What Is a “Working Thesis” statement ?
The thesis statement declares the main point or controlling idea of your entire research. A working thesis statement is Frequently located near the beginning of a short essay, the thesis answers these questions:
“What is the subject of this essay?”
“What is the writer’s opinion on this subject?”
“What is the writer’s purpose in this research topic?” (to explain something? to argue a position? to move people to action? to entertain?).
Consider a “working thesis” a statement of your main point in its trial or rough-draft form. Allow it to “work” for you as you move from prewriting through drafts and revision. Your working thesis may begin as a very simple sentence. For example, one of the freewriting exercises on nature in Chapter 1 (pages 8–9) might lead to a working thesis such as “Our college needs an on-campus recycling center.” Such a working thesis states
an opinion about the subject (the need for a center) and suggests what the essay will do (give arguments for building such a center). Similarly, the prewriting list on running (page 7) might lead to a working thesis such as “Before beginning a successful program, novice runners must learn a series of warm-up and cool-down exercises.” This statement not only tells the writer’s opinion and purpose (the value of the exercises) but also indicates an audience (novice runners).
A working thesis statement can be your most valuable organizational tool. Once you have thought about your essay’s main point and purpose, you can begin to draft your paper to accomplish your goals. Everything in your essay should support your thesis. Consequently, if you write your working thesis statement at the top of your first draft and refer to it often, your chances of drifting away from your purpose should be reduced.
It’s important for you to know at this point that there may be a difference between the working thesis that appears in your rough drafts and your final thesis. As you begin drafting, you may have one main idea in mind that surfaced from your prewriting activities. But as you write, you may discover that what you really want to write about is different. Perhaps you discover that one particular part of your essay is really what you want to
concentrate on (instead of covering three or four problems you have with your current job, for instance, you decide you want to explore in depth only the difficulties with your boss), or perhaps in the course of writing you find another approach to your subject more satisfying or persuasive (explaining how employees may avoid problems with a particular kind of difficult boss instead of describing various kinds of difficult bosses in
Changing directions is not uncommon: writing is an act of discovery. Frequently we don’t know exactly what we think or what we want to say until we write it. A working thesis appears in your early drafts to help you focus and organize your essay; don’t feel it’s carved in stone.
A warning comes with this advice, however. If you do write yourself into another essay—that is, if you discover as you write that you are finding a better topic or main point to make—consider this piece of writing a “discovery draft,” extended prewriting that has helped you find your real focus. Occasionally, your direction changes so slightly that you can rework or expand your thesis to accommodate your new ideas. The article on ‘What is A working thesis statement ?’ explains what it is for you are a research scholar.
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