Stating Your Thesis

Most traditional research essays will require some kind of explicitly stated thesis. This means you should state your thesis clearly and directly for your readers. A thesis is a statement of purpose, one to two sentences long, about your research, that is often presented at the beginning of your essay to prepare your audience for the content of your whole research paper. Your thesis is often presented at the end of your introductory paragraph or paragraphs.

Your thesis statement should state your topic and, in a persuasive research essay, state your assertion about that topic. You should avoid simply “announcing” your thesis and should work to make it engaging. A good thesis will answer the “so what?” question your audience might have about your research paper. A good thesis statement will tell your readers what your research paper will be about and, specifically, why it is important.

You should avoid thesis statements that simply announce your purpose. For example, in a research paper on health care reform, you should avoid a thesis statement like this:

In this essay, I will write about health care in the United States.

Instead, a good thesis statement on health care reform in the United States would be more specific and make a point that will help establish a clear purpose and focus for your essay. It might look something like this:

Although health care reform is a controversial topic in the United States, the need for strong reform is important, as too many Americans are living without access to health care.

Of course, not all research papers are persuasive. As you learned in Types of Research Papers, research papers can also be analytical. In developing a thesis for an analytical essay, you won’t make an argument, but you’ll still want to provide a specific statement about the purpose of your essay. A good analytical thesis statement might look something like this:

Analysis of high school dropout rates reveals that an emphasis on standardized testing plays a role in higher dropout rates among American high school boys, resulting in what some educational researchers call “the boy crisis.”

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