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?
  4. Is there research or scholarship already going on at MU, in or out of my major department, that I might become involved with? (students often join an existing project and make a portion of that project their own for the thesis).

Based on your answers to the above questions, 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 and what do I want to know?
  3. What are possible sources of information about this question?
  4. Which faculty might I talk to about their research and scholarship?

Based on these questions, and on preliminary reading, library research and consultation with your librarian,  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 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.  Start a folder/notebook specifically for your thesis.