By: Donna C.
20 min read
Reviewed By: Jared P.
Published on: Jan 6, 2024
Have you ever had trouble making a thesis for your research paper? It's a common challenge, often leaving writers uncertain about where to begin and how to structure their thoughts.
A thesis statement is what your research paper revolves around. The argument, evidence, and facts stated in the thesis are carried out throughout the research paper.
Having said that, the importance of creating a thesis statement that stands out, cannot be denied. But, not everyone is competent enough to craft effective thesis statements.
We've streamlined the process for you, breaking it down into manageable steps. From brainstorming your topic to crafting a clear thesis, we’ll help you write the optimal thesis.
Let’s get going!
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To understand the question, “What is a thesis for a research paper?” we’ll look at the standard definition:
“A thesis statement is a declarative sentence that asserts the position a paper will be taking. This statement should be both specific and arguable. Generally, the thesis statement will be placed at the end of the first paragraph of your paper. The remainder of your paper will support this thesis.”
Think of it as the roadmap for your readers that guides them throughout the entire research paper.
Usually, thesis statements consist of one or, at most, two sentences. A good thesis isn't just about summarizing; it's about making a clear point and an arguable claim.
The thesis takes place in the research paper introduction. It is a good practice to include the thesis at the end of the introduction paragraph.
For example, If you're exploring how technology affects learning, a strong thesis statement could be:
“Using computers in class improves how students learn by making lessons more engaging and boosting overall academic performance.”
Now that you know what a research paper thesis is, let’s discuss some characteristics of a good thesis statement in the context of research.
A solid research paper thesis is like a well-built foundation for your research work. Here are the key elements that make it strong:
A good thesis is crystal clear, leaving no room for confusion. It conveys the main point clearly and makes sure that the readers grasp the essence of the argument.
It goes beyond generalities, providing specific aspects about the focus of the paper. Specificity adds depth and helps in guiding the research process.
A strong thesis statement takes a stance on an issue and presents an arguable claim. It sparks curiosity and encourages discussion rather than stating an obvious fact.
Keeping it short and to the point is key. A good thesis doesn’t go off-track—it gets straight to the heart of your message in a sentence or two.
A good thesis aligns seamlessly with the content, reflecting the direction and purpose of the research.
It serves as a preview of the main ideas in the research. A good thesis introduces the key concepts that will be explored and substantiated throughout the research.
A relevant thesis statement connects directly to the research and questions that the author aims to answer. It avoids unnecessary information that might divert from the main focus.
An effective thesis summarizes the point and provides a roadmap for your research. It outlines the direction of the research and sets expectations for the reader.
A good thesis remains flexible. As the research progresses, it can be refined to accommodate new insights or changes in the direction of the paper.
Now, let’s see what are the different types of research paper theses.
Depending on different types of research papers, the thesis can take any of the following forms:
An argumentative thesis takes a firm stance on a controversial issue and aims to persuade the reader to adopt the same position on the topic. Your goal is not just to present information but to convince others that your perspective is valid.
Including supporting evidence and well-structured arguments play an important role in an argumentative thesis.
Example: “Social media harms mental health because it bombards us with unrealistic beauty standards and fuels cyberbullying.”
An analytical thesis approaches a complex topic by breaking it down into its fundamental components. It aims to understand how these parts interact and contribute to the overall understanding of the subject.
Example: “By dissecting historical events and economic data, we uncover the factors that triggered the Great Depression.”
An explanatory thesis aims to clarify a concept, process, or phenomenon by offering detailed information. It helps explain a topic without picking sides or breaking it into pieces.
Example: “This paper is your backstage pass to understanding how plants whip up their meals through photosynthesis.”
These are the most common types of research paper theses. Although there are some other types as well.
Now that you have a better understanding of what a research paper thesis is, we’ll get straight to the writing steps.
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Follow these steps, and you’ll be writing compelling research thesis statements in no time.
If you haven’t yet decided on the research paper topic, the first step is to brainstorm ideas.
For example, if you’ve chosen climate change, your brainstorming might lead you to questions like:
Topic brainstorming helps you create a roadmap and aids you in pinpointing areas within the broader topic that you’re most interested in.
After brainstorming, the next step is to conduct research and explore what others have discovered about your topic.
You can read books, articles, and reliable sources. Gather information to understand the current state of knowledge on your topic.
Doing preliminary research helps build the foundation of your research thesis. You’ll have a better insight and understanding of your topic if you know it’s background.
Now, it's time to narrow down your focus to a specific and well-defined research question.
Make sure your question is relevant and it aligns with your interests and the assignment.
Here’s how you should narrow down your research questions:
After looking at the overall topic, narrow it down to a specific aspect.
For example, Instead of saying “climate change,” think about something like “How does cutting down trees (deforestation) add to climate change?” It's like getting focused on one part of the bigger picture.
Your question should be important. Ask yourself why it's a big deal to you and why it matters for your assignment.
For example, instead of just wondering about technology and people, ask, “How do smartphones affect our work every day?” This makes your question relevant and calculated.
Be clear about your question and try not to make it confusing. Craft a question that's easy to understand. If your assignment doesn't come with a set question, make one up.
Ask yourself, “What do I want to find out about my topic?” Your self-made question becomes your guide for exploring.
After you’ve crafted your research question, comes the time to compose your answer. What you need to do is to think about why this is your response and how you will convince readers.
This is your starting answer, kind of like a rough draft.
For example, If your question is “How does cutting down trees affect climate change?” your first answer could be something like:
“Cutting down trees lets out carbon, adding to the warming of the Earth.”
Think of this answer as a compass. It helps you know where you're going in your research project. It's the beginning of your thesis statement, which is the big idea that leads your whole research paper.
Remember, it's okay if this answer changes later as you learn more. It's like starting with a map and adjusting your path as you find new stuff. The point is to start with a thoughtful and informed beginning for your research project.
After making your first educated guess (working thesis), it's time to collect evidence that supports your idea. This is like finding puzzle pieces that fit with your initial thoughts.
If your working thesis is “Cutting down trees lets out carbon, adding to the warming of the Earth,” find data that shows how deforestation releases carbon. This data is like your evidence that makes your thesis more convincing.
Use real-life examples and expert opinions to strengthen your thesis.
For instance, if case studies show the environmental impact of deforestation or if reputable scientists have published articles supporting your point, include them.
This step elevates your working thesis to a solid thesis statement by grounding it in concrete evidence and expert perspectives. It transforms your idea into a well-supported argument that has the potential to engage readers from the get-go.
Now that you've presented your initial answer backed by evidence and reasoning, it's time to fine-tune it.
For example, if your working thesis is “Cutting down trees lets out carbon, adding to the warming of the Earth,” after evaluating, you might refine it to:
“The process of cutting down trees releases carbon into the atmosphere, contributing significantly to Earth's warming. While this is a clear factor, it's crucial to explore regional variations and potential strategies to address and mitigate the impact of deforestation on climate change.”
Now comes the final step of the thesis writing process. In the last stage, summarize your refined answer into a powerful single sentence or, if required, two sentences.
It should capture the main point of your research project and set the tone for your entire paper.
The final version of the refined answer we discussed would look something like this in the form of a final thesis statement.
“Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change, with the release of carbon into the atmosphere. To address this issue comprehensively, it is essential to consider regional variations and develop strategies for alleviating the environmental impact of deforestation.”
One thing to note here is that you shouldn’t exceed the number of sentences used to more than 2.
Some thesis statements are strong, precise, and accurately address the scope of the research study. On the other hand, some statements lack these aspects in one way or the other.
It could be beneficial for you to look at some examples of strong and weak thesis statements for an even better understanding. Take a look at the comparison table below:
Research Paper Topic
Strong Thesis Statement
Weak Thesis Statement
Topic: Impact of Instagram Use on Teenagers' Self-Esteem
Frequent use of Instagram among teenagers is linked to a decline in self-esteem. This is evidenced by increased comparison tendencies and body dissatisfaction. It highlights the need for mindful social media engagement and adolescent mental health support.
Instagram negatively affects teenagers' self-esteem.
The strong thesis is specific, presenting a clear argument, and indicating a clear correlation between Instagram use and negative effects on self-esteem. The weak thesis is too vague, as it doesn't specify the nature of the effects or provide a basis for investigation.
Topic: Implementation of Green Roofs in Urban Redevelopment
Integrating green roofs in urban redevelopment projects results in improved stormwater management, energy efficiency, and community well-being. This positions it as a sustainable practice crucial for urban planners seeking environmentally friendly solutions.
Green roofs can be beneficial in urban development.
The strong thesis is detailed, listing specific benefits of green roofs and explaining their importance in urban redevelopment. The weak thesis is still too broad, lacking specificity and not indicating why green roofs are considered beneficial for urban development.
Topic: Impact of High-Intensity Interval Training on Memory in Older Adults
Engaging in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) enhances memory retention in older adults. This is supported by empirical evidence showing a positive correlation between HIIT sessions and cognitive improvement. It suggests a promising avenue for combating age-related cognitive decline.
Exercise might have cognitive benefits for older adults.
The strong thesis is precise, specifying the type of exercise, the target demographic, and the cognitive functions affected. It establishes a clear link between HIIT and memory improvement. The weak thesis is vague and lacks details on the type of exercise or its specific effects on cognitive function.
Topic: Influence of Virtual Meetings on Work-Life Balance in Remote Work Settings
The widespread adoption of virtual meetings in remote work significantly impacts work-life balance. This affects factors such as boundaries between professional and personal life. It indicates a critical consideration for remote work policies and employee well-being initiatives.
Virtual meetings can change how people balance their work and life.
The strong thesis is focused, on specifying the role of virtual meetings in remote work and indicating the impact on work-life balance. The weak thesis is too general and does not provide details about how virtual meetings specifically impact work-life balance in remote work settings.
By now, you should have a clear idea about what elements are required to craft a strong and adequate thesis statement.
Here are some great research paper thesis statement examples for you. Go through them, and you’ll have a practical understanding of what makes a perfect research paper thesis.
See this effective research paper thesis example that brilliantly addresses the argument and the research direction.
“While some argue that AI enhances efficiency and creates new job opportunities, this research acknowledges these benefits. However, this research asserts that widespread AI implementation poses a significant threat to traditional employment, demanding innovative workforce policies.”
Here is a good research paper thesis template that you can follow:
“In this paper, I will [verb] [topic] to [purpose]. Through [main point 1], [main point 2], and [main point 3], I aim to [argue, analyze, or explain] [central claim]. This thesis is important because [reasons why your topic matters].”
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to write a thesis statement for a research paper in APA format:
Before diving into APA formatting, have a clear working thesis that succinctly expresses the main point of your research paper.
APA thesis statements include the main research topic and the key elements or subtopics that will be explored. Identify these components in your working thesis.
Summarize your working thesis in one or two sentences. Keep it concise, specific, and clear.
Place your thesis statement towards the end of the introduction, providing a smooth transition into the main body of your research paper.
In APA format, the thesis statement should be written as a complete sentence and follow these guidelines:
Suppose your working thesis is:
“The use of renewable energy sources is essential for mitigating climate change, and this paper will explore the efficiency of solar, wind, and hydroelectric power in reducing carbon emissions.”
The APA-formatted thesis statement might look like this:
“In this paper, the significance of renewable energy sources, specifically solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, will be examined to demonstrate their crucial role in mitigating climate change.”
Remember to adapt the examples and guidelines to fit the specifics of your research topic and the structure of your paper.
“Technology has become an integral part of students' lives, but its influence on academic performance is a topic of concern. This paper will explore the relationship between technology use, study habits, and academic outcomes among middle school students.”
“The accelerating pace of climate change poses a significant threat to global biodiversity, impacting ecosystems and species diversity. This research report will delve into the specific consequences of climate change on various habitats, species, and the overall stability of ecosystems.”
“The American Civil Rights Movement marked a pivotal era in U.S. history, challenging systemic racism and advocating for equal rights. This research paper will explore key events, influential leaders, and the lasting impact of the Civil Rights Movement on shaping a more inclusive and just society.”
“This paper explores how smartphones affect teenagers' mental health, investigating links between excessive use, social interactions, and psychological well-being. We aim to reveal nuanced insights into the impact of technology on mental health outcomes.”
“In this research paper, we explore the secrets of an old civilization that lived in a forgotten part of the world. Our focus is on the lost city of Atlantis, a legendary place full of stories. By looking at old stories, things found in the ground, and what people believed, we want to understand more about Atlantis—whether it was real, how it might have impacted nearby places, and why it seems to have disappeared. Our goal is to learn more about this interesting mystery from the past and see if we can uncover new ideas about the old world and its hidden treasures.”
Having read these examples, you should be able to give your research paper an edge with compelling thesis statements.
It is vital to understand the difference between your thesis, research question, and the hypothesis of the research paper. Look at the table below to know the key differences between them.
A declarative statement that presents the main argument or point of view in a research paper. It conveys the writer's stance on the topic.
An interrogative statement that outlines the main issue or problem to be explored in a research study.
A testable statement predicting the outcome of the research based on existing knowledge or theory.
Guides the overall direction and focus of the research paper.
Identifies what the researcher aims to explore, investigate, or understand through the research study.
States an expected relationship or outcome, setting the groundwork for empirical testing.
Generally, broader in scope, covering the entire research paper.
Narrower in scope, focusing on a specific aspect of the broader topic.
Specific and focused, often addressing a relationship between variables or the outcome of an experiment.
Evolves as the research progresses and often undergoes revisions.
Developed at the outset of the research and may be refined as the study progresses.
Formulated before data collection, based on existing knowledge and research gaps.
Usually a single sentence or two at max, found in the introduction of the research paper.
May be presented as one or more questions in the introduction or background section.
Typically stated in the form of an “If…then…” statement, indicating the expected relationship or outcome.
“The increasing use of renewable energy sources is crucial for reducing environmental impact.”
“How does exposure to media violence influence aggressive behavior in children?”
“If exposure to media violence increases, then the level of aggressive behavior in children will also increase.”
There are some things that you avoid performing at all costs for a great thesis.
So, for an effective research paper thesis, you should avoid
To sum it up,
Learning how to create a thesis for a research paper can take some time. But, after a bit of research and getting help from experts, you can engage readers will well-written statements.
With our comprehensive and step-by-step guide, we aim to help you understand everything about creating a thesis statement. From the initial topic brainstorming to the final statement, we’ve covered every writing step in detail.However, if you’re still stuck somewhere, and you’re unsure how to move forward, don’t worry; we have a solution for that as well.
Our paper writing service online has a pool of experienced writing specialists who can take your research paper worries away in a breeze. Experts at our service are up for any challenge you throw at them.
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Donna writes on a broad range of topics, but she is mostly passionate about social issues, current events, and human-interest stories. She has received high praise for her writing from both colleagues and readers alike. Donna is known in her field for creating content that is not only professional but also captivating.
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