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Research Process: Researching and Writing: Develop Your Thesis Statement

This guide has been created to provide quick access to resources that support the research process.

Your Thesis Statement

A thesis statement identifies the topic being discussed, includes the points discussed in the paper, and is written for a specific audience.

Determine what kind of paper are you writing. Are you writing an analytical, expository or argumentative research paper?

  • An analytical research paper means you should present an argument, and then analyze it thoroughly. You don't summarize facts and things in your analytical work but make an analysis.
  • An expository research paper explains something.
  • An argumentative research paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the reader that the claim is true.

Considerations

  • Your thesis statement should be specific.
  • Your thesis statement should be arguable, not factual.
  • Your thesis statement is placed at the end of the first paragraph of the research paper.
  • Your topic may change as you write
  • You many need to revise your thesis statement to reflect your research paper's contents.

Scribbr. (2020, January 10). How to write a strong thesis statement [Video]. https://youtu.be/DFp1uGTXo4Q

The thesis statement tells your reader about the paper’s focus.  There are two general types of thesis statements:

  • “Point-of-View” or Argumentative thesis        Presents an argument or case to be made 
  • “Scope” or Explanatory thesis                         Outlines the scope of the paper 

Be sure to check with your instructor to clarify their expectations and what kind of thesis statement is required.

The “Point-of-View” Thesis

The Point-of-View Thesis is often used in papers for English, History, Political Science and Philosophy. It typically makes one main point, central argument or case. The purpose of your entire paper is to provide evidence that supports your thesis. There are several characteristics of a “point-of-view” thesis including:

Suitable 

Discussing assignment instructions with other students, with the instructor, and with a tutor can help you make sure your thesis is reflective of your assignment requirements.

Specific, focused and/or limited 

The thesis needs to focus your paper on a aspect of a general topic. Review the Refine Your Topic Tab for more details on how to broaden or limit your statement.

Feasible 

You need to have enough material to fully support the thesis.  If you are not able to find enough research, or you don’t have enough examples, reasons, expert opinions/quotations, facts, and explanations to fill up the size of the paper that you need to write, then you might have chosen the wrong topic. 

Insightful 

Your main point or central idea should not be so obvious that most readers will already know what you are going to discuss or explain in the paper.

Significant 

Your thesis should be important to the audience. In other words, it needs to be about what the audience will take seriously or care about.

The “Scope Thesis”  

For some assignments, you are not expected to take a point of view. Instead, you may answer a series of questions or give information about a topic. These types of assignments are most common in Nursing, CFCS and Business courses. 

Douglas College Learning Center. (2020, September 25). Writing process: Two types of thesis statements. https://guides.douglascollege.ca/writingprocess/thesisstatement

(CC BY-SA 4.0)

When reviewing and revising your thesis statement, there are several questions you can ask yourself:

Do I answer the question?

Re-reading your thesis as a question can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question.

Example: “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”

Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose?

If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.

Is my thesis statement specific enough?

Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument.

Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test?

If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.

Does my essay support my thesis specifically?

If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. Editing, reassessing and revising is a key component of good writing.

Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test?

If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader.

 

The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (n.d.). Thesis statements. https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/

(CC BY-SA 4.0)