A thesis is a study that focuses on one subject deeply and a topic is what you aim to write about in that particular subject. Your thesis is an incredibly important piece of academic work because it carries a lot of credit points whether it is for undergraduate or postgraduate education and thus finding the right topic can be both anxious and challenging. Finding a topic for your thesis can be harder than the writing itself considering the vast majority of the topics out there. However, with the right guidelines, you can come up with a great thesis topic.
It is important to first understand what makes a great thesis topic.
While searching for a good thesis topic to write about, the best thing to do is to start by asking the correct research questions. A good research question is broad and offers the opportunity for multiple answers. Avoid questions with yes/no answers. A good example would be, instead of asking a question such as;
Does eating organic food help with weight loss?
You can reframe this question as
How does organic food help obese people with weight loss?
Such a question shall allow you as a scholar or a researcher to explore many variables and analyze different interactions and thus churn out a more substantive academic research. A great thesis topic is thus one that allows for a somewhat broad, precise, and open-ended question.
Another characteristic of a good thesis topic is that it fills a knowledge gap in a field of study where research already exists but there is still more to explore. Sometimes a thesis topic can bring a new perspective to an old topic.
As a student, you might feel the pressure to embark on research that will bring breakthrough results e.g cure for HIV. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. As long as your thesis topic leads to a unique element that will make your thesis stand out, then it is enough to research.
The first step in choosing a good thesis topic
A good thesis topic is usually selected based on its relevance to the subject of study and academic merits. Some requirements might be needed in your field of study while selecting a thesis topic. The requirements of your program of study can thus determine how far you will research and thus heavily influences the thesis topic you pick. Every program can have specific requirements so be sure to check those before picking a thesis topic. Some of the common requirements that a program can have are a range of allowable methodologies, a list of acceptable topics you can pick for your thesis, the word count, and even the deadline.
After familiarizing yourself with the requirements for selecting a thesis topic within your program, you can move to the next stage of picking up a topic which is brainstorming.
Brainstorming thesis topics for selection.
This can be the most challenging part of selecting a good thesis topic especially when your program doesn’t limit which topics you can work on. One of the places you can start considering finding a good thesis topic to research is your past assignments in this particular program. The term papers you have worked on and class projects you have been a part of can give you a clue about what you found interesting and what you didn’t like researching on. Focus on the interesting pieces of work that piqued your interest and you found intriguing. Which past class project did you want to know more about? If you can’t find a past project that is interesting enough, you can speak to your colleagues about what they find intriguing and are curious about in your field of study. The idea is to keep probing what areas of your study you are most passionate about. You can go through articles and journals on the contemporary issues in your field of study to find trending research topics. The more you probe into many sources of information, the more likely you are to come across an interesting part of your coursework that can help you select a good thesis topic.
Take notes of anything you find that you feel needs more research. Note any potential thesis topics down and you will soon have a list of researchable topics. You can even rank these topics so that you end up with four of them that you can present for approval. From the list, you can conduct preliminary research on the topics you have before settling on one that seems viable enough. It is good to have a backup in case your preferred topic is rejected or isn’t viable.
Preliminary Research on potential Thesis topics
When you have your list of potential thesis topics listed, you shall perform an undercover literature review on each of the possible thesis topics you have noted to find out the research that has been carried out in those fields and how far those research went, and what they found out. If you instead picked up a potential thesis topic from the past class projects or assignments you did, you might be already familiar with the literature in the fields you may want to study. However, this doesn’t mean that you will keep the literature review, if you base your thesis on a shorter-term paper, it will turn out to be longer and more involving. You will still have to look at new angles.
You must know where to unearth articles or journals for your preliminary research. You can make extensive use of Google scholar, you can use library databases such as EBSCO Host and LexisNexis. Numerous open access journals can be of great help in your preliminary research.
There is a chance that you might want to change the potential thesis topics have in mind as you conduct your preliminary literature review. This is all good, if you come across a more inspiring topic, you can read more to see if it will make a good thesis topic. However, don’t only read the literature you find interesting, that will limit your ability to find a good thesis topic to write on. Go through as much literature as you can find to reach a good thesis topic.
Making the Final Decision on selecting a good thesis topic
After conducting a preliminary literature review that you could find on the potential thesis topics, and you have narrowed it down to a few options that seem viable, it is now your time to decide on which topic to write on. This is not an easy decision to make, even the most interesting sounding research topics can get difficult to research when put to test. Is thus important that the topic you choose meet the following demands;
- Make sure the topic you choose is feasible. The thesis topic you settle for ought to be general and possible to answer with enough study. There should be enough past literature on the study to base your new research on
- Can you as the researcher find all the resources and materials you need to conduct your research? And how affordable are the resources you need for the study? If there shall be huge expenses you need to incur for the study of the chosen thesis topic, then it might not be a good topic to explore because you will need to raise funds which can take time if you have limited time to execute the research. If you are coming up with a thesis topic for your Ph.D., you might be okay with a time-consuming topic that will require extensive study and expenses but if you are conducting undergraduate research, you shall settle for a more convenient topic because you have as much as 2 years to conduct the research. You can also consider if you will have to travel long distances collecting data compared to the time you have for the research, if the topic will give you such inconveniences, you can drop it and consider a more manageable topic
- You can ask yourself if you find the thesis topic you have selected interesting. Does this topic arouse you intellectually and do you expect this interest to be sustained all through the research process? Many a time a topic seems interesting but a researcher loses morale during the research process, you can pick a topic with a purpose. That might drive you to finish it as opposed to picking topics you are only passionate about
- Are there any other research topics that have been published in the past that closely match your chosen thesis topic? You can consider those research, their sample size, and their methodologies to ascertain whether your topic is also practical enough to be tested in the field
- Lastly, you need to know if you have a supervisor that is willing to oversee the thesis. Sometimes, a supervisor shall be assigned based on the topic you have selected. If you already, you can consult with him or her as you make the final decision on your thesis topic