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ANTH/RELS 440: Religion & Culture

Research guide for ANTH/RELS 440

Writing your thesis statement

A thesis statement clearly identifies the topic being discussed, includes the points discussed in the paper, and is written for a specific audience. Your thesis statement belongs at the end of your first paragraph, also known as your introduction. Use it to generate interest in your topic and encourage your audience to continue reading. 

A strong thesis statement is refutable and specific. It makes a new point about theory or examines how two ideas relate in a new way. I adapts or critiques someone else's argument. Strong research thesis statements are:

  • Specific: talk about a specific idea rather than a broad theme, the more concrete the better. 
  • Text-based: your argument should arise from the text, your interview, or ethnographic research; it should not be an imposition of your own personal moral or ethical views. Don't cast judgment on the social actors.
  • Unified: be sure that you're arguing one thing, and avoid bifurcated thesis statements.
  • Not too obvious: your paper should point out something that isn't immediately obvious to someone without a close examination of the texts or ethnographic data. Make sure that what you're writing about demands that a paper be written about it.
  • Refutable: it should be possible to come up with a reasonable and valid counter argument to your thesis statement.


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