A thesis is a clear statement about a paper's focus that can usually be refined to one or two sentences. Many students will compose a research paper thesis statement by the time they enter college. With research papers, theses may change slightly because some papers are very long. A paper of 30-40 pages might need a longer thesis statement that mentions several points it will cover in depth. Students must construct theses based on the formality of the paper, and discipline and instructor preferences.
In many instances, the writer attempts to do one of several things in a research paper. He can prove a point (argue), discuss the research of others (analyze), or explain something (expose or expository). Argumentative and analytical papers are more common in researched work. Writing the research paper thesis statement comes down to making a clear statement early in the paper, usually in paragraph one, about the writer’s plans. Writers have to very specifically state what the argument or analysis is about; the thesis must address the heart of the subject and the focus of the paper.
When many people are writing, they find that a research paper thesis statement they begin with doesn’t contain all the points they’ve written about when they finish. There are two ways to handle this: cut all extraneous material unrelated to the thesis or rewrite the thesis to encompass the additional material. The second method is often used, and many writers begin with a working thesis, just as many researchers begin with a working hypothesis. This changes as more writing is done or more research is revealed. The thesis can either restrict the material, keeping the writer strictly on topic, or writers can change a thesis at the end of a paper to enlarge the topic; the new material still should be reasonably related to the original thesis.
Many arguments are advanced about style of the research paper thesis statement. Some professors are happy with statements that begin: “In this essay I will argue…” and others demand a subtler approach that states a research paper thesis statement, while leaving out personal pronouns. A one-sentence thesis may be difficult to accomplish in large papers, but it’s possible to use extended sentences to discuss several sub-points of an argument, if students must follow a one-sentence rule.
Exact placement of the statement is a matter of argument too. Some instructors want it to occur in the last sentence or two of a first paragraph. On the other hand, many academic writing examples feature an introductory paragraph that precedes a paragraph that contains the thesis.
To get better at composing the research paper thesis statement, students can rely on a number of resources. Instructors are the best resource, since they grade the papers, but campus writing centers are useful, too. Students can also use style guides for their discipline, and many online writing resources. Ultimately, practice in this area becomes a great teacher.