Thesis Statements Most good, well-organized writing will contain a thesis statement near the beginning of the essay or paper and will repeat it at the end of the work. The thesis statement tells your audience what you plan to talk about or prove, serving as a preview to the rest of your work. Thesis statements take a position on a debatable topic or make a statement of information and then the rest of the paper proves the position or provides more detailed information. Research Questions While most quality writing will naturally contain a thesis statement, only certain kinds of writing will contain one or more research questions. Research studies, like the kind that appear in academic journals and scientific research publications, usually seek to discover new information about a little-known topic. The purpose of the research question is to tell your reader what you are after as you dive into your investigation. A research question must be debatable but should be an open question rather than one that takes a position. Differences The two types of direction-giving at the beginning and end of academic writing differ in their purpose. A thesis statement delivers a positional statement about information. A research question, on the other hand, asks an open-ended question about a topic to be investigated. For example, a research question might ask, “How does competitive soccer affect adolescent girls?” While a thesis statement on the same topic might state, “Competitive soccer provides many benefits to adolescent girls, such as exercise, but may also have negative effects, such as increased risk of concussion.” Similarities Both thesis statements and research questions can be used to provide direction for academic journal articles, research papers, reports of research studies, and qualitative investigations of events or text. Both must be carefully crafted by the writer to give the reader a clear understanding of the purpose of the work. In order to be clear and effective, research questions and thesis statements must be specific, concise, and purposeful. A thesis statement usually appears at the end of the introductory paragraph of a paper, and it offers a concise summary of the main point or claim of the essay, research paper, etc. A thesis statement is usually one sentence that appears at the beginning, though it may occur as more than once. A research question is a statement that identifies the phenomenon to be studied. For example, What resources are helpful to new and minority drug abuse researchers? To develop a strong research question from your ideas, you should ask yourself this: Do I know the field and its literature well? It also appears at the end of the introductory paragraph of a paper.