How To Reverse-Engineer A Thesis Statement For Your Research Essays


I have always loved writing. My favorite assignments in school were most always writing assignments and essays. But because I am more of a creative writer than a research essay person, I often struggled with research essays. There were always so many different sides to take on issues and various ways  to support or denounce each of these. If you’re in college, I’m sure you already know how many research essays you end up having to write, and without a plan it can take forever. Luckily, I came up with a really easy way to focus in on what to write on.

  1. Pick Your Topic 

    Let’s say for example I’m taking a class on Art History and have to write an essay on any artist pre-1900 and talk about their influence on present-day artists. I know that I love the work of Vincent Van Gogh, so I will choose his work for my topic.

  2. Start Researching for Sources 

    Most of the time, when you’re enrolled in a college or university, you have access to an online library filled with proper scholarly sources that you can start looking in. Search for as many sources as you can on your subject. For instance, I would not only look up historical and biographical articles about Van Gogh, but also for more recent essays and articles where he is mentioned or where an artist refers to him as an inspiration. These more modern examples could even be from an Artist’s Statement given by the artists themselves. The more sources you find, the more you have to go on!Hint: A good number of sources I have found is to take your required body paragraph length and use it. If it’s a one page paper, or one where they ask for 3 body paragraphs, 3 is a good, solid number. 

  3. Take Notes on Common Themes/Arguments 

    Look through the articles and take bulleted notes on common themes, arguments, and references to specific details. For example, if I noticed a trend in street artists saying they were inspired specifically by Van Gogh’s works from his Starry Night period, I would be sure to make note of this and bookmark these articles/artist statements.

  4. Use Your Notes to Form a Thesis Statement. This way you already know you have ample material to back your thesis statement! 

    Now that you have all of your notes, make the connection between your assignment, your subject, and your notes. It’s all right in front of you now! Here’s an example of a thesis statement I would write:


Vincent van Gogh’s most famous painting, his ‘Starry Night’, can be seen referenced within the works of street artists across the globe, proving the lasting and far-reaching impact of his work.

This example is a little vague, as it’s simply my way of explaining how I formulate my thesis statements with ease. However, it has proven foolproof for me, and allows me to not only create my thesis statement but also to create my library of sources to easily reference that I know will back up my thesis statement.
Thank you for reading, and good luck with your research essays!


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: