Clarifying the Focus of Your Thesis Statement
Once you have determined your thesis statement, you must clarify and support it through research and fine tuning. Through choosing your words wisely, you ensure the subject of your paper, the position it takes and the scope of it are clear. Your thesis should do three things once it is clarified:
- Identify the focus and scope of your paper
- Clue your readers into the focus of your paper
- Lay out your argument or position in clear terms
The rest of this article shows you how to clarify the focus of your thesis statement using the same example thesis.
Original thesis: Insurance should be affordable, not just accessible, and insurance companies should work with people to help them choose the best plan coverage based on people’s needs.
Focus and scope of your thesis statement
First, you must decide on your focus and scope. The example thesis is too broad. It covers two areas: health insurance should be affordable and companies should work with people. In this case, you want to decide on one or the other. In addition, you need to specify the type of insurance.
Revised thesis: Health insurance should be affordable, not just accessible.
Supporting points to focus your thesis statement
Second, you want to determine the supporting points for your thesis statement. While you do not want to put every detail into the thesis, you do want to give readers an indication of the main point supporting your position.
Revised thesis: Health insurance should be affordable, not just accessible, so that the people that need it the most can afford it.
Specific terms to focus your thesis statement
Third, you want to get specific with the terms you choose to define, focus and clarify your thesis. Questions you might ask to do this include the following:
- Who should enforce affordable health insurance?
- Who needs insurance the most?
- What about employer-provided insurance?
- Should there be a law against high insurance premiums?
After answering those questions, you should be able to get more specific with your focus.
Revised thesis: The government should mandate, through law, that health insurance be both accessible and affordable to people who do not have access to employer-provided insurance and who fall above the income level for government health programs.
Through the process of clarifying your thesis, you narrow down the ideas to present in your paper. You avoid a too simple or too complex thesis, show the main supporting point and identify an exception. All of these things show your readers what to expect in your paper.
Example Focus Sentences
This handout illustrates the importance of establishing a focus in topic sentences and thesis statements. You can also use it as an overhead.
Unfocused: Too many people treat animals badly in experiments.
Focused: The cosmetic industry often harms animals in unnecessary experiments designed to test their products.
Unfocused: Grades are an unfair pain in the neck.
Focused: Course grades based solely on one term paper don't accurately measure a student's knowledge on a subject.
Unfocused: Getting the right job is important and can lead to rewarding experiences.
Focused: Getting the right job can lead to an improved sense of self-esteem.
Unfocused: The Fourth of July picnic was a big success.
Focused: Everyone at the Fourth of July picnic ate well, enjoyed the swimming pool, and had a chance to chat with old friends.