What is a thesis? What distinguishes a thesis from a purpose? When composing, how can I best identify and express my thesis?

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What is a thesis?

A thesis is

Related Concepts: Organizational Schema; Professional Writing Prose Style

Note: Some people consider thesis and purpose to be synonymous terms. Others view purpose to be a broader classification of discourse and thesis to be a more specific message or argument.

A writer’s thesis is the writer’s north star.

Writer’s, speaker’s, or knowledge worker’s . . . need to know their purpose, their reason for writing, in order to know how they need to compose their texts or submit those texts to their intended audiences.

A thesis may be expressed as

While writers need to know what their purpose is for communicating in order to communicate clearly, concisely, and in a unified manner, they do not necessarily need to explicitly state their theses. In fact, there are some rhetorical circumstances when the tone and voice might be better served by leaving the context and purpose unsaid, implied, tacit.

Thesis Statements are commonplace in Workplace contexts. It is commonplace–especially in workplace writing–for writers, speakers, knowledge workers . . . to explicitly state their thesis in the first or second sentence of their texts. This sort of approach is sometimes called a Direct Style as opposed to an Indirect Style, or a Deductive Approach as opposed to an Inductive Approach.

Examples of genres of discourse that emploay a direct style include business correspondence, executive abstracts, abstracts, executive summaries, and introductions to workplace writing.

However, there are occasions when it’s rhetorically most strategic for a writer, speaker, knowledge worker . . . to view the context to be so routine that it goes without saying between the writer and the reader, the speaker and the audience.

What are the functions of a thesis?

The thesis functions in several important ways:

  • It informs the reader of the paper’s direction

The thesis announces the direction of the paper’s conversation. Readers may find the paper’s position or argument more convincing if they know what to expect as they read.

  • It places boundaries on the paper’s content

The body of the paper provides support for the thesis. Only evidence and details that relate directly to the paper’s main ideas should fall within the boundary established by the thesis.

  • It determines how the content will be organized

The thesis summarizes the message or conclusion the reader is meant to understand and accept. A logical progression of these ideas and their supporting evidence helps shape the paper’s organization.

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