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How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 14, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .

Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.

You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:

Table of contents

What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.

The best thesis statements are:

The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.

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You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.

You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?

For example, you might ask:

After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .

Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.

In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.

The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.

In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.

The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.

A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:

The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.

These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.

Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

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15 Thesis Statement Examples for Research Papers to Inspire You

Tell me if this has happened to you: your phone gets dunked in water (we won’t discuss how), and you start researching to see if putting it in rice will actually save it.

You read a few blog posts and watch a few videos. But instead of immediately putting your phone in a bag of rice, you click on the next article about car cleaning hacks. That leads to an article about cooking pizza with a torch. That leads to an article about new outdoor gear, and before you know it, you’re buying a pair of hiking boots.

It’s a dangerous rabbit hole.

A research paper without a strong thesis statement is a lot like the internet rabbit hole. It offers no clear direction, causing readers to wonder where they’re headed.

Wandering around and feeling a little lost is okay if you want to waste time reading random articles online. But you certainly don’t want your audience  of readers to feel like they’re wasting time or wandering aimlessly while they read your paper.

Thus, you need a clear, concise thesis statement to help provide readers with that all-important direction. Not sure how to get there? Let’s talk thesis statements.

thesis statement examples for research papers

A Quick Reminder About the Research Paper Thesis Statement

Before we get to the actual list of thesis statement examples for research papers, let’s talk specifically about thesis statements for this type of paper.

As you may know, a thesis statement is a clear, concise statement that explains the purpose of your paper. It’s a roadmap to help readers understand what to expect as they read.

The thesis statement for a research paper is mostly like any other thesis statement, but it’s a good idea to develop a working thesis statement for your research paper before you actually begin the heavy research.

Keep in mind that you might still need to do some preliminary research in order to develop your ideas and a solid focus for your paper. But it’s important to know what you’re looking for before you start looking.

Knowing what you’re searching for will also help you find better sources and save you a ton of time .

Not convinced?

Consider this. If you have a general sense of your thesis, you won’t start researching technology addiction and end up reading about smartphone addiction, technology in schools, internet addiction, and a million other non-related topics before you find any useful resources about your real topic: the increasing number of teen males in the US who are addicted to video games .

In other words, developing a working thesis before you begin your research will keep you from going down that rabbit hole of information and wasting an entire afternoon.

Looking for a few more reminders about how to write a thesis statement before you start working? Check out these posts:

Now that you’re feeling refreshed and remember exactly what you need to do to craft the perfect thesis statement, let’s take a look at 15 thesis statement examples for research papers to give you even more inspiration.

15 Thesis Statement Examples for Research Papers

thesis statement examples for research papers

The examples I’ve included here are thesis statements for research papers. Because such papers are essentially informative and objective , the thesis statements are too. They don’t necessarily take a stance or attempt to argue a position, but they can.

I’ve also added a few links to example papers to help you see how you might approach the relevant topics.

Now, let’s dive into those 15 thesis statement examples for research papers…

Topic #1: Prison overcrowding

Prison overcrowding creates significant safety risks for both inmates and employees.

Topic #2: Online dating

The advent of the internet has changed the dating scene forever.

Topic #3: Work-life balance

Working parents with young children can suffer from extreme guilt if they cannot maintain a proper work-life balance.

Topic #4: Therapy animals in nursing homes

Therapy animals have been shown to reduce loneliness, lower anxiety, and improve mental functioning in nursing home patients.

thesis statement examples for research papers

Topic #5: Adult children as parental caregivers

Adult children who become caregivers of their aging parents often suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress.

Topic #6: CTE and professional football

Professional football players suffer more than broken bones and strained muscles; they are putting their lives and brains at risk of CTE.

Topic #7: Political scandals

While round-the-clock media coverage suggests that the phenomenon is new, political scandals have been an ever-present reality of American politics.

Topic #8: Cosplay

Cosplay is more than simply dressing up as a character; it is a lifestyle that embodies a character.

thesis statement examples for research papers

Topic #9: Holistic medicine

With increasing concerns about the side effects of prescription medications, many people are turning to holistic medicine for treatment.

Topic #10: Propaganda

Governments have long used propaganda to shape opinions by convincing people to fear and hate enemies and to strengthen nationalism.

Topic #11: Hoarding

Though it can be difficult to convince individuals to seek treatment, hoarding disorder can be effectively treated through behavioral therapy.

Topic #12: Body modification

Many people mistakenly believe that tattoos are a relatively recent phenomenon; however, body modification has been popular for thousands of years.

thesis statement examples for research papers

Topic #13: Fad diets

Fad diets have been prominent in American culture for generations, but many such diets pose potential health risks.

Topic #14: Stereotypes

Generational stereotypes have a profound effect on the media’s portrayal of each group.

Topic #15: Gender discrimination

Many people associate gender discrimination with the adult workforce; however, gender discrimination begins at a much younger age and is present even in elementary schools.

Just in Case You’re Not Yet Inspired

thesis statement examples for research papers

If these topics and thesis statement examples for research papers don’t do it for you, don’t worry. There’s still hope.

The following posts contain a combined total of 167 thesis statements. While most of the thesis statements are for papers other than research papers, you can use the topics and thesis statements for ideas.

Once you have a topic, use our thesis statement builder to help craft the perfect thesis statement for your research essay.

Need a little more help with your thesis statement or any other aspect of your essay? Let us help !

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays .

example of a research paper thesis statement

About the Author

Susan M. Inez is a professor of English and writing goddess based out of the Northeast. In addition to a BA in English Education, an MA in Composition, and an MS in Education, Susan has 20 years of experience teaching courses on composition, writing in the professions, literature, and more. She also served as co-director of a campus writing center for 2 years.

Purdue Online Writing Lab College of Liberal Arts

example of a research paper thesis statement

Developing Strong Thesis Statements

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These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.

The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable

An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.

Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:

This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution implies that something is bad or negative in some way. Furthermore, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is unambiguously good.

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.

Another example of a debatable thesis statement:

In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.

The thesis needs to be narrow

Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.

Example of a thesis that is too broad:

There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.

Example of a narrow or focused thesis:

In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.

We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:

Narrowed debatable thesis 1:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.

Narrowed debatable thesis 2:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.

Qualifiers such as " typically ," " generally ," " usually ," or " on average " also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.

Types of claims

Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, or, in other words, what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.

Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:

Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:

Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:

Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:

Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.


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    Example: Thesis statement Despite Oscar Wilde’s Aestheticist claims that art needs no justification or purpose, his work advocates Irish nationalism, women’s suffrage, and socialism. You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps: Start with a question; Write your initial answer; Develop your answer; Refine your thesis ...

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    Example of an analytical thesis statement: An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors: accepting students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds. The paper that follows should: Explain the analysis of the college admission process.

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    Example of a debatable thesis statement: At least 25 percent of the federal budget should be spent on limiting pollution. This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money.

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    An example of an expository thesis statement, this strong thesis statement summarizes the main ...