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History: Step 2: Developing a Thesis Statement

A guide to help both history majors and students enrolled in history courses jump-start their research.

Forming a Thesis Statement

If you have identified your research topic, and you have gathered primary source materials, it's time to formulate a thesis statement. Remember, a thesis has a definable, arguable claim.  It's not a question, a list of points, a hypothetical "what-if" argument, or restatement of someone else's ideas. It's YOUR argument for or against something. 

I like to think of it as a math problem:  A + B = C.  You probably have two ideas (A+B) that, when filtered through the lens of your primary source research, creates a final argument or new interpretation (C). The equation could also be stated this way:  Point A, because of point B, lead to argument C.

If you would like further assistance with thesis statements or writing papers in general, the Writing Center is available on the second floor of the Library.  The tutors are more than happy to help you and are available anytime from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.