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Research Process

A general guide through the process of writing a researched paper or putting together a project that involves background research.

Develop a Thesis Statement

  • Examine preliminary resources through your course readings and recommendations, your faculty member's suggestions, steps suggested below, and by consulting with librarians.
  • Identify concepts and terms that make up the topic statement.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) provides these guidelines on writing a thesis statement:

  1. Determine what kind of paper you are writing. Is it:
  • analytical?
  • expository (explanatory)? 
  • argumentative

If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories (e.g., a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.

2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.

3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.

4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

Examples and more tips are available from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

UNLV University Libraries provide a tutorial on Choosing & Refining Your Topic. Questions to consider include:

  • your general topic,
  • who,
  • what,
  • when,
  • where

Guidance from the Temple University Writing Center states that an effective thesis statement should be

  • substantial
  • supportable
  • precise
  • arguable
  • relevant

Additional guides are available at


Formulating Your Research Question