Posted: April 23rd, 2016

How to develop a thesis?


You should also avoid complex “solution” topics, such as “how to solve poverty” or “how to eliminate racism.” The topics and their potential solutions are simply too involved and complex to discuss fully in eight pages or less. Simple argumentative topics, such as “parking should be free at VVC,” are much better suited for this assignment. Save the world-changing topics for a longer project.


You must use at least 4 sources in your essay. Remember, it’s crucial in an argumentative essay to present both (or multiple) sides of an issue fairly, so don’t take all of your sources from people with opinions similar to your own. The Opposing Viewpoints resources in the VVC library (they’re available online in the Databases section of the library’s website) may be helpful. To access database material, you will need to apply for a password. Follow the directions on the library website to do so.


For help with proper MLA citation form, go to for explanations and examples. The VVC library website also has some helpful MLA guidelines (look under “research”). You can also try It’s not perfect, but it will format your source information relatively well, in terms of MLA standards. Finally, I suggest that you all read the “avoiding plagiarism” material found at Remember, anything you use from an outside source, regardless of whether you quote, paraphrase or summarize, must be cited, and any time you copy four words or more verbatim from another source it must be placed inside quotation marks as well.


Developing a Thesis

A thesis is, quite simply, the primary assertion or claim that you will argue and support in a research essay. It’s often helpful to begin with a research question. The Issue Proposal will ask you to do just that. A research question is NOT a thesis. A thesis is the ANSWER to that question. So, you might write in your Issue Proposal, “Did Barack Obama’s first-term cabinet appointments really represent “Change we Need””? In your essay, after researching the topic, you would answer that question, writing something like: “Barack Obama’s first-term cabinet appointments, virtually all of whom were former Clinton cabinet members or associates, represent (or do not represent) positive change.” THAT would be a thesis. Remember, thesis statements must be arguable (reasonable people could take either side of the issue) and limited (keep the topic manageable).

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