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What is a thesis | A Complete Guide with Examples

Madalsa

Table of Contents

A thesis is a comprehensive academic paper based on your original research that presents new findings, arguments, and ideas of your study. It’s typically submitted at the end of your master’s degree or as a capstone of your bachelor’s degree.

However, writing a thesis can be laborious, especially for beginners. From the initial challenge of pinpointing a compelling research topic to organizing and presenting findings, the process is filled with potential pitfalls.

Therefore, to help you, this guide talks about what is a thesis. Additionally, it offers revelations and methodologies to transform it from an overwhelming task to a manageable and rewarding academic milestone.

What is a thesis?

A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic.

Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument. Integral to these competencies is thorough research, which not only fortifies your propositions but also confers credibility to your entire study.

Furthermore, there's another phenomenon you might often confuse with the thesis: the ' working thesis .' However, they aren't similar and shouldn't be used interchangeably.

A working thesis, often referred to as a preliminary or tentative thesis, is an initial version of your thesis statement. It serves as a draft or a starting point that guides your research in its early stages.

As you research more and gather more evidence, your initial thesis (aka working thesis) might change. It's like a starting point that can be adjusted as you learn more. It's normal for your main topic to change a few times before you finalize it.

While a thesis identifies and provides an overarching argument, the key to clearly communicating the central point of that argument lies in writing a strong thesis statement.

What is a thesis statement?

A strong thesis statement (aka thesis sentence) is a concise summary of the main argument or claim of the paper. It serves as a critical anchor in any academic work, succinctly encapsulating the primary argument or main idea of the entire paper.

Typically found within the introductory section, a strong thesis statement acts as a roadmap of your thesis, directing readers through your arguments and findings. By delineating the core focus of your investigation, it offers readers an immediate understanding of the context and the gravity of your study.

Furthermore, an effectively crafted thesis statement can set forth the boundaries of your research, helping readers anticipate the specific areas of inquiry you are addressing.

Different types of thesis statements

A good thesis statement is clear, specific, and arguable. Therefore, it is necessary for you to choose the right type of thesis statement for your academic papers.

Thesis statements can be classified based on their purpose and structure. Here are the primary types of thesis statements:

Argumentative (or Persuasive) thesis statement

Purpose : To convince the reader of a particular stance or point of view by presenting evidence and formulating a compelling argument.

Example : Reducing plastic use in daily life is essential for environmental health.

Analytical thesis statement

Purpose : To break down an idea or issue into its components and evaluate it.

Example : By examining the long-term effects, social implications, and economic impact of climate change, it becomes evident that immediate global action is necessary.

Expository (or Descriptive) thesis statement

Purpose : To explain a topic or subject to the reader.

Example : The Great Depression, spanning the 1930s, was a severe worldwide economic downturn triggered by a stock market crash, bank failures, and reduced consumer spending.

Cause and effect thesis statement

Purpose : To demonstrate a cause and its resulting effect.

Example : Overuse of smartphones can lead to impaired sleep patterns, reduced face-to-face social interactions, and increased levels of anxiety.

Compare and contrast thesis statement

Purpose : To highlight similarities and differences between two subjects.

Example : "While both novels '1984' and 'Brave New World' delve into dystopian futures, they differ in their portrayal of individual freedom, societal control, and the role of technology."

When you write a thesis statement , it's important to ensure clarity and precision, so the reader immediately understands the central focus of your work.

What is the difference between a thesis and a thesis statement?

While both terms are frequently used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings.

A thesis refers to the entire research document, encompassing all its chapters and sections. In contrast, a thesis statement is a brief assertion that encapsulates the central argument of the research.

Here’s an in-depth differentiation table of a thesis and a thesis statement.

Now, to craft a compelling thesis, it's crucial to adhere to a specific structure. Let’s break down these essential components that make up a thesis structure

15 components of a thesis structure

Navigating a thesis can be daunting. However, understanding its structure can make the process more manageable.

Here are the key components or different sections of a thesis structure:

Your thesis begins with the title page. It's not just a formality but the gateway to your research.

title-page-of-a-thesis

Here, you'll prominently display the necessary information about you (the author) and your institutional details.

  • Title of your thesis
  • Your full name
  • Your department
  • Your institution and degree program
  • Your submission date
  • Your Supervisor's name (in some cases)
  • Your Department or faculty (in some cases)
  • Your University's logo (in some cases)
  • Your Student ID (in some cases)

In a concise manner, you'll have to summarize the critical aspects of your research in typically no more than 200-300 words.

Abstract-section-of-a-thesis

This includes the problem statement, methodology, key findings, and conclusions. For many, the abstract will determine if they delve deeper into your work, so ensure it's clear and compelling.

Acknowledgments

Research is rarely a solitary endeavor. In the acknowledgments section, you have the chance to express gratitude to those who've supported your journey.

Acknowledgement-section-of-a-thesis

This might include advisors, peers, institutions, or even personal sources of inspiration and support. It's a personal touch, reflecting the humanity behind the academic rigor.

Table of contents

A roadmap for your readers, the table of contents lists the chapters, sections, and subsections of your thesis.

Table-of-contents-of-a-thesis

By providing page numbers, you allow readers to navigate your work easily, jumping to sections that pique their interest.

List of figures and tables

Research often involves data, and presenting this data visually can enhance understanding. This section provides an organized listing of all figures and tables in your thesis.

List-of-tables-and-figures-in-a-thesis

It's a visual index, ensuring that readers can quickly locate and reference your graphical data.

Introduction

Here's where you introduce your research topic, articulate the research question or objective, and outline the significance of your study.

Introduction-section-of-a-thesis

  • Present the research topic : Clearly articulate the central theme or subject of your research.
  • Background information : Ground your research topic, providing any necessary context or background information your readers might need to understand the significance of your study.
  • Define the scope : Clearly delineate the boundaries of your research, indicating what will and won't be covered.
  • Literature review : Introduce any relevant existing research on your topic, situating your work within the broader academic conversation and highlighting where your research fits in.
  • State the research Question(s) or objective(s) : Clearly articulate the primary questions or objectives your research aims to address.
  • Outline the study's structure : Give a brief overview of how the subsequent sections of your work will unfold, guiding your readers through the journey ahead.

The introduction should captivate your readers, making them eager to delve deeper into your research journey.

Literature review section

Your study correlates with existing research. Therefore, in the literature review section, you'll engage in a dialogue with existing knowledge, highlighting relevant studies, theories, and findings.

Literature-review-section-thesis

It's here that you identify gaps in the current knowledge, positioning your research as a bridge to new insights.

To streamline this process, consider leveraging AI tools. For example, the SciSpace literature review tool enables you to efficiently explore and delve into research papers, simplifying your literature review journey.

Methodology

In the research methodology section, you’ll detail the tools, techniques, and processes you employed to gather and analyze data. This section will inform the readers about how you approached your research questions and ensures the reproducibility of your study.

Methodology-section-thesis

Here's a breakdown of what it should encompass:

  • Research Design : Describe the overall structure and approach of your research. Are you conducting a qualitative study with in-depth interviews? Or is it a quantitative study using statistical analysis? Perhaps it's a mixed-methods approach?
  • Data Collection : Detail the methods you used to gather data. This could include surveys, experiments, observations, interviews, archival research, etc. Mention where you sourced your data, the duration of data collection, and any tools or instruments used.
  • Sampling : If applicable, explain how you selected participants or data sources for your study. Discuss the size of your sample and the rationale behind choosing it.
  • Data Analysis : Describe the techniques and tools you used to process and analyze the data. This could range from statistical tests in quantitative research to thematic analysis in qualitative research.
  • Validity and Reliability : Address the steps you took to ensure the validity and reliability of your findings to ensure that your results are both accurate and consistent.
  • Ethical Considerations : Highlight any ethical issues related to your research and the measures you took to address them, including — informed consent, confidentiality, and data storage and protection measures.

Moreover, different research questions necessitate different types of methodologies. For instance:

  • Experimental methodology : Often used in sciences, this involves a controlled experiment to discern causality.
  • Qualitative methodology : Employed when exploring patterns or phenomena without numerical data. Methods can include interviews, focus groups, or content analysis.
  • Quantitative methodology : Concerned with measurable data and often involves statistical analysis. Surveys and structured observations are common tools here.
  • Mixed methods : As the name implies, this combines both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

The Methodology section isn’t just about detailing the methods but also justifying why they were chosen. The appropriateness of the methods in addressing your research question can significantly impact the credibility of your findings.

Results (or Findings)

This section presents the outcomes of your research. It's crucial to note that the nature of your results may vary; they could be quantitative, qualitative, or a mix of both.

Results-section-thesis

Quantitative results often present statistical data, showcasing measurable outcomes, and they benefit from tables, graphs, and figures to depict these data points.

Qualitative results , on the other hand, might delve into patterns, themes, or narratives derived from non-numerical data, such as interviews or observations.

Regardless of the nature of your results, clarity is essential. This section is purely about presenting the data without offering interpretations — that comes later in the discussion.

In the discussion section, the raw data transforms into valuable insights.

Start by revisiting your research question and contrast it with the findings. How do your results expand, constrict, or challenge current academic conversations?

Dive into the intricacies of the data, guiding the reader through its implications. Detail potential limitations transparently, signaling your awareness of the research's boundaries. This is where your academic voice should be resonant and confident.

Practical implications (Recommendation) section

Based on the insights derived from your research, this section provides actionable suggestions or proposed solutions.

Whether aimed at industry professionals or the general public, recommendations translate your academic findings into potential real-world actions. They help readers understand the practical implications of your work and how it can be applied to effect change or improvement in a given field.

When crafting recommendations, it's essential to ensure they're feasible and rooted in the evidence provided by your research. They shouldn't merely be aspirational but should offer a clear path forward, grounded in your findings.

The conclusion provides closure to your research narrative.

It's not merely a recap but a synthesis of your main findings and their broader implications. Reconnect with the research questions or hypotheses posited at the beginning, offering clear answers based on your findings.

Conclusion-section-thesis

Reflect on the broader contributions of your study, considering its impact on the academic community and potential real-world applications.

Lastly, the conclusion should leave your readers with a clear understanding of the value and impact of your study.

References (or Bibliography)

Every theory you've expounded upon, every data point you've cited, and every methodological precedent you've followed finds its acknowledgment here.

References-section-thesis

In references, it's crucial to ensure meticulous consistency in formatting, mirroring the specific guidelines of the chosen citation style .

Proper referencing helps to avoid plagiarism , gives credit to original ideas, and allows readers to explore topics of interest. Moreover, it situates your work within the continuum of academic knowledge.

To properly cite the sources used in the study, you can rely on online citation generator tools  to generate accurate citations!

Here’s more on how you can cite your sources.

Often, the depth of research produces a wealth of material that, while crucial, can make the core content of the thesis cumbersome. The appendix is where you mention extra information that supports your research but isn't central to the main text.

Appendices-section-thesis

Whether it's raw datasets, detailed procedural methodologies, extended case studies, or any other ancillary material, the appendices ensure that these elements are archived for reference without breaking the main narrative's flow.

For thorough researchers and readers keen on meticulous details, the appendices provide a treasure trove of insights.

Glossary (optional)

In academics, specialized terminologies, and jargon are inevitable. However, not every reader is versed in every term.

The glossary, while optional, is a critical tool for accessibility. It's a bridge ensuring that even readers from outside the discipline can access, understand, and appreciate your work.

Glossary-section-of-a-thesis

By defining complex terms and providing context, you're inviting a wider audience to engage with your research, enhancing its reach and impact.

Remember, while these components provide a structured framework, the essence of your thesis lies in the originality of your ideas, the rigor of your research, and the clarity of your presentation.

As you craft each section, keep your readers in mind, ensuring that your passion and dedication shine through every page.

Thesis examples

To further elucidate the concept of a thesis, here are illustrative examples from various fields:

Example 1 (History): Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the ‘Noble Savage’ on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807 by Suchait Kahlon.
Example 2 (Climate Dynamics): Influence of external forcings on abrupt millennial-scale climate changes: a statistical modelling study by Takahito Mitsui · Michel Crucifix

Checklist for your thesis evaluation

Evaluating your thesis ensures that your research meets the standards of academia. Here's an elaborate checklist to guide you through this critical process.

Content and structure

  • Is the thesis statement clear, concise, and debatable?
  • Does the introduction provide sufficient background and context?
  • Is the literature review comprehensive, relevant, and well-organized?
  • Does the methodology section clearly describe and justify the research methods?
  • Are the results/findings presented clearly and logically?
  • Does the discussion interpret the results in light of the research question and existing literature?
  • Is the conclusion summarizing the research and suggesting future directions or implications?

Clarity and coherence

  • Is the writing clear and free of jargon?
  • Are ideas and sections logically connected and flowing?
  • Is there a clear narrative or argument throughout the thesis?

Research quality

  • Is the research question significant and relevant?
  • Are the research methods appropriate for the question?
  • Is the sample size (if applicable) adequate?
  • Are the data analysis techniques appropriate and correctly applied?
  • Are potential biases or limitations addressed?

Originality and significance

  • Does the thesis contribute new knowledge or insights to the field?
  • Is the research grounded in existing literature while offering fresh perspectives?

Formatting and presentation

  • Is the thesis formatted according to institutional guidelines?
  • Are figures, tables, and charts clear, labeled, and referenced in the text?
  • Is the bibliography or reference list complete and consistently formatted?
  • Are appendices relevant and appropriately referenced in the main text?

Grammar and language

  • Is the thesis free of grammatical and spelling errors?
  • Is the language professional, consistent, and appropriate for an academic audience?
  • Are quotations and paraphrased material correctly cited?

Feedback and revision

  • Have you sought feedback from peers, advisors, or experts in the field?
  • Have you addressed the feedback and made the necessary revisions?

Overall assessment

  • Does the thesis as a whole feel cohesive and comprehensive?
  • Would the thesis be understandable and valuable to someone in your field?

Ensure to use this checklist to leave no ground for doubt or missed information in your thesis.

After writing your thesis, the next step is to discuss and defend your findings verbally in front of a knowledgeable panel. You’ve to be well prepared as your professors may grade your presentation abilities.

Preparing your thesis defense

A thesis defense, also known as "defending the thesis," is the culmination of a scholar's research journey. It's the final frontier, where you’ll present their findings and face scrutiny from a panel of experts.

Typically, the defense involves a public presentation where you’ll have to outline your study, followed by a question-and-answer session with a committee of experts. This committee assesses the validity, originality, and significance of the research.

The defense serves as a rite of passage for scholars. It's an opportunity to showcase expertise, address criticisms, and refine arguments. A successful defense not only validates the research but also establishes your authority as a researcher in your field.

Here’s how you can effectively prepare for your thesis defense .

Now, having touched upon the process of defending a thesis, it's worth noting that scholarly work can take various forms, depending on academic and regional practices.

One such form, often paralleled with the thesis, is the 'dissertation.' But what differentiates the two?

Dissertation vs. Thesis

Often used interchangeably in casual discourse, they refer to distinct research projects undertaken at different levels of higher education.

To the uninitiated, understanding their meaning might be elusive. So, let's demystify these terms and delve into their core differences.

Here's a table differentiating between the two.

Wrapping up

From understanding the foundational concept of a thesis to navigating its various components, differentiating it from a dissertation, and recognizing the importance of proper citation — this guide covers it all.

As scholars and readers, understanding these nuances not only aids in academic pursuits but also fosters a deeper appreciation for the relentless quest for knowledge that drives academia.

It’s important to remember that every thesis is a testament to curiosity, dedication, and the indomitable spirit of discovery.

Good luck with your thesis writing!

Frequently Asked Questions

A thesis typically ranges between 40-80 pages, but its length can vary based on the research topic, institution guidelines, and level of study.

A PhD thesis usually spans 200-300 pages, though this can vary based on the discipline, complexity of the research, and institutional requirements.

To identify a thesis topic, consider current trends in your field, gaps in existing literature, personal interests, and discussions with advisors or mentors. Additionally, reviewing related journals and conference proceedings can provide insights into potential areas of exploration.

The conceptual framework is often situated in the literature review or theoretical framework section of a thesis. It helps set the stage by providing the context, defining key concepts, and explaining the relationships between variables.

A thesis statement should be concise, clear, and specific. It should state the main argument or point of your research. Start by pinpointing the central question or issue your research addresses, then condense that into a single statement, ensuring it reflects the essence of your paper.

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How to write a thesis statement + examples

Thesis statement

What is a thesis statement?

Is a thesis statement a question, how do you write a good thesis statement, how do i know if my thesis statement is good, examples of thesis statements, helpful resources on how to write a thesis statement, frequently asked questions about writing a thesis statement, related articles.

A thesis statement is the main argument of your paper or thesis.

The thesis statement is one of the most important elements of any piece of academic writing . It is a brief statement of your paper’s main argument. Essentially, you are stating what you will be writing about.

You can see your thesis statement as an answer to a question. While it also contains the question, it should really give an answer to the question with new information and not just restate or reiterate it.

Your thesis statement is part of your introduction. Learn more about how to write a good thesis introduction in our introduction guide .

A thesis statement is not a question. A statement must be arguable and provable through evidence and analysis. While your thesis might stem from a research question, it should be in the form of a statement.

Tip: A thesis statement is typically 1-2 sentences. For a longer project like a thesis, the statement may be several sentences or a paragraph.

A good thesis statement needs to do the following:

  • Condense the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences.
  • Answer your project’s main research question.
  • Clearly state your position in relation to the topic .
  • Make an argument that requires support or evidence.

Once you have written down a thesis statement, check if it fulfills the following criteria:

  • Your statement needs to be provable by evidence. As an argument, a thesis statement needs to be debatable.
  • Your statement needs to be precise. Do not give away too much information in the thesis statement and do not load it with unnecessary information.
  • Your statement cannot say that one solution is simply right or simply wrong as a matter of fact. You should draw upon verified facts to persuade the reader of your solution, but you cannot just declare something as right or wrong.

As previously mentioned, your thesis statement should answer a question.

If the question is:

What do you think the City of New York should do to reduce traffic congestion?

A good thesis statement restates the question and answers it:

In this paper, I will argue that the City of New York should focus on providing exclusive lanes for public transport and adaptive traffic signals to reduce traffic congestion by the year 2035.

Here is another example. If the question is:

How can we end poverty?

A good thesis statement should give more than one solution to the problem in question:

In this paper, I will argue that introducing universal basic income can help reduce poverty and positively impact the way we work.

  • The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina has a list of questions to ask to see if your thesis is strong .

A thesis statement is part of the introduction of your paper. It is usually found in the first or second paragraph to let the reader know your research purpose from the beginning.

In general, a thesis statement should have one or two sentences. But the length really depends on the overall length of your project. Take a look at our guide about the length of thesis statements for more insight on this topic.

Here is a list of Thesis Statement Examples that will help you understand better how to write them.

Every good essay should include a thesis statement as part of its introduction, no matter the academic level. Of course, if you are a high school student you are not expected to have the same type of thesis as a PhD student.

Here is a great YouTube tutorial showing How To Write An Essay: Thesis Statements .

how to write a thesis on a research paper

While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.

This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.  

Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence) 

Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.

This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.  

Arguable thesis with analytical claim 

While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.

This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.  

Arguable thesis with normative claim 

Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.

This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.  

Questions to ask about your thesis 

  • Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?  
  • Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?  
  • Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?  
  • Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?  
  • Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
  • picture_as_pdf Thesis

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Research Paper: A step-by-step guide: 3. Thesis Statement & Outline

  • 1. Getting Started
  • 2. Topic Ideas
  • 3. Thesis Statement & Outline
  • 4. Appropriate Sources
  • 5. Search Techniques
  • 6. Taking Notes & Documenting Sources
  • 7. Evaluating Sources
  • 8. Citations & Plagiarism
  • 9. Writing Your Research Paper

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About Thesis Statements

Qualities of a thesis statement.

Thesis statements:

  • state the subject matter and main ideas of a paper.
  • appear in the first paragraph and announces what you will discuss in your paper.
  • define the scope and focus of your essay, and tells your reader what to expect.  
  • are not a simple factual statement.  It is an assertion that states your claims and that you can prove with evidence.
  • should be the product of research and your own critical thinking.
  • can be very helpful in constructing an outline for your essay; for each point you make, ask yourself whether it is relevant to the thesis.

Steps you can use to create a thesis statement

1. Start out with the main topic and focus of your essay.

youth gangs + prevention and intervention programs

2. Make a claim or argument in one sentence.  It can be helpful to start with a question which you then turn into an argument

Can prevention and intervention programs stop youth gang activities?  How?  ►►►  "Prevention and intervention programs can stop youth gang activities by giving teens something else to do."

3. Revise the sentence by using specific terms.

"Early prevention programs in schools are the most effective way to prevent youth gang involvement by giving teens good activities that offer a path to success."

4. Further revise the sentence to cover the scope of your essay and make a strong statement.

"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, which they do by giving teens meaningful activities that offer pathways to achievement and success."

5. Keep your thesis statement flexible and revise it as needed. In the process of researching and writing, you may find new information or refine your understanding of the topic.

You can view this short video for more tips on how to write a clear thesis statement.

An outline is the skeleton 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.  Once your outline is in good shape, it is much easier to write your paper; you've already done most of the thinking, so you just need to fill in the outline with a paragraph for each point.

To write an outline: The most common way to write an outline is the list format.  List all the major topics and subtopics with the 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. 

A list outline should arrange the main points or arguments in a hierarchical structure indicated by Roman numerals for main ideas (I, II, III...), capital letters for subtopics (A, B, C...), Arabic numerals for details (1,2,3...), and lower-case letters for fine details if needed (a,b,c...). This helps keep things organized.  

Here is a shortened example of an outline:

Introduction: background and thesis statement

I. First topic

1. Supporting evidence 2. Supporting evidence

II. Second Topic

III. Third Topic

I. Summarize the main points of your paper II. Restate your thesis in different words III. Make a strong final statement

You can see examples of a few different kinds of outlines and get more help at the Purdue OWL .

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  • Writing Tips

How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper

How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper

4-minute read

  • 26th July 2023

A strong thesis statement is the foundation of a successful research paper . The thesis gives focus to your ideas, engages readers, and sets the tone for the rest of the paper. You’ve spent substantial time and effort to craft a well-written and effective study , so you want your thesis statement to accurately reflect the impact of your work.

However, writing a thesis is often easier said than done. So if you’ve already got the arguments, the data, and the conclusions, keep scrolling for our straightforward guide on how to write a thesis statement for a research paper.

What Is a Thesis Statement?

A thesis statement is a clear and succinct assertion that presents the main argument or central idea of a research paper or other academic work. You usually find the thesis, which serves as a road map for the entire piece of writing, at the end of the introductory paragraph. The thesis also highlights the importance and relevance of the research topic , explaining why it’s worth studying and what impact it may have.

A good thesis statement also invites critical discussion and debate. Although your statement should provide a compelling argument , it should also inspire readers to engage with your ideas and potentially challenge or explore alternative viewpoints.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement should outline the scope and boundaries of the paper and indicate what aspects of the topic you’ll cover. But now that you know what a good thesis statement entails, where should you start? Check out our series of steps below for help on writing an impactful thesis statement that accurately summarizes your research and arguments.

Understand the Purpose of Your Research

Before you can write a thesis statement, you need to understand the purpose and scope of your research. Pinpoint the specific topic or issue you’ll be exploring and the main objective of your paper. You should also familiarize yourself with the existing literature and research related to your topic because these will help you refine your focus and identify gaps in the existing knowledge that your research can address.

Consider the Impact of Your Research

Your thesis statement should answer the question, What is the relevance? – meaning it should tell the reader what the practical implications of your research are, why the research is significant, and what it adds to the broader academic landscape.

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Make a Concise Claim or Argument

Your statement should be clear, specific, and concise, conveying the main point of your research in one or two sentences. It should present a claim or argument that you’ll go on to support and defend in your paper, so avoid purely factual or self-evident statements. Be precise in your wording and tailor your thesis statement to the scope of your research – don’t introduce a new or unrelated topic that you don’t expressly address in your paper. The thesis statement is meant to indicate what the reader can expect to find in your paper, and you must support the thesis with evidence throughout.

Revise and Refine the Statement

Crafting a strong thesis statement may require multiple attempts, so take the time to revise and edit it until you’re satisfied that it meets your requirements.

Example Thesis Statement

Below is an example of a strong thesis statement that clearly emphasizes the main points of a research topic:

In this example, the thesis statement clearly identifies the main topic (technology’s impact on education) and presents a strong argument about technology’s positive effects. The thesis conveys the essential message of the research concisely in one sentence, leaving no doubt about the position of the author and what they’ll address in the paper.

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How to write a thesis statement for a research paper

How to write a thesis statement

The thesis statement is the central argument of your research paper makes and serves as a roadmap for the entire essay. Therefore, writing a strong thesis statement is essential for crafting a successful research paper—but it can also be one of the most challenging aspects of the writing process. In this post, we discuss strategies for creating a quality thesis statement.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is the main argument of an academic essay or research paper . It states directly what you plan to argue in the paper.

A thesis statement is typically a single sentence, but it can be longer depending on the length and type of paper that you’re writing.

How to write a good thesis statement

In this section, we outline five key tips for writing a good thesis statement. If you’re struggling to come up with a research topic or a thesis, consider asking your instructor or a librarian for additional assistance.

1. Start with a question

A good thesis statement should be an answer to a research question. Start by asking a question about your topic that you want to address in your paper. This will help you focus your research and give your paper direction. The thesis statement should be a concise answer to this question.

Your research question should not be too broad or narrow. If the question is too broad, you may not be able to answer it effectively. If the question is too narrow, you may not have enough material to write a complete research paper. As a result, it’s important to strike a balance between a question that is too broad and one that is too narrow.

Thesis statements always respond to an existing scholarly conversation; so, formulate your research question and thesis in response to a current debate. Are there gaps in the current research? Where might your argument intervene?

2. Be specific

Your thesis statement should be specific and precise. It should clearly state the main point that you will be arguing in your paper. Avoid vague or general statements that are not arguable (see below). The more specific your thesis statement is, the easier it will be to write your paper.

To make your thesis statement specific, focus on a particular aspect of your topic. For example, if your topic is about the effects of social media on mental health, you can focus on a specific age group or a particular social media platform.

3. Make it debatable

A good thesis statement must be debatable (otherwise, it’s not actually an argument). It should present an argument that can be supported with evidence. Avoid statements that are purely factual or descriptive. Your thesis statement should take a position on a topic and argue for its validity.

4. Use strong language

Use strong, definitive language in your thesis statement. Try to avoid sounding tentative or uncertain. Your thesis statement should be confident and assertive, and it should clearly state your position on the topic.

It’s a myth that you can’t use “I” in an academic paper, so consider constructing your thesis statement in the form of “I argue that…” This conveys a strong and firm position.

To help make your thesis more assertive, avoid using vague language. For example, instead of writing, "I think social media has a negative impact on mental health," you might write, "Social media has a negative impact on mental health" or “I argue that social media has a negative impact on mental health.”

5. Revise and refine

Finally, remember that your thesis statement is not set in stone. You may need to revise, and refine, it as you conduct your research and write your paper. Don't be afraid to make changes to your thesis statement as you go along.

As you conduct your research and write your paper, you may discover new information that requires you to adjust your thesis statement. Or, as you work through a second draft, you might find that you’ve actually argued something different than you intended. Therefore, it is important to be flexible and open to making changes to your thesis statement.

The bottom line

Remember that your thesis statement is the foundation of your paper, so it's important to spend time crafting it carefully. A solid thesis enables you to write a research paper that effectively communicates your argument to your readers.

Frequently Asked Questions about how to create a thesis statement

Here is an example of a thesis statement: “I argue that social media has a negative impact on mental health.”

A good thesis statement should be an answer to a research question. Start by asking a question about your topic that you want to answer in your paper. The thesis statement should be a concise answer to this question.

Start your thesis statement with the words, “I argue that…” This conveys a strong and firm position.

A strong thesis is a direct, 1-2 sentence statement of your paper’s main argument. Good thesis statements are specific, balanced, and formed in response to an ongoing scholarly conversation.

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Writing a paper: thesis statements, basics of thesis statements.

The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper. Specific means the thesis deals with a narrow and focused topic, appropriate to the paper's length. Arguable means that a scholar in your field could disagree (or perhaps already has!).

Strong thesis statements address specific intellectual questions, have clear positions, and use a structure that reflects the overall structure of the paper. Read on to learn more about constructing a strong thesis statement.

Being Specific

This thesis statement has no specific argument:

Needs Improvement: In this essay, I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences.

This statement is concise, but it is neither specific nor arguable—a reader might wonder, "Which scholarly articles? What is the topic of this paper? What field is the author writing in?" Additionally, the purpose of the paper—to "examine…to find similarities and differences" is not of a scholarly level. Identifying similarities and differences is a good first step, but strong academic argument goes further, analyzing what those similarities and differences might mean or imply.

Better: In this essay, I will argue that Bowler's (2003) autocratic management style, when coupled with Smith's (2007) theory of social cognition, can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover.

The new revision here is still concise, as well as specific and arguable.  We can see that it is specific because the writer is mentioning (a) concrete ideas and (b) exact authors.  We can also gather the field (business) and the topic (management and employee turnover). The statement is arguable because the student goes beyond merely comparing; he or she draws conclusions from that comparison ("can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover").

Making a Unique Argument

This thesis draft repeats the language of the writing prompt without making a unique argument:

Needs Improvement: The purpose of this essay is to monitor, assess, and evaluate an educational program for its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I will provide suggestions for improvement.

You can see here that the student has simply stated the paper's assignment, without articulating specifically how he or she will address it. The student can correct this error simply by phrasing the thesis statement as a specific answer to the assignment prompt.

Better: Through a series of student interviews, I found that Kennedy High School's antibullying program was ineffective. In order to address issues of conflict between students, I argue that Kennedy High School should embrace policies outlined by the California Department of Education (2010).

Words like "ineffective" and "argue" show here that the student has clearly thought through the assignment and analyzed the material; he or she is putting forth a specific and debatable position. The concrete information ("student interviews," "antibullying") further prepares the reader for the body of the paper and demonstrates how the student has addressed the assignment prompt without just restating that language.

Creating a Debate

This thesis statement includes only obvious fact or plot summary instead of argument:

Needs Improvement: Leadership is an important quality in nurse educators.

A good strategy to determine if your thesis statement is too broad (and therefore, not arguable) is to ask yourself, "Would a scholar in my field disagree with this point?" Here, we can see easily that no scholar is likely to argue that leadership is an unimportant quality in nurse educators.  The student needs to come up with a more arguable claim, and probably a narrower one; remember that a short paper needs a more focused topic than a dissertation.

Better: Roderick's (2009) theory of participatory leadership  is particularly appropriate to nurse educators working within the emergency medicine field, where students benefit most from collegial and kinesthetic learning.

Here, the student has identified a particular type of leadership ("participatory leadership"), narrowing the topic, and has made an arguable claim (this type of leadership is "appropriate" to a specific type of nurse educator). Conceivably, a scholar in the nursing field might disagree with this approach. The student's paper can now proceed, providing specific pieces of evidence to support the arguable central claim.

Choosing the Right Words

This thesis statement uses large or scholarly-sounding words that have no real substance:

Needs Improvement: Scholars should work to seize metacognitive outcomes by harnessing discipline-based networks to empower collaborative infrastructures.

There are many words in this sentence that may be buzzwords in the student's field or key terms taken from other texts, but together they do not communicate a clear, specific meaning. Sometimes students think scholarly writing means constructing complex sentences using special language, but actually it's usually a stronger choice to write clear, simple sentences. When in doubt, remember that your ideas should be complex, not your sentence structure.

Better: Ecologists should work to educate the U.S. public on conservation methods by making use of local and national green organizations to create a widespread communication plan.

Notice in the revision that the field is now clear (ecology), and the language has been made much more field-specific ("conservation methods," "green organizations"), so the reader is able to see concretely the ideas the student is communicating.

Leaving Room for Discussion

This thesis statement is not capable of development or advancement in the paper:

Needs Improvement: There are always alternatives to illegal drug use.

This sample thesis statement makes a claim, but it is not a claim that will sustain extended discussion. This claim is the type of claim that might be appropriate for the conclusion of a paper, but in the beginning of the paper, the student is left with nowhere to go. What further points can be made? If there are "always alternatives" to the problem the student is identifying, then why bother developing a paper around that claim? Ideally, a thesis statement should be complex enough to explore over the length of the entire paper.

Better: The most effective treatment plan for methamphetamine addiction may be a combination of pharmacological and cognitive therapy, as argued by Baker (2008), Smith (2009), and Xavier (2011).

In the revised thesis, you can see the student make a specific, debatable claim that has the potential to generate several pages' worth of discussion. When drafting a thesis statement, think about the questions your thesis statement will generate: What follow-up inquiries might a reader have? In the first example, there are almost no additional questions implied, but the revised example allows for a good deal more exploration.

Thesis Mad Libs

If you are having trouble getting started, try using the models below to generate a rough model of a thesis statement! These models are intended for drafting purposes only and should not appear in your final work.

  • In this essay, I argue ____, using ______ to assert _____.
  • While scholars have often argued ______, I argue______, because_______.
  • Through an analysis of ______, I argue ______, which is important because_______.

Words to Avoid and to Embrace

When drafting your thesis statement, avoid words like explore, investigate, learn, compile, summarize , and explain to describe the main purpose of your paper. These words imply a paper that summarizes or "reports," rather than synthesizing and analyzing.

Instead of the terms above, try words like argue, critique, question , and interrogate . These more analytical words may help you begin strongly, by articulating a specific, critical, scholarly position.

Read Kayla's blog post for tips on taking a stand in a well-crafted thesis statement.

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Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements

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This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.

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:

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:

  • Explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers

Example of an argumentative thesis statement:

  • Present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college

How To Write A Research Paper

Research Paper Thesis

Cathy A.

How To Write a Thesis For a Research Paper Step by Step

12 min read

Published on: Mar 6, 2024

Last updated on: Mar 5, 2024

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Creating a strong thesis for a research paper can be tough for researchers and scholars. Despite their expertise, condensing complex ideas into a clear thesis statement is a common struggle.

This concise element encapsulates the core arguments or points of the piece. Notably, a thesis statement serves various roles, prominently addressing the research question.

This guide offers a step-by-step approach for researchers and scholars to learn thesis writing. From choosing a solid topic to balancing academic standards, each step aims to empower you in creating a thesis that meets scholarly criteria and resonates widely.

This guide ensures you develop a strong thesis, making your research paper stand out in academic circles.

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What is a Thesis Statement?

A thesis statement is a concise sentence that presents the main point or argument of a research paper or an essay. 

According to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Writing Center , a thesis statement is defined as, "a concise, declarative statement that encapsulates the central argument or main point of an academic paper or essay. It serves as a guidepost for the reader, outlining the focus and direction of the piece"  

In a standard academic essay writing or research paper , the thesis statement is typically placed at the end of the introduction. It serves as a roadmap for the reader, providing a concise summary of the main point or argument that the paper will explore.

The structure of an introduction often follows a general pattern:

  • Hook/Attention Grabber
  • Background Information/Context
  • Thesis Statement

There is no strict rule regarding the length of a thesis statement, as it can vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the scope of the paper. However, as a general guideline, a thesis statement is typically one or two sentences long. 

Qualities of a Good Thesis Statement

A strong thesis statement possesses several key qualities that contribute to its effectiveness:

  • Clarity and Precision : Clearly conveys the main idea without unnecessary complexity, avoiding vague language.
  • Debatable and Focused : Presents a claim open to interpretation, requiring support and evidence, and maintains a narrow focus.
  • Assertive and Defensible: Takes a clear position, avoiding indecisiveness, and is defensible through logical reasoning and evidence.
  • Relevance to the Topic : Directly relates to the subject matter, avoiding irrelevant or off-topic statements.
  • Scope Limitation : Defines the paper's scope, avoiding broad, sweeping statements to maintain focus.
  • Analytical and Thought-Provoking : Goes beyond stating facts, presenting an argument that requires analysis and thought, encouraging consideration of multiple perspectives.
  • Coherent and Well-Structured : Well-crafted with a logical structure, serving as a roadmap to guide the reader through the main points of the research paper.

How To Write a Thesis Statement in 5 Steps 

Writing a thesis statement involves several key steps to ensure that it is clear, concise, and effectively conveys the main idea of your essay or research paper. Here's a guide with steps and examples:

Step 1. Understand the Assignment

Before diving into writing a thesis statement, thoroughly understand the assignment's requirements, including the topic, length, and specific guidelines provided by your instructor or the prompt.

Step 2. Narrow Down Your Topic

Choose a specific aspect or angle within your broader topic that you can effectively address in your paper. This helps in focusing your research and drafting a more precise thesis.

Example : If your original topic is "Global warming," narrow it down to "The impact of deforestation on global warming."

Step 3. Conduct Research

Gather relevant information and evidence from reputable sources to support your thesis. A well-researched thesis is more likely to be compelling and convincing.

Example : Find studies, scientific articles, or statistics that demonstrate the connection between deforestation and increased carbon emissions.

Step 4. Identify Your Position or Claim

Determine your stance on the narrowed topic. What is the main argument or point you want to make?

Example : Decide that your position is that "Deforestation contributes significantly to the acceleration of global warming."

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Step 5. Craft a Concise Thesis Statement

Summarize your main argument in a clear, specific, and concise sentence. This will be the central point around which your entire paper revolves.

Example : "The rampant deforestation observed globally is a primary driver of increased carbon emissions, leading to a substantial acceleration of global warming."

Step 6. Make It Arguable

Ensure that your thesis statement is debatable. Avoid stating facts that everyone would agree with; instead, present a claim that invites discussion.

Example : "While some argue that deforestation has minimal impact on global warming, the overwhelming evidence supports the assertion that it plays a significant role."

Step 7. Consider Counterarguments

Anticipate potential counterarguments and address them within your thesis. This shows that you've considered different perspectives and strengthens your overall position.

Example : "While some contend that other factors contribute to global warming, the undeniable link between deforestation and increased carbon emissions cannot be ignored."

Step 8. Ensure Clarity and Specificity

Avoid vague language and make sure your thesis clearly communicates the main point of your paper. Provide enough detail to guide your reader.

Example : "Deforestation's impact on global warming is a complex issue that demands immediate attention."

Step 9. Review and Revise

Critically evaluate your thesis for clarity, relevance, and strength. Revise as needed to ensure it encapsulates your main argument effectively.

The final Thesis Statement may look like this: 

Types of Thesis Statements

Thesis statements serve as the core of a research paper, providing the main argument or purpose of the work. Here are a few types of thesis statements with examples:

Argumentative Thesis Statement

Argumentative thesis statements assert a specific stance on an issue and provide reasons or evidence to support that viewpoint. They aim to persuade the reader of a particular perspective.

Here is a thesis statement example for argumentative essay :

Analytical Thesis Statement

Analytical thesis statements break down a topic into its constituent parts, examining it critically to understand its components or significance. They don't argue a point but rather analyze and interpret.

Expository Thesis Statement

Expository thesis statements present factual information or explain a topic without expressing opinions or arguments. They aim to inform and elucidate.

Comparative Thesis Statement

Comparative thesis statements highlight similarities and differences between two or more subjects, offering an evaluation or analysis of their relationship.

Cause and Effect Thesis Statement

Cause and effect thesis statements outline the relationship between events or phenomena, indicating how one factor influences another and the resulting consequences.

Research Paper Thesis Template

A useful guideline for creating a thesis statement is to follow a three-part structure that includes the topic, the main point or claim, and the supporting reasons or evidence. This formula can be expressed as:

Topic + Claim + Reasons/Evidence

Here's a breakdown of each component:

Follow the steps above and use this research paper thesis statement template to develop a useful thesis. 

Thesis For a Research Paper Examples

Here are a few thesis statement examples for research papers:

Research Paper Thesis Examples

Thesis For a Research Paper Middle School

College thesis statement examples, thesis for a research report, thesis statement for a research paper in apa format.

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That's our Job!

Thesis For a History Research Paper

Thesis statements for personal essays, examples of weak and strong thesis statements.

Here's a table with examples of weak and strong thesis statements across three different subjects:

Tips for Writing Strong Thesis Statements

Here are some tips for developing strong thesis statements:

  • Challenge conventional wisdom or commonly held beliefs in your thesis.
  • Use powerful and vivid words to evoke emotions or curiosity in your thesis.
  • Introduce a fresh perspective or angle that hasn't been widely discussed.
  • Offer a glimpse into potential solutions or broader implications of your thesis.
  • Pose a thought-provoking question or a startling fact to engage the reader.
  • Highlight the contemporary relevance or timeliness of your thesis statement.
  • Appeal to the reader's emotions or personal experiences to make a connection.
  • Emphasize the importance of exploring contradictions or complexities in your topic.
  • Encourage the reader to contemplate the deeper implications of your thesis.
  • Highlight how your thesis reflects personal growth or a change in perspective over time.

Thesis Statement Assessment Checklist

So, you may be wondering, how do I know if my thesis is strong? Use the checklist below to assess the strength of your thesis statement:

Summit it Up!

Crafting a strong thesis for a research paper involves precision, specificity, and a clear position. Remember to regularly revisit and refine your thesis as you progress through the writing process. 

If you find yourself struggling to formulate the perfect thesis statement, worry not! The professionals at CollegeEssay.org are here to provide expert assistance. 

Our professional writing service can guide you through the process, ensuring a compelling and impactful thesis statement. 

Get custom research paper  today and elevate the quality of your academic work.

Commonly Asked Questions

How does a research hypothesis differ from a thesis statement.

A research hypothesis is a specific, testable prediction about the outcome of a research study. On the other hand, a thesis statement is a broader statement summarizing the main argument of a paper.

Can a thesis statement change during the research process?

Yes, as you conduct research and refine your understanding of the topic, it's common for your thesis statement to evolve or be adjusted.

How does the thesis statement relate to the research methodology?

The thesis statement may hint at the research approach but focuses more on the main argument. The methodology is detailed separately in the research paper to explain how the study was conducted.

How do I choose the right tone for my thesis statement?

Tailor the tone to match the nature of your research. It can be analytical, argumentative, or explanatory, depending on the purpose and style of your paper.

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Research Paper Guide

Research Paper Thesis

John K.

Writing a Thesis For a Research Paper - A Comprehensive Guide

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Writing a research paper can be tough, and the hardest part for many is creating a strong thesis statement. 

This small section is a big deal because it guides your whole paper. But figuring out how to write it can leave you feeling stuck and frustrated.

Don't worry! 

In this guide, we're going to help you understand how to write a great thesis statement for your research paper. 

It doesn't matter if you're new to this or have done it before. You will get a step-by-step guide to writing a thesis statement that truly reflects your research and transforms your paper into something remarkable.

So, let’s get started.

Arrow Down

  • 1. What is a Thesis Statement?
  • 2. Types of Thesis Statements
  • 3. How to Write a Thesis Statement?
  • 4. Examples of Good and Bad Thesis Statements
  • 5. Things to Avoid While Writing a Thesis Statement

What is a Thesis Statement?

In simple terms, a thesis statement is like the main idea of your research paper. It's a short and strong sentence that tells your readers what your paper is all about. Imagine it as a roadmap that shows where your paper is going. 

This sentence is usually at the beginning of your paper, giving people a hint about what you're going to talk about and what you believe. 

Characteristics of a Good Thesis Statement for a Research Paper

Here are the key characteristics that make a thesis statement stand out:

  • Clearly and concisely previews the main point of the paper.
  • Addresses a particular aspect of the research topic.
  • Tightly focused on the main theme of the research paper.
  • Directly relates to the research question or problem.
  • Lays the groundwork for the evidence presented in the paper.
  • Backed by relevant research or data discussed later.
  • Aligns with the chosen approach (analytical, argumentative, explanatory).
  • Guides readers through the main points and arguments.

Types of Thesis Statements

A thesis statement isn't a one-size-fits-all concept; it comes in different forms based on the goal of your research. Here are three common types:

Argumentative

An argumentative thesis statement takes a clear stance on an issue. It not only states the main point of your paper but also presents an argument or a perspective that you'll support with evidence. 

Analytical 

An analytical thesis statement breaks down a topic into parts and evaluates them. It doesn't make a personal argument but instead analyzes the components of an issue. 

Expository 

An expository thesis statement aims to inform or explain rather than persuade. It provides a clear and straightforward explanation of the topic without expressing a personal opinion. 

Thesis Statement vs. Research Hypothesis vs. Research Question

It's important to know the differences between a thesis statement, research hypothesis, and research question for successful research paper writing. Here's a simple breakdown:

How to Write a Thesis Statement?

Follow these guidelines to ensure your thesis statement is strong and effective:

Step 1: Understand Your Topic

Before you start creating your thesis statement, make sure you really know what your research topic is all about. Take a moment to figure out the main ideas, the scope of your paper, and why you're writing it. 

This clear understanding will help you create a strong thesis statement that fits well with what you want to explore in your research.

Identify the Research Question

Find the main question or issue that your research paper is all about. Ask yourself, "What am I trying to understand or solve?" Your thesis statement needs to give a clear answer to this important question. 

It's like the heart of your paper, responding directly to the big question you're exploring.

Express a Clear Position

Think about your own opinion on the question you're exploring. Do you want to argue for a particular side, look closely at the topic, or provide a general view? 

Your thesis statement should show your chosen approach, whether you're taking a stand, analyzing, or giving an overall picture. It's like deciding where you stand on the topic before you start explaining it.

Brainstorm Key Points

Take a moment to write down the most important things you want to say in your research paper. These are like the big ideas or facts that support what you're talking about. 

They will be the building blocks of your thesis statement, helping you explain your main point clearly.

Be Clear and Concise

Create a short and clear sentence that says the main idea of your paper. Don't use too many complicated words or make it confusing. 

Keep it simple and direct. It's like telling your main point in a way that everyone can understand easily.

Ensure Debatable Elements

Make sure your thesis statement is something people can talk about. It should show a clear opinion that others might agree or disagree with. Your goal is to start a conversation and let readers have their own thoughts. 

Once you’re done writing, take a moment to look over your thesis statement. Check if it fits well with what you want to achieve in your research paper. 

Make sure it helps your readers understand where your paper is going. If needed, make changes to make it clearer and more precise.

Examples of Good and Bad Thesis Statements

Understanding the qualities that distinguish a good thesis statement from a less effective one is crucial. Here is an example of good thesis statement:

Now, take a look at an example of a bad thesis statement:

Things to Avoid While Writing a Thesis Statement

Crafting an effective thesis statement involves not only knowing what to include but also what to steer clear of. Here are key things to avoid:

In conclusion, writing a strong thesis is like creating a roadmap for your research paper. By avoiding common mistakes such as unclear statements or personal opinions without proof, you ensure your thesis is powerful and convincing.

Your thesis should be clear, engaging, and open to discussion. Remember, it's okay to refine it as you discover new insights during your research.

However, if you ever need assistance with your research paper, MyPerfectWords.com is here for you. 

Our team of expert writers is ready to help you with your research paper and make your academic work shine.

Don’t wait! Hire our legit essay writing service today!

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John K. is a professional writer and author with many publications to his name. He has a Ph.D. in the field of management sciences, making him an expert on the subject matter. John is highly sought after for his insights and knowledge, and he regularly delivers keynote speeches and conducts workshops on various topics related to writing and publishing. He is also a regular contributor to various online publications.

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Research Paper Writing Guides

Research Paper Thesis

Last updated on: Jan 15, 2024

How to Write a Research Paper Thesis: A Detailed Guide

By: Donna C.

20 min read

Reviewed By: Jared P.

Published on: Jan 6, 2024

How to Write a Thesis for a Research Paper

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. 

Fear not! 

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! 

How to Write a Thesis for a Research Paper

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What is a Research Paper Thesis?

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: 

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. 

Elements of a Good Research Paper Thesis

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.

Specificity

It goes beyond generalities, providing specific aspects about the focus of the paper. Specificity adds depth and helps in guiding the research process.

Arguability

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.

Conciseness

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.

Alignment with Paper Content

A good thesis aligns seamlessly with the content, reflecting the direction and purpose of the research.

Incorporation of Main Ideas

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.

Guidance for Research

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.

Adaptability

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.

Different Research Paper Thesis Types

Depending on different types of research papers, the thesis can take any of the following forms:

Argumentative Thesis

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.  

Analytical Thesis

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. 

Explanatory Thesis

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. 

These are the most common types of research paper theses. Although there are some other types as well. 

  • Comparative Thesis: Examines similarities and differences between two or more subjects, presenting an analysis of their relationships. 
  • Cause and Effect Thesis: Identifies a relationship between events, asserting that one event leads to another and explaining the consequences. 
  • Descriptive Thesis: Paints a vivid picture of a subject, providing detailed information to create a clear and rich understanding.
  • Problem-Solution Thesis: Highlights an issue and proposes specific solutions to address the identified problem. 
  • Exploratory Thesis: Explores a subject with an open mind, aiming to understand different aspects and perspectives without necessarily forming a definite conclusion.

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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How to Write a Thesis for a Research Paper? 

Follow these steps, and you’ll be writing compelling research thesis statements in no time.

Step 1. Brainstorm Your Topic

If you haven’t yet decided on the research paper topic, the first step is to brainstorm ideas. 

  • Start with identifying your key research areas and interests. 
  • Once you pick a general idea, dig deeper. 
  • Think about what makes you curious about the topic.

For example, if you’ve chosen climate change, your brainstorming might lead you to questions like:

  • How does climate change affect wildlife in specific regions?
  • What are the human activities contributing to climate change?

Topic brainstorming helps you create a roadmap and aids you in pinpointing areas within the broader topic that you’re most interested in. 

Step 2. Conduct Preliminary Research

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.  

Step 3. Choose a Clear Research Question

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: 

  • Get Specific 

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.

  • Make it Matter 

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.

Step 4. Answer the Research Question

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.

  • First Answer, or Working Thesis:

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:

  • Get Your Direction:

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.

Step 5. Include Evidence and Reasoning

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. 

  • Include data showing the correlation between deforestation rates and increased carbon emissions.
  • Provide examples of regions where deforestation has led to changes in climate patterns.
  • Reference scholarly articles written by environmental experts that discuss the impact of deforestation on global warming.

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. 

Step 6. Refine Your Answer

Now that you've presented your initial answer backed by evidence and reasoning, it's time to fine-tune it. 

  • Take a step back and look at your initial answer or working thesis . Does it still hold up in light of the evidence you've gathered? Consider if any adjustments or clarifications are needed.
  • Also, try to look at your answer from different angles and perspectives . Acknowledge alternative perspectives and see if there are valid counterarguments. This step adds depth and meaning to your thesis.
  • Refine your answer to capture the complexity of your topic. Your thesis should not oversimplify; it should reflect the richness of your research project.
  • Make sure that your thesis remains well-supported by the evidence you've gathered.

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: 

Step 7. Finalize Your Thesis Statement

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 . 

One thing to note here is that you shouldn’t exceed the number of sentences used to more than 2. 

Comparing a Strong and a Weak Thesis Statement

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:

By now, you should have a clear idea about what elements are required to craft a strong and adequate thesis statement. 

Research Paper Thesis - Examples

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.

Research Paper Thesis Example

See this effective research paper thesis example that brilliantly addresses the argument and the research direction.

Research Paper Thesis Template

Here is a good research paper thesis template that you can follow:

Thesis Statement Outline PDF

How to Write Thesis for a Research Paper APA Format - Example

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to write a thesis statement for a research paper in APA format:

Middle School Research Paper Thesis 

Research report thesis , history research paper thesis, thesis statement for a psychology research paper, thesis paragraph for a research paper.

Having read these examples, you should be able to give your research paper an edge with compelling thesis statements. 

Thesis Statement vs. Research Question vs. Hypothesis

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. 

Things to Avoid in a Research Paper Thesis

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

  • vague or overly broad statements. 
  • making statements without proper evidence
  • ambiguous and complex language that might confuse your readers. 
  • using a personal bias to overshadow your thesis
  • overly simplistic statements
  • stating the obvious without adding any fresh perspective 

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.

Just visit our website, let us know what you require, and we’ll solve your writing-related woes at the best and most affordable rates! 

Donna C.

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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How to Write a Journal Article from a Thesis

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Table of Contents

You are almost done with your PhD thesis and want to convert it into a journal article. Or, you’re initiating a career as a journal writer and intend to use your thesis as a starting point for an article. Whatever your situation, turning a thesis into a journal article is a logical step and a process that eventually every researcher completes. But…how to start?

The first thing to know about converting a thesis into a journal article is how different they are:

Thesis Characteristics:

  • Meets academic requirements
  • Reviewed by select committee members
  • Contains chapters
  • Lengthy, no word limits
  • Table of contents
  • Lengthy research of literature
  • IRB approval described in detail
  • Description and copies of tools used
  • All findings presented
  • Verb tenses may vary

Journal Article Characteristics:

  • Meets journalistic standards
  • Reviewed by a panel of “blind” reviewers
  • Word limits
  • Manuscript format
  • Succinct research of literature
  • IRB described in 1 to 3 sentences
  • Essential and succinct tool information
  • Selected findings presented
  • Verb tenses are fairly consistent

Converting your thesis to a journal article may be complex, but it’s not impossible.

A thesis is a document of academic nature, so it’s more detailed in content. A journal article, however, is shorter, highlighting key points in a more succinct format. Adapting a thesis for conversion into a journal article is a time-consuming and intricate process that can take you away from other important work. In that case, Elsevier’s Language Editing services may help you focus on important matters and provide a high-quality text for submission in no time at all.

If you are going to convert a thesis into a journal article, with or without professional help, here is a list of some of the steps you will likely have to go through:

1. Identify the best journal for your work

  • Ensure that your article is within the journal’s aim and scope. How to find the right journal? Find out more .
  • Check the journal’s recommended structure and reference style

2. Shorten the length of your thesis

  • Treat your thesis as a separate work
  • Paraphrase but do not distort meaning
  • Select and repurpose parts of your thesis

3. Reformat the introduction as an abstract

  • Shorten the introduction to 100-150 words, but maintain key topics to hold the reader’s attention.
  • Use the introduction and discussion as basis for the abstract

4. Modify the introduction

  • If your thesis has more than one research question or hypothesis, which are not all relevant for your paper, consider combining your research questions or focusing on just one for the article
  • Use previously published papers (at least three) from the target journal as examples

5. Tighten the methods section

  • Keep the discussion about your research approach short

6. Report main findings in the results

  • Expose your main findings in the results section in concise statements

7. Discussion must be clear and concise

  • Begin by providing an interpretation of your results: “What is it that we have learned from your research?”
  • Situate the findings to the literature
  • Discuss how your findings expand known or previous perspectives
  • Briefly present ways in which future studies can build upon your work and address limitations in your study

8. Limit the number of references

  • To choose the most relevant and recent
  • To format them correctly
  • Consider using a reference manager system (e.g. Mendeley ) to make your life easier

If you are not a proficient English speaker, the task of converting a thesis into a journal article might make it even more difficult. At Elsevier’s Language Editing services we ensure that your manuscript is written in correct scientific English before submission. Our professional proofers and editors check your manuscript in detail, taking your text as our own and with the guarantee of maximum text quality.

Language editing services by Elsevier Author Services:

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Literature review

A general guide on how to conduct and write a literature review.

Please check course or programme information and materials provided by teaching staff, including your project supervisor, for subject-specific guidance.

What is a literature review?

A literature review is a piece of academic writing demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the academic literature on a specific topic placed in context.  A literature review also includes a critical evaluation of the material; this is why it is called a literature review rather than a literature report. It is a process of reviewing the literature, as well as a form of writing.

To illustrate the difference between reporting and reviewing, think about television or film review articles.  These articles include content such as a brief synopsis or the key points of the film or programme plus the critic’s own evaluation.  Similarly the two main objectives of a literature review are firstly the content covering existing research, theories and evidence, and secondly your own critical evaluation and discussion of this content. 

Usually a literature review forms a section or part of a dissertation, research project or long essay.  However, it can also be set and assessed as a standalone piece of work.

What is the purpose of a literature review?

…your task is to build an argument, not a library. Rudestam, K.E. and Newton, R.R. (1992) Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process. California: Sage, p49.

In a larger piece of written work, such as a dissertation or project, a literature review is usually one of the first tasks carried out after deciding on a topic.  Reading combined with critical analysis can help to refine a topic and frame research questions.  Conducting a literature review establishes your familiarity with and understanding of current research in a particular field before carrying out a new investigation. After doing a literature review, you should know what research has already been done and be able to identify what is unknown within your topic.

When doing and writing a literature review, it is good practice to:

  • summarise and analyse previous research and theories;
  • identify areas of controversy and contested claims;
  • highlight any gaps that may exist in research to date.

Conducting a literature review

Focusing on different aspects of your literature review can be useful to help plan, develop, refine and write it.  You can use and adapt the prompt questions in our worksheet below at different points in the process of researching and writing your review.  These are suggestions to get you thinking and writing.

Developing and refining your literature review (pdf)

Developing and refining your literature review (Word)

Developing and refining your literature review (Word rtf)

Writing a literature review has a lot in common with other assignment tasks.  There is advice on our other pages about thinking critically, reading strategies and academic writing.  Our literature review top tips suggest some specific things you can do to help you submit a successful review.

Literature review top tips (pdf)

Literature review top tips (Word rtf)

Our reading page includes strategies and advice on using books and articles and a notes record sheet grid you can use.

Reading at university

The Academic writing page suggests ways to organise and structure information from a range of sources and how you can develop your argument as you read and write.

Academic writing

The Critical thinking page has advice on how to be a more critical researcher and a form you can use to help you think and break down the stages of developing your argument.

Critical thinking

As with other forms of academic writing, your literature review needs to demonstrate good academic practice by following the Code of Student Conduct and acknowledging the work of others through citing and referencing your sources.  

Good academic practice

As with any writing task, you will need to review, edit and rewrite sections of your literature review.  The Editing and proofreading page includes tips on how to do this and strategies for standing back and thinking about your structure and checking the flow of your argument.

Editing and proofreading

Guidance on literature searching from the University Library

The Academic Support Librarians have developed LibSmart I and II, Learn courses to help you develop and enhance your digital research skills and capabilities; from getting started with the Library to managing data for your dissertation.

Searching using the library’s DiscoverEd tool: DiscoverEd

Finding resources in your subject: Subject guides

The Academic Support Librarians also provide one-to-one appointments to help you develop your research strategies.

1 to 1 support for literature searching and systematic reviews

Advice to help you optimise use of Google Scholar, Google Books and Google for your research and study: Using Google

Managing and curating your references

A referencing management tool can help you to collect and organise and your source material to produce a bibliography or reference list. 

Referencing and reference management

Information Services provide access to Cite them right online which is a guide to the main referencing systems and tells you how to reference just about any source (EASE log-in may be required).

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Published study guides

There are a number of scholarship skills books and guides available which can help with writing a literature review.  Our Resource List of study skills guides includes sections on Referencing, Dissertation and project writing and Literature reviews.

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  • How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples

How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples

Published on February 28, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 18, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

How to Write an Abstract

An abstract is a short summary of a longer work (such as a thesis ,  dissertation or research paper ). The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about.

Although the structure may vary slightly depending on your discipline, your abstract should describe the purpose of your work, the methods you’ve used, and the conclusions you’ve drawn.

One common way to structure your abstract is to use the IMRaD structure. This stands for:

  • Introduction

Abstracts are usually around 100–300 words, but there’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check the relevant requirements.

In a dissertation or thesis , include the abstract on a separate page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

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Table of contents

Abstract example, when to write an abstract, step 1: introduction, step 2: methods, step 3: results, step 4: discussion, tips for writing an abstract, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about abstracts.

Hover over the different parts of the abstract to see how it is constructed.

This paper examines the role of silent movies as a mode of shared experience in the US during the early twentieth century. At this time, high immigration rates resulted in a significant percentage of non-English-speaking citizens. These immigrants faced numerous economic and social obstacles, including exclusion from public entertainment and modes of discourse (newspapers, theater, radio).

Incorporating evidence from reviews, personal correspondence, and diaries, this study demonstrates that silent films were an affordable and inclusive source of entertainment. It argues for the accessible economic and representational nature of early cinema. These concerns are particularly evident in the low price of admission and in the democratic nature of the actors’ exaggerated gestures, which allowed the plots and action to be easily grasped by a diverse audience despite language barriers.

Keywords: silent movies, immigration, public discourse, entertainment, early cinema, language barriers.

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You will almost always have to include an abstract when:

  • Completing a thesis or dissertation
  • Submitting a research paper to an academic journal
  • Writing a book or research proposal
  • Applying for research grants

It’s easiest to write your abstract last, right before the proofreading stage, because it’s a summary of the work you’ve already done. Your abstract should:

  • Be a self-contained text, not an excerpt from your paper
  • Be fully understandable on its own
  • Reflect the structure of your larger work

Start by clearly defining the purpose of your research. What practical or theoretical problem does the research respond to, or what research question did you aim to answer?

You can include some brief context on the social or academic relevance of your dissertation topic , but don’t go into detailed background information. If your abstract uses specialized terms that would be unfamiliar to the average academic reader or that have various different meanings, give a concise definition.

After identifying the problem, state the objective of your research. Use verbs like “investigate,” “test,” “analyze,” or “evaluate” to describe exactly what you set out to do.

This part of the abstract can be written in the present or past simple tense  but should never refer to the future, as the research is already complete.

  • This study will investigate the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • This study investigates the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.

Next, indicate the research methods that you used to answer your question. This part should be a straightforward description of what you did in one or two sentences. It is usually written in the past simple tense, as it refers to completed actions.

  • Structured interviews will be conducted with 25 participants.
  • Structured interviews were conducted with 25 participants.

Don’t evaluate validity or obstacles here — the goal is not to give an account of the methodology’s strengths and weaknesses, but to give the reader a quick insight into the overall approach and procedures you used.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Next, summarize the main research results . This part of the abstract can be in the present or past simple tense.

  • Our analysis has shown a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Our analysis shows a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Our analysis showed a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.

Depending on how long and complex your research is, you may not be able to include all results here. Try to highlight only the most important findings that will allow the reader to understand your conclusions.

Finally, you should discuss the main conclusions of your research : what is your answer to the problem or question? The reader should finish with a clear understanding of the central point that your research has proved or argued. Conclusions are usually written in the present simple tense.

  • We concluded that coffee consumption increases productivity.
  • We conclude that coffee consumption increases productivity.

If there are important limitations to your research (for example, related to your sample size or methods), you should mention them briefly in the abstract. This allows the reader to accurately assess the credibility and generalizability of your research.

If your aim was to solve a practical problem, your discussion might include recommendations for implementation. If relevant, you can briefly make suggestions for further research.

If your paper will be published, you might have to add a list of keywords at the end of the abstract. These keywords should reference the most important elements of the research to help potential readers find your paper during their own literature searches.

Be aware that some publication manuals, such as APA Style , have specific formatting requirements for these keywords.

It can be a real challenge to condense your whole work into just a couple of hundred words, but the abstract will be the first (and sometimes only) part that people read, so it’s important to get it right. These strategies can help you get started.

Read other abstracts

The best way to learn the conventions of writing an abstract in your discipline is to read other people’s. You probably already read lots of journal article abstracts while conducting your literature review —try using them as a framework for structure and style.

You can also find lots of dissertation abstract examples in thesis and dissertation databases .

Reverse outline

Not all abstracts will contain precisely the same elements. For longer works, you can write your abstract through a process of reverse outlining.

For each chapter or section, list keywords and draft one to two sentences that summarize the central point or argument. This will give you a framework of your abstract’s structure. Next, revise the sentences to make connections and show how the argument develops.

Write clearly and concisely

A good abstract is short but impactful, so make sure every word counts. Each sentence should clearly communicate one main point.

To keep your abstract or summary short and clear:

  • Avoid passive sentences: Passive constructions are often unnecessarily long. You can easily make them shorter and clearer by using the active voice.
  • Avoid long sentences: Substitute longer expressions for concise expressions or single words (e.g., “In order to” for “To”).
  • Avoid obscure jargon: The abstract should be understandable to readers who are not familiar with your topic.
  • Avoid repetition and filler words: Replace nouns with pronouns when possible and eliminate unnecessary words.
  • Avoid detailed descriptions: An abstract is not expected to provide detailed definitions, background information, or discussions of other scholars’ work. Instead, include this information in the body of your thesis or paper.

If you’re struggling to edit down to the required length, you can get help from expert editors with Scribbr’s professional proofreading services or use the paraphrasing tool .

Check your formatting

If you are writing a thesis or dissertation or submitting to a journal, there are often specific formatting requirements for the abstract—make sure to check the guidelines and format your work correctly. For APA research papers you can follow the APA abstract format .

Checklist: Abstract

The word count is within the required length, or a maximum of one page.

The abstract appears after the title page and acknowledgements and before the table of contents .

I have clearly stated my research problem and objectives.

I have briefly described my methodology .

I have summarized the most important results .

I have stated my main conclusions .

I have mentioned any important limitations and recommendations.

The abstract can be understood by someone without prior knowledge of the topic.

You've written a great abstract! Use the other checklists to continue improving your thesis or dissertation.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

Research bias

  • Anchoring bias
  • Halo effect
  • The Baader–Meinhof phenomenon
  • The placebo effect
  • Nonresponse bias
  • Deep learning
  • Generative AI
  • Machine learning
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Supervised vs. unsupervised learning

 (AI) Tools

  • Grammar Checker
  • Paraphrasing Tool
  • Text Summarizer
  • AI Detector
  • Plagiarism Checker
  • Citation Generator

An abstract is a concise summary of an academic text (such as a journal article or dissertation ). It serves two main purposes:

  • To help potential readers determine the relevance of your paper for their own research.
  • To communicate your key findings to those who don’t have time to read the whole paper.

Abstracts are often indexed along with keywords on academic databases, so they make your work more easily findable. Since the abstract is the first thing any reader sees, it’s important that it clearly and accurately summarizes the contents of your paper.

An abstract for a thesis or dissertation is usually around 200–300 words. There’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check your university’s requirements.

The abstract is the very last thing you write. You should only write it after your research is complete, so that you can accurately summarize the entirety of your thesis , dissertation or research paper .

Avoid citing sources in your abstract . There are two reasons for this:

  • The abstract should focus on your original research, not on the work of others.
  • The abstract should be self-contained and fully understandable without reference to other sources.

There are some circumstances where you might need to mention other sources in an abstract: for example, if your research responds directly to another study or focuses on the work of a single theorist. In general, though, don’t include citations unless absolutely necessary.

The abstract appears on its own page in the thesis or dissertation , after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, July 18). How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved March 20, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/abstract/

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons: It gives your writing direction and focus. It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point. Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

  2. What Is a Thesis?

    A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

  3. What is a thesis

    A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic. Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument. Integral to these competencies is thorough research ...

  4. How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper in 2024: Steps and

    Having a specific research question in mind can help researchers formulate a strong, sound thesis statement to address this question. 2. Construct a statement that directly addresses the research question. Once the research question has been identified, preliminary research on the topic can begin.

  5. How to write a thesis statement + Examples

    A good thesis statement needs to do the following: Condense the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences. Answer your project's main research question. Clearly state your position in relation to the topic. Make an argument that requires support or evidence.

  6. Developing A Thesis

    Keep your thesis prominent in your introduction. A good, standard place for your thesis statement is at the end of an introductory paragraph, especially in shorter (5-15 page) essays. Readers are used to finding theses there, so they automatically pay more attention when they read the last sentence of your introduction.

  7. Thesis

    Thesis. Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore ...

  8. Research Paper: A step-by-step guide: 3. Thesis Statement & Outline

    An outline is the skeleton 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 ...

  9. How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper

    Before you can write a thesis statement, you need to understand the purpose and scope of your research. Pinpoint the specific topic or issue you'll be exploring and the main objective of your paper. You should also familiarize yourself with the existing literature and research related to your topic because these will help you refine your ...

  10. How to write a thesis statement for a research paper

    1. Start with a question. A good thesis statement should be an answer to a research question. Start by asking a question about your topic that you want to address in your paper. This will help you focus your research and give your paper direction. The thesis statement should be a concise answer to this question.

  11. Academic Guides: Writing a Paper: Thesis Statements

    When drafting your thesis statement, avoid words like explore, investigate, learn, compile, summarize, and explain to describe the main purpose of your paper. These words imply a paper that summarizes or "reports," rather than synthesizing and analyzing. Instead of the terms above, try words like argue, critique, question, and interrogate.

  12. Creating a Thesis Statement, Thesis Statement Tips

    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 ...

  13. How To Write a Thesis For a Research Paper -Steps & Examples

    Here's a guide with steps and examples: Step 1. Understand the Assignment. Before diving into writing a thesis statement, thoroughly understand the assignment's requirements, including the topic, length, and specific guidelines provided by your instructor or the prompt. Step 2.

  14. How To Write A Thesis For A Research Paper: Examples & Tips

    Craft a thesis open to discussion; avoid statements that shut down interpretation. Failure to Evolve with Research. Allow the thesis to evolve with new findings; keep it current and relevant. In conclusion, writing a strong thesis is like creating a roadmap for your research paper.

  15. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates. Published on June 7, 2022 by Tegan George.Revised on November 21, 2023. A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process.It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding the specifics of your dissertation topic and showcasing its relevance to ...

  16. How to Write a Thesis for a Research Paper

    Step 7. Finalize Your Thesis Statement. 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.

  17. How to Write a Journal Article from a Thesis

    2. Shorten the length of your thesis. Treat your thesis as a separate work. Paraphrase but do not distort meaning. Select and repurpose parts of your thesis. 3. Reformat the introduction as an abstract. Shorten the introduction to 100-150 words, but maintain key topics to hold the reader's attention.

  18. How to write a research paper from a thesis?

    Identify the gaps in literature that led up to your topic and then state your research question. Your introduction should roughly be around one-fourth of the entire length of your article. Thus, if the word limit for your article is 2500 words, your introduction should be around 600 words. Methods: The methods section should be more concise and ...

  19. How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

    Overview of the structure. To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.

  20. Literature review

    highlight any gaps that may exist in research to date. Conducting a literature review. Focusing on different aspects of your literature review can be useful to help plan, develop, refine and write it. You can use and adapt the prompt questions in our worksheet below at different points in the process of researching and writing your review.

  21. Research Methodology Guide: Writing Tips, Types, & Examples

    Importance of methodology in research papers. When it comes to writing your study, the methodology in research papers or a dissertation plays a pivotal role. A well-crafted methodology section of a research paper or thesis not only enhances the credibility of your research but also provides a roadmap for others to replicate or build upon your work.

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  23. How to Write a Research Paper

    Conduct preliminary research. Develop a thesis statement. Create a research paper outline. Write a first draft of the research paper. Write the introduction. Write a compelling body of text. Write the conclusion. The second draft. The revision process.

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  25. How to Write an Abstract

    An abstract is a short summary of a longer work (such as a thesis, dissertation or research paper). The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about. ... If you are writing a thesis or dissertation or submitting to a journal, there are often specific formatting ...