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Research Thesis

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 6 months ago

How to Create a Thesis Statement

Research Paper


Essential Question:


How do I formulate a thesis statement?


After students have chosen a general topic for their research paper, they need to narrow down the topic and formulate a thesis -- a statement they need to prove.







  1. To save time at the beginning of your lesson, try to set up the projector in advance -- computers can take time to warm up. I have access to a laptop and projector on a cart for demonstrating Power Points, web sites, and the like.
  2. Remind students they have chosen a general topic. In the case of my research paper, they have chosen an American author they think they can live with for a couple of months.
  3. If you have access to the resources above, use chapter 10, p. 400 of the text and discuss formulating a thesis according to Baker. If you don't have this book, other texts will do just as well.
  4. Demonstrate a technique for finding out more about the students' chosen authors.
    1. Go to Google or a similar search engine.
    2. Type in the name of an author.
    3. Find a web site with literary criticism.
    4. Demonstrate how to skim the site for key terms. I chose to demonstrate Robert Frost. I scanned a page and found a reference to his use of symbolism. Formulate a working thesis based upon the notion that Robert Frost uses symbolism in his poetry.
    5. Ask for students to volunteer which authors they'd like more information about. Try the same technique using their author. Demonstrate construction of a thesis based on a literary technique or some other aspect of that author's work.
  5. If you have computers in your classroom or in a lab, arrange for students to use the computers to try this technique on their own.
  6. Students should formulate a working thesis to direct their research after this activity.


You can also show students how to use Google Scholar and Google Book Search to find more information about their authors.



What follows is a walkthrough of a demonstration using Robert Frost.


  1. Go to Google (or another favorite search engine).
  2. Search for "robert frost". Putting terms in quotes yields more precise information.
  3. Choose a site that looks as if it might have literary criticism (you will probably want to identify which one in advance so you know whether or not it is helpful and what it says).
  4. Read through the information, demonstrating skimming for key terms.
  5. Point out key terms and patterns by highlighting them with the cursor on the computer.
  6. Demonstrate formulation of a thesis based on the key terms found.


When students begin to volunteer their topic choices, show them how to find information. For example, one of my students is going to write about Eudora Welty. As we tried this process with Eudora Welty, we discovered she had been a photographer for the WPA, and indeed, her writing had been influenced by photography. Therefore, a working thesis might be "Eudora Welty's interest in photography helped her develop the photographer's eye in her descriptions." Of course, this will be refined and honed as the student does research, but it is a place to start in terms of focus for research.

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