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Providing Support for Your Thesis Help (page 2)

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Updated on Sep 6, 2011

Using Reasons in Your Thesis

For many essays, the best way to support your thesis is to explain why you think the way you do. That explanation will lay out your reasons—some will be facts, others will be opinions. The key to this type of support is logic. Your reasons must be based on evidence or good common sense. That is, they must be logical.

To meet that standard, many reasons need considerable support. They can't simply be stated with an expectation that the audience will believe them. Here is another thesis:

School officials should not be allowed to randomly search students' lockers and backpacks.

For support, the following reasons could be used:

  • These searches violate the right to privacy.
  • Searches should not be done randomly, but only when there is a suspected violation.

Both of these reasons are opinions, and they need support to be convincing. The writer must use evidence to show that these opinions are logical and reasonable. To support the first reason, he could define the right to privacy (a combination of specific examples, facts, and description); he could provide an example or describe a certain situation where a search led to a violation of privacy (specific example, anecdote); and provide expert opinion.

To support the second assertion, he could explore the idea that "random searches" can lead to profiling of who is searched, and that without a suspected violation, everyone then becomes a suspect unless otherwise cleared of a violation; and provide expert opinion.

Of course, people's reasons for believing certain things are often very personal and highly debatable. While it's fine—and often effective—to use emotional arguments to convince your readers, the more logical your reasons, the more effective they will be as support.

Description and Anecdotes

Evidence and support can also come in the form of short stories or descriptions that illustrate a point. Descriptions and anecdotes are effective evidence—especially in essays about people—because they help the reader form a picture that illuminates your ideas. In the following thesis, the writer addresses a college application essay topic:

The person I admire most is my sister. I call her Wonder Woman. A professional who copes daily with the most stressful and potentially depressing situations, she is the strongest person I know.

The best kind of support for this essay will be description and anecdote—a series of "snapshots" and stories that illustrate the sister's strength. Here's an example:

Amy's job with the Division of Youth and Family Services is incredibly stressful. Every day for the past five years, she has visited families who are struggling with addiction, abuse, poverty, and hopelessness. One family has been "in the system" for a decade, cycling through the same problems without resolution. But instead of burning out, Amy's compassion and resolve have increased. She visits this family weekly, and is available to them almost 24 hours a day if a crisis arises. Once, she was awakened at three in the morning when the teenager in this family failed to come home. She got in her car and drove to their apartment, then called the police and helped them file a missing persons report. And this is just one family under her watch.

Similarly, to support the assertions that searches of students' lockers and backpacks should not be allowed, you could describe a search in which a student was unfairly accused and blamed for a crime. The following description appeared in a law journal article about such as case:

Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and flip-flops, Sam Mazza looked dejected as he made his first court appearance. He was facing three years in prison for a crime he says was intended as a private joke. His spirits appeared to lift, however, when his attorney carefully laid out his case: The search of every locker in the school was unconstitutional. When Mazza's principal ordered the search, he was in violation of the "reasonable suspicion" component of legal searches. Since the note about a bomb threat (Mazza contends it was a joke) was found during an illegal search, the case had to be dropped. Mazza sat taller in his seat and smiled at his parents when his attorney concluded his remarks.

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