The thesis question is a preliminary idea that the student investigates with the intent of developing a hypothesis to defend with evidence, whether obtained through primary research, such as scientific experiments, or through secondary research, such as books and journal articles.
Students who need to identify thesis questions from which to develop their thesis ideas should pay attention to any areas of curiosity or interest that may arise in their fields. Students should train themselves to notice a gap in their knowledge base and to try to fill it with information; if a student cannot fill a knowledge gap through secondary research or through asking experts, such as major professors, some simple questions, he or she may have identified a possible thesis question.
In order to produce excellent theses, thesis questions should be open-ended; that is, they should ask "why" rather than "what," and one should not be able to answer them with a simple yes or no. For example, a poor thesis question might be, "Can a certain species of wheat survive a severe drought?" On the other hand, a good thesis question might be, "Why is that species of wheat able to survive a severe drought?" The goal of a thesis question is to lead to deep, unique investigation, research, and writing; therefore, the best thesis questions probe issues that may have a multitude of potential responses.
The student who wishes to progress from a thesis question to a hypothesis but who has not settled on a potentially viable solution to the question should perform some preliminary research. This research should come from as wide a variety of sources as possible, because such a wide variety will help the student see varying viewpoints. Once the student has read a few sources, he or she should choose a perspective to explore as the hypothesis, offering a solution to the thesis question.