Questions to ask to find out if the topic for your thesis is good
Having chosen a thesis topic is one small step for you, but one giant leap for your thesis. Before starting the actual research, you need to make sure that your topic is well formed. Take a look at this list of questions to find out if your topic is ready to work on.
Does the topic have a clear aim?
First things first, is your topic clear enough? The ideal path of deciding a topic starts by making it as comprehensive as possible. This is easier said than done, as people often have one idea in mind but another one in paper.
As James Hamilton, coach for Ph.D. students, concludes in his guide on finding a thesis topic "clarity is the key". Therefore, we recommend explaining your topic to someone foreign to your field. Dissect every part of the topic and describe them in the most simple way. This will help you see your topic from a different perspective. Only after the simplified version, you can start adding layers of complexity.
Is the topic researchable?
Once you are sure the topic is crystal clear, it is time to find out the most important factor: does the topic offer enough information? If you came up with the topic from material you read before, or you heard about it in some lecture, it means the topic is probably highly researchable.
The only step to take here is using keywords about your topic and researching them in catalogs, article databases, internet search engines, and libraries. Here is a great article with research tips for avoiding all-nighters and some tips and tricks for finding material.
Is the topic original enough?
Every thesis requires a level of originality but let's be honest, research is never completely original. Still, why not make it as original as you can **within your limits? You will dive in a sea of papers with a similar approach to yours. This is your chance of finding an angle that has never been taken before.
Therefore, we recommend finding that gap in research to work on or a certain angle that has been done before but that you could develop further. How? By simply paying particular attention to your sources.
Will the topic be interesting to your audience?
Academic writing shouldn’t be boring. Depending on the level of your thesis its appeal should vary. In order to answer the question, you should identify who the audience of your paper will be and then adapt it accordingly.
A Bachelor thesis has to be interesting for the professor that will mark it. An MA thesis should attract your supervisor and your future working field. A Ph.D. thesis requires the highest level of interestingness, as the academic expectation bar is much higher. It should engage peers, supervisor and general researchers into reading it. Once you know who you are writing for, it becomes easier to adapt your words to your target audience. We also recommend these 13 ways to make your writing more interesting to read.
What methodology will your topic require?
Picking a suitable research methodology is one of the most important components that can make a project fail or succeed. There are many components that define a methodology, but the strongest ones are the end goal of the research and timing.
Being aware of what type of outcome you want from the research and how much time you count on will narrow down the type of methodologies from the beginning on. For example, if you want qualitative data as a result and you have enough time, then you can carry out a focus group. If you want quantitative data in a short period of time then an online survey suffices. Time and goal will be the decisive factors in almost every research.
Check out our guide on How to gather data for your thesis for further instructions on collecting empirical data and choosing a methodology.
Further questions to ask to find out if the topic of your research is good:
- Is the topic easy to find?
- Is the topic of interest in contemporary culture?
- Will the topic bring you any benefit after graduation?