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Step 3 - Create a Thesis Statement/Research Strategy

Key Points
  1. Understand how to write a thesis statement.
  2. Understand the importance of a basic research strategy.
  3. Remember that the Writing Center and Learning Center can be a big help.

Student using Laptop

Now that you have established a topic for your assignment and explored your focus, it is time to create a specific statement describing exactly what you are writing about. This step will explain how to develop a thesis statement and will introduce search strategies.

A thesis statement is simply a declaration of what your paper is about. It tells your audience what to expect and explains your interpretation of the subject.

The Learning Center provides a tool that can help you create a thesis statement called the Thesis Builder - give it a try!

No matter what type of paper you are working on, you will want to construct a very specific statement that clearly explains what you are writing about. A thesis statement is recommended because it organizes your ideas and arguments and helps your audience understand the purpose of your paper.

 

Types of Papers

It is important to understand these types, because it will determine how you write your thesis statement:

Analytical

Asks you to become the expert on a subject. For this paper, you must fully understand the research found on the subject, break down and evaluate the ideas, and present the information from your own perspective.

Example:

An analysis of students' opinions concerning recycling uncovers three factors that deter them from properly disposing of cans, bottles and paper on campus. The students perceive that there are not enough recycling containers on campus, positive reinforcement or time.

 

Argumentative / Persuasive

Asks you to become the expert on the research and evaluate the content. But in this paper you must take a stand or side of an issue and use the research you find as evidence. Your thesis statement makes an argumentative assertion about a topic and states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.

Example:

Service learning courses should be required in every undergraduate major and need to be completed before gaining a degree.

 

Expository (explanatory)

An expository paper explains a subject to an audience in a step-by-step manner.

Example:

Properly caring for teeth includes daily flossing, brushing after meals and regular visits to a dentist.

 

Scientific Report

A scientific report, usually in science or social science disciplines, explains an experiment or study that you have designed and executed. A hypothesis takes the place of your thesis statement, which proposes an idea to explain why something is the way it is. The hypothesis is written in a way to show how one thing relates or is influenced by another.

Example:

It was hypothesized that daily reading to preschoolers results in increased test scores and better vocabulary later in life compared to those who were never read to.

 

Personal narrative

Many times you will be asked to write about your own life experience, background, identity, history, etc.

Example:

The article of clothing that is most important to me is the dress from my Quinceañera celebration.

Important Remember

Until your paper is complete, your thesis statement is still in progress and can be changed or revised. Look for information that supports your topic but be open to finding lots of different resources, since what you discover may change your thesis statement.

Use the Who, What, When, Where, or Why Strategy given to you in Step 2.

 

Ask yourself

Research Strategy

Now that you have your thesis statement, the next major phase is to start your research. Steps 4, 5 and 6 will explain three different kinds of resources to explore in doing the research for your assignment. These are:

All three types of resources are important in the research process, but they differ in many ways. Depending on your topic, certain resources may be more appropriate than others. For example, if you are to write an analytical paper on the three branches of government, you may want to start with books or encyclopedias. If you have to give a persuasive speech on how Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth has affected people's perceptions of environmental issues, journal articles would be a better source of information.