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Thesis Paper

How to write a paper that explains, supports and defends a thesis.

A "thesis" paper is an essay in which a writer states, explains, and gives a supporting argument for a thesis, and then defends that thesis, or their argument, against at least one opposing argument. It consists of the following paragraphs or sections:

  1. Thesis paragraph.
  2. Support paragraph, (or set of paragraphs).
  3. Defense paragraph, (or set of paragraphs).
  4. (Optional) second defense paragraph (or set of paragraphs).
  5. (Optional) Further defense paragraphs as desired by the writer.

Thesis Paragraph

A thesis paragraph says what your thesis is, and then adds any necessary supporting details, examples or background.  It does not include anything that "leads up" to the thesis. It does not include any general or historical statements that are not strictly necessary for the reader to make sense of the thesis. It is not an "introduction" in the sense that English Composition teachers use that term.

Support Paragraph

A support paragraph (or section) explains the main argument or arguments that persuaded you that your thesis is correct. (If you don't have these arguments ready before you start writing, you did it wrong.)

Defense Paragraph

A defense paragraph defends your thesis and argument against opposing arguments and criticisms. A defense paragraph has two parts:

Part One: Statement of opposing argument or criticism. In this part of a defense paragraph, you fully and fairly describe either an argument against your thesis, or a criticism of the argument you gave in your support paragraph (which, of course, you fully considered as part of your prewriting process), so that your readers have a clear, complete, and correct idea of one way in which your thesis might be attacked or undermined. (If you couldn't have done this before you started writing, you did it wrong.)

Part Two: Critique of that opposing argument or criticism. This will critique the opposing argument or criticism given in part one. (If you ignore the main point of that argument, you're doing it wrong.) Here is where you explain why you found that argument against your thesis, or that criticism of your argument, unpersuasive. (If you couldn't have done this before you started writing, you did it wrong.)

Remember, the second part of the defense paragraph addresses the points and discusses the criticisms given in the first part. If you change the subject and start repeating stuff you said in the support paragraph YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!

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