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How to Write a Research Paper: Creating a Thesis Statement

General steps to create a research paper.

Thesis Statements

Thesis Statements

A thesis statement is a sentence (or sentences) that expresses the main ideas of your paper and answers the question or questions posed by your paper. It offers a quick and easy-to-follow summary of what the paper will discuss and what you as a writer are setting out to do.

General Thesis Statement Tips

  • A thesis statement generally consists of two parts: your topic, and then the analysis, explanation(s), or assertion(s) that you're making about the topic. The kind of thesis statement you write will depend on what kind of paper you're writing.
  • In some kinds of writing, such as narratives or descriptive essays, a thesis statement is less important, but you may still want to provide some kind of statement in your first paragraph that helps to guide your reader through your paper.
  • A thesis statement is a very specific statement -- it should cover only what you want to discuss in your paper, and be supported with specific evidence. The scope of your paper will be determined by the length of your paper and any other requirements that might be in place.
  • A thesis statement should appear at the end of the first paragraph of an essay, so that readers will have a clear idea of what to expect.
  • It is okay to change the thesis statement to reflect what information has been discovered during research or to indicate the writer's changing opinion. However, the final thesis statement should describe accurately the process and conclusions shown in the paper.

--Modified from the Northern Michigan University Writing Center.

See the Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements at the OWL from Purdue.