discuss this one facet of alcoholism in depth; readers would likely come away feeling like they had learned a lot that they didn't previously know.

The better you develop your thesis statement, the easier you'll find it to write your paper. A well-developed thesis lays out the main and supporting ideas, in the order you will take them up in the essay.

The well-developed thesis statement given above--Stigma, guilt, and shame prevent many women alcoholics from seeking treatment until much later than men, which contributes to women’s higher death rate from the disease--lays out each idea the writer will explore in the paper. As you saw previoulsy, it is easy to convert a well-developed thesis statement into a useful outline.

  • Convincingly and Credibly Supported

As an adult student with expertise in your field of work and study, you might find yourself doing some primary research--posing questions and constructing studies, surveys, and interviews to find the answers. Most of the time, though, you’ll do secondary research: you’ll look for answers in existing studies, surveys, interviews, reports, data sets, and more. Both primary and secondary research go better when you craft a narrow, well-developed thesis statement that you can support with credible, convincing evidence.

Think back to the example of the (overly broad and under-developed) thesis statement Love can overcome all obstacles. If you wanted to do primary research, what kinds of questions could you ask to get useful data? How would you select a representative sample? If you wanted to do secondary research, where would you look? You'd probably find personal anecdotes of couples who overcame extraordinary challenges, but few studies that an academic audience would consider credible evidence. No doubt the stories would be inspiring and moving, but they wouldn’t likely prove your thesis. (In fact, you’d probably find at least as many examples of the antithesis--Love cannot overcome all obstacles.)

By contrast, you could find credible evidence that proves the specific assertions that people in satisfying long-term relationships report higher levels of happiness, enjoy better physical health, and live longer than their single or their unhappily coupled peers.

You’ll probably find that you need to revise your thesis statement several times as you research your topic and write drafts of your paper. The more you learn about your topic, the more specific and developed your thesis statement will become. In fact, you might not write your final version of the thesis until your essay is close to finished.

It can feel like you're "getting nowhere" when you revise or refine your thesis statement; when you do so, you must go back through your whole essay and make necessary "tweaks." But refining and revising are normal and inevitable parts of the writing process.

FINAL NOTE: Carefully crafting your research question(s) and thesis statement takes time and effort, but it's well worth it. A thoughtful, well-written research question can help you target your searches and find better sources more quickly. A specific thesis statement can help you and your readers stay focused, and a well-developed one can provide a clear outline from which to work. Ultimately, you'll "get back" the time you put in, and save yourself much frustration.

TIP:Click the links for brief but useful information on creating effective thesis statements from:

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