A thesis statement is “a short statement, usually one sentence, that summarizes the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, etc., and is developed, supported, and explained in the text by means of examples and evidence.” (Source: Dictionary.com)
Based on that definition alone, it’s reasonable to assume that, coming up with a thesis statement might sound easy, but it can be very challenging.
I want to stick a pin here and say that, what I am about to explain is akin to the cover page title of your research paper. It is not to be confused with the objective of the paper or the hypothesis that’s to be proven or disproved in your study.
The problem comes when you try to zero in on a statement you can develop with minimal issues. You have to get as specific as possible because you really don’t want to give yourself too much work.
What I am about to share with you, has worked for me and I’ve used it with my clients too. Almost every time, a statement was crafted within an hour, sometimes less.
BUT, I am going to start with the secret strategy first. It sets a good foundation for you to “NOT stress out” while you’re actually doing the research.
LOOK BACK FIRST
What do I mean by this?
Well, what you have to realise, at all times, is that your final research paper should showcase a bit of everything you learned during your entire programme. Each subject was considered integral to your holistic understanding of the discipline.
So, with that in mind, you need to look back at the courses and ask yourself:
- What course stood out to me the most?
- Which subject was I most comfortable with?
- When did I get the highest grade/s?
- What subject area did I understand fully and easily?
This helps you to centre your thesis topic around an element of your learning that allows you to easily support the statement.
Then, rank the other courses from easy to difficult. This will help you to shape the research in a way that incorporates each subject in different degrees. It will show the lecturer/supervisor that you absorbed everything that was taught and it can also help you segment your research to populate the paper! But you must also include definitions and theories associated with these topics. You don’t need to overdo it, but to mention it will augur well for you (Ding ding! Extra points).
If you’re just beginning your programme, and happen to be reading this, you’ve got a crazy head start!
All you have to do is… Look Forward
As you move along your programme, take mental checks of the four points I mentioned before and follow the ranking system.
You have to get as specific as possible because you really don’t want to give yourself too much work.
Now, let’s get into crafting the thesis statement. I’ll it in explain in 8 steps.
Step 1 – Select a broad topic that you are passionate about
What do you want to speak about; generally?
Financial Technology (FinTech)? A disease like diabetes? Divorce or marital separation? Human Resource? Politics? Entrepreneurship?
Whatever it is, let it be something you are interested in so you won’t feel overwhelmed or regretful while doing your research.
I’ll be using an example of a recent thesis statement I helped someone develop. I would like you to keep in mind, this was a research paper that was based ONLY on credible secondary data; mostly journals, articles and books.
We began with Logistics and Supply Chain Management with a focus on “Logistics”.
Step 2 – Choose a segment of the broad topic that links to the subject that you are most comfortable with
This feels like a weird step two, right? I know. But you see, it also makes for an interesting angle for the thesis statement. You are strong in the topic, you have the material to return to, it is associated with something you actually like. What better way to start!
So, using our example, Step 2 – customer service was identified as a comfortable topic for expansion.
So now we have Logistics + Customer Service.
Ok, good so far.
Step 3 – Look for research papers with keywords
And by “keywords” I mean the words you’ve used from Steps 1 and 2 WITH the word “thesis”. Logistics + Customer Service + Thesis.
You will get a general idea of what kind of research was already done in these areas. You will get variations, but you will begin to see common themes.
This person saw a few thesis topics that included the words “Logistics Service Quality”. This stood out and was noted as three words to include in their thesis statement.
Here’s another tactic that can take a bit more time. You can go straight to the limitations of the study or the conclusion to figure out what gaps you can use to carry your study also. The disadvantage is that you may not find as much literature, but the benefit is that you could pioneer a study that explores an under-examined topic.
Step 4 – Add a niche factor?
This person wanted to add an element that would improve logistics service quality – Information Technology systems. They repeated the search, now using “logistics service quality” + “Information Technology systems“.
With this, they came upon some studies that began to detail IT systems used in Logistics. These included systems such as Electronic Data Interchange, Barcode / RFID, Vehicle Tracking Systems, Enterprise resource planning, etc.
They chose Enterprise Resource Planning because it could also be used to measure productivity with real-time data while optimising operations.
Note that, at each stage of the search, the broad words are swapped out for more specific words.
So now we had Logistics Service Quality and Enterprise Resource Planning. Some headway was being made.
Step 5 – Introduce your angle
Remember the words “service quality”, well, this is one of the features of an organisation’s “competitive advantage”. This was the angle this person chose.
The first line was then created, “Logistics Service Quality Management for Competitive Advantage.
Still broad, right?
So this is how we drilled down…
Step 6 – Choose your demographics
For the secondary data research, the soft drink industry was selected (because the person liked Coca Cola, ha!). The geographical location of the US was selected simply because it’s where Coca Cola is manufactured.
What do we have now? Logistics Service Quality Management for Competitive Advantage in the carbonated beverage industry in the US.
Step 7 – Add the guiding words
I call them guiding words because they tell the reader what direction your research is going to take. These include (but are not limited to) words such as
You can refine them more like this:
- An In-depth Analysis
- A Quantitative Investigation
- A Critical Review
Step 8 – Pull it together and arrange accordingly
There is nothing wrong with you playing around with the order of the words. You just have to be clear about the direction of the research. I would even advise that you ask for feedback about your statement
The final thesis statement was this:
Logistics Service Quality Management for Competitive Advantage – an investigation of Enterprise Resource Planning Systems in the Carbonated Beverage industry in the US.
This was good enough to get a thumbs up from the supervisor. Yay! But, it actually could have been even more detailed because some research papers require more detail.
For example, if primary research methods were allowed, the industry could have been narrowed to one company – Coca Cola.
The statement could then have been this:
“Gaining Competitive Advantage with Enterprise Resource Planning Systems – An Examination of Logistics Service Quality Management in Coca Cola“.
Now, the length and details of statements vary. I once had a classmate who named her thesis “The Americanisation of Trinidad and Tobago”. It was one of the simplest thesis statements I ever came across and yet the intent was so clear. My thesis statement was boldfaced and clear: “The (Traditional) Media Do Nothing to Encourage an Interest and Involvement in Local Culture“. My results did not validate my stance, however. The findings exposed the shortcomings of media and local cultural groups that led to a decrease in interest and involvement. Someday I may publish it for you all to see. I did A LOT of work for that reality check!
Here are examples of statements from some of the people I’ve assisted:
- Mediation as an Intervention Strategy to Resolve Conflict Between Persons Who Are Blind and Family Caregivers
- From Millions to Billions – An Imperative Analysis of the Development of a Feasible Growth Strategy for an Emergent Credit Union
- Transitioning From Traditional To Fintech: Modernising Customer Service In An Indigenous Bank – The Introduction Of Personal Teller Machines
- The use of multi-channel distribution as an alternative to extensive marketing for organisational profitability: A critical review of The West Indian Tobacco Company Limited (WITCO)
Final Thoughts: Look at you! Getting your thesis statement on! Seriously though, although moving from 1 to 8 may look seamless, the process still takes some time. But with these guided steps, you’ll get that perfect title in less time and with a clear and researchable topic. Then, the next step would be to get that paper to sound as professional and polished as the statement itself! Yup, that’s another blog…
You’ve got this!
If you liked the information I shared, I’d love for you to pay it forward and pass it on to someone else 🙂