One of the most challenging tasks in the life of a student is writing a research project writing, be it a thesis or dissertation. But sometimes, choosing a project topic is difficult than writing the project itself …okay, okay, I don’t think writing it is ever easy …lol …but then, imagine how important coming up with a topic can be to your professional career. This moment is directly connected to your future whether you are deciding to dedicate your life to research on a specific field of study, or you have a strong desire to push the envelope in your chosen specialization. It was actually one of the most critical choices of my career, infact, it defined my career as a scientific researcher, and is still charting its course.
Below are tips to help you make the right decision on the topic for your thesis.
1. Go through previous term papers, mini-projects and assignments.
I personally think this should be the first thing to do. Look through the topics of all assignments, term papers, group projects, class projects, and mini-projects that you were directly or indirectly involved at one point or the other in your classes before now.
This will help you identify your areas of interest and specializations, and subsequently, existing gaps you can work towards filling or problems you can find a solution to. When I was to choose my current major specialization in my undergraduate, I realised that I enjoyed a lot of class practical and experiments that has to do with the internal structures of plant, so it was just an easy decision for me to pick Plant Anatomy, and choosing my project topic became less difficult …This brings me to the next point
2. Choose something you are passionate about.
Some supervisors prefer to assign certain topics to their students to explore, others give freedom of choice to their students. So, it may happen so that during your studentship, you have to create various tasks concerning the topics which were not interesting to you. A project is an excellent opportunity to take everything into your own hands, your supervisor might just be give you the freedom. The responsibility is enormous, but it is worth trying.
You may also decide to continue the investigation of one problem you have already encountered. I did this when I was going to pick a topic for my doctorate degree. Because I had worked in a team of four to investigate a problem, expanding the scope of the research to continue the investigation was not too difficult to decide on.
3. Consult your supervisor.
A thesis/dissertation is supposed to be an independent research work, however, you have a supervisor who can help you to handle some difficulties. Choosing a project topic is a serious reason to talk with him/her as well, because he/she is usually able to give you a good counsel concerning this problem and help you to start working.
My own supervisor usually has his own ideas, but gives me space for creative freedom by always asking my ideas, and in the end, we always find a meeting point of our ideas. Usually, after his inputs from his wealth of experience, the beauty of the work to be done is seen even before I start working. This is one great benefit of consulting your supervisor.
4. Analyze literature resources.
In choosing your project topic, another way is to work with resources from literatures, particularly other research and review articles in your field of study. This may seem difficult for a newbie, but shouldn’t be for someone who has studied a number of research articles from journals before the stage of dissertation writing.
This method is one that can help sort out a lot of things at the same time. First is that you can collate resources available on a certain subject of interest, second is that you can collect the reference list at the same time, third is that you acquire more knowledge and exposure in your area of interest, most of all is that you can come up with a working project title. I have come up with a lot of feasible project titles in my head this way, I have a number of friends who have too. And as we went on, these
5. Employ a multidisciplinary approach
This approach to choosing a project topic requires that you have a knowledge of more disciplines than your. You don’t necessarily need the deepest of knowledge of that discipline, and that’s why you have your supervisor and other academic and research personnel to help on your work along the way.
As at the time of writing this, I’m on a research that integrates two disciplines and most of my extracurricular interests. This is a complex approach, but interestingly, I’m comfortable with it. I’d like to think it’s easy to get comfortable with a multidisciplinary project topic if it involves your interest.
Employing a multidisciplinary approach be also lead to creating something new, more, you may not have a problem coming up with a novelty contribution to knowledge in this seemingly discovery-bombarded world of research.
These are general and maybe personal recommendations, but I have no doubt they can be efficient in your situation. It applies to all classes of students, be you a Bachelors or Masters or Doctorate. You may need an integration of more than one approach, and this usually is the case, however, what matters when choosing a project topic is coming up with something that would develop and add value to the society at large.
Please share your thoughts in the comment section below if any of these approaches resonates with you, or if other approaches you think should be included.