A thesis statement is a concise statement about the focus of a paper that can usually be reduced to one or two sentences. By the time they start college, most students will have written a thesis statement for a research paper. Because some research papers are very long, theses may change slightly. A longer thesis statement, such as one that mentions several points that will be discussed in depth in a paper of 30-40 pages, may be required. Students must build theses based on the paper’s formality, discipline, and instructor preferences.
In many cases, the writer in a research paper tries to accomplish one of several goals. He can make a case (argue), analyze other people’s research, or explain something (expose or expository). In research, argumentative and analytical papers are more common. Making a clear statement about the writer’s plans early in the paper, usually in paragraph one, is the key to writing a research paper thesis statement. The thesis must address the heart of the subject and the focus of the paper; writers must state very specifically what the argument or analysis is about.
Many people find that the research paper thesis statement they start with doesn’t contain all of the points they’ve written about the time they’ve finished. There are two options for dealing with this: remove all unrelated material from the thesis or rewrite the thesis to include the new information. The second method is commonly used, and many writers, like many researchers, start with a working thesis or hypothesis. As more writing or research is revealed, this will change. The thesis can either limit the material, keeping the writer on track, or it can be changed at the end of the paper to broaden the scope of the topic; the new material must still be reasonably related to the original thesis.
Many arguments have been made about the style of the thesis statement in a research paper. Some professors prefer statements that start with “In this essay, I will argue…”, while others prefer a more subtle approach that states a research paper thesis statement without using personal pronouns. In large papers, a one-sentence thesis may be difficult to achieve, but if students are required to follow a one-sentence rule, it is possible to use extended sentences to discuss several sub-points of an argument.
The precise placement of the statement is also a point of contention. Some professors prefer it to appear in the final sentence or two of the first paragraph. Many academic writing examples, on the other hand, include an introductory paragraph that comes before the thesis paragraph.
Students can use a variety of resources to improve their research paper thesis statement writing skills. Instructors are the best resource because they grade the papers, but writing centers on campus can also be helpful. Students can also consult their discipline’s style guides as well as a variety of online writing resources. Practice in this area eventually becomes a great teacher.