On the Thesis Statement

The kind of writing you are doing for your senior thesis most likely will require a thesis statement. You will first want to engage your reader perhaps with a description, an example, an anecdote or a question. But then you should be able to state in a sentence or two the main point of your paper. The thesis statement should not be so broad and general so as to spark no interest or controversy.

For example, your thesis should never just state an obvious fact, e.g.,

"The Meiji Restoration occurred in 1868."

Nor should it be so bland as to not generate any interest:

"The Meiji Restoration was important in Japan's historical development."

A more engaging thesis statement would be something like:

"In April 1868, the world that Japanese once knew was rocked by an ominous declaration but it would be incorrect to place too much emphasis on this one point in time. If we wish to understand the Meiji Restoration, we must venture back in time and probe deeply into the nature of social class in late eighteenth-century Japan in order to trace the origins of this major historical transformation."

In other words, you should take some kind of stand:

To write on the topic of X is both timely and relevant because. . .

There are tons of online guides to constructing a decent thesis statement. Here is one from Indiana University:


Feel free to peruse others but you should bring in a tentative thesis statement with your research design on Feb. 17.