Term Paper Tech

Topic selection, research tips, sample papers, writing help


Step 2: Your Thesis Statement

If you have never written a term paper before, the thesis statement may seem confusing and difficult. But it really isn't. The thesis statement is the main idea of your paper. What are you writing about? What are you going to prove in your paper? Make your thesis statement and then think about what a person with a differing opinion might say. If it is easy for you to think of arguments that the opposing side could make, then it is probably a good topic for your term paper. If there is no "opposing" view, then perhaps you should rethink your thesis statement.

Every paper has a point. A term paper is not just a compilation of facts that you have accumulated from your sources. You must make a statement and then prove that statement, using your own words. Any information from your sources may be thought of as evidence that your position is correct.

Keep in mind that your thesis statement may need to be revised as you write. Your research may take your paper in a different direction than what you intended. Your position on an issue may change as you learn more about your topic, or the amount of available resources about your topic may be focused in a direction that takes you away from your original thesis statement. Therefore, it is necessary to keep an open mind as you work through this process.

For the sample term paper on Grace Murray Hopper, the opening paragraph, including your thesis statement could read as follows:

No scientist has made greater contributions to the field of computer programming, and to the advancement of women in computer science, than Grace Murray Hopper. In Murray-Hopper's era, most women were wives and mothers. Those who worked outside the home were employed in primarily female occupations--housekeepers, office workers, or teachers. Murray-Hopper was no exception in that her first occupation after graduating from college was teaching. However, unlike most female teachers who taught elementary school, Hopper joined the Vassar College faculty in 1928.

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