How to write a research essay: building a strong thesis statement

When your instructor assigns a research essay, your instructor is look for your ability to thoughtfully prove a thesis with quality evidence. In order to do this, you need a choice topic and the skills to argue it. Along with being able to write high quality body paragraphs, creatively important introductions, and a memorable conclusion, you need to know how to craft a strong thesis statement. Without the thesis statement, the rest of the research essay has nowhere to go. Here are some tips to help you get the thesis statement in order:

Choose your topic: Without a topic, your thesis statement cannot be built. When you choose your topic, you need one that can be effectively argued. So, you do not want a topic that you simply regurgitate information. You need a topic that allows you to take sides.

Narrow the topic: Most students choose topics that are too big and need to be narrowed to something manageable. Topics are often so large that they can be covered in the form of several books. You need to narrow your topic to something that can be managed in an essay.

Develop an argument: The best way to narrow a topic is to build a real argument. Write a few sentences that shows exactly what you want to prove. At this point, do not worry about editing as you write this short argument. When you write the argument, you simply want to get your words down so you can revise them later.

Summarize your argument: Look at the work you created and shorten it into a one sentence summary. This is when your argument will begin to develop into a thesis statement. Since thesis statements need to be only one sentence in length, you will need to get your thesis into something manageable.

Test the summary: In order to see that your argument will actually work, you should test it. The easiest way to test your summary is to give it the “I think” test. All you need to do is put “I think” in front of your summary. If the test works, your statement will sound comfortable and arguable. If it does not, then you should be sure to edit the statement so it does pass the test.

Fine tune your thesis: Edit the statement so it is worded to your satisfaction. Remove the “I think” and your statement should be ready for the essay.

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