1. Determine the type, purpose, and audience of your paper.
2. Ask a question, then make the answer your thesis statement.
3. Take a stance, then ensure that it is provable.
4. State it in two parts: a clear topic and a brief summary of what you will say.
5. Limit the thesis to one or two sentences.
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Your research question will be your guide as your writing proceeds. If you are working independently, you are also free to modify it as you go along.