Tutorial: A 3 minutes kick-starter for your beginner thesis

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#1 — What to write about?

#2 — Purpose and agenda

Ok, so now you have a topic. Don’t move too fast to methodology and method. Instead, start with the following questions:

  • What do you want to investigate/find out and why?
  • What is your agenda or purpose by doing so? That is, what do you want to achieve and why?
  • Whom should gain from the new knowledge? To whom is it relevant?
  • What could a possible research question or hypothesis be?

#3 — Design

Now that you know what you want to do, it should be easier to create the research design:

#4 — Kill your darlings

#5 — Getting yourself a literature starting point

  1. Map the research areas that may be relevant or which interests you.
  2. Google them to see what to invest your time in and single out possible methodologies, perspectives.
  3. Read short introductions and get a feeling for the methodology, focus, field, main figures, etc. (“Introducing… A Graphic Guide”, Oxford’s “Very Short Introduction’s” are good places to start)
  4. Read more thorough introductions and trace the literature and sources they mention in the text-body, footnotes and reference lists.
  5. Now you should have a better grasp of the relevant topics, where to proceed with your literature search and what to look for.

Other options:

  • Contact a teacher and ask for syllabi and literature lists from their courses. Use the Internet and institutional websites to track them down. The worst thing that could happen is that they don’t reply.
  • Check course works on educational programmes.
  • Ask your fellow students or go to a library.
  • Search Google Scholar, Google Books, Amazon, and other databases/search engines.
  • Check Kahn Academy, Lynda.com and similar if they treat the topics you are looking for.
  • Be careful, but do not be afraid of unleashing the power of YouTube! (Excercise great criticism and caution though! It’ not necessarily true/reliable because it has been published.)

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