Begin doing some preliminary research in the online databases, on the shelves of the EWU library, or on Google Scholar. It's important to find sources that are credible and that will be a good fit for your topic. These pages will get you started in finding and evaluating sources:
This research question:
Most often, students struggle with making their question narrow enough to develop into a solid thesis. Here are some questions that are too broad:
Is war good or bad? (This question is overly simplistic and doesn't take into account how complex the issue of war is.)
Is exercise good for you? (It’s not exactly clear what “good” means.)
How has volunteerism affected the United States? (This question would be stronger if it were narrowed to a certain population—e.g. volunteerism of college students—or a particular aspect of the United States—e.g. education or values.)
Occasionally (though not very often), a research question may be too narrow. Here is one example:
What’s the reason for red parking passes? (This can be answered in one or two sentences and probably could not be developed into an entire paper.)
Here is a stronger research question (neither too broad nor too narrow):
Why do today’s college students choose to volunteer? (This refers to a specific population and opens the door for many possible answers.)
Turn your research question into a working thesis statement by answering it based on what you’ve found in your research so far. This statement will likely change and become more precise as you continue to research.
The question Why do today's college students choose to volunteer? becomes the working thesis Today's college students choose to volunteer for work experience, to connect with others, and to help out.
The thesis statement:
Every point in your paper must relate back to your thesis statement. Be careful not to take your readers down unnecessary paths by presenting information that does not support your thesis.
Tips for a Strong Thesis Statement
Side note: Some instructors may encourage this type of statement when it is appropriate for the purpose of the paper.
Working Thesis to Thesis
Today’s college students choose to volunteer for work experience, to connect with others, and to help out becomes more complex: Contrary to popular claims about the ‘generation of entitlement,’ many of today’s college students choose to volunteer not only because it gives them work experience, but because it also connects them with their local community and offers an opportunity to help those in need.
[Some samples borrowed from the Brief McGraw-Hill Handbook 2nd edition]
Types of Thesis Statements
There are many different kinds of thesis statements depending on what kind of assignment you are working on. Here are a few examples of common types of thesis statements:
An analytical paper evaluates the issue or idea and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
Sample analytical thesis: Though there are many reasons for volunteering that have remained consistent over the years, for today’s college students, one new motivator stands out above the rest: volunteering in order to fulfill a requirement for a course.
An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
Sample expository thesis: Volunteerism is on the rise among students at American universities, and the three primary reasons cited in studies are the desire to be more competitive for jobs, boredom, and requirements for courses or majors.
An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence.
Sample argumentative thesis: In order to encourage young people to volunteer out of intrinsic motivations rather than out of obligation, universities should remove requirements for volunteering from all courses.
If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories a thesis statement is still essential.
Side Note: Your thesis should not only appear in your introduction and conclusion paragraphs. Every paragraph or section of your paper should refer to it in order to make your point clear. Signposting is a helpful way to think about transitions and restating your thesis.