Thesis format for a research paper
May 31, 2018
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Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements
This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.
Contributors: Elyssa Tardiff, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2018-01-24 02:29:37
Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement
1. Determine what kind of paper you are writing:
- An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
- An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
- An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.
If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories (e.g., a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.
2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.
3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.
4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.
Thesis Statement Examples
Example of an analytical thesis statement:
An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors: accepting students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds.
The paper that follows should:
- Explain the analysis of the college admission process
- Explain the challenge facing admissions counselors
Example of an expository (explanatory) thesis statement:
The life of the typical college student is characterized by time spent studying, attending class, and socializing with peers.
The paper that follows should:
- Explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers
Example of an argumentative thesis statement:
High school graduates should be required to take a year off to pursue community service projects before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness.
The paper that follows should:
- Present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college
A thesis statement can be the thing that makes or breaks your research paper. This lesson will give you some examples of good thesis statements as well as an explanation of how they work in the context of a paper.
Why a Thesis Statement Matters
If you are writing a research paper, you have probably taken a lot of notes and organized the information you have found. You might have even written an attention-grabbing introduction and a strong conclusion for your paper. Still, one of the most important tasks you have is composing a strong thesis statement. A thesis statement is comprised of one or two sentences that summarize the essence of your findings and explain what the purpose of your paper is. When someone reads your thesis statement, they should gain a sense of what your paper is about and what, if any, slant or argument you have.
A thesis statement is important for a variety of reasons. First of all, your thesis statement foreshadows the main ideas of your paper. Second, your thesis statement helps you organize your argument and simultaneously prepares your readers to follow the subsequent structure. Finally, your thesis statement provides a succinct summary of any particular arguments or points you hope to make through your paper. Without a strong thesis statement, it can be difficult to discern the underlying purpose of a research paper.
This lesson provides you with some examples of thesis statements for research papers. Keep in mind that these examples provide insight into possible formats and structures for thesis statements, but obviously they would need to be modified to make them relevant to papers on a diversity of topics.
Examples of Thesis Statement
While World War I had many causes, the primary factors leading up to it were a new sense of nationalism and an uptick in the development of technology.
A thesis statement like this clearly states a specific argument that the remainder of the paper will be dedicated to proving using information from research. This thesis statement is succinct and simple, setting the stage for a straightforward structure in a history research paper. A paper following this statement might include one section on each of the causes mentioned in the statement, and the conclusion would summarize the findings.
In this paper, I will show that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution can account for all variations among different species. I will provide examples from different parts of the world and among flora and fauna to prove my point.
This sort of thesis statement is more overt in the sense that it directly articulates the writer's intent. A thesis statement like this can be especially helpful in foreshadowing the structure of your paper and giving your readers a sense of how your argument will look, and what kinds of sources you will be relying on to prove your point. This kind of thesis statement can be especially helpful if you will be drawing evidence from a variety of sources.
The character of Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye constitutes an excellent example of a crisis in coming of age. Literary critics have shown how Caulfield's confusion, desperation, and unwillingness to make a commitment render him a character in crisis.
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Writing a thesis statement for a research paper on literature can be particularly challenging, as you must summarize thoughts and theories from secondary sources while also referencing your primary literary source. Though this is still a research paper, it might feel like it requires more subjectivity than you are accustomed to. This is a great chance to use two sentences in your thesis statement: one sentence offers your major point about the literature, while the other references secondary source material. In the paper that follows, your job is to integrate evidence from both types of sources.
Pennsylvania is a diverse state filled with many natural and man-made resources.
Sometimes, your research paper may not require a very complex thesis statement. If you are writing about one specific thing, try to choose one or two adjectives, like 'diverse' in this example, that pull together what you hope to prove through your paper. Make one strong, assertive statement using that adjective. Readers will then expect that the remainder of the paper will be dedicated to proving the adjective you chose about whatever topic you are describing. You will use evidence from your research to prove the point you are making.
Let's review what we've learned. A thesis statement is one or two sentences that summarize the essence of your findings and explain what the purpose of your paper is. When someone reads your thesis statement, they should gain a sense of what your paper is about and what, if any, slant or argument you have. You also have to remember that your thesis statement foreshadows the main ideas of your paper, it helps you organize your argument and simultaneously prepares your readers to follow the subsequent structure. And it provides a succinct summary of any particular arguments or points you hope to make through your paper.
Thesis Statement Key Concepts
- A thesis statement foreshadows the main ideas of a paper.
- Organization of your argument relies on a thesis statement.
- A thesis statement helps provide a succinct summary of any arguments that need to be made.
Set a goal to do the following after finishing the lesson:
- Describe what a thesis statement is
- Discuss the importance of having a thesis statement
- Recognize examples of effective thesis statements
3. Creating a Thesis Statement & Outline
I.What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement is usually a sentence that states your argument to the reader. It usually appears in the first paragraph of an essay.
II. Why do I need to write a thesis statement for a paper?
Your thesis statement states what you will discuss in your essay. Not only does it define the scope and focus of your essay, it also tells your reader what to expect from the essay.
A thesis statement can be very helpful in constructing the outline of your essay.
Also, your instructor may require a thesis statement for your paper.
III. How do I create a thesis statement?
A thesis statement is not a statement of fact. It is an assertive statement that states your claims and that you can prove with evidence. It should be the product of research and your own critical thinking. There are different ways and different approaches to write a thesis statement. Here are some steps you can try to create a thesis statement:
1. Start out with the main topic and focus of your essay.
Example: youth gangs + prevention and intervention programs
2. Make a claim or argument in one sentence.
Example: Prevention and intervention programs can stop youth gang activities.
3. Revise the sentence by using specific terms.
Example: Early prevention programs in schools are the most effective way to prevent youth gang involvement.
4. Further revise the sentence to cover the scope of your essay and make a strong statement.
Example: Among various prevention and intervention efforts that have been made to deal with the rapid growth of youth gangs, early school-based prevention programs are the most effective way to prevent youth gang involvement.
IV. Can I revise the thesis statement in the writing process?
Sure. In fact, you should keep the thesis statement flexible and revise it as needed. In the process of researching and writing, you may find new information that falls outside the scope of your original plan and want to incorporate it into your paper. Or you probably understand your thoughts more and shift the focus of your paper. Then you will need to revise your thesis statement while you are writing the paper.
V. Why do I need to make an outline when I already have a thesis statement?
An outline is the "road map" of your essay in which you list the arguments and subtopics in a logical order. A good outline is an important element in writing a good paper. An outline helps to target your research areas, keep you within the scope without going off-track, and it can also help to keep your argument in good order when writing the essay.
VI. How do I make an outline?
You list all the major topics and subtopics with key points that support them. Put similar topics and points together and arrange them in a logical order.
Include an Introduction, a Body, and a Conclusion in your outline. You can make an outline in a list format or a chart format.