The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.
(2) Create a hypothesis, that is, a tentative answer to the question. I suggest using the formula above.
Avoid selecting a topic that is too broad: "How has war affected sex in America?" is too broad. It would take several books to answer this question. A good question is narrow enough so that you can find a persuasive answer to it in time to meet the due date for this class paper. After selecting a broad topic of interest, narrow it down so that it will not take hundreds of pages to communicate what happened and why it was important. The best way write a narrow question is to put some limitations on the question's range. Choosing a particular geographic place (a specific location), subject group (who? what groups?), and periodization (from when to when?) are the most common ways to limit a historical question. The example above already contains a limited subject group (whites and African-Americans) and a short time period (WWII, 1941-1945); simply adding a place, such as "in the Bay Area" or "in Puget Sound" further narrows the topic: "How did white and African-American defense plant workers in the San Francisco Bay area create and think about interracial relationships during World War Two?" is a much more manageable question than one that addresses all defense workers.
A good research question is the key to an excellent thesis. A bad research question can only result in a poor thesis- trying to answer it will be like trying to build a structure on quicksand with the ground constantly shifting beneath your feet. Get the research question right and everything else should follow.
1. Analyze the question simply by circling all the important words.
What about theses in essay exams? In an essay exam, the thesis is the one-sentence answer to the question posed; the remainder of the paper will prove the thesis.What does a good thesis question look like? There are many sources for questions which lead to good thesis, but all seem to pose a novel approach to their subject. A good thesis question may result from your curious observations of primary source material, as in "During World War II, why did American soldiers seem to treat Japanese prisoners-of-war more brutally than German prisoners-of-war?" Or, good thesis questions may challenge accepted wisdom, as in "Many people assume that Jackson's Indian policy had nothing to do with his domestic politics; are they right?" Finally, a good thesis question may complicate a seemingly clear-cut topic, as in "Puritans expropriated Indians' land for wealth, but were psychological factors involved as well?"A good thesis derives from a good question. Since the thesis is your conclusion to a scholarly argument, there must be a clear question at stake. A thesis which does not answer a question, or answers a simple or obvious question, is not a thesis. You need to ask thoughtful questions of your topic and primary source material to develop a good thesis. The best theses are good precisely because the questions they answer are significant, complex, and original.(2) Develop a question around it, as in "why did government officials allow discrimination against Japanese Americans?" (You now have a question that helps you probe your topic; your efforts have a direction, which is answering the question you have posed for yourself. Note that there are a great many questions which you might ask of your general topic. You should expect in the course of your research to consider many such possibilities. Which ones are the most interesting? Which ones are possible given the constraints of the assignment?)