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What are the Best Tips for Thesis Development?

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  • Written By: A.F. Heath
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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Thesis development can be pretty tricky for many students, but it takes practice to write a thesis. Simply put, the thesis states the purpose of the research paper, which could be to analyze, to explore or to argue a position. The thesis statement usually appears in the bottom of the first paragraph after a brief introduction of the topic and should contain terms and ideas that can be defined and tested. Writing the introductory paragraph first may provide some guidance for thesis development by defining the important points of a paper's topic, which may help develop a solidly-structured thesis that frames and drives the rest of the paper. Conversely, writing several thesis statements first and brainstorming ideas can provide material to work with and to test against the overall research in the paper, revising the statements along the way until something fits.

The first tip for thesis development is to investigate a topic. Once a topic has been chosen, information about the topic should be collected from books, articles and journals. Carefully analyzing the information and looking for patterns may help in later developing a thesis. Taking notes and considering "why" and "how" during the research stage may help develop the overall point of the paper, a big first step in thesis development.

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Once the background research for the topic is finished, a sketched or working thesis can be written. The purpose of the working thesis is to serve as a starting point. Once the working thesis has been refined, it can be finalized into a final thesis statement that the paper will support.

There are generally two main ways to approach working thesis development. The first is to write several working thesis statements and then write the introductory paragraph that will go above it. Conversely, the introductory paragraph can be written first, which may help generate some working thesis statements. Sometimes the latter is easier.

With the first method, ideas for a possible thesis are brainstormed. These working thesis statements usually are a bit clumsy and somewhat vague, which is OK. Brainstorming many ideas that either analyze, explore or argue a position about the paper's topic can provide enough material to eventually hone into a solid thesis. The next step is to determine if the discussion to be used in the paper will reflect any of the working thesis statements. If the paper cannot adequately support the thesis statements, they will need to be revised. After a few revisions of the working thesis statements, it typically becomes clear which ones are worth keeping. This revising process — working the thesis statements, looking for the support within the planned reseach paper and rewriting the thesis statements — continues until a solid thesis is developed.

Another way to develop a thesis statement is to sketch out an introductory paragraph about the topic first, before worrying about the thesis. The introduction generally should focus on the most important points about the paper's topic, what its purpose and what direction it will take. The introduction paragraph should set the context and naturally lead into a solid thesis statement that will drive the rest of the paper and provide a good structure. This approach might be a little easier for some students because it provides more material to start with at the beginning of the process.

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