Ten ways to know if a “thesis” is really a thesis?

A thesis is a declarative sentence, never a question.  “Who was the best US President?” is not a thesis because it is a question.  “Washington was the best US President” is a thesis providing the word “best” is precisely defined.  If “best” is not precisely defined, then this is not a thesis because “best” is vague.

Detective with a magnifying glass inspecting a newspaper.A thesis states an opinion which can be defended or countered. “Laws should prevent children younger than 18 from marrying.”  This is a thesis.  It is an opinion which can be supported by evidence.  It can be objected to with other evidence.

A thesis is not a statement of facts which can be verified.  “Washington is the only President to be elected unanimously” is not a thesis because research shows this is a factual statement.

A thesis is not an opinion of personal taste.  “I need to attend college” is not a thesis.  It cannot be researched scientifically.

A thesis is stated positively, not negatively.  “Washington was not the best US President” is not a thesis.

A thesis does not use biased or untruthful language.  “Dangerous hand guns should not be sold” is not a thesis.  “Dangerous” is a biased word.

A thesis uses precise language.  “Some amphibians should be put on the endangered species list” is not a thesis.  “Some” is not precise.

A thesis is about one idea, but that one idea can be subdivided.  “The US Civil War had two causes:  slavery and states’ rights” is a thesis.  This thesis is about the causes of the Civil War (one idea).  “Roses are easier to grow than irises but harder to grow than day lilies” is not a thesis.  It contains two separate ideas.

A thesis is researchable using scientific evidence or the scientific method. “Nothing escapes black holes” is not a thesis.  Scientific research has proven this statement to be false.  “More two-year-olds today are fat than in Boston in 1776” is not a thesis because it is impossible to research how many two-year-olds were fat in Boston in 1776.

A thesis deals with real, not conditional or hypothetical information. “If Elvis were alive today he would be a billionaire” is not a thesis because Elvis is not alive today.

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