An essay thesis is appropriate for disciplines in which the student’s education focuses on the development of rhetorical skills or professional opinions, such as literary criticism, creative writing, homiletics, and other fields in the humanities. Students who are writing essay theses should propound well-developed, defensible positions with excellent rhetorical and persuasive skills.
First, the student who is writing an essay thesis should choose a topic and should then research that topic as thoroughly as possible. The student should choose a topic about which he or she feels some sense of conviction, because a strong essay thesis depends on the writer’s ability to express eloquently a position on a subject, which becomes a much easier task if the writer actually feels strongly about that position. After selecting the topic, the student should use all available means in order to gain a thorough knowledge of it, including reading textual research, interviewing authoritative persons in the field, and gathering all relevant data.
Then, the student should write an essay thesis primarily from the viewpoint of his or her own opinions, but in order to convince the skeptical reader effectively, he or she should incorporate compelling research, expert opinions, and statistics whenever they fit in well with the flow of the argument.
Students who are unsure of the correct balance between opinion and evidence should at least make sure that the introduction and conclusion state the writer’s opinion unambiguously and that the main idea of each section comes directly from the writer’s voice, not from outside research. Also, the footnotes or parenthetical citations should not overwhelm the page as in a research paper; instead, each page should contain only a small number of references to outside sources. On the other hand, if the student generally falls too heavily on the side of personal opinion and does not provide enough outside evidence, he or she should go back through the text in subsequent revisions and add a few relevant quotes or data.