Understanding and Writing Thesis Statements


A thesis is a statement that outlines a position or argument in regards to an issue or historical event. It usually appears in the introduction and frames the scope of a review or historical analysis. Similar to a hypothesis, the thesis connects two variables (independent and dependent) in an educated manner to explain an occurrence.




In some preliminary research on World War II you may discover that one of the contributing factors to Hitlerís ascent to power were the heavy reparations that Germany had to pay to Britain and France after the First World War. This is the discovery of a focal point. A broad focal point from this example could be background causes to WW II.


In this example Hitlerís ascent to power would be the dependent variable and reparations would be the independent variable.In other words the statement shows that one variable impacts the other.





Identify and refine a topic before figuring out the focal point for your paper. This can be done by following the steps below. These steps will help you develop a basic thesis statement or research question. Donít waste time wandering aimlessly around the library, or even worse, in your research paper/project. Know what your main idea is and use your research to make your argument credible.




Developing a Thesis:


1.    Select a topic.

2.    Conduct some preliminary research.

3.    Take stock of what you have learned through your research.

a)    Develop a list of keywords that you have discovered through your research. (use combinations of your keywords with the + symbol between them in a www.google.ca search- this will sharpen the focus of your search)

b)    Create a brainstorm on a piece of paper with your topic as the focus.

c)    Through your initial research you have undoubtedly developed some questions related to your topic. Write these down. You should develop at least five.

d)    Form a position related your question.



Topic: World War II

Question? Why did Canada join?

Position: Canada joined the Second World War to fight totalitarianism.

††††††† The position above is a thesis because it links two variables. This statement shows a causal relationship between the independent variable, totalitarianism and the dependent variable, Canadaís declaration of war. A thesis can also be referred to as your position, stance, perspective, or argument.


4.    Now that you have a thesis, prepare to use your research and evidence to support your position. Create a formal outline.


Click below for more detailed information on: thesis statements and citations for academic research papers.


v    Electronic references (APA Style)

v    Research Paper Ė Writing Guide (MLA Style)

v    How to Write a Thesis Statement (Indiana University)

v    Writing a Research Paper (Owl Writing Lab Ė Purdue)