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How to Write College Projects: Creating a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper


All of the research papers you will ever write in college will require thesis statements. A thesis will make an argumentative assertion about a particular issue, as well as your conclusions about the topic in question. It also presents a promise to the reader about what your research paper’s scope, purpose and direction will be.

Here is how to create a thesis statement for a research paper:

Identify your topic: Your assignment might give you several ways to look at a broad topic. You might be asked to answer a specific question or it might be a fairly general concept that you are asked to analyze or explore. The best way to identify a topic is first inform yourself about several details then to focus on just a single aspect.

Derive a main point from topic: You will have to decide what your main argument will be. Some people refer this as the “controlling idea” and it’s basically the core idea that unifies all of your major talking points. This controlling idea can thus become the purpose of your entire research paper.

Compose a draft thesis: Now that you have an idea of your paper, you should start composing a draft thesis to help guide your research throughout. At this point, your thesis statement doesn’t have to be fully fleshed out, but it should present a single idea you can use to guide your first drafts. Remember that the simpler your draft thesis the easier it will be to keep your paper focused on a single topic.

Refine and polish your draft thesis: As you write your drafts you will find that some of your ideas stray from your thesis statement. This doesn’t mean you have to start your research all over again. It does indicate, however, that you may need to revise your thesis statement to a more focused one that fits your findings and not just what you had hoped to find in your readings.

Complete a final thesis: Remember that context matters. Be sure that your final thesis relates closely to your course materials and lectures. It’s always a good idea to connect your professor’s coursework with your own work. Ask yourself how your work contributes to the course’s overall theme. If you are in doubt about a connection, ask a friend or a colleague to help you identify one.

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