Guidelines on How to Write a Hypothesis Statement for a Research Paper

Most research papers are persuasive or argumentative in nature. Therefore, they require the use of a strong hypothesis (or thesis) statement. These guiding sentences are the most important sentences in the research paper and many students develop anxiety when they have to create one. Here are a few guidelines to help you craft a useful and appropriate thesis statement for your next research paper:

  1. Make sure the statement can be proven. The biggest problem that many students have is that they write statements that cannot be proven. A statement is one that is wishy-washy or unable to be prove, like this: In this paper, I will discuss the pros and cons of limiting freedom of speech. This statement does not have anything to prove, it will only show what is good and bad about limiting free speech. A better statement would be this: Despite the fact that most people object to hate speech, limiting freedom of speech would have too many negative consequences. This statement has something to say and something that needs to be proven.
  2. Keep it in the third person. It is already obvious that YOU are writing the paper, since YOUR name is on the title page. So, when you write your thesis statement, keep phrases like “I think” or “In my opinion” or “I believe” out of the sentence. They only weaken the thesis because they offer the reader to question who you are and why they should care about your opinions.
  3. Narrow the focus, but not too much. This is where many students have trouble. Narrowing a thesis statement is challenging, but it is doable. If you know you are going to write about free speech, you have to look at what subtopic of free speech you want to research and prove. You have to consider how long your research paper should be and how many sources you need to use. In many cases, a longer thesis statement will help you write a shorter research paper, because the long thesis statement will narrow the focus.
  4. Change the thesis not the research. Many students have difficulty sticking to their original thesis statement. If you find that you cannot prove the thesis the way you have it written, then you should adjust your thesis to match the research you have found. You might have to make a small adjustment, but it will be a better use of your time than starting over looking for more research.