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How to Make a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper: How to Make a Striking Argument

A thesis statement should establish a claim that you will be proving (or testing) with your research. It should also evoke interest and encourage people to read your paper. Putting all this in a single sentence (your thesis statement is not usually supposed to be any longer) may seem like a challenging task, especially if you have little experience with research papers.

If you do not know where to begin, ask yourself a question: “What am I trying to prove in this paper?” Write down your answer. Be as concise and specific as possible. If your point is that present-day films are generally more spectacular and better made than those of the 1960s, explain how and why they became that way. “Due to the advanced technologies of computer-generated imagery, movie-makers can create scenes that could have never gotten to the screen otherwise.” Now you have written the first draft of your thesis statement.

More tips on how to write a strong thesis statement:

  • Stick to a single idea. Discuss your main point in detail, but do not include any other issues. For example, if your research subject revolves around the reasons that the North and South fought the Civil War, consider something like: “While Northerners fought against the oppression of slaves, Southerners defended their land and the right to self-government from what they believed to be an intervention.” Do not add anything about war causalities, brutality, or aftermaths; even if you discuss them below. Information irrelevant to your primary focus will take your readers away from it.
  • Follow a successful pattern. Thesis statements that begin with “Because of” or “Although” work in most cases. “Although the American steel industry is often seen as advanced, its main problem is the lack of funds for the renovation of outdated equipment.”
  • Try to give your thesis statement an unexpected twist. Consider the two examples above; they introduce one side of a problem and then another. This is not a must, but if you want a truly striking argument, you should surprise your reader. First, present an opposing reason, then shatter it.
  • Make a point that other people may agree or disagree with. Do not simply state facts. “The use of mobile devices in a classroom can influence the learning process” is a bare fact. No one would wish to read about what they already know. “The use of mobile devices in a classroom can facilitate the learning process by making it more engaging” is a good thesis statement that clearly expresses your view on the research problem, but still remains open to discussion.
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