When the thesis course starts it is easy for the time to slip away. If you wait until the last moment to think about the research question and the thesis structure, it can affect the end result of your thesis. If nothing else it will make the remaining time of your studies uncomfortable.
There are parts of the thesis that you can start with early, even before the course starts. Parts like: The research question, information retrieval and the thesis template.
The research question is something that you can start with as soon as you have something within your field that you find interesting. Well it should at least be interesting enough. Note that it can be worth choosing a topic that you can use while searching for future jobs.
When can you start working on the research question? As soon as you find something that you are interested in. You might need some base knowledge to be able to stay within your field. You can get more hints on how to write the question on How to write research questions.
Don’t put to much effort into making sure your question is perfect. You will have to work on adapting, narrowing down and widening it through out the course.
When you have something that you find interesting you should also be able to formulate information needs. Information needs in context to your research question, topics that you will have to know more about to be able to formulate a good research question and good searches.
To evaluate if your question and area of interest is relevant you must put this in context to related research. Finding related research can also help you to avoid answering a question that has already been answered (or at least put your answer in context to other answers).
How do we start working on the information searching? Start by breaking out keywords from what you already have. Use encyclopedias and other sources to find synonyms and build search blocks that are interesting for your subject area. Structure these words into search blocks so that you get an overview on what you might find. Chose databases that might be useful to answer your information needs. If you have any trouble with your searches or if you want some input on the whole information retrieval process please ask us in the library or attend our Search lab.
Start working on the thesis template. Write meta-text describing what the different parts of your thesis is going to contain. If you have a template with meta-text it is easier to get an overview on what you want to do and the conversations with the supervisor should become easier.
Text: Thomas Nyström