In Greek Orphic tradition, Thesis, the goddess of creation, is worshiped for creating all of the matter we see in the world today.
In the academic writing world, it feels as if we are often worshiping her ourselves.
I mean, your thesis statement is kind of like the bedrock on which your paper will either live and breathe, or dissolve into primordial soup.
So it’s important that you have a solid grasp of what a thesis statement is and how to best formulate it, which is why we’ve spent so much time on the subject here at the Kibin blog.
Yet before we create our own thesis statement, it’s best that we understand the parts that make one up.
Just as the basic unit of all matter, the atom, can be divided into subatomic particles, the thesis statement can also be divided into parts. So what is it made of?
So what is a claim in an essay?
That’s what we’ll be talking about today. Before you formulate that all-important thesis statement, you must know what a claim is and how you can make yours good.
What Is a Claim in an Essay?
The purpose of most essays is to tackle a debatable topic. You begin by researching a topic and then choose a side. That’s where claims come in.
At its simplest, a claim is an argument.
However, not all arguments are created equal. For example, the old man down the street might think his climate change argument is perfectly logical, but that doesn’t mean it belongs in an academic essay.
For an academic claim to be worthy of a place in your essay, it should be complex, debatable, supported by research, and focused on the facts. No opinion allowed.
So how does this differ from the thesis? I thought it was your main argument.
Well, yes, it is. But while the overall gist of your thesis may be that climate change is bad, claims are the specific arguments that make up your thesis (e.g., widespread drought will lead to an increase in terrorism).
If we agree that the thesis is the backbone of your essay, then the claims are the vertebrae.
Now that you can answer the question that brought you here—what is a claim in an essay?—let’s look at how claims might differ.
Are There Different Types of Claims?
Although each of your claims will present an argument, not all claims will take the same approach to those arguments.
There are several approaches to making a claim. Here are the five major ones:
A claim of fact argues whether something is true. A claim in this category must be debatable. “The earth is actually flat” is not a valid claim. If you’re going to challenge something that has long been considered fact, you must be able to back it up with research.
For example, there’s competing research on how and when the dinosaurs went extinct. You could make your own claim on the matter if you have the research to back it up.
A claim of definition argues how something is defined. The idea is that you argue one thing is another thing, even though some people don’t consider it to be.
For example, you could argue that mass shootings in the United States should be considered terrorist attacks.
3. Cause and effect
A claim of cause and effect argues that one thing causes another. Again, it must be debatable. Smoking causes cancer. There is no argument there.
For example, you could argue that money in politics leads to the ineffectiveness of congress.
A claim of value requires you to argue how good or how bad your topic is. You’re going to want to steer clear of opinion here. “Baseball is the best sport” is not a valid claim because any support you come up with will be steeped in opinion.
On the other hand, you could argue that climate change will be the greatest geopolitical crisis of your lifetime.
A solution claim, also referred to as a claim of policy, takes the previous category a step further. Whereas value claims often argue how bad something like climate change is, a solution claim argues how we can best fix the problem.
For example, one could argue that the decriminalization of drugs would lower overall drug abuse rates.
What Makes a Good Claim?
Now that we’ve talked about the various ways in which you can approach a claim, let’s talk about how to ensure that your claims are good, no matter which approach you take.
You may have noticed a few warnings interspersed with the examples above. That’s because there are certain pitfalls that can tank your claims—and in turn your essay—if you’re not careful.
Keep it narrow
A thesis is supposed to be quite narrow in its scope. Your claims are even more narrow arguments within that argument. So needless to say, your claims should not have a broad focus.
Be specific about what you’re claiming, and consider breaking your claim into multiple claims if it covers too much area.
In and Out burgers are the best fast-food hamburgers. This may be true. You have my vote. But that doesn’t make this an academic claim.
This is a dead-end claim because it’s purely based on opinion. You can talk about the quality of beef all day, but some people genuinely prefer burgers made out of crappy beef. This is a sad fact of life.
Support your claims
An errant claim with nothing to back it up is like a kite with no string. It looks good, but it’s not going to work like you want it to.
So make sure you only include a claim if you’ve done the research to support it within the body of your essay.
What About Counterclaims? Should I Worry About Them?
So now that you’ve developed some strong claims that can be used in your academic essay, it’s time to look at the flip side.
Although you have lots of great research to back up your arguments, you still have to address your detractors.
A strong claim is supported not only by research that proves it, but also by the accompanying research that refutes the potential counterclaims. For example, let’s say your paper is focusing on climate change and the dangers that it poses.
You not only need to provide evidence of the dangers associated with an increasing global temperature, but you also must provide evidence that it’s not just a symptom of normal fluctuations that occur over time in the climate, but a symptom of human excess.
Addressing readers’ potential counterarguments will make your essay and your claims even stronger.
Now Let’s Talk About That Thesis Statement
As we wrap up this post on claims, let’s circle back and talk about that celestial body around which your entire essay orbits: the thesis statement.
Remember, strong claims are the building blocks of a good thesis. If your claims are weak, the gravity of your thesis will be too.
The main purpose of the thesis is to do two things:
- State the subject of your essay
- State your claim(s)
Your thesis should go at the end of your introduction so that your claims can serve as a road map of the rest of your essay.
After the thesis, you will begin to tackle each claim, one by one, supporting the claims in the body of your paper with research.
In a traditional five-paragraph essay, you’ll have an introduction at the beginning and a conclusion at the end. Between the two, you will have three body paragraphs, each one focused on supporting one of your claims.
However, many essays are shorter or longer than five paragraphs. Depending on the assignment and subject, you paper could have more than three claims or only one. This will depend on the scope of the project.
No matter which it is for you, follow the above advice and your claims will be strong, and in turn, your paper will be too. If you’re still unsure about your draft, send it over to the editors at Kibin. They will ensure your claims are strong.
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.
Sexual harassment is a growing concern for corporate America. Risk managers can pave the way to top-down culture change.
The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements opened up Pandora’s Box, launching countless public scandals and accusations. The stories that continue to emerge paint an unflattering picture of corporate America and the culture of sexual harassment that has permeated it for decades.
“The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it,” reads the official tagline of Time’s Up, one of the most vocal groups demanding change.
The GoFundMe campaign that supports the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund raised more than $16.7 million in less than a month, making it the most successful GoFundMe initiative on record.
Funds will be used to help victims of sexual harassment and assault bring legal action against harassers, as well as provide public relations consultation to manage any media attention such suits might attract.
The problem was never really a secret.
In surveys conducted since 1980 by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, 40 percent of women and 15 percent of men consistently reported being sexually harassed at work.
In a sweeping meta-analysis of 25 years’ worth of research data, published in “Personnel Psychology,” an average of 25 percent of women reported experiencing sexual harassment at work. When respondents were given clear definitions of harassing behavior, that figure shot up to 60 percent.
The current climate is just now pushing awareness to the forefront. It was reported last November that law firms in the nation’s capital are seeing a spike in inquiries about sexual harassment cases.
Laura Coppola, regional head of commercial management liability in North America, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty
In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website is seeing visits to its harassment web page double.
There’s no question the costs to businesses can be staggering. Twenty-First Century Fox reportedly incurred $50 million in costs tied to the settlement of sexual harassment and discrimination allegations in its Fox News division, as well as a $90 million settlement of shareholder claims arising from sexual harassment scandals.
In June, the company disclosed in a regulatory filing that it had $224 million in costs during the fiscal year related to “management and employee transitions and restructuring” at business units, including the group that houses Fox News.
If time is indeed up, it won’t just impact Hollywood, Silicon Valley or Capitol Hill. It will impact every workplace, in every industry.
“It affects everybody,” said Marie-France Gelot, senior vice president and insurance & claims counsel for Lockton’s Northeast Claims Advisory Group.
“I think anybody in corporate America — at some point — has seen it or been aware of it or been around it.”
“This particular phenomenon is certainly at a much wider scope than we’ve seen in the last decade or so,” said Laura Coppola, regional head of commercial management liability in North America, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty.
“This is going to touch many industries, many segments, and many people.”
Employers are beginning to wonder if their workplace could be next.
“I think if you’d been asking [insureds] a year ago, ‘Are you interested in hearing about sexual harassment prevention?’ I think the answer would have been, ‘No, we’re good, we’ve got it,’ ” said Bob Graham, vice president, HUB International Limited.
“But I think now everyone’s saying ‘Sure, yes, we’d like to hear something.’ ”
Leading the Conversation
As American workplaces come under increasing scrutiny, the time is ripe for a large-scale pivot in the way employers manage risks related to sexual harassment.
The co-chairs of the EEOC’s select task force on the study of harassment in the workplace expressed it aptly in 2016:
“With legal liability long ago established, with reputational harm from harassment well known, with an entire cottage industry of workplace compliance and training adopted and encouraged for 30 years, why does so much harassment persist and take place in so many of our workplaces? And, most important of all, what can be done to prevent it? After 30 years — is there something we’ve been missing?”
Experts in the management liability field unanimously told Risk & Insurance® these issues should be elevated to the board level and the C-suite.
“Just as cyber liability shifted rapidly from an IT discussion to a board level discussion, so too will the harassment and discrimination discussion go beyond HR and be elevated to the highest levels,” said Coppola. It will become a corporate-wide, enterprise-wide conversation.
“It’s going to take some time to get to that board level, but it’s going to have to happen,” said Paul King, national practice leader, management and professional services, USI Insurance Services.
“Risk management and HR cannot go down parallel paths, not understanding one another. Not anymore. There’s too much at stake.” — Paul King, national practice leader, management and professional services, USI Insurance Services
Risk managers, said Kelly Thoerig, U.S. employment practices liability coverage leader, Marsh, are well suited to lead this conversation, which means actively partnering with human resources, the legal department, the general counsel’s office and outside counsel.
“Just like the quarterback depends on the offensive line, on receivers, on the running backs, it’s not a one-man show,” said King. “This can’t be the risk manager operating in a vacuum; they have to be liaising with multiple parts of the organization.”
Added King, “Risk management and HR cannot go down parallel paths, not understanding one another. Not anymore. There’s too much at stake.”
Connecting with outside counsel can also be of great benefit to risk managers, said Coppola.
“[They can] provide a very independent objective view of what they see in the overall market and how their knowledge of the individual client’s best practices can be improved and enhanced to ensure that they are protecting employees and the organization.”
Brokers and carriers also may be able to offer insights and services. Unfortunately, that piece is often lost because risk management and HR are siloed.
“The [knowledge of the] services that come with the insurance policy end up with the policy — in a drawer in the risk manager’s office,” said Tom Hams, employment practice liability insurance leader, Aon.
“HR doesn’t know that they exist. Even if they’re just online blogs or something like that, they could be more meaningful to the HR department than they are to risk management.
“So it’s important to make sure that companies are aware they’ve got those tools and — more importantly — to share them internally.”
Expediting Cultural Change
The X factor that underpins every aspect of these efforts is culture, experts agreed.
“It’s not so much ‘does the company have best-in-class policies and procedures in place;’ I think many of them do. I think that a significant change needed is doing a full overhaul of corporate culture, and that’s no small feat,” said Gelot.
Paul King, national practice leader, management and professional services, USI Insurance Services
True culture change can only come from the top level. But that isn’t likely to happen unless everyone at the top understands what the scope of the exposure could be if it’s not addressed appropriately on the front end. And for that, money talks, said Thoerig, who will be presenting on the topic at RIMS 2018 in San Antonio.
“Nothing is more instructive than real tangible claims examples and settlement amounts. Arm yourself with … recent, relevant claims examples specific to the industry and the jurisdictions the company operates in.”
In addition, said King, HR and legal should be regularly feeding claims information to risk managers to share at quarterly meetings of the board and give specific updates around these issues.
Armed with that level of intelligence, top brass can set the goals that will drive all anti-harassment efforts, said experts, putting an emphasis on identifying and correcting behavior that could potentially expose a company to liability.
Better Training and Reporting
The best anti-harassment programs are multilayered, said Hams, with each facet carefully tailored to suit the employee population, the industry and the organization’s goals. A clearly defined policy is essential, stating that harassment will not be tolerated and neither will retaliation against those who report it.
The policy should be clear that employees are expected to report harassment or unacceptable behavior. Hams said he’s seen companies go so far as to state employees who don’t speak up are in violation of the policy.
“At least it should give them pause to stop and think about what they might have seen before they click the button or sign the document,” he said.
Companies should consider how uncomfortable employees may be about speaking up. An open-door policy is a start.
But there should also be multiple reporting points throughout the organization, said Hams, and an anonymous hotline for those reluctant to bring the matter up with anyone in their chain of command, and a multilingual hotline as well.
An effective training plan will have multiple moving parts and should touch every level of the organization from the executive suite to managers and supervisors to the rank and file. Comprehensive training is especially critical for the managers and supervisors who might receive or investigate complaints.
Many large employers already have training programs that can be considered best-in-class. Small to midsized employers, however, may still be using the cookie-cutter compliance-centric training that has dominated the field for decades.
The goal of this training is to hit all the bases related to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, ticking off a list of acts or speech that would be considered illegal and affirming the company will not tolerate illegal behavior.
Overwhelmingly though, this type of training misses the mark. Studies have shown that this one-size-fits-all training is ineffective, especially when it’s a rote check-the-box exercise. Employees get the message their employer doesn’t take the subject too seriously.
Worse, it can even aggravate tensions, creating more discriminatory behavior from men who avoid working with women just to eliminate the chance of being accused of anything.
One study even found that men were more likely to place blame on the victim of sexual abuse after they’d received that type of anti-harassment training.
Even at best, compliance-centric training will still fail, because it only addresses behaviors that violate the law. But there is a broad array of behavior that — while not quite illegal — shouldn’t be tolerated.
When this kind of activity is allowed to flourish unchecked, the environment becomes increasingly toxic for those on the receiving end. It also tells employees that the company will tolerate harassment as long as it’s not overly egregious. In that case, it’s just a matter of time before the company is faced with a serious claim.
“Nothing is more instructive than real tangible claims examples and settlement amounts. Arm yourself with … recent, relevant claims examples specific to the industry and the jurisdictions the company operates in.” — Kelly Thoerig, U.S. employment practices liability coverage leader, Marsh
In its 2016 report, the EEOC’s harassment task force recommended changing tactics, exploring alternative training models such as respect-based civility training — what some call professionalism training.
The theory is “if you train them to act in a professional manner, these things tend not to happen at all,” said Hams.
The EEOC also suggested bystander intervention training, which is designed to empower employees to intervene when they witness harassing behavior.
Experts agreed whatever training programs or modules a company chooses, it’s important the training material reflect the workforce and be continuous and regularly refreshed.
A certification scheme also should be put in place to ensure the training is hitting the mark. While the law does not yet require companies to prove the effectiveness of their programs, some suggest it’s only a matter of time before the courts catch up to the problem.
What’s more, said Coppola, it’s simply the right thing to do for companies that want to confirm they’ve created a culture where all employees can expect to be treated professionally.
Gelot and others believe a zero-tolerance policy should be a key component of an effective anti-harassment program.
“There are many companies that have Harvey Weinsteins and Matt Lauers and Kevin Spaceys working in their midst and those people are tolerated. Employees know about them — it’s not a secret.”
Bob Graham, vice president, HUB International Limited
Particularly when the harasser is a high-level executive, companies may wrestle with the decision to look the other way or lose a key rainmaker. In a zero-tolerance environment — one that starts at the top — the decision would be clear.
“What we saw with Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose — they were terminated immediately as the accusations came out. That’s zero tolerance. That’s sending a message to all of the employees within the company that this is completely unacceptable, we won’t tolerate it, and [it] clearly sends a message to the public at large.”
Employers should promote a workplace culture where all forms of harassment and discrimination are unacceptable and reportable, said Gelot. That’s the only way to take the fear and the stigma out of reporting.
That said, the EEOC offers a word of caution on zero-tolerance policies applied militantly without regard for common sense. Employers should hash out the specifics of which acts merit immediate termination versus a warning.
Overzealous application of the zero-tolerance doctrine can backfire if an employee fears her coworker’s children will go hungry if she reports his lewd or sexist jokes.
Creating a Dialogue
As with managing any other exposure that touches everyone, robust sharing of ideas and best practices has the power to improve the risk profile of entire industry sectors.
Facebook raised eyebrows in December, making public its sexual harassment policy in full.
“I hope in sharing it we will start a discussion, both to help smaller companies thinking about this for the first time, and to improve our own practices by learning from other companies,” wrote Lori Goler, Facebook’s global VP of people, about the company’s bold move.
That level of disclosure is making some risk professionals uncomfortable. But others acknowledge the wisdom of it.
“Any time you can share best practices that’s probably a great idea, because no one has all the answers … or at least not all the right answers,” said Graham.
“There’s a reason they did that, and I think it’s for all the right, positive reasons. They want to drive the momentum that is going to reduce or even eliminate what we have seen in corporate America over the last 50-plus years. They want to lead by example, they want to be the model and rightly so,” added Coppola.
“I think we are at a perfect time in our economic environment that allows the evolution of equality in our workplace.”
Part of that should involve making the workplace more egalitarian, said Gelot, and figuring out “how to make female employees not feel ostracized by a ‘boys’ club’ atmosphere, and actively championing the ascension of women into senior rolls.”
“We can’t focus on the past,” said Coppola. “But we can work very hard collectively as a community, and within the insurance industry specifically, to move forward.” &
Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]