How to Write a Paper With an Open Thesis Statement

Using an open thesis statement allows writers the freedom to create an essay that touches on many topics. However, with that openness comes a certain amount of difficulty. Because an open thesis statement does not offer one, concrete direction for the paper, the final copy can seem disjointed and lack coherence. Making sure an open thesis statement paper has a unifying theme is one of the most important aspects to keep in mind. The length of the essay will depend upon the assignment, so be sure to check with the instructor.

Develop the open thesis statement. And open thesis is more a generalization than an explicit detailing of the paper. If writing on race in American television, an open thesis statement might read: "The portrayal of race in American television is problematic."

Create an outline for the essay. The decision to use an open thesis typically means the writer has a number of topics he wishes to cover and the outline will allow him to organize those topics in a way that makes sense to the reader. Different topics for the race in American television essay may include lack of ethnic portrayal, overt racism, implied racism, perpetuation of stereotypes or the obvious insertion of a different race for ratings.

Compose an introductory paragraph that recognizes the nature of the paper. Because so many different topics will be discussed throughout the paper, use the introduction to explain why such a generalization of each topic is necessary rather than an in-depth analysis of one particular topic.

Employ transition sentences at the beginning of each paragraph. Explain to the reader why the essay is shifting from a discussion of explicit racism in American television to analyzing implicit racism. While the explicit racism portrayed in American television presents a certain set of problems, the implicit racism is perhaps far more problematic.

Develop a comprehensive conclusion paragraph that summarizes all of the major points discussed in the paper. If composing a five-paragraph essay, the conclusion should recognize the three major points made. Although the points made will tend toward the simplistic, because an open thesis is "harder for the writer to control," be sure to let the reader know why each point is important.


Use multiple, authoritative sources to give credibility to the essay.

Open thesis statements are typically discouraged by instructors. Check with the instructor to make sure an open thesis is appropriate for the essay.

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