Adapted by Liz Delf, Rob Drummond, and Kristy Kelly
Once you’ve started to catch the rhythm of the ongoing conversation, it’s time to find a way to put your perspective into words. Bear in mind that your thesis statement should evolve as you research, draft, and revise: you might tweak the wording, adjust your scope, or change your position or even your entire topic in the course of your work.
Let’s look at three kinds of claims, three sorts of postures that you might take to articulate your stance as a thesis.
Claim of Phenomenon
“Obesity rates correlate with higher
rates of poverty.”
A claim of phenomenon makes an argument about whether something is true. It indicates that your essay will explore a measurable but arguable happening.
Claims of phenomenon are often more straightforward but should still be arguable and worth discussion.
Claim of Evaluation
“The healthiest nations are those with economic safety nets.”
A claim of evaluation makes a judgment about the quality of something. This indicates that your essay will determine something that is better, worse, overrated, valuable, and so on.
Claims of evaluation require you to make an informed judgment based on evidence. In this example, the student would have to establish a metric for “healthy” in addition to exploring the way that economic safety nets promote healthful behaviors—What makes someone “healthy,” and why are safety nets a pathway to health?
Claim of Policy
“State and federal governments should create educational programs, develop infrastructure, and establish food-stamp benefits to promote healthy eating for people experiencing poverty.”
A claim of policy makes an argument about what should be done. This indicates that your essay will propose a plan of action to best address an issue.
Claims of policy do the most heavy lifting: they articulate a stance that requires action, from the reader or from another stakeholder. A claim of policy often uses the word “should.”
You may notice that these claims can be effectively combined at your discretion. Sometimes, when different ideas overlap, it’s absolutely necessary to combine them to create a cohesive stance. For instance, in the example above, the claim of policy would require the author to establish a claim of phenomenon too: before advocating for action, the author must demonstrate what that action responds to.
The original chapter, Interacting with Sources by Shane Abrams, is from EmpoWord: A Student-Centered Anthology and Handbook for College Writers