Exercise 4: Choose the Best Research Thesis

Below are five exercises designed to improve your ability to select a good research thesis. Choose the best working thesis among each set for the proposed research paper.

Exercise 4A-Thesis Set #1

Thesis A: There are many causes of anorexia nervosa.

Thesis B: Anorexia nervosa has both emotional and social causes which work hand-in-hand.

Thesis C: Anorexia nervosa occurs most often in young women aged 13-22.

Thesis A

Thesis A is weak because it's too general.

Thesis B

Thesis B is the best working thesis. It identifies specific causes of anorexia nervosa and indicates the grouping and order in which the causes will be discussed in the research paper.

Thesis C

Thesis C is too narrow. It could be proven with one or two statistics and does not invite the writer's own perspective on the topic.

Exercise 4B-Thesis Set #2

Thesis A: Business practices in former Soviet Union countries.

Thesis B: Business practices in the countries of the former Soviet Union have changed drastically since the break-up.

Thesis C: Since the break-up of the former Soviet Union, business practices in those countries have changed most in the fields of marketing and customer service, reflecting the changes in government and political philosophy.

Thesis A

Thesis A really is not a thesis at all, since it offers no particular perspective on a topic or stand on an issue.

Thesis B

Thesis B is a researchable thesis, but it may yield too much information to be a good working thesis. "Business practices" can cover many things from marketing and customer service to management philosophies, styles of business correspondence, or speed at which business is conducted.

Thesis C

Thesis C is the best thesis. Thesis C provides more focus than thesis B by identifying the particular areas of business practice to be researched.

Exercise 4C-Thesis Set #3

Thesis A: Shakespeare intended the audience to question the existence of Hamlet's father's ghost.

Thesis B: The appearance of Hamlet's father's ghost raises an important psychological as well as dramatic dilemma in the play.

Thesis C: Critics through the ages have debated the significance of Hamlet's father's ghost.

Thesis A

Thesis A may not be researchable because you'd need to find primary sources to really prove Shakespeare's intent (letters or diaries or notes for plays that Shakespeare wrote). Although you could provide evidence from the play itself to show that Shakespeare intended the audience to question the existence of the ghost, there's other evidence in the play that contradicts this stance. Therefore, you'd need the more "irrefutable" type of evidence that a primary source would provide in this case.

Thesis B

Thesis B is the best thesis.

Thesis B focuses its thought on two types of dilemma raised by the appearance of Hamlet's father's ghost. You could use evidence from the play as well as evidence from critics' interpretations of the play in order to support this stance.

Thesis C

Thesis C is too broad. You'll create a paper without depth if you try to include all of the critics from Shakespeare's time to now who have debated the significance of Hamlet's father's ghost.

Exercise 4D-Thesis Set #4

Thesis A: The "whole language" approach has been effective in raising the reading skills of elementary school children and in helping the children understand the relevance of reading to all fields of study in school.

Thesis B: The "whole language" approach has substantially helped elementary school children to read.

Thesis C: More public schools should implement the "whole language" approach since it has substantially helped elementary school children to read.

Thesis A

Thesis sentences A, B and C are all potentially usable as working theses for a research paper. Thesis B is an example of a working thesis for an analytical research paper while thesis C is an example of a working thesis for an argumentative research paper. Both B and C are researchable and, once you started to research, you'd probably find ways of defining the phrase "substantially helped." Yet the best thesis is thesis A, since it already does specify the ways in which the "whole language" approach has helped elementary school children to read. Thesis A functions better as a working thesis, since it focuses the search in what might be a very broad field of benefits.

Thesis B

Thesis sentences A, B and C are all potentially usable as working theses for a research paper. Thesis B is an example of a working thesis for an analytical research paper while thesis C is an example of a working thesis for an argumentative research paper. Both B and C are researchable and, once you started to research, you'd probably find ways of defining the phrase "substantially helped." Yet the best thesis is thesis A, since it already does specify the ways in which the "whole language" approach has helped elementary school children to read. Thesis A functions better as a working thesis, since it focuses the search in what might be a very broad field of benefits.

Thesis C

Thesis sentences A, B and C are all potentially usable as working theses for a research paper. Thesis B is an example of a working thesis for an analytical research paper while thesis C is an example of a working thesis for an argumentative research paper. Both B and C are researchable and, once you started to research, you'd probably find ways of defining the phrase "substantially helped." Yet the best thesis is thesis A, since it already does specify the ways in which the "whole language" approach has helped elementary school children to read. Thesis A functions better as a working thesis, since it focuses the search in what might be a very broad field of benefits.

Exercise 4E-Thesis Set #5

Thesis A: U.S. government policies on health care have changed during the past 20 years; this change in policy has made hospitals currently function as oligopolies.

Thesis B: U.S. government policies on health care differ greatly from those of Asian nations due to the different social and economic structures underlying the government.

Thesis C: U.S. government policies on health care should be changed to reflect citizens' current concerns.

Thesis A

Thesis A is the best thesis since it is the most focused and specific. Thesis A focuses the argument on the hospital as an oligopoly (a certain type of economic structure). It also implies that the writer will explain how changed policy has influenced hospital economics.

Thesis B

Thesis B is too broad as well as being potentially unresearchable. What are the Asian nations mentioned in thesis B? There are many Asian nations. Thesis B would have to be focused and specified in order to be pursued as a working thesis sentence for a research paper.

Thesis C

Thesis C is too broad as well as being potentially unresearchable. Who are the citizens mentioned in thesis C? All U.S. citizens? If so, is there valid evidence that represents all citizens' concerns? Thesis C would have to be focused and specified in order to be pursued as a working thesis sentence for a research paper.

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