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Thesis statements/Research questions/Problem statements

A thesis statement presents the position that you intend to argue within your paper, whereas a research question indicates your direction of inquiry in your research. In general, thesis statements are provided in course-level papers, whereas research questions are used in major research papers or theses. 

Thesis statements

The statement or question is a key piece of information within your writing because it describes the parameters of your study.

Your statement should:

  • Be specific
  • Be appropriate to the type of paper you're writing
  • Appear within the first section of your text so that it is immediately clear to your reader what the paper is about

For example: "Royal Roads University is unique amongst post-secondary institutions on Vancouver Island because of its history, wildlife, Hatley Castle, and educational programs". 

The advantage of a clear thesis statement is that it will also help you to stay on track. At any time during your writing process, you should be able to make a direct connection between what you're writing and your thesis statement. If that connection isn't clear, you may need to either adjust your writing, or revisit your thesis statement. Thesis statements can change during the evolution of a paper; however, make sure you re-examine your outline before you divert too far from your original plan.

Please see the resources below for more information on writing thesis statements:

Research question(s)

A research question should:

  • Be clear and specific
  • State the focus of investigation in the research
  • Not be answerable with a yes/no response

For example: How is Royal Roads University different from other post-secondary institutions on Vancouver Island?

Please see the resources below for more information on writing research questions:

Problem statements

A problem statement concisely details a vision and method that will be used to solve a problem.  

A problem statement should:

  • Be clear and specific
  • Discuss potential problems for the writer/researcher
  • Not offer a solution

Please see the resources below for more information on writing problem statements:

To search for additional information, please visit WriteAnswers and search the FAQs. If you're a RRU student, you can also use the WriteAnswers contact form to send your questions directly to the Writing Centre. We'll send you a private reply as soon as we can, which is typically within one business day of receiving the message.

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