Chapter Five: Where Can We Find a Compelling Thesis?

Within Every Great Thesis Is a stimulating Question

  • Inquiry builds new knowledge or understanding by posing questions, gathering information and processing that information
  • How can you develop a thesis that is original or develop an argument that people have not already heard?
    • Keep Reading. Scholars write from success. Find good sources.
    • Apply your perspective. You have knowledge or life experience that your professor does not.
    • Make your own luck. Stumbling accidentally onto a topic can happen.
    • Challenge yourself. Arguments demonstrate evidence of thinking.
    • Talk with others. Conversation often sparks great ideas.
    • Try freewriting.

Ask The Right Questions

  • Scholars cannot always identify significant questions and problems without some help.

Imagine that you want to write an argument about the media's influence on the body image. To develop a good thesis, you may develop a list of questions about your topic based on 5 categories of controversies.

  • Controversies about existence of fact
    • Is it true? Did it happen?
  • Controversies about definition or interpretation
    • Does this case fit the definition? How do we interpret this information?
  • Controversies about cause, consequence, or circumstance
    • Was it intentional? Are there extenuating circumstances?
  • Controversies about evaluation
    • Is it right or wrong? Is it serious enough to warrant our attention?
  • Controversies about jurisdiction, procedure, policy, or actions to be taken
    • What, if anything should we do about it?

So, What's a Good Question?

  • You can ask a bad a question when it comes to creating a thesis
  • Good questions, that lead to good answers, are challenging, compelling and controversial. Keep the three C's in mind when developing good research questions:

Challenging. Don't ask questions when you already know the answer. Pursue questions that require some kind of proof, scientific data, or investigation. These questions push you and your readers intellectually because they inspire careful, critical, and creative thinking.

Compelling. Good questions have significant consequences or implications for real people or real situations, even if the effects are mostly theoretical. The issues are important to the intended audience, and scholars are invested in finding reliable answers.

Controversial. Great questions don't need to be scandalous, but they usually inspire some degree of disagreement among readers concerning the best solution to a problem or answer to a question that has a spark of tension can lead to a more provocative agreement.

When brainstorming questions, see whether they fit the criteria of stimulating questions by asking yourself:

  • Which questions are most controversial, interesting, or complicated to answer
  • Which questions already have obvious, simple, or commonly known answers
  • Is this question expansive and sophisticated enough for me to fulfill my assignment's page requirement, yet narrow enough for me to investigate it deeply within the page limit.
  • How might I answer this question? What methods could I use?
  • Do I have the time and resources - such as access to relevant book and articles, labs, contact with experts - that I'll need to answer this question

These practical questions help us determine what we accomplish with the constraint of a writing task which are:

  • Available time
  • Available knowledge
  • Available space

*When writer's select a question or thesis thats simply too big, their arguments typically lack focus.

Dig Narrow and Deep Rather Than Broad and Shallow

You can find the strongest thesis statement by:

  1. Investigating a controversy thoroughly to identify the best questions that people haven't answered fully yet
  2. Selecting challenging, compelling, and controversial questions
  3. Focusing on the later controversy categories

Can I Change My Thesis

You should probably change your thesis. The purpose of investigation is to discover knowledge. It is good to allows investigations to change your perspective on a topic, which is why we begin with questions and hypotheses, rather than making up our mind before we begin our research.

Settling on a thesis before writing closes off opportunities to learn

Writing an Evolving Thesis
An argument that has an evolving thesis builds and becomes more complicated, narrow or more detailed as the paper progresses. This kind of thesis offers different advantages such as:

  • To show readers your evolving thoughts
  • To build a complicated argument
  • To develop a controversial argument
  • To keep the reader interested or surprised

Titanic Thesis Statements
Two Sinkers to stay clear of:

  • Cliche arguments
  • "Interesting" agruments

Infuse a Little Style
Thesis statements can engage readers through their ideas and through their form

  • we aim for thesis statements that are both provocative and clear
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