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Define your thesis topic

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Define your thesis topic

If you are in a discipline where you have to define your own thesis topic, this can be quite a challenge. Even if you have a strong idea of the area you'd like to research and the potential for exploration, defining the particular question you plan to focus on may prove challenging.

In the first instance, you will need to read broadly in the area of your interest to establish a sound understanding of the general and specific contexts, the current thinking, conceptualising, recent research and the major theorists and investigators in the area. You will need to assess the potential for new research and the particular question that can be focussed upon.

Remember, the question has to be small enough to be researched in the required time, yet significant enough to merit the exercise and the degree. Moreover, if it is to become your PhD, it will have to provide an original contribution to knowledge.

When thinking about the research question, keep in mind that it has to answer both 'What' and 'Why'. It will have to demonstrate relationships, make critical evaluations of findings and determine relevant theoretical connections.

You will need to decide if the question can actually be researched- paying attention to all financial or practical issues, and resources, to constraints of time, location, access, ethics and the like.

It is a good idea to work together with your supervisor in defining and refining the topic. Your supervisor(s) has an appreciation of distinct research requirements within the discipline.

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