How to Write a Thesis for a Research Paper: What They Never Teach You in School


For most people, jury duty is a chore but a necessary part of your civic duty. If you’ve previously sat on a jury and listened to an attorney’s opening statement, then you know just how impressionable they can be. 

If you’re keen, you’ll be able to tell quite fast whether they believe in the defendant’s guilt or innocence. You’ll also gain valuable insight into the line of defense the lawyer intends to use to convince you why their client should be exonerated. 

Depending on how effective this opening statement is, it’s likely to leave you with a lasting, and often, skewed perception of the defendant’s alleged innocence. You’re probably thinking, “What does this have to do with anything?” Well, the answer to that has everything to do with what a thesis is in the context of writing your research paper.

What is a thesis statement in an essay or research paper

Think of your research paper audience as a jury and the lawyer’s opening statement as your thesis. They want to know before analyzing the contents of your research what your key arguments are, and how you intend to support them. 

Once they read it, they should think: "This research paper is going to prove something to me. I’m not sure I believe it, but I’m interested in finding out."

Thesis statements are not topics, opinion or facts. They cannot be answered in a simple yes/no fashion. They are statements that tell the reader what your argument is and how you intend to support it.

Steps to writing great thesis statements

To get you off on the right foot, follow these simple steps.

1. Analyze your primary sources

To develop a working thesis, you need to look for points of interest, controversy or complication in your research paper. Identify the deeper implications of what your research results could mean in your field of study. Analyze the evidence of your study and look for all possible correlations between known facts. 

You’ll be surprised at just how effective brainstorming sessions are, in revealing the wider significance of the relationships you find. This is what ultimately helps you arrive at a working thesis.

2. Write it down

Often, in the course of coming up with great ideas for a working thesis, a brilliant idea might strike you in a fraction of a second. Then, before you know it, it slips your mind when you briefly lose your concentration. 

Writing down your working thesis forces you to think about it concisely, clearly and logically. Doing so will help you refine it further until you come up with a great final draft version of it.

3. Keep the statement conspicuous in the introduction

Thesis statements are typically written at the end of the introductory paragraph of research papers. Keeping it prominent will make it easy for your audience to quickly spot it. 

They instinctively pay closer attention when they get to the final sentence of the introduction since that’s where they would expect it to be.

4. Anticipate any counterarguments that might arise

Thesis statements are not arguments. They wouldn’t be arguments if there was no chance of counter-arguments being presented against them. 

So, once you have a final working thesis, you need to get into the mind of your audience and, anticipate what they might say about it. This will help you refute them later in your research paper.

Some caveats worth noting

Here are some things you need to think about when writing your research paper thesis:

  1. Do not write thesis statements in the form of questions because they are not questions. If you do, your readers will expect them to be explored, discussed and eventually answered. That is not the same expectation they would have of a thesis statement.
  2. A thesis should never be in the form of a list. It needs to advance tension and that is ultimately what fronts an argument. If your thesis doesn’t have a counter-argument, then it is probably a fact or an opinion.
  3. Don’t make it confrontational. It should not make your readers view you as biased or judgemental. A statement that antagonizes your audience might make them stop reading right away.
  4. Make it as clear and concise as you possibly can. Using general terms and abstractions that have been overused is completely unacceptable.
  5. Present a definable and arguable claim. This would make the reader want to read your research paper further to see why you fronted a particular argument.

Keep it short and sweet

A good thesis statement focuses all your ideas into no more than two sentences. This plays a huge role in writing your research paper and keeping your argument focused throughout.

If the prospect of coming up with a thesis statement sends shivers down your spine, consider getting an expert to help you do it. Our team of accomplished writers can come up with a working thesis for you in no time. Get in touch with us today, and let’s elevate your assignment!