When is a thesis considered weak?

What is a weak thesis? How can a weak thesis be revised to make it stronger and more insightful? How should a thesis be developed?

When is a thesis considered weak?

A well-developed thesis statement should clearly and concisely communicate the main point, purpose, or argument of a paper. A weak thesis may be unfocused, incomplete, or inaccurate in some way. Building a focused, accurate thesis can be a challenge, but revising a weak thesis to make it complete and insightful will strengthen the paper’s foundation.

Related Concepts: Organizational Schema; Thesis, Research Question, Hypothesis, Title; Weak Thesis


How can a weak thesis be revised to make it stronger and more insightful?

  • Avoid asking a question: Clearly state a purpose or position rather than posing a question.
    • Weak: Should schools require students to take Physical Education courses or play a school sport?
    • Revised: A productive form of physical activity should be offered by schools to encourage healthy exercise habits and to lower childhood obesity rates.
  • Avoid making a statement of fact or accepted knowledge: Establish a thesis that is arguable, and state the how or why of the position clearly.
    • Weak: Taking affirmative action is a way to confront discrimination.
    • Revised: Taking affirmative action is still necessary today to confront discrimination and ensure fair representation of gender and ethnicity within universities and workplaces.
  • Avoid simply stating an opinion: A thesis should state a position that is supported by reliable evidence.
    • Weak: Marijuana should not be legalized because smoking it is morally wrong.
    • Revised: Marijuana should not be legalized because research has shown that its use negatively affects brain cells, compromises the user’s judgment, and can become addictive.

  • Avoid vague statements: Replace vague terms with relevant details that address the who, what, where, when, why, and/or how of the thesis.
    • Weak: Teenagers have things easier than in the past due to several advancements in society.
    • Revised: Today’s teenagers can access information quickly and easily due to technological advancements such as the wide availability of computers, high-speed Internet connections, and electronically searchable databases.
  • Avoid including conflicting ideas and unnecessary information: Focus consistently on one main idea and include only relevant details that support your idea.
    • Weak: Providing iPads for each student is probably an unrealistic goal because damaging cuts are being made to educational spending, but this new technology should be provided as it is a useful tool for teaching students several skills.
    • Revised: Public schools should provide an iPad for each student because the device can be used as a helpful teaching tool in a variety of subject areas.

How should a thesis be developed?

The topic

  • e. g., unwanted teen pregnancy

The main point, purpose, or argument

  • e. g., incidence can be reduced

The how or why of the purpose or argument

  • e. g., by providing support for abstinence programs, increasing funding for sex education, and making contraceptives more accessible to teens

Example of a well-developed thesis:

The incidence of unwanted teen pregnancies can be reduced by providing support for abstinence programs, increasing funding for sex education, and making contraceptives more accessible to teens.

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