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October 16, 2015 - Posted to Writing
How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper – Giving Your Paper Purpose and Focus
You’ve heard about thesis statements since high school. Your essays and papers should all have one, so that the reader is aware of both your topic and your purpose or position. Defining a thesis statement is a bit complicated, because it can have different purposes. In general, however, it clarifies the purpose of “why” you have writing the paper, rather than the “What.” Given this, it may do any of the following:
- It may present a position or an assertion about your topic. For example, “The amount of time children spend watching TV or “glued” to their devices should be limited.” Notice, this is not the topic. The topic is the amount of time that children spend watching TV or on their devices. The thesis statement is your opinion about it.
- It may summarize the conclusion you have reached about the topic of your paper. “The evidence clearly shows that we are losing entire species of wildlife at the fastest rate in man’s history.”
- It may explain to the reader the direction of or purpose for writing the paper. “”While slavery is certainly considered the overriding cause of the Civil War, there were other factors involved as well.”
- A thesis statement for a research paper may posit that there is a definite relationship between two phenomena. “Fracking in Oklahoma and Kansas began in earned about 4 years ago. At about the same time the number of earthquakes in both states began to increase. Today these sates have about 3 times the number of earthquakes than before fracking was introduced.” Notice that this thesis statement is more than one sentence long – this if often the case with topics for research paper, because those topics are more complex.
Hopefully, the above statements with examples have answered the question, what is a good thesis statement for a research paper. Now we need to look at how you can develop one for your research paper.
The Process for development of good thesis statements for research papers
Once you have your topic identified, you will want to conduct some initial research before trying to write a thesis statement. As you do the research, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why is this topic important for a reader? Is there information or data that is not commonly known?
- Is the topic controversial and, if so, what opinion are you developing on it?
- Are there connections between events that should be the focus of this paper?
- Is evidence being given that clearly points to a certain conclusion?
Writing a Draft Thesis Statement for Research Paper Focus
Once you have determined which question your topic and early research answers best, you are ready to write a rough thesis statement. For example, if you were to write a paper on the topic of the influence of the automobile on American society, you are probably looking at the last question in the series above. Strong evidence is being given, that the automobile probably influenced and changed 20th century American society more than any other invention. (Note: if you were going to speak to the late 20th and early 21st centuries, computers would be a strong contender here, so narrow your topic to 20th century America). Your rough thesis statement might look something like this: “More than any other invention, the automobile impacted 20th century American society the most.” Remember, this is a rough statement. You will refine and polish it later.
Conducting the Remaining Research
Writing a thesis statement, even in rough form, will now guide the rest of your research. You will be looking specifically for ways in which lives and society as a whole were changed by the automobile. This will help to narrow the focus of your research, making it more targeted. You know, for example, that you are not interested in how design features changed over time. You will focus on the mobility that Americans gained, on the growth of suburbia because people could now live longer distances from where they worked, etc. Having that thesis statement really helps.
Writing the Research Paper
You will not want to refine and polis your thesis statement until the body of your paper is written, for you may gain new insights into how you want to frame it. Once that body is finished, however, you are ready to go back and take a look at that draft statement and probably expand it. If we take the topic of the influence of the automobile on 20th century America, you now know all of the changes that this invention brought. You thesis statement may move into something like, “The introduction of the automobile into American life has drastically altered both work and leisure life of Americans.” And this is a good thesis statement if your paper will actually deal with both how it changed work and play.
Other Considerations as You Write a Research Paper.
- It is not enough to have your topic and thesis and your rough draft prepared. You now know how to write a thesis statement for a research paper, but you must also understand how to organize the information you have gathered into logical sub-topics that make sense. If you have identified these sub-topics, you are well on your way to crafting your outline for writing. If you are unsure about how to write an outline for a research paper, understand that it does not have to be a formal one unless you have to turn it in with the paper. If things are getting a bit overwhelming for you, you may want to consult with a custom research paper writing service to get assistance with organizing your outline and with writing from that outline so that coherency is achieved.
- Be mindful as well that as you move from section and from paragraph to paragraph using transition words for research papers is just as important as it is for essays that you write. The reader needs to understand the connections between those paragraphs and sentences, and the right words and sentences provide those connections.
Thesis statement give your research and your research paper focus. Developing one early will help to keep you on-target as you both conduct the research and write the paper.