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How to Write a Paper With an Open Thesis Statement

Updated on January 9, 2015

Sometimes it can be a little tricky formulating an open thesis statement but in this article you’ll find step by step how to write a paper with it.

When it comes to writing a paper, one of the most important steps is to think of an open thesis statement. An open thesis statement is the point of departure since in it you will “state your general unifying idea but will not yet reflect how you intend to support that idea.” (See reference) The open thesis will later transform into a Hypothesis to finally become a closed thesis that is idea of the open thesis but with a brief explanation on how it is going to be argued. Sometimes it can be a little tricky formulating an open thesis statement but in this article you’ll find step by step how to write a paper with it.

Step 1

Make a quick research on the books you have chosen to support your main topic. This will give you an idea of what really your topic is about. You don’t need to read the whole bibliography. With one or two books is enough to take a position or choose an angle of study for your paper later on.

Step 2

Ask W questions about your topic. For example if you're writing a paper about the X war, you can ask the following questions: Who participated in the X war? What were the causes of it? When did it happen? These questions will help you delimit your topic in order to write a clear open thesis statement.

Step 3

Answer the questions you've formulated. It doesn’t matter if you actually know the answers to them. Just brainstorm the possible answers to each one of these questions. This is only an exercise to get you to consider different angles for the topic you have chosen. This will also help you establish what questions interest you the most and which ones you should work on the paper. After this, you pick the one or two questions that excite you the most. You should have something like this: The X war originated because of economic interests. This is your open thesis statement.

Step 4

Start doing some more research in order to transform your open thesis statement into a hypothesis. This will later on transform into a closed thesis. Do your research based on your open thesis statement. This means that you’ll have to research the economic causes of the X war, so that you can later make a closed thesis by briefly giving the main reasons that support your unifying idea: the open thesis.

Step 5

Insert your findings to the introduction of your paper. Each argument will be developed in a paragraph.


  • Think of simple questions to ask for your topic. More difficult questions don’t assure complexity and will only get you stuck in the process.
  • Think of a catchy first phrase for the introduction, so you get the attention of the reader. A passionate first impression will capture the reader.


  • Hunter College: Developing a Thesis Statement -


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