Choosing a Thesis Topic

Choosing a Thesis Topic

To select a thesis topic, ask yourself:

  1. What am I interested in? What am I good at? What puzzles me? Which courses have stimulated my interest and captured my time and attention?
  2. What problems exist in my field (that can be resolved with new knowledge)? What seem to be the primary targets of interest and inquiry?
  3. What "sites" of inquiry are readily available to me in my circumstances?

Based on your answers to the above questions (as well as on discussion with one or more faculty members), identify a preliminary topic/area of interest. To generate a research question/"quest" based on that topic, ask yourself:

  1. What do I know about this topic? How can I find out more?
  2. What don't I know?
  3. What do I want to know?
  4. What are possible sources of information about this question?

Based on these questions, and on preliminary reading, library research, and discussion regarding the topic, formulate a preliminary question or describe a possible project or "quest".

To refine/test that research question/quest, ask yourself:

  1. Does somebody already know the answer to this question? Has somebody already completed this project? (Do I need to do more reading/research to find out?)
  2. Is this question too narrow? Too broad?

To determine feasibility, ask yourself:

  1. How might one answer this question? (methodology)
  2. Are the necessary data readily available?
  3. Do I have (at least potentially) available to me appropriate time, support, equipment, and resources to answer this question or complete this quest?
  4. Do I have the skills to do this? If no, how can I prepare myself to complete this project? If I can't, how can I revise my question?

Go through this series of questions again and again until you have a question/quest you can live with. As you consider these issues, write down your thinking and your attempts to formulate a question/quest.