What a Thesis Isn't


A thesis is not a title

A title can often give the reader some notion of what the thesis is going to be, but it is not the thesis itself. The thesis itself, as presented in the thesis statement, does not suggest the main idea--it is the main idea. Remember, too, that a thesis statement will always be a complete sentence; there is no other way to make a statement.


Titles Versus Theses


Title: Not a Thesis
Thesis Statement

Homes and Schools

Parents ought to participate more in the education of their children.

Mick Jagger on the Move

Mick Jagger's ability to change his public image as public tastes change distinguishes him as the one Rolling Stone who has gathered no moss.

Inflation and Old Age

Continuing inflation makes it almost impossible to plan intelligently for one's retirement.

A Shattering experience

My fall from the fifth floor of my glass house was certainly a shattering experience.


A thesis is not an announcement of the subject

A thesis takes a stand. It expresses an attitude toward the subject. It is not simply the subject itself.

Subjects Versus Theses


Announcement of Subject: Not a Thesis
Thesis Statement

My subject is the competence of Professor X.

Professor X is a dynamic, forceful teacher.

I want to share some of my thoughts on our space program.

Space exploration is a waste of tax money.

The thesis of this paper is the difficulty of environmental problems.

Solving our environmental problems is more difficult than most people believe.


A thesis is not a statement of absolute fact

A thesis makes a judgement or interpretation. There's no way to spend a whole paper supporting a statement that needs no support.

Facts Versus Theses


Fact: Not a Thesis

Jane Austen is the author of several nineteenth-century novels.

The capital of Arkansas is Little Rock.

Suicide is the deliberate act of taking one's own life.

There are four Ninja Turtles on the Saturday morning cartoon.

Many people have cats as household pets.

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