You will have now decided on a more specific topic for your research, and it is the time to form a thesis statement. A thesis statement is a sentence which tells your reader what you are arguing and why. A good thesis statement provides a sturdy foundation for a research paper. It provides you with a focus, and can also provide you with the beginnings of an essay plan.
The first thing that you should do when forming a thesis statement is to turn your specific topic into a question, if it is not already in question form. You should have a good idea of your question from your reading and note-taking. If your topic is the First Intermediate period as a ‘dark age’, your question could be “Was the First Intermediate period a ‘dark age’?” or “Why is the First Intermediate period considered to be a ‘dark age’?” – you have to decide what it is that you want to know.
Once you have your question, you can put all of your reading and note-taking to good use. By now you will have formed an opinion. You may have decided that the First Intermediate period really was a ‘dark age’, or you may disagree with this completely. Either way, your thesis statement will be a declaration of your opinion and will indicate the main reasons why you think that. The best way to form a thesis statement is to follow this ‘equation':
“This is the case, because A, B, and C.”
EXAMPLE: “The First Intermediate period should not be considered a ‘dark age’ because there is evidence of cultural and political innovation during the period, the absence of royal monuments could be a product of their not having been discovered thus far, and it is not possible to establish that the preceding Old Kingdom actually collapsed.”
Of course, there is no hard and fast rule that you must cite three pieces of evidence, but three is a good minimum. Too little evidence and you run the risk of someone picking holes in your argument. The more evidence that you can cite to back up your argument, the better.
Next time: Creating an essay plan.