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Research Foundations: Develop a Thesis Statement

Developing a Thesis Statement

Now that you've learned about your topic through background research and developed your topic into a research question, you can formulate a solid thesis statement. The thesis statement can be looked at as the answer to your research question. It guides the focus of your research and the direction of your arguments, and also prevents any unnecessary tangents within your project. A strong thesis statement will always make it easier to maintain a clear direction while conducting your information search.

Thesis statements are one sentence long and are focused, clear, declarative, and written in third person voice. Read the sections below for more information and view examples.

1. Focused

Focus on a single position or point of view in your thesis statement. You cannot effectively address multiple perspectives within a single paper, as you want to make coherent points to support your position.

Weak Thesis:
Underfunded arts programs, underpaid teachers, and standardized testing are all factors in underachieving students in public schools.

Stronger Thesis:
The emphasis on standardized testing is a critical factor in the underperformance of public school students.

2. Clear

Present your argument or position clearly and precisely. A clear thesis statement will avoid generalizations and make your position known.

Weak Thesis:
The lack of funding in public schools is a major issue in the American education system.

Stronger Thesis:
Underfunding arts programs in public schools does not adequately prepare students for college.

3. Declarative

Present your position or point of view as a statement or declarative sentence. Your research question helped guide your initial searching so you could learn more about your topic. Now that you have completed that step, you can extract a thesis statement based on the research you have discovered.

Weak Thesis:
Does car exhaust impact climate change?

Stronger Thesis:
Car exhaust is a leading contributor to climate change.

4. Third Person

Write your thesis statement in third person voice. Rather than addressing "I," "we," "you," "my," or "our" in your thesis, look at the larger issues that affect a greater number of participants. Think in terms like "citizens," "students," "artists," "teachers," "researchers," etc.

Weak Thesis:
I think using your cell phone while driving is the leading cause of traffic deaths for people in my age group.

Stronger Thesis:
Cell phone use is the leading cause of traffic deaths in teenagers.