Explanatory Notes and Thesis Statement Examples for Research Papers
Thesis statement examples for research papers are especially useful tools for university students because many of the essays and other assignments that must be completed in order to earn course credit and final degrees are argumentative in nature. If a student is asked to analyse or interpret a problem, trend or artistic creation; if the instructions for an assignment recommend comparing and contrasting events, entities or patterns; if the task is to develop a position or make a claim about an important topic or issue, persuasive writing and a focussed academic argument will almost certainly be required. A well-conceived thesis statement is a key element in successful argumentative writing of this kind, yet there is no single formula for constructing an excellent thesis statement that will prove effective for every kind of research paper. For this reason, thesis statement examples for research papers can sometimes be even more instructive and useful than explicit guidance on how to write a thesis statement, but examples and advice tend to work best together, so thesis statement examples for research papers are offered here along with explanatory notes about essential details and practices.
The placement of a thesis statement in a research paper can be considered one of these essentials because it is vital that it appears early in the document – usually at the end of the first paragraph in a short essay and by the end of the introduction in a longer paper. Thinking of the thesis statement as a kind of word map to the ideas and argument presented in a research paper can be helpful. An informative and engaging thesis statement lets readers know what to expect and encourages them to read on, while it also reminds the author what needs to be written and helps keep the argument and the paper as a whole focussed and coherent. When a thesis statement is created for a specific assignment, it is always essential to ensure that its position and contents are in conformity with any guidelines provided by the instructor.
In order to achieve its purposes for both author and reader, a thesis statement must clearly state the topic of the research paper and convey the author’s opinion, perspective or specific claim about that topic. Consider the following brief thesis statement examples for research papers:
1. Parents and teachers should limit children’s use of the internet.
2. Instead of pumping funds into the sinking ship of petroleum power, governments must invest in alternate forms of energy immediately.
In each of these thesis statement examples for research papers the topic is clear – the use of the internet by children in No.1 and investment in alternate forms of energy in No.2 – and so is the author’s perspective: for limiting children’s use of the internet in the first and for immediate investment in alternate energy sources in the second. The opinions expressed are debatable rather than simple facts and are therefore appropriate for an argumentative research paper. These thesis statement examples for research papers are rather basic, however, and leave the reader asking ‘Why?’ so more information is usually advisable if not strictly required.
The reasons why the author thinks or feels the way the thesis statement indicates should also be included in a comprehensive thesis statement. The following two thesis statement examples for research papers add this kind of logical support for the author’s opinion:
3. Parents and teachers should limit children’s use of the internet because excessive online activity reduces social interaction in the real world, has serious physical ramifications and exposes children to predatory users of the internet.
4. The argument that testing cosmetic products on laboratory animals is valuable and acceptable because the animals are bred for the purpose is inherently flawed for three reasons: 1) most cosmetic use among human beings is entirely unnecessary; 2) animals bred for testing are so different from cosmetic users that the value of the results is questionable; and 3) a parallel argument that claimed it was acceptable to breed human beings for laboratory tests would be not just unpersuasive but appalling.
Whether they are presented with a simple ‘because’ as in the first of these thesis statement examples for research papers or numbered as in the second, the reasons supporting a thesis statement are generally introduced in the order in which they will be treated in the paper itself. Each of the reasons might be discussed with supporting evidence in a single paragraph for a short research paper and perhaps in a few paragraphs for a longer one, lending the paper structure as the argument is developed. The most important or striking reason is often saved for last, but any arrangement that enables a logical and compelling argument is acceptable as long as the thesis statement is adjusted to match it.
Another way in which to elaborate a thesis statement is to add a qualification or concession, as I have done in these two thesis statement examples for research papers:
5. Although many websites provide educational material for children, parents and teachers should limit children’s use of the internet because excessive online activity reduces social interaction in the real world, has serious physical ramifications and exposes children to predatory users of the internet.
6. Admittedly, existing infrastructure must be maintained during the transition to alternate forms of energy, but pumping funds into new construction on the sinking ship of petroleum power is pointless and wasteful. Limited natural resources, destruction of sensitive animal habitats and the reality of global warming make it clear that governments must invest in alternate forms of energy immediately.
Adding a concession of this kind means considering contradictory evidence and opinions in a direct manner and enables another level of discussion for developing a thoughtful argument. By dedicating a paragraph or two to the websites that offer educational material for children, for instance, the author of the fifth of my thesis statement examples for research papers would have the opportunity to introduce basic criteria for determining the value of online sites for children – criteria that parents and teachers who are interested in ensuring a safe and productive internet experience for the children in their care may find extremely helpful.
In the sixth of my thesis statement examples for research papers the concession necessitates changes in the original sentence structure of the statement, and I have also added the reasons the original statement lacked. The single sentence used in the first version (No.2) of this thesis statement has consequently grown to two sentences (No.6), which is acceptable for most research papers, and there has been some refinement of the language and ideas as well. This sort of refinement of a thesis statement is part of the normal process of writing a research paper, which often begins with a rough or working thesis statement that is gradually changed in accordance with the content of the argument as it unfolds. The fifth of my thesis statement examples for research papers might therefore be refined to this final form:
7. Although many websites offer educational material for children, parents and teachers should limit children’s use of the internet because unregulated online activity reduces social interaction, has serious physical ramifications and exposes children to predators lurking on the internet.
This example, on the other hand, might be a first or working version of No.4 above:
8. The argument that testing cosmetics on lab animals is okay because they are bred for the purpose is wrong for so many reasons: cosmetic use is entirely unnecessary, animals bred for testing are not humans, and transferring the argument to humans packs a horrific punch.
That last statement (No.8) lacks the clarity, precision and formality required in a finished thesis statement, but it expresses the ideas, reasons and emotions that compel the author to write and provides a specific way of understanding the topic. As a viewpoint that the author thinks can be supported through sound evidence and logic, it is an excellent start, and, like most thesis statement examples for research papers, it can be gradually refined and improved as the paper is written and the argument finalised.
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