The key to writing an effective research paper, regardless of whether you are in high school, college, or graduate school, is a good thesis statement. A good thesis statement should be concise, direct, and must state a point of view. A thesis statement can’t be a fact, because the whole point of a research paper is to argue a point, and you can’t argue your thesis if it’s a fact. Perhaps the hardest thing about writing a good thesis statement is narrowing down a broad topic to a clear thesis that states an arguable point of view. The following guide with examples just might help you write a good thesis statement for a research paper and help you get that A+. (Note: the bolded examples will show you the process of narrowing down a research topic.)
Finding a Topic
Make sure you know what your topic should be about. Let’s begin by assuming that you have an assignment to write a paper pertaining to the Roman Empire. You should then do some research and find a general topic. For example, we’ll take Constantine the Great.
Okay, so you pick Constantine. You should then research the basic facts pertaining to your topic. In this case-Constantine’s life, how he became emperor of the Roman Empire, his effect on Christianity, etc. Once you have that much, you can choose a narrower topic within your topic. This sub-topic should be meaningful and arguably, but preferably not overly controversial. “Overly controversial” refers to, for example, a sub-topic about abortion. For example, Constantine’s conversion to Christianity.
The big question: So what?
You can’t have a thesis statement that says: “Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 A.D.” That would be fact, and you can’t have a research paper arguing the fact. So… you do some further research and learn that Constantine’s conversion to Christianity started the modern Catholic Church, stopped the persecution of Christians, and suppressed Paganism. Voila! Here’s the first “draft” of your thesis statement: When Constantine converted to Christianity, Paganism declined.
That’s good, but not very specific. When did Constantine convert? Where did this happen? What aspect of paganism declined? Also, it’s good to turn this thesis into a cause-effect statement that is easily arguable. Finally, after much thought and contemplation, your thesis statement should look something like this: Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 312 caused Paganistic rituals to decline in the Roman Empire.
Well, only with the thesis statement, but remember that with a good thesis, writing a good paper will be much easier.