Research paper tips: writing a thesis statement

Research paper writing can be put on a path of success or disaster depending upon the thesis statement a student chooses, yet many students rush the process by waiting until the last minute. Or, they become frustrated by trying to choose a thesis statement and finally just choose one at random. Neither of these options are good. Here are some tips for choosing a great thesis statement for your research paper.

Understand What a Thesis Statement Really Is

In its most basic form, a thesis statement is an answer. It’s an answer to a question which you, the writer, pose to yourself and to the reader, and then answer via research. The key to choosing a great thesis statement isn’t choosing a good answer to write about though—it’s choosing an interesting question.

Focus on the Question First

Before you give yourself a headache trying to come up from a thesis statement from scratch, consider the topics you are interested in researching. Make a list of questions you have about the topic, and consider which make for intriguing research questions. For each of your questions, write some sample answers. These answers don’t need to be correct, just reasonable.

Consider How You’ll Support Your Thesis

Now that you’ve got some preliminary thesis ideas to work with, consider how you would go about supporting each of the sample answers you’ve given. What sources might provide research material? Could the material they provide answer the question definitively, or at least provide food for thought? Are there enough different supporting points to provide an answer?

Do Some Preliminary Investigation

Look up a few sources that you feel would support your favorite sample answer. If it seems like there’s a wealth of information available on the topic, move on to the next step. If not, choose a different sample answer to research.

Refine Your Thesis

Now that you have the backbone of your thesis, all that’s left is to refine and rewrite it into thesis form. That means rewriting your answer as a statement that stands on its own merit. You may find, even at this stage, your first choice doesn’t hold up as a thesis statement. That’s okay, because you have several others to choose from! If you are having difficulty writing your answer as a thesis statement, simply choose another one from the list and confirm there’s plenty of research material, and try again.