Developing a Research Thesis

A research thesis has most of the same thesis characteristics as a thesis for a non-research essay. The difference lies in the fact that you gather information and evidence from appropriate, valid sources to support your perspective on a topic or stand on an issue. Yet although your sources provide information that informs your thesis, the thesis ideas should be your own, particular to your personal way of thinking about and analyzing a topic.

The thesis focuses your ideas and information for the research paper. Remember that word "focus." Student writers often make the mistake of forgetting the focus and making the research thesis far too broad in order to include a lot of research. Yet depth more than breadth is the hallmark of a sophisticated research paper.

Create a working thesis for the research paper by specifying and ordering your categories of information. For example, the following theses offer the writers' main arguments and focus their research by specifying and ordering the reasons for their stance:

  • Competency-based management is practical, logical, and accessible to managers and workers.
  • Workforce training in basic skills is now necessary due to the lower reading and writing levels of the workforce, the fact that a person now entering the workforce will change jobs many times, the shift in jobs from the manufacturing to the service sectors, and the more comprehensive, abstract nature of those service jobs.

As you can see, a research thesis is your proposed answer to your research question, which you finalize only after completing the research. (It's o.k. to modify and revise the working thesis as you research more about the topic or issue.)

Developing a good working thesis, just like developing a good research question (researchable; neither too broad nor too narrow), is an important research skill.

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