A research question is the question around which you center your research. It should be:
You should ask a question about an issue that you are genuinely curious and/or passionate about.
Unsure about your question? Put it to the test using these seven questions.
If your question didn't do so well, remember to talk to your professor before starting over. They can help enhance your question for historical exploration.
The thesis statement is one or two sentences that states the main idea of a writing assignment and helps control the ideas within the paper. It is not merely a topic but rather identifies the topic to be discussed, as well as the purpose of the paper itself.
A thesis statement:
Know the topic. The topic should be something you know or can learn about. It is difficult to write a thesis statement, let alone a paper, on a topic that you know nothing about. Reflecting on personal experience and/or researching will help you know more information about your topic.
Limit your topic. Based on what you know and the required length of your final paper, limit your topic to a specific area. A broad scope will generally require a longer paper, while a narrow scope will be sufficiently proven by a shorter paper.
Brainstorm. If you are having trouble beginning your paper or writing your thesis, take a piece of paper and write down everything that comes to mind about your topic. Did you discover any new ideas or connections? Can you separate any of the things you jotted down into categories? Do you notice any themes? Think about using ideas generated during this process to shape your thesis statement and your paper.
Every research project starts with a question. Your question will allow you to select, evaluate and interpret your sources systematically. The question you start with isn’t set in stone, but will be revisited and revised as you read and interact with the sources.
Robert C. Williams suggests that a research question might:
Source: Williams, Robert C. The Historian's Toolbox: A Student's Guide to the Theory and Craft of History. Second ed. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2007.