If you’re a high school or college student, you probably dread having to come up with a thesis. A thesis is the argument you make in your paper based on research and/or your own experience. Sometimes a thesis will come to you very quickly, in a flash of inspiration. But most of the time, it takes a lot more work.
When writing a research paper, consider yourself part of a scholarly debate. It’s perfectly acceptable – even encouraged – to challenge the ideas you read in a book or heard from your teacher. A thesis should be your own unique, original contribution to the debate.
To come up with a thesis, think critically as you read books, articles, and other sources. You should constantly ask yourself questions such as:
Why did a person or character do something? What motivates him/her?
Who/ What is responsible for an event or action?
What is the cause of something? What is the effect of something?
What is the significance of an action or event?
What are some potential flaws in an author’s argument or idea? Are there other possible explanations?
What do you think about an issue? Do you agree with the given interpretation? Why or why not?
How did an event or action take place? Why did it take place the way it did?
As you do research, try thinking like a reporter – always ask “who, what, where, when, why, and how?”