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Selecting a research topic: overview.
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- MIT Writing and Communication Center "Providing free professional advice about all types of writing and speaking to all members of the MIT community."
- Search Our Collections Find books about writing. Search by subject for: english language grammar; report writing handbooks; technical writing handbooks
- Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation Online version of the book that provides examples and tips on grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and other writing rules.
- Select a topic
Choosing an interesting research topic is your first challenge. Here are some tips:
- Choose a topic that you are interested in! The research process is more relevant if you care about your topic.
- If your topic is too broad, you will find too much information and not be able to focus.
- Background reading can help you choose and limit the scope of your topic.
- Review the guidelines on topic selection outlined in your assignment. Ask your professor or TA for suggestions.
- Refer to lecture notes and required texts to refresh your knowledge of the course and assignment.
- Talk about research ideas with a friend. S/he may be able to help focus your topic by discussing issues that didn't occur to you at first.
- WHY did you choose the topic? What interests you about it? Do you have an opinion about the issues involved?
- WHO are the information providers on this topic? Who might publish information about it? Who is affected by the topic? Do you know of organizations or institutions affiliated with the topic?
- WHAT are the major questions for this topic? Is there a debate about the topic? Are there a range of issues and viewpoints to consider?
- WHERE is your topic important: at the local, national or international level? Are there specific places affected by the topic?
- WHEN is/was your topic important? Is it a current event or an historical issue? Do you want to compare your topic by time periods?
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How To Find A High-Quality Research Topic
6 steps to find & evaluate high-quality dissertation/thesis topics.
By: Caroline Osella (PhD, BA) and Derek Jansen (MBA) | July 2019
So, you’re finally nearing the end of your degree and it’s now time to find a suitable topic for your dissertation or thesis. Or perhaps you’re just starting out on your PhD research proposal and need to find a suitable area of research for your application proposal.
In this post, we’ll provide a straightforward 6-step process that you can follow to ensure you arrive at a high-quality research topic . Follow these steps and you will formulate a well-suited, well-defined core research question .
There’s a helpful clue already: your research ‘topic’ is best understood as a research question or a problem . Your aim is not to create an encyclopedia entry into your field, but rather to shed light on an acknowledged issue that’s being debated (or needs to be). Think research questions , not research topics (we’ll come back to this later).
Overview: How To Find & Choose A Research Topic
- Get an understanding of the research process
- Review previous dissertations from your university
- Review the academic literature to start the ideation process
- Identify your potential research questions (topics) and shortlist
- Narrow down, then evaluate your research topic shortlist
- Make the decision (and stick with it!)
Step 1: Understand the research process
It may sound horribly obvious, but it’s an extremely common mistake – students skip past the fundamentals straight to the ideation phase (and then pay dearly for it).
Start by looking at whatever handouts and instructions you’ve been given regarding what your university/department expects of a dissertation. For example, the course handbook, online information and verbal in-class instructions. I know it’s tempting to just dive into the ideation process, but it’s essential to start with the prescribed material first.
There are two important reasons for this:
First , you need to have a basic understanding of the research process , research methodologies , fieldwork options and analysis methods before you start the ideation process, or you will simply not be equipped to think about your own research adequately. If you don’t understand the basics of quantitative , qualitative and mixed methods BEFORE you start ideating, you’re wasting your time.
Second , your university/department will have specific requirements for your research – for example, requirements in terms of topic originality, word count, data requirements, ethical adherence, methodology, etc. If you are not aware of these from the outset, you will again end up wasting a lot of time on irrelevant ideas/topics.
So, the most important first step is to get your head around both the basics of research (especially methodologies), as well as your institution’s specific requirements . Don’t give in to the temptation to jump ahead before you do this. As a starting point, be sure to check out our free dissertation course.
Step 2: Review past dissertations/theses
Unless you’re undertaking a completely new course, there will be many, many students who have gone through the research process before and have produced successful dissertations, which you can use to orient yourself. This is hugely beneficial – imagine being able to see previous students’ assignments and essays when you were doing your coursework!
Take a look at some well-graded (65% and above) past dissertations from your course (ideally more recent ones, as university requirements may change over time). These are usually available in the university’s online library. Past dissertations will act as a helpful model for all kinds of things, from how long a bibliography needs to be, to what a good literature review looks like, through to what kinds of methods you can use – and how to leverage them to support your argument.
As you peruse past dissertations, ask yourself the following questions:
- What kinds of topics did these dissertations cover and how did they turn the topic into questions?
- How broad or narrow were the topics?
- How original were the topics? Were they truly groundbreaking or just a localised twist on well-established theory?
- How well justified were the topics? Did they seem important or just nice to know?
- How much literature did they draw on as a theoretical base? Was the literature more academic or applied in nature?
- What kinds of research methods did they use and what data did they draw on?
- How did they analyse that data and bring it into the discussion of the academic literature?
- Which of the dissertations are most readable to you – why? How were they presented?
- Can you see why these dissertations were successful? Can you relate what they’ve done back to the university’s instructions/brief?
Seeing a variety of dissertations (at least 5, ideally in your area of interest) will also help you understand whether your university has very rigid expectations in terms of structure and format , or whether they expect and allow variety in the number of chapters, chapter headings, order of content, style of presentation and so on.
Some departments accept graphic novels; some are willing to grade free-flow continental-philosophy style arguments; some want a highly rigid, standardised structure. Many offer a dissertation template , with information on how marks are split between sections. Check right away whether you have been given one of those templates – and if you do, then use it and don’t try to deviate or reinvent the wheel.
Step 3: Review the academic literature
Now that you (1) understand the research process, (2) understand your university’s specific requirements for your dissertation or thesis, and (3) have a feel for what a good dissertation looks like, you can start the ideation process. This is done by reviewing the current literature and looking for opportunities to add something original to the academic conversation.
Kick start the ideation process
So, where should you start your literature hunt? The best starting point is to get back to your modules. Look at your coursework and the assignments you did. Using your coursework is the best theoretical base, as you are assured that (1) the literature is of a high enough calibre for your university and (2) the topics are relevant to your specific course.
Start by identifying the modules that interested you the most and that you understood well (i.e. earned good marks for). What were your strongest assignments, essays or reports? Which areas within these were particularly interesting to you? For example, within a marketing module, you may have found consumer decision making or organisation trust to be interesting. Create a shortlist of those areas that you were both interested in and academically strong at. It’s no use picking an area that does not genuinely interest you – you’ll run out of motivation if you’re not excited by a topic.
Understand the current state of knowledge
Once you’ve done that, you need to get an understanding of the current state of the literature for your chosen interest areas. What you’re aiming to understand is this: what is the academic conversation here and what critical questions are yet unanswered? These unanswered questions are prime opportunities for a unique, meaningful research topic . A quick review of the literature on your favourite topics will help you understand this.
Grab your reading list from the relevant section of the modules, or simply enter the topics into Google Scholar . Skim-read 3-5 journal articles from the past 5 years which have at least 5 citations each (Google Scholar or a citations index will show you how many citations any given article has – i.e., how many other people have referred to it in their own bibliography). Also, check to see if your discipline has an ‘annual review’ type of journal, which gathers together surveys of the state of knowledge on a chosen topic. This can be a great tool for fast-tracking your understanding of the current state of the knowledge in any given area.
Start from your course’s reading list and work outwards. At the end of every journal article, you’ll find a reference list. Scan this reference list for more relevant articles and read those. Then repeat the process (known as snowballing) until you’ve built up a base of 20-30 quality articles per area of interest.
Absorb, don’t hunt
At this stage, your objective is to read and understand the current state of the theory for your area(s) of interest – you don’t need to be in topic-hunting mode yet. Don’t jump the gun and try to identify research topics before you are well familiarised with the literature.
As you read, try to understand what kinds of questions people are asking and how they are trying to answer them. What matters do the researchers agree on, and more importantly, what are they in disagreement about? Disagreements are prime research territory. Can you identify different ‘schools of thought’ or different ‘approaches’? Do you know what your own approach or slant is? What kinds of articles appeal to you and which ones bore you or leave you feeling like you’ve not really grasped them? Which ones interest you and point towards directions you’d like to research and know more about?
Once you understand the fundamental fact that academic knowledge is a conversation, things get easier.
Think of it like a party. There are groups of people in the room, enjoying conversations about various things. Which group do you want to join? You don’t want to be that person in the corner, talking to themself. And you don’t want to be the hanger-on, laughing at the big-shot’s jokes and repeating everything they say.
Do you want to join a large group and try to make a small contribution to what’s going on, or are you drawn to a smaller group that’s having a more niche conversation, but where you feel you might more easily find something original to contribute? How many conversations can you identify? Which ones feel closer to you and more attractive? Which ones repel you or leave you cold? Are there some that, frankly, you just don’t understand?
Now, choose a couple of groups who are discussing something you feel interested in and where you feel like you might want to contribute. You want to make your entry into this group by asking a question – a question that will make the other people in the group turn around and look at you, listen to you, and think, “That’s interesting”.
Your dissertation will be the process of setting that question and then trying to find at least a partial answer to that question – but don’t worry about that now. Right now, you need to work out what conversations are going on, whether any of them are related or overlapping, and which ones you might be able to walk into. I’ll explain how you find that question in the next step.
Need a helping hand?
Step 4: Identify potential research questions
Now that you have a decent understanding of the state of the literature in your area(s) of interest, it’s time to start developing your list of possible research topics. There are (at least) three approaches you can follow here, and they are not mutually exclusive:
Approach 1: Leverage the FRIN
Towards the end of most quality journal articles, you will find a section labelled “ further research ” or something similar. Generally, researchers will clearly outline where they feel further research is needed (FRIN), following on from their own research. So, essentially, every journal article presents you with a list of potential research opportunities.
Of course, only a handful of these will be both practical and of interest to you, so it’s not a quick-fix solution to finding a research topic. However, the benefit of going this route is that you will be able to find a genuinely original and meaningful research topic (which is particularly important for PhD-level research).
The upside to this approach is originality, but the downside is that you might not find something that really interests you , or that you have the means to execute. If you do go this route, make sure that you pay attention to the journal article dates, as the FRIN may already have been “solved” by other researchers if the article is old.
Approach 2: Put a context-based spin on an existing topic
The second option is to consider whether a theory which is already well established is relevant within a local or industry-specific context. For example, a theory about the antecedents (drivers) of trust is very well established, but there may be unique or uniquely important drivers within a specific national context or industry (for example, within the financial services industry in an emerging market).
If that industry or national context has not yet been covered by researchers and there is a good reason to believe there may be meaningful differences within that context, then you have an opportunity to take a unique angle on well-established theory, which can make for a great piece of research. It is however imperative that you have a good reason to believe that the existing theory may not be wholly relevant within your chosen context, or your research will not be justified.
The upside to this approach is that you can potentially find a topic that is “closer to home” and more relevant and interesting to you , while still being able to draw on a well-established body of theory. However, the downside is that this approach will likely not produce the level of originality as approach #1.
Approach 3: Uncensored brainstorming
The third option is to skip the FRIN, as well as the local/industry-specific angle and simply engage in a freeform brainstorming or mind-mapping session, using your newfound knowledge of the theory to formulate potential research ideas. What’s important here is that you do not censor yourself . However crazy, unfeasible, or plain stupid your topic appears – write it down. All that matters right now is that you are interested in this thing.
Next, try to turn the topic(s) into a question or problem. For example:
- What is the relationship between X, Y & Z?
- What are the drivers/antecedents of X?
- What are the outcomes of Y?
- What are the key success factors for Z?
Re-word your list of topics or issues into a list of questions . You might find at this stage that one research topic throws up three questions (which then become sub-topics and even new separate topics in their own right) and in so doing, the list grows. Let it. Don’t hold back or try to start evaluating your ideas yet – just let them flow onto paper.
Once you’ve got a few topics and questions on paper, check the literature again to see whether any of these have been covered by the existing research. Since you came up with these from scratch, there is a possibility that your original literature search did not cover them, so it’s important to revisit that phase to ensure that you’re familiar with the relevant literature for each idea. You may also then find that approach #1 and #2 can be used to build on these ideas.
Try use all three approaches
As mentioned earlier, the three approaches discussed here are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the more, the merrier. Hopefully, you manage to utilise all three, as this will give you the best odds of producing a rich list of ideas, which you can then narrow down and evaluate, which is the next step.
Step 5: Narrow down, then evaluate
By this stage, you should have a healthy list of research topics. Step away from the ideation and thinking for a few days, clear your mind. The key is to get some distance from your ideas, so that you can sit down with your list and review it with a more objective view. The unbridled ideation phase is over and now it’s time to take a reality check .
Look at your list and see if any options can be crossed off right away . Maybe you don’t want to do that topic anymore. Maybe the topic turned out to be too broad and threw up 20 hard to answer questions. Maybe all the literature you found about it was 30 years old and you suspect it might not be a very engaging contemporary issue . Maybe this topic is so over-researched that you’ll struggle to find anything fresh to say. Also, after stepping back, it’s quite common to notice that 2 or 3 of your topics are really the same one, the same question, which you’ve written down in slightly different ways. You can try to amalgamate these into one succinct topic.
Narrow down to the top 5, then evaluate
Now, take your streamlined list and narrow it down to the ‘top 5’ that interest you the most. Personal interest is your key evaluation criterion at this stage. Got your ‘top 5’? Great! Now, with a cool head and your best analytical mind engaged, go systematically through each option and evaluate them against the following criteria:
Research questions – what is the main research question, and what are the supporting sub-questions? It’s critically important that you can define these questions clearly and concisely. If you cannot do this, it means you haven’t thought the topic through sufficiently.
Originality – is the topic sufficiently original, as per your university’s originality requirements? Are you able to add something unique to the existing conversation? As mentioned earlier, originality can come in many forms, and it doesn’t mean that you need to find a completely new, cutting-edge topic. However, your university’s requirements should guide your decision-making here.
Importance – is the topic of real significance, or is it just a “nice to know”? If it’s significant, why? Who will benefit from finding the answer to your desired questions and how will they benefit? Justifying your research will be a key requirement for your research proposal , so it’s really important to develop a convincing argument here.
Literature – is there a contemporary (current) body of academic literature around this issue? Is there enough literature for you to base your investigation on, but not too much that the topic is “overdone”? Will you be able to navigate this literature or is it overwhelming?
Data requirements – What kind of data would you need access to in order to answer your key questions? Would you need to adopt a qualitative, quantitative or mixed-methods approach to answer your questions? At this stage, you don’t need to be able to map out your exact research design, but you should be able to articulate how you would approach it in high-level terms. Will you use qual, quant or mixed methods? Why?
Feasibility – How feasible would it be to gather the data that would be needed in the time-frame that you have – and do you have the will power and the skills to do it? If you’re not confident with the theory, you don’t want something that’s going to draw you into a debate about the relative importance of epistemology and ontology. If you are shy, you won’t want to be doing ethnographic interviews. If you feel this question calls for a 100-person survey, do you have the time to plan, organise and conduct it and then analyse it? What will you do if you don’t get the response rate you expect? Be very realistic here and also ask advice from your supervisor and other experts – poor response rates are extremely common and can derail even the best research projects.
Personal attraction – On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you about this topic? Will addressing it add value to your life and/or career? Will undertaking the project help you build a skill you’ve previously wanted to work on (for example, interview skills, statistical analysis skills, software skills, etc.)?
The last point is particularly important. You will have to engage with your dissertation in a very sustained and deep way, face challenges and difficulties, and get it to completion. If you don’t start out enthusiastic about it, you’re setting yourself up for problems like ‘writer’s block’ or ‘burnout’ down the line. This is the reason personal interest was the sole evaluation criterion when we chose the top 5. So, don’t underestimate the importance of personal attraction to a topic – at the same time, don’t let personal attraction lead you to choose a topic that is not relevant to your course or feasible given your resources.
Narrow down to 3, then get human feedback
We’re almost at the finishing line. The next step is to narrow down to 2 or 3 shortlisted topics. No more! Write a short paragraph about each topic, addressing the following:
Firstly, WHAT will this study be about? Frame the topic as a question or a problem. Write it as a dissertation title. No more than two clauses and no more than 15 words. Less than 15 is better (go back to good journal articles for inspiration on appropriate title styles).
Secondly, WHY this is interesting (original) and important – as proven by existing academic literature? Are people talking about this and is there an acknowledged problem, debate or gap in the literature?
Lastly, HOW do you plan to answer the question? What sub-questions will you use? What methods does this call for and how competent and confident are you in those methods? Do you have the time to gather the data this calls for?
Show the shortlist and accompanying paragraphs to a couple of your peers from your course and also to an expert or two if at all possible (you’re welcome to reach out to us ), explaining what you will investigate, why this is original and important and how you will go about investigating it.
Once you’ve pitched your ideas, ask for the following thoughts :
- Which is most interesting and appealing to them?
- Why do they feel this way?
- What problems do they foresee with the execution of the research?
Take advice and feedback and sit on it for another day. Let it simmer in your mind overnight before you make the final decision.
Step 6: Make the decision (and stick with it!)
Then, make the commitment. Choose the one that you feel most confident about, having now considered both your opinion and the feedback from others.
Once you’ve made a decision, don’t doubt your judgement, don’t shift. Don’t be tempted by the ones you left behind. You’ve planned and thought things through, checked feasibility and now you can start. You have your research topic. Trust your own decision-making process and stick with it now. It’s time to get started on your research proposal!
In this post, I’ve proposed a straightforward 6-step plan to finding relevant research topic ideas and then narrowing them down to finally choose one winner. To recap:
- Understand the basics of academic research, as well as your university’s specific requirements for a dissertation, thesis or research project.
- Review previous dissertations for your course to get an idea of both topics and structure.
- Start the ideation process by familiarising yourself with the literature.
- Identify your potential research questions (topics).
- Narrow down your options, then evaluate systematically.
- Make your decision (and don’t look back!)
If you follow these steps, you’ll find that they also set you up for what’s coming next – both the proposal and the first three chapters of your dissertation. But that’s for future posts!
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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Choosing a Research Topic
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This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses and offers advice on how to choose a dissertation topic that is compelling, manageable, and worthwhile. Although it is written for scientists, this article provides valuable insights that are applicable to other fields. Also available via the Tomorrow's Professor Archive.
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On the dissertation: how to find a research topic.
A new book sheds light on a vital academic skill: the art and craft of figuring out what you want to investigate.
When it comes to choosing a dissertation topic, students in the lab sciences have it the easiest. Because their funding comes from their adviser’s lab, their dissertations will typically be carved out of the professor’s research agenda. That practice has its problems. The most obvious: These graduate students have only limited input into their own thesis topic. They don’t get to learn and practice an important skill that all researchers need once they’re on their own — the knack of figuring out what to study.
Clearing an easy path to a thesis topic defers an important part of doctoral education in the sciences. But what about everyone else? All graduate students need to learn how to identify and develop a topic and formulate a research agenda. And it’s not an easy skill to teach — especially if the instructor doesn’t know much about how to do it, either.
I’ve long wanted to spotlight this subject in The Chronicle’s occasional series on the dissertation (earlier essays focused on drafting the introduction and the value of writing groups ). But I hesitated because I wasn’t sure of what to say. Back when I was a graduate student, I got lucky: My topic snuck up on me. It emerged from a course I devised at the time. (The course was called “The Literature of the Bizarre, the Grotesque, and the Macabre,” and it led to a dissertation on the grotesque in antebellum American literature.)
The best I can say for myself is that when I did stumble upon a thesis topic, I had the good sense to notice. However, my experience isn’t exactly teachable. I’ve advised many student dissertations over the years, and I confess that topic design has never been one of my strengths.
For better and worse, I’ve been cautious about offering advice on this front. The sciences are not the only fields in which students end up with a topic that mirrors their adviser’s work. I’ve seen that happen more than a few times in the humanistic precincts I inhabit, with decidedly mixed results.
And I don’t want to dictate thesis topics to my students. After all, they have to live for two or three years with their topic. I don’t. On the other hand, if I hold myself at too great a distance from their thought process, I’m not helping them — or doing my job.
So how can students — and professors like me — learn the art and craft of topic design?
Fortunately, an excellent new book from the University of Chicago Press has come to the rescue. Thomas S. Mullaney and Christopher Rea’s Where Research Begins, is a revelation. Unlike previous books in the field (such as the valuable and many-times revised The Craft of Research, published in 1995), Mullaney and Rea focus on how to release and develop your own analytical creativity, and then how to shape it into what they call “a research project that matters to you (and the world).”
Where Research Begins is fundamentally a workbook, and it’s filled with exercises. The book has two parts. The first section describes what Mullaney and Rea call “self centered” research, which they define as discovering what matters to you and framing it as a problem that can be investigated.
Too often, the book says, academics try to “please some imaginary, external judge.” Or maybe that judge is not imaginary at all. I’ve seen plenty of graduate students — including some under my own direction — try to please the teacher before pleasing themselves. Perhaps the book’s single greatest virtue lies in its emphasis on the importance of uncovering what matters to you and separating that from everything else, including what you think your dissertation adviser wants.
Via a series of exercises, the book gradually moves the reader from topic to questions, and then to a research problem. Repeatedly in framing a topic, Mullaney and Rea encourage the researcher to look for “the effect on you.” Their emphasis on a step-by-step process to transform a personal interest into a viable research topic is the second cardinal virtue of the book.
Where Research Begins shows how a topic will enter both a field of study and a “problem collective” made up of researchers who may belong to different fields, but who are working on similar questions. For example, someone trying to learn why bourbon has become so popular in the United States might identify her field as American food studies. But she might share her problem with a researcher tracing the emergence of religious denominations in Europe, or someone studying fads in Japan.
The shift from self-centeredness to intellectual community makes up the second part of the book. Mullaney and Rea call this second stage “Getting Over Yourself.”
In moving from exercise to exercise, the book advises the reader to “write as you go.” If you do, the end result will be what the authors cleverly call “draft zero,” a step away from a first draft.
Such formulations led one of my former students to remark that Mullaney and Rea “have the best metaphors.” Where Research Begins is indeed filled with witty analogies that make reading the book a pleasure. Instead of merely encouraging the reader to ask rigorous questions, they write: “Think of a question as if it were a car,” and “stress test” the steering and brakes.
To get from sources to arguments, Mullaney and Rea ask the researcher to “connect the dots.” In real life, as opposed to dot-to-dot coloring books, you have to find the dots to connect. What happens when there are only a few of them? When you don’t know what picture they form? “Figure out which dots belong to your picture,” they advise. This extended metaphor delivers a powerful and memorable lesson on how to identify and plumb an archive.
Playful metaphors do more than make the reader smile. Metaphors, as the linguist George Lakoff reminds us, shape thought.
The authors recommend a method that I would describe (to offer my own metaphor) as quarrying. They direct the researcher to quarry, examine, and reflect — and then repeat the procedure. Discover things, study them, figure out what they say to you (including about your personal interests), and then use that knowledge to discover more things. The book’s exercises employ this recursive method again and again.
Where Research Begins is a gratifyingly student-centered book but it will help experienced researchers as well as beginners, teachers as well as students. For faculty members who advise graduate students, it particularly helps expose the assumptions baked into our own methods of thinking. I’ll be a better teacher for that, and my students will arrive at better research topics.
That’s a valuable takeaway for all concerned, but good dissertation topics especially matter for students from underrepresented groups. Many of them want to do research that reflects their personal commitments — and they’re more likely to leave graduate school if they are discouraged from pursuing those interests. That subject deserves particular attention, and I’ll have more to say about it in my next column.
Original article: https://www.chronicle.com/article/on-the-dissertation-how-to-find-a-research-topic
5 Tips for Selecting a Thesis Topic
Tips for Selecting a Thesis Topic
- Combine ideas to create one in-depth concept that looks at an old issue in a new way.
- Look for holes of opportunity in the published work of professionals and other students.
- Embrace your creative side.
- Before you commit to an idea, put it to the test.
- Create a swipe file that includes a list of keywords.
The time has finally come to commit to a Master's thesis. This is an exciting time, but it's also intimidating because you're dedicating the next year or more of your life to a substantial project that will have a tremendous impact on your professional life. The most common tip is to find a topic that you're interested in, but it isn't always easy to take a general interest and create a narrow topic that will impress professionals in your field. The following tips will help you work through the process from brainstorming to that final commitment.
1. Combine ideas to create one in-depth concept that looks at an old issue in a new way.
There aren't many unexplored ideas left in any professional field, so don't stress out trying to find a topic that hasn't been covered in the past. Instead, brainstorm a long list of ideas based on topics that interest you or about which you would like to learn more. You can then play with combining those ideas to create one thesis topic that stands apart from other works within your field.
2. Look for holes of opportunity in the published work of professionals and other students.
If you can get your hands on a couple theses written by other students, take the time to read them with an open mind to holes in their work. You can do the same with published research in trade journals or industry association magazines . Researchers will often note when further research is needed for topics related to their own work, and you should add those suggestions to your brainstorm list. These ideas may or may not grab your attention, but they are leads that will point the way to topics that are trending in your field.
3. Embrace your creative side.
Many people get their best ideas while doing creative activities that have nothing to do with their professional lives. For instance, many students benefit from short freewriting sessions that allow them to think through problems and come up with solutions in a stress-free manner. You can apply the same concept to pottery, dance or any other creative outlet that influences your life. If you aren't a creative person but are torn between multiple ideas, create a vision board or collage with images and words related to each idea. Which one pulls your attention and gets you excited? Which one do you think will make the biggest impact on your industry?
4. Before you commit to an idea, put it to the test.
Make sure that you have the resources, knowledge and ability to carry out all phases of your thesis project. If you don't have what you need now, do some research and ensure that you can obtain it in the near future. If the resources are available, create a mini experiment or send out a survey to put your primary ideas to the test. Use the data from this initial test phase to adjust and finalize your thesis concept. This will add depth and precision to your topic while revealing any flaws or holes in your plan.
5. Create a swipe file that includes a list of keywords.
A swipe file is like a scrapbook that contains a variety of resources that will help you in the future. You may include links to webpages and blogs, clips from industry journals and quotes from your professors. If it relates to your topic, triggers deeper thought or may lead you to new ideas that add depth to your project, you should add it to your file. You also want to keep a list of keywords that represent concepts that you want to explore in more depth. Use this information to help you brainstorm topic ideas, and then use it to make completing your thesis easier.
Notice that many of these tips build on one simple tool: a list of brainstorming ideas. Every idea that crosses your mind should go on this list, even when you sense it's far fetched or you aren't qualified to do it justice. You never know when an idea you jot down in passing will blossom into a respectable thesis topic.
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A Beginner's Guide to Starting the Research Process
When you have to write a thesis or dissertation , it can be hard to know where to begin, but there are some clear steps you can follow.
The research process often begins with a very broad idea for a topic you’d like to know more about. You do some preliminary research to identify a problem . After refining your research questions , you can lay out the foundations of your research design , leading to a proposal that outlines your ideas and plans.
This article takes you through the first steps of the research process, helping you narrow down your ideas and build up a strong foundation for your research project.
Table of contents
Step 1: choose your topic, step 2: identify a problem, step 3: formulate research questions, step 4: create a research design, step 5: write a research proposal, other interesting articles.
First you have to come up with some ideas. Your thesis or dissertation topic can start out very broad. Think about the general area or field you’re interested in—maybe you already have specific research interests based on classes you’ve taken, or maybe you had to consider your topic when applying to graduate school and writing a statement of purpose .
Even if you already have a good sense of your topic, you’ll need to read widely to build background knowledge and begin narrowing down your ideas. Conduct an initial literature review to begin gathering relevant sources. As you read, take notes and try to identify problems, questions, debates, contradictions and gaps. Your aim is to narrow down from a broad area of interest to a specific niche.
Make sure to consider the practicalities: the requirements of your programme, the amount of time you have to complete the research, and how difficult it will be to access sources and data on the topic. Before moving onto the next stage, it’s a good idea to discuss the topic with your thesis supervisor.
>>Read more about narrowing down a research topic
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So you’ve settled on a topic and found a niche—but what exactly will your research investigate, and why does it matter? To give your project focus and purpose, you have to define a research problem .
The problem might be a practical issue—for example, a process or practice that isn’t working well, an area of concern in an organization’s performance, or a difficulty faced by a specific group of people in society.
Alternatively, you might choose to investigate a theoretical problem—for example, an underexplored phenomenon or relationship, a contradiction between different models or theories, or an unresolved debate among scholars.
To put the problem in context and set your objectives, you can write a problem statement . This describes who the problem affects, why research is needed, and how your research project will contribute to solving it.
>>Read more about defining a research problem
Next, based on the problem statement, you need to write one or more research questions . These target exactly what you want to find out. They might focus on describing, comparing, evaluating, or explaining the research problem.
A strong research question should be specific enough that you can answer it thoroughly using appropriate qualitative or quantitative research methods. It should also be complex enough to require in-depth investigation, analysis, and argument. Questions that can be answered with “yes/no” or with easily available facts are not complex enough for a thesis or dissertation.
In some types of research, at this stage you might also have to develop a conceptual framework and testable hypotheses .
>>See research question examples
The research design is a practical framework for answering your research questions. It involves making decisions about the type of data you need, the methods you’ll use to collect and analyze it, and the location and timescale of your research.
There are often many possible paths you can take to answering your questions. The decisions you make will partly be based on your priorities. For example, do you want to determine causes and effects, draw generalizable conclusions, or understand the details of a specific context?
You need to decide whether you will use primary or secondary data and qualitative or quantitative methods . You also need to determine the specific tools, procedures, and materials you’ll use to collect and analyze your data, as well as your criteria for selecting participants or sources.
>>Read more about creating a research design
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Finally, after completing these steps, you are ready to complete a research proposal . The proposal outlines the context, relevance, purpose, and plan of your research.
As well as outlining the background, problem statement, and research questions, the proposal should also include a literature review that shows how your project will fit into existing work on the topic. The research design section describes your approach and explains exactly what you will do.
You might have to get the proposal approved by your supervisor before you get started, and it will guide the process of writing your thesis or dissertation.
>>Read more about writing a research proposal
If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
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- Stratified sampling
- Cluster sampling
- Likert scales
- Null hypothesis
- Statistical power
- Probability distribution
- Effect size
- Poisson distribution
- Optimism bias
- Cognitive bias
- Implicit bias
- Hawthorne effect
- Anchoring bias
- Explicit bias
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How to Select a Research Topic: A Step-by-Step Guide (2021)
by Antony W
September 15, 2021
Learning how to select a research topic can be the difference between failing your assignment and writing a comprehensive research paper. That’s why in this guide we’ll teach you how to select a research topic step-by-step.
You don’t need this guide if your professor has already given you a list of topics to consider for your assignment . You can skip to our guide on how to write a research paper .
If they have left it up to you to choose a topic to investigate, which they must approve before you start working on your research study, we suggest that you read the process shared in this post.
Choosing a topic after finding your research problem is important because:
- The topic guides your research and gives you a mean to not only arrive at other interesting topics but also direct you to discover new knowledge
- The topic you choose will govern what you say and ensures you keep a logical flow of information.
Picking a topic for a research paper can be challenging and sometimes intimidating, but it’s not impossible. In the following section, we show you how to choose the best research topic that your instructor can approve after the first review.
How to Select a Research Topic
Below are four steps to follow to find the most suitable topic for your research paper assignment:
Step 1: Consider a Topic that Interests You
If your professor has asked you to choose a topic for your research paper, it means you can choose just about any subject to focus on in your area of study. A significant first step to take is to consider topics that interest you.
An interesting topic should meet two very important conditions.
First, it should be concise. The topic you choose should not be too broad or two narrow. Rather, it should be something focused on a specific issue. Second, the topic should allow you to find enough sources to cite in the research stage of your assignment.
The best way to determine if the research topic is interesting is to do some free writing for about 10 minutes. As you free write, think about the number of questions that people ask about the topic and try to consider why they’re important. These questions are important because they will make the research stage easier for you.
You’ll probably have a long list of interesting topics to consider for your research assignment. That’s a good first step because it means your options aren’t limited. However, you need to narrow down to only one topic for the assignment, so it’s time to start brainstorming.
Step 2: Brainstorm Your Topics
You aren’t doing research at this stage yet. You are only trying to make considerations to determine which topic will suit your research assignment.
The brainstorming stage isn’t difficult at all. It should take only a couple of hours or a few days depending on how you approach.
We recommend talking to your professor, classmates, and friends about the topics that you’ve picked and ask for their opinion. Expect mixed opinions from this audience and then consider the topics that make the most sense. Note what topics picked their interest the most and put them on top of the list.
You’ll end up removing some topics from your initial list after brainstorming, and that’s completely fine. The goal here is to end up with a topic that interests you as well as your readers.
Step 3: Define Your Topics
Check once again to make sure that your topic is a subject that you can easily define. You want to make sure the topic isn’t too broad or too narrow.
Often, a broad topic presents overwhelming amount of information, which makes it difficult to write a comprehensive research paper. A narrow topic, on the other hand, means you’ll find very little information, and therefore it can be difficult to do your assignment.
The length of the research paper, as stated in the assignment brief, should guide your topic selection.
Narrow down your list to topics that are:
- Broad enough to allows you to find enough scholarly articles and journals for reference
- Narrow enough to fit within the expected word count and the scope of the research
Topics that meet these two conditions should be easy to work on as they easily fit within the constraints of the research assignment.
Step 4: Read Background Information of Selected Topics
You probably have two or three topics by the time you get to this step. Now it’s time to read the background information on the topics to decide which topic to work on.
This step is important because it gives you a clear overview of the topic, enabling you to see how it relates to broader, narrower, and related concepts. Preliminary research also helps you to find keywords commonly used to describe the topic, which may be useful in further research.
It’s important to note how easy or difficult it is to find information on the topic.
Look at different sources of information to be sure you can find enough references for the topic. Such periodic indexes scan journals, newspaper articles, and magazines to find the information you’re looking for. You can even use web search engines. Google and Bing are currently that best options to consider because they make it easy for searchers to find relevant information on scholarly topics.
If you’re having a hard time to find references for a topic that you’ve so far considered for your research paper, skip it and go to the next one. Doing so will go a long way to ensure you have the right topic to work on from start to finish.
Get Research Paper Writing Help
If you’ve found your research topic but you feel so stuck that you can’t proceed with the assignment without some assistance, we are here to help. With our research paper writing service , we can help you handle the assignment within the shortest time possible.
We will research your topic, develop a research question, outline the project, and help you with writing. We also get you involved in the process, allowing you to track the progress of your order until the delivery stage.
About the author
Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.
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How to choose a thesis topic for masters
Our subject matter for the following article, how to choose a thesis topic for masters , is all about the selection of a fitting research topic for your graduate thesis. Without any doubt, this is a highly important and also challenging part of the first stage of the thesis writing process on your way to completing the Master´s degree. When you´re right at this point, there are a few good things to know about how to choose a thesis topic for masters before deciding on yours! It is significant to select a topic that is interesting and relevant to your field of study. The process of selecting the right topic and setting the scope and limits is balancing between success and failure. In this article, we will discuss the key aspects that you should consider and show the steps to take in order to choose the best – and the most fitting! – one for your master’s thesis.
Keep on reading, because, in the following sections, we will cover all the questions around how to choose a thesis topic for masters works, including aspects such as how to give your topic in a feasible frame, how to reach out to your advisor, and succeed in a healthy collaboration, and share tips for brainstorming ideas . I will also share tips about how to identify the right scope for your project, considering the resources available to you. By following these tips, you will be able to find and identify a fitting thesis topic that is both interesting and achievable.
5 Key Tips on How to Choose a Thesis Topic for Masters, benefiting from your strength
- Identify Your Interests: Before selecting a topic for your thesis, it is important to identify your interests and areas of expertise. What passionates you when thinking of your specific research area? Think about the topics that always have called your special attention and those that you would like to explore further. This will help you narrow down your options and facilitate the first stage of the process of selecting your perfect thesis topic.
- Research the Available Resources and get inspired: Once you have identified your areas of interest, take the next step and research the available resources. Check out online databases, journals, and other academic materials to find out what topics are currently being explored and which (re-)sources are available. This will help you determine which topics are feasible and which ones may require more research and effort.
- Talk to Your Supervisor: Your advisor is the best (and main) person to guide you in selecting the perfect thesis topic. Share your interests and investigate the available resources before setting up the one-on-one meeting to be best prepared. Your supervisor will be able to provide valuable insights and help you narrow down your options.
- Consider Your Research Objectives: When selecting a topic for your thesis, it is important to consider your objectives. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your research, which contribution should it make and be sure that the topic is related to your objectives.
- Balance Your Workload: Make sure that you choose a topic that you can realistically tackle within the time frame. Selecting a topic that is too broad or complex may lead to unnecessary stress and pressure, so it is important to choose a feasible one that you can manage.
How to Find the Perfect Thesis Topic: Tips for Crafting an Interesting and Engaging one
When it comes to finding the perfect thesis topic for your master’s degree, it can be a daunting task. Crafting your search for an interesting and engaging thesis topic can take time and effort. Here is some additional advice to help you find the perfect thesis topic in order to the tip
- Brainstorm on potential topics and reflect on your particular strength: Create a mind map with all possible options and take the time to consider what methods, theories, and tools would you enjoy applying and exploring more (e.g. in-depth analysis? comparison? testing, creating or improving a model/theory?…)
- Conduct Thorough Research: Once you have identified your pool of potential topics, it is important to conduct thorough research . Utilize resources such as the library , the internet, and other scholarly materials to gain more knowledge on potential topics.
- Ask for Advice from different People: Seeking advice from your peers, professors, and mentors is essential in order to find the perfect thesis topic. Ask for feedback and suggestions to help you determine the best topic.
- Consider Your Options: Once you have narrowed down your options , consider the different approaches you can take with your topic and reflect pn how you could make it interesting, what research methods you could use, and how you could make it unique.
Following these tips will take you a big step closer to your perfect thesis topic. Remember to take your time and explore different topics and approaches before making your final decision. Good luck!
Discovering the Benefits of Choosing Your Own Thesis Topic
Having the possibility of choosing your own thesis topic is a fantastic way to gain an in-depth understanding and expert knowledge of a research area that you are passionate about while also allowing you to express your own creativity. In many cases, selecting your own thesis topic can help to ensure that your research is both meaningful and original – criteria, which are highly important when you need to present your Thesis Proposal and convince your audience at your Thesis Defense after submitting your work!
When deciding on a topic, it is important to consider the resources that are available to you, your level of interest in the subject, and the scope of the research you will be able to complete. The amount of time that you have to conduct your research, as well as the potential for future research, are also considerable points.
When selecting a thesis topic, it is also important to think about how the topic can benefit you and your career. For example, if you are interested in pursuing a career in academia, selecting a thesis topic that has potential for future research and can give you a leg up when applying for jobs.
Keep in mind, that it is important to choose a thesis subject that you are passionate about. Researching a topic that is interesting to you will ensure that you remain motivated throughout the research process, from the moment where you start to write your thesis until you’re defending your research paper . Additionally, having a passion for the topic can help to make the research and writing process more enjoyable.
With the right resources and an engaging topic, you already have a strong foundation to create an original and meaningful thesis.
How to Find the Perfect Master Thesis Topic and Achieve Your Academic Success
Making the right choice for your master thesis topic is crucial for the outcome and finally for your future academic success, as it determines the direction of your (future) research as well as the quality of your finished product.
The best way to find the perfect topic and approach the process of selection is to start by thinking about what you are interested in exploring further. Ask yourself questions like “What do I want to learn more about?” and “What topics have I been curious about lately?” to discover what the essence of how to choose a thesis topic for masters. Once you have narrowed down your focus, you are ready to start researching potential topics and consider the impact of each one on your particular field.
When researching potential topics, look for topics that are current and relevant to your field of study. What topics are popular in recent publications? What new ideas you can bring to the table? Consider the availability of data and resources related to the topic , as you may need to access these sources in order to complete your research.
When selecting a topic, it is important to consider your audience. Your thesis will be evaluated by experts in your field, so make sure to choose a topic that will be interesting and relevant to them. Also consider the length of your thesis, as it will determine how detailed and in-depth your research will need to be.
For more in-depth advice, seek out advice from your supervisor, peers, and other experts in your field. They may be able to provide recommendations and resources to help you find the perfect topic!
A Practical Example and Conclusion
Let´s take How Literature Impacts Our Lives. Exploring the Power of the Written Word as an example to highlight a few good arguments and explain, how you can approach a choice for a thesis topic for a master’s degree. Literature and language are powerful tools that can shape our lives and point of view. This topic would seek to examine and explore ways in which literature has shaped our lives from different angles and perspectives, and how literature can be used to influence our lives and our culture.
This topic provides an opportunity to explore the power of literature and language in our lives. You could look at how literature impacts our lives both positively and negatively, and the effects of different genres of literature. For example, you could look at how fantasy literature can provide an escape for readers, or how poetry can be used to express emotions and ideas. You could also look at how literature has been used to influence politics, culture, and social movements.
This topic also provides the option to examine the changing nature of literature and language. As technology advances, the way we communicate and interact with literature is changing. This thesis could examine how literature has been adapted to new technologies, and how technology has changed the way we view literature.
In other words, Exploring the Power of the Written Word offers a wide range of opportunities and angles to investigate the power of literature and language, and how these tools are used to shape our daily lives.
To conclude, let me sum up the key points that I would like to leave with you as a take-home message: Choosing a thesis topic for your master’s can be a daunting task. You want to make sure to select a topic
- that you are passionate about
- that you can commit to researching
- that will help you stand out in your field.
To make your choice perfect, make sure that you know what makes a good thesis topic: A good thesis topic should be specific, manageable, and have a researchable question. It should also be something you are passionate about and have the expertise to discuss.
Your principal steps: Once you have a better understanding of the field,
- start brainstorming topics
- write down ideas and questions that interest you
- narrow down your list to the top three or four topics.
Choosing the right topic is an important part of writing a successful master’s thesis. With these tips, you can find the perfect topic for your thesis and make the most of your research.
Additional Resources for Choosing a Master’s Thesis Topic
Choosing a thesis topic for your master’s degree can be a daunting task. To make it easier, we’ve compiled some tips and resources to guide you through the process.
Identify your interests : Start by considering your academic and personal interests. Reflect on the subjects that have excited you during your studies and projects you’ve enjoyed working on. The American Psychological Association offers helpful resources for students choosing a thesis topic in psychology and related fields.
Consult with professors and peers : Discuss your ideas with professors and fellow students to gain insights and suggestions. They can help you refine your topic and identify potential research gaps. Inside Higher Ed features an article discussing the process of finding the right research topic, including advice from experienced academics.
Review current research : Explore recent publications in your field to identify trending topics and areas that warrant further investigation. The Research Whisperer blog offers tips on choosing a research topic and staying updated on the latest developments in your discipline.
Evaluate the feasibility : Ensure that your chosen topic is practical, given your resources, time constraints, and available expertise. Nature features an article discussing factors to consider when choosing the right research topic, including feasibility and potential impact.
Seek inspiration : Broaden your horizons by attending conferences, workshops, and guest lectures. Watching TED Talks can also provide inspiration and help you discover new ideas and perspectives related to your field of study.
Explore collaboration platforms : Consider exploring platforms like the Open Science Framework to find ongoing research projects and potential collaborators. These platforms can help you identify exciting research areas and expand your network.
By following these steps and utilizing the provided resources, you’ll be better equipped to choose a thesis topic that aligns with your interests and has the potential to make a meaningful contribution to your field.
About the author:
Possibly you already heard of me through different media channels. My name is Dr. Friederike Jurth , and since 2010 I give lectures on Methodology, Empirical Research, Anthropology, and Transcultural (Music) Studies in collaboration with universities in the United States, Germany, Spain, and Brazil. In 2010 I started to carry out 7-year-long fieldwork in Rio de Janeiro and to present my research at conferences all around the world, such as in Japan, the United States, Australia, Brazil, Thailand, Switzerland, and many others. In addition, I worked as a lecturer and researcher with Germany’s famous UNESCO Chair.
After finalizing my doctoral dissertation with summa cum laude , it became my aim to unite, condense and share the steps, ways and details of my unique methodological and structural approach that I could develop and elaborate during my Ph.D. and that finally helped me to achieve this result. By concentrating and putting them together to an elaborated academic conception, MyThesis Academy was born. Motivated by the only aim and objective to help my students through all steps and stages of their thesis journey, it enables them to achieve their best possible result in shortest time, independent of their specific area of research.
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How to Establish a Research Topic
Last Updated: December 15, 2022 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed. . Alexander Ruiz is an Educational Consultant and the Educational Director of Link Educational Institute, a tutoring business based in Claremont, California that provides customizable educational plans, subject and test prep tutoring, and college application consulting. With over a decade and a half of experience in the education industry, Alexander coaches students to increase their self-awareness and emotional intelligence while achieving skills and the goal of achieving skills and higher education. He holds a BA in Psychology from Florida International University and an MA in Education from Georgia Southern University. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 106,401 times.
With a world of possibilities out there, choosing a research topic can be a daunting task. However, selecting a worthy subject is half the battle when it comes to producing valuable original research. If you take some time to attentively brainstorm possibilities and refine them down into a solid, focused research question, you’ll come away with a topic that’s manageable, worthwhile, and, most importantly, interesting to you.
Picking a Topic
- One way to ensure you have a topic that’s of interest to you to pick a subject to which you have a personal connection. For instance, if your sister has Crohn's Disease, you may be interested in investigating it. Or, if you went on an exchange program to Croatia, you might be keen to know more about its history or culture.
- Another way to trim down your possibilities is to see if there any patterns that emerge from the longer list. For example, if you wrote down “Gertrude Stein” and “Djuna Barnes,” you could focus on lesbian expat authors.
- You want to choose a topic that has some, but not too much information available on it. If there are some substantive related resources out there, you know you’re on the right track; if there are pages and pages of relevant search results, you can tell that plenty of people have already gone down that road or that the topic is likely too big to cover and you will need to narrow it further.
- For instance, if you are interested in the mapping of the human genome, read about the general history of the scientific advances that have allowed us to map DNA and see if there’s a particular subtopic that catches your eye. Instead of trying to cover the entire subject, limit your scope to focus on the discovery of a gene related to a specific trait or disease or on a particular application, like the regulation of gene therapy for unborn fetuses.
Kim Gillingham, MA
Use your interests to narrow your focus. Retired librarian, Kim Gillingham, adds: "You can start with a general topic such as Outer Space. Then ask yourself specific questions such as 'What am I interested in about Outer Space?' It could be the history of space exploration, the technology of space exploration, or 'Is Pluto a planet or not?' As always, librarians can be of immense help in narrowing down a topic through a technique called the Reference Interview — try asking your librarian about it!"
- When you meet with or email them, explain the research that you’ve already conducted to show them that you’ve done your homework. Then, ask something like, “I’m most interested in looking into coming of age rituals in contemporary indigenous cultures, and I was wondering if you think that’s a good topic to pursue and if you had any suggestions for specific case studies or other resources related to it.”
- Remember: they may be able to point you in a more specific direction based on your general interests, but don’t expect them to do the whole selection process for you.
- If you’re doing independent research to earn a degree (rather than to fulfill the requirements of a particular class), you should also ask them about the potential marketability of your subject since your topic will be setting the direction for your future career.
Developing Your Research Question
- After you conduct your preliminary research, think about the gaps that you noticed in the information available on the subject that you’ve been investigating. Devise a question that could address that missing information.
- One concrete way to do this is to explore the relationship between two ideas, concepts, phenomena, or events that came up in your research but whose relationship has not been fully investigated. For example, “how did political radicals influence popular representations of sexuality in the 1920s United States?”
- Another concrete way to formulate your question is to consider how an existing methodology or concept applies to a new, specific context or case study. For instance, you could think of how Sigmund Freud’s idea of the “appendage” applies to a specific virtual reality game.
- For example, if your question requires conducting a study that’s not feasible given your timeframe or the resources available to you, then you need to find a way to revise your question so that you can answer it.
- Sometimes if your topic is too new, there won’t be a substantial enough body of research available for you to do a comprehensive analysis of it. In that case, you may need to revise or broaden your question so that you can actually answer it.  X Research source
- If your question is not narrow enough, refine your focus further by limiting your topic according to a given historical era, theoretical approach, geographical region, demographic or culture, industry or field. For example, if you’re interested in refugees, you might limit your scope by honing in on a particular event (World War II) and/or time period (the 1940s), a specific location (England) and/or population (Jewish people from Austria).  X Research source
Making Sure that You’re on the Right Track
- You might have a brilliant research question, but, if it’s about genetic disorders and the grant you’re applying for only funds research on communicable diseases, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board.
- Also be sure to take the required length of the project into consideration. For instance, if your question is too narrow or specific, you might not be able to hit the 250-page requirement for a doctoral thesis.
- Start by listing the various research methods that you’ll use, such as a literature review, interviews, and qualitative analysis. Then, create a timeline for when you’ll be doing each kind of research, being sure to leave enough time for yourself to complete the writing.
- You can order topics chronologically (for instance, if you’re studying a historical event). Most often, you’ll order them according to the progression of your argument, with one idea building on the last.
- Your research may change the structure or content of your outline, but it’s still useful to have a well-developed starting point.
- If you have no idea of where to begin, consider going through old notes and textbooks or speaking to classmates to get some inspiration. Or, browse through the most recently published journals in your field to see what the latest trends in research are. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
- Since research is a demanding process, the most important thing is that you choose a topic that will sustain your enthusiasm and curiosity. Thanks Helpful 5 Not Helpful 1
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/brainstorming/
- ↑ http://libguides.mit.edu/select-topic
- ↑ https://bowvalleycollege.libguides.com/research-help/topics
- ↑ https://libraries.indiana.edu/sites/default/files/Develop_a_Research_Question.pdf
- ↑ http://libguides.mit.edu/c.php?g=175961&p=1160160#s-lg-box-wrapper-4114979
- ↑ http://libguides.mit.edu/c.php?g=175961&p=1160160#791450
- ↑ https://files.bucknell.edu/Documents/ISR/topic.pdf
- ↑ Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed.. Educational Consultant. Expert Interview. 18 June 2020.
- ↑ http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/outline
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- Current Students
Choosing a research topic
Want advice about your study, your wellbeing or getting the most out of university?
If you've been considering a research degree for some time, you probably already have an area of interest. You will be exploring your research topic for a considerable amount of time, so it's important to invest time and effort in choosing the right topic.
Explore your options
There are generally two main ways you might develop your research topic:
- Propose an original research topic. This option is most common in the humanities, business and law study areas.
- Choose from a list of available research topics provided by a supervisor. This option is not always available but is most common in science and engineering.
Discuss your ideas with a potential supervisor at an early stage. They will be able to let you know which of these options may be best for you and can offer advice on writing your research proposal.
Learn more about how to find a supervisor
How to develop an original research topic
If you plan to propose an original topic, here are some tips to guide you:
- Read a wide range of materials to find a subject that you are passionate about.
- Immerse yourself in journal articles and theses associated with your topic.
- Narrow your focus to a single research question. Be specific, original and realistic about what you're able to achieve.
- Take a flexible approach. As your research develops, it is likely that some of your initial ideas will be challenged. You might need to change or modify your question if necessary.
- Make sure you stay up-to-date with the most recent developments in your field. This will ensure your idea is achievable and that it has not already been addressed by another researcher.
Again, it's essential to discuss your idea with your potential supervisor. They will have the experience and expertise to guide your choice of research topic and provide ideas for your research proposal.
How to write a research proposal
Before you apply for postgraduate research , you'll need to write a research proposal. The purpose of your proposal is to outline your project and develop an argument for the research topic you are proposing.
Here are some elements you might like to include in your research proposal:
Your supervisor will be able to provide you with guidance when writing your research proposal. Learn how to choose a supervisor who is right for you and your research project.
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Home > Research study > Choose your research topic
- Choose your research topic
- Find a supervisor
- Scholarship application tips
- Griffith Graduate Research School
Develop a research proposal
Once you have established that you meet entry requirements for your preferred program, you need to clarify your chosen area of study and identify a research area and/or research question, clarify its importance and prepare a research proposal. Your research question will provide the key research focus for the full duration of your degree so it is important that you consult a wide variety of resources and select a topic you feel highly motivated to investigate. Depending on your area of study and research, you may be starting at the very beginning or you may already have a research topic or area of focus from an already established research team.
How to choose your research topic
Choosing a research topic and writing your research proposal can be difficult when you're faced with a lot of choice. Current Griffith PhD candidates and supervisors give some advice to help you create a winning research proposal.
How to develop a research proposal
Think carefully about your motivation to complete an HDR program—what are you passionate about, what topic or question or problem do you want to tackle? Remember you will be spending a lot of time on this topic so a keen interest is a must.
Find a connection with a Griffith school, department, research centre or institute to find a match for your research area and/or research question. Some research centres and institutes have proposed research projects and hot topics for prospective candidates.
Find out more
Narrow your focus to a single research topic. Once you have connected with your prospective supervisor, it is important that you seek their input and advice on your research proposal. Developing a research proposal is an iterative process, so expect to work on a number of drafts before you finalise your research proposal. You need to allow time to prepare multiple drafts and seek feedback along the way. Your potential supervisor is the best person to contact, so make sure you reach out to find one as soon as possible. Where applicable, this may also be an appropriate time to seek a connection with an industry partner or external organisation who could collaborate on your research. They will also provide input to your research proposal.
Your draft research proposal should include the following:
- Student name
- Dissertation/thesis title
- Summary of project (maximum 100 words)
- Rationale—brief review of relevant research in the field
- Statement of the principal focus of intended research
- Significance of the study
- Intended methodology and project feasibility
- (Where applicable) details of an industry partner or external organisation’s involvement in project
- Anticipated project costs (if required by your enrolling school or research centre)
- Any requirements for specialist equipment or resources.
Your proposal should be no longer than 2–3 pages.
What you’re doing is something that nobody else has ever done before, so you’re going to come across problems that nobody has solved before.
Professor Robert Sang
In preparing a research proposal for your application, keep in mind the objective, which is to demonstrate that you have thought about the topic deeply, have some interesting ideas about the topic, and have considered possible methodologies of research and the project’s feasibility. It is advantageous to show why you think that your chosen topic is significant or interesting.
Professor Gerry Docherty
How to Choose Your Graduate Thesis Topic
Being a graduate student has its fair share of advantages and challenges. If you are one of those who want career advancement and seek a boost in their earning potential, then pursuing a master’s degree can provide you with a solid foundation to succeed in your chosen field.
It can also be quite daunting if you are unsure about the whole process, which includes meeting the requirements for graduate studies admission. Most graduate programs require the completion of a thesis or a capstone project.
- What is a Thesis Defense?
- The Most Prestigious Graduate Schools in The World
- Best Grad Schools in the U.S.
- The Top Research Universities
The primary challenge to a graduate thesis is picking a thesis topic. It is a vital step that can make or break your academic journey. With the right thesis topic, you will be given a great head start on your thesis.
You must take your time in finding the right topic, preferably one that will meet your needs for the program requirements and align with your passion. In this guide, we’ve set out some essential steps to help you choose the appropriate and relevant graduate thesis topic.
What is a Thesis Topic?
Most graduate students will need to face the great challenge of completing a thesis based on original research to earn their master’s degree successfully. It is a long, in-depth research paper that usually focuses on a particular subject. To help you get started, you will first need to choose a thesis topic that will become the foundation of your whole research project.
All the steps in the process will follow once you have a research topic ready. In essence, a topic can be a general area of inquiry. Designed to fill an identified knowledge gap, a thesis topic can be honed as a question or even a series of questions, usually in a way that motivates the elements of the thesis, whether it is the data analysis, instrumental development, or experimental design.
However, not all topics and questions can lead to your thesis topic.
You must work within the pragmatic constraints of several factors when it comes to choosing your research topic, from the amount of time you are willing to spend on your thesis to the challenges of funding, data, infrastructure, and advising.
You need to remember that the struggles you experience in finding your thesis topic will benefit you in the long run, allowing you to learn important skills such as identifying problems and designing approaches to answer them.
What Makes a Thesis Topic Great?
For graduate studies, research topics are generally more complex compared to undergraduate programs. Not only does your chosen research topic clearly address the defined research question. It should also be able to contribute to a better understanding of the research field significantly.
At the very least, your thesis topic should be sufficiently broad . When framed as a question, it should not only usher in “yes” or “no” answers. By keeping your topic broad, you will be able to explore the different aspects of the subject and analyze how the variables interact. However, it must be noted that while the thesis topic needs to be broad, it should not be vague. It should be a good balance between broad, precise, and open-ended questions.
More importantly, a great thesis topic should fill a niche in a research field . While the topic already exists, there is still a significant amount of knowledge to be discovered and various aspects to be explored. It can also offer a fresh take on an old topic. Alternatively, your research topic can be a rebuttal to a well-known theory. A good thesis topic will make your research stand out.
The Importance of a Relevant Thesis Topic
As the backbone of your research work, your thesis topic should provide a direction for your research. In turn, this will help you focus on specific research questions. With a relevant research topic, you will be able to organize the literature review better and defend your positions with substantial evidence.
Not only does your thesis topic need to be interesting. It should also be relevant to the field of study. This is important because you will want your research to contribute something worthwhile to your chosen field, whether it is in a practical, social, or scientific way.
You may start by framing your questions in terms of their relevance. Does it contribute scientifically to your discipline or socially to the world at large? Does it offer practical significance to an industry or organization?
For the field of science, the scientific relevance of your thesis topic is of utmost importance. Your research topic should be something that has not been extensively studied before, or it should be able to fill a gap in existing scientific knowledge.
For social relevance, you should examine whether your research topic can help people understand society better. In order to collect data, this will often involve the use of interviews, ethnographies, and other types of fieldwork.
It is important to note, however, that practical relevance may be more important. A thesis that has practical relevance adds value, whether it is through a recommendation for an industry or suggestions that can improve certain processes within an organization.
7 Helpful Tips for Picking a Good Graduate Thesis Topic
Committing to a master’s thesis is no walk in the park. This academic endeavor often requires time, determination, patience, and effort. Chances are, you will be dedicating the next year or more of your life as a graduate student to a huge project that will impact your career and professional life.
As a general rule, you must first find a topic that you are interested in. It should be something clear and relevant to your area of study. The following tips aim to help you work through the complex process of finding the right research topic, from brainstorming to the final decision.
1. Check the program requirements.
Graduate programs often have different requirements in order to earn the degree. Some may only require students to take a comprehensive exam or complete a capstone project. Most of the graduate programs in the country, however, require the completion of a thesis. Checking the program requirements is an essential step before you can start the process of choosing a thesis topic.
The thesis is often required to demonstrate your ability as a graduate student for research and independent thought. The very first step when committing to a thesis is usually the submission of a proposal to the thesis committee. The proposal will depend on the department and discipline. If you want more accurate information, you may need to reach out to your department for proposal guidelines and requirements.
Some schools require the thesis to show familiarity with previous work in the field. It must be able to carry out research, organize results, and defend approaches and conclusions in a scholarly way. The thesis often has corresponding credit hours that you need to comply with. You may be asked to define your research problem, carry out the research, and write and defend your thesis within a designated time frame.
The topic you choose will vary depending on the thesis requirements of your chosen graduate program. That is why you must check the program requirements before you proceed to the next steps in finding a good thesis topic.
2. Consider your passion and interests.
Perhaps the most important criterion, choosing a topic that aligns with your passion and interests, can make a whole world of difference to your academic journey. This is because you are expected to pour considerable time and effort into thesis work, so it is only sensible that you choose a topic that you actually enjoy working on.
If you choose a topic within your discipline that you are genuinely interested in and passionate about, it will show in your work. You will feel more engaged and motivated to work on your thesis. You may start by thinking of the topics that you are curious about.
What are the things you enjoy reading and discussing? Are there topics you have personal experience with or you are actively involved in? You may want to take inspiration from your current job or draw from your previous professional experiences.
The beauty of choosing something that you have experience in is that you have a better understanding of the topic. Your expertise on the research topic will make everything in the next steps of the thesis process easier for you. Choosing a lukewarm topic can be challenging in the long run, as you will struggle to make it through the entire process.
Your excitement about your thesis topic can translate to more successful research work, communicating engagement with your field of study.
3. Brainstorm some ideas to get started.
Sticking to just one research topic might not be a good idea. As a rule of thumb, you may want to list down several potential thesis topics to choose from. This is where brainstorming comes in. This process involves producing ideas with the use of essential techniques such as concept mapping, free-writing, and reviewing past works and papers. You may want to start by talking to others, especially those who are familiar with the thesis process.
The next step is to write everything down. Making a list of all the ideas you have in mind and taking them apart will help you narrow down your choices. It will also help a lot if you employ some creativity when thinking of thesis topics. Make use of different perspectives and viewpoints, as this will allow you to come up with different ideas you might not have thought of before. You can also try combining two ideas on your list to come up with a great idea.
Another way to help you brainstorm is to peruse the course materials you have covered and look at your notes from other classes. You might be able to find some great ideas to work with for your master’s thesis. The trick is to generate as many ideas as possible about your potential research topics.
4. Discuss the topic with your advisor.
Many master’s programs will pair you up with an advisor when you enroll. This is often a reliable professor within your program department who will be guiding and assisting you throughout your graduate studies. You can also expect to work closely with your advisor when it comes to completing your thesis.
Your advisor is the best person who can give you suggestions regarding data and information you can use, providing you with notes on your thesis to push you in the right direction. Generally, the thesis process starts only after you have completed all the other requirements for your master’s degree, but students are often encouraged to think about possible topics early in their graduate journey.
The discussion does not have to be confined to your advisor. You can also talk to other members of the faculty. They will not only give you great guidance but also help you identify the best people who can work with you on your master’s thesis. You need to make sure to check their research fields and find who works with topics related to your interests.
You can also discuss with them the ideas you have in mind and seek feedback. Getting their various perspectives will help you narrow down your topic to realistic terms.
5. Test the viability of your thesis topic.
Once you have a list of your ideas for possible thesis topics, you may want to rate each one according to relevance and viability. Testing how each topic fares will help you choose the most suitable topic that will meet your needs and align with your interests.
You may want to find out if the topics meet your academic and personal interests. Are they compatible with your academic objectives and background? Your topic must also be feasible. How much time and resources will it possibly require? Will you be able to collect enough data in your chosen field?
If you want to take it a step further, you may want to consider testing your thesis topic by doing a little research on the resources, knowledge, and ability that you need to carry out the thesis project. You may put your ideas to the test by conducting a mini-experiment or sending out a survey. You can then use the data from the initial test to refine and finalize your thesis topic.
6. Go through journals and publications.
The last resort when generating thesis topic ideas is to get inspiration from a few professional journals and publications. You can start with journals within your industry, checking the latest news and information published by others.
This does not only introduce you to the latest news and information published by others. It will also give you ample ideas about topics that are not covered in your classes, allowing you to find knowledge gaps that you can exploit for your thesis work.
Going through journals can help you stay on top of your field by providing you with knowledge on the current research and allowing you to discover issues and trends that you did not know existed.
7. Consider and examine your career path.
You may not be thinking beyond the completion of your degree, but this is actually a crucial step if you want to succeed in your field. Maybe you want to consider selecting a topic that can actually help advance your career in your chosen field. For example, you can choose a topic that can be easily modified into journal articles. This will make it easy for you to lend them to future research.
If you aim to pursue advanced roles within an industry, you may want to choose a thesis topic that will help you become more marketable. Your research should help you stand out among hundreds of competitions. Your topic should, of course, be relevant and meaningful to your field.
For those who want to pursue a career in the academe, preparing for your research work should be of high importance. You may want to consider choosing a topic that has a trajectory. This means that your capstone for your undergraduate degree and your potential master’s thesis have the same topic. You can change the scale of the question, but choosing a topic that you can use for the subsequent degrees and has growth potential makes more sense.
A master’s thesis topic will not simply appear out of nowhere. You cannot wait for inspiration to club you in the head. You need to put in hard work in choosing your thesis topic. After all, it is the backbone that can make or break your academic journey. Keeping these tips in mind will help you arrive at the right thesis topic – one that is relevant, interesting, and viable.
Remember that you don’t have a lifetime to devote to your topic, so it is important that you choose one that is manageable and realistic.
How to Choose a Dissertation Topic – 9 Steps
Choosing a dissertation topic is really difficult.
When I had to choose dissertation topic I agonized for weeks.
And I’ve supervised over 50 students’ dissertations across undergraduate, masters and PhD levels. All of my students agonized over their topics, too.
So you’re not alone in your struggle.
The below tips for choosing a dissertation topic are the ones I wish I was given when I was in the process of looking for a suitable topic.
If only I’d known these points, I would have saved a lot of time and stress for myself. So if these tips only help one person out, I’ll be happy.
These tips really work for just about anybody. They’re particularly useful for undergraduate and Masters level students who are writing dissertations. But, I’m sure most doctoral students will also find these points relevant, too. Especially tips 1 – 3.
Here are my tips on how to choose a dissertation topic – I hope they come in handy, and good luck on your research journey!
Read Also: 25 Sociology Dissertation Ideas
1. It Doesn’t have to be Unique (Yet).
This is the one piece of advice I wish I had gotten when I was choosing my dissertation topic.
Many students feel like they need to find a unique topic that will blow their markers away.
I was this student.
I thought that I had to choose a topic and idea that was going to make a unique contribution to knowledge. I thought I had to discover something, or, at the very least, choose a topic that no one has ever done before.
So here’s what I wish someone had told me:
It doesn’t matter if other people have done the same topic as you.
Don’t even let it phase you for a moment if someone else has chosen your topic. Just choose whatever topic you want.
Well, because your unique contribution doesn’t come at the start. It comes at the end!
You’ll find a way to make a unique contribution after you have completed your literature review . There is always time and space to find a new angle or different way of doing the topic than other people.
So, don’t choose your topic because it’s unique or different.
Then … how should you choose your topic? Points 2 and 3 give you some tips…
2. Make it Relevant to your Career Goals.
The first thing I recommend to all my students is to consider how their topic can help progress their careers.
When giving guidance to my students, I ask them these three questions:
- a) What sort of specialization do you want in your career? If you’re studying teaching, your questions might be: do you want to be a specialized literacy teacher? do you want to be an expert on behavior management? Do you want to be specialized in play-based learning ?
- b) How do you want to differentiate yourself from your competition? Your dissertation topic is going to be the topic you ‘sell’ as your area of expertise in future job interviews. If you want to get a great job, choose a topic that really stands out in the marketplace. Have a think right now for yourself: what areas of your industry are booming? For example, would it be better to specialize in coal or solar panels? Which one would be best to talk about in a job interview in the 21 st Century?
- c) Do you want to be a research pro? Most of my students don’t want to be researchers as a career. They do their dissertations to prove mastery of their topic – that’s all. The research is a means to an end. But, if you think you want to go on to do the next level degree (a PhD one day?) then you’ll want to focus on having a high quality methodology, not just an interesting topic.
So, have a think now: is there a topic that will help you get to where you plan on going? What expert knowledge do you want to be able to ‘sell’ in a future interview?
3. Ensure it’s Interesting to You.
You’re going to be wedded to your chosen for a long time. And by the end of this journey you’re going to hate it.
To make your life easier, choose a topic you’re interested in.
Here’s two ways of approaching this:
Choose a Topic you Think About a Lot.
Choose a dissertation topic that you find yourself talking about, complaining about or raving about to your parents. Choose something that makes you angry, inspired or intrigued.
For the next week or so, I recommend taking notes whenever you find yourself thinking idly about something. Is that something you’ve thought about a lot?
Or, Choose a Topic by Looking over Past Assessment Tasks.
Another way of approaching the search for an interesting topic is to look over past assignments.
What assessment task have you done in the past few years that gripped you? Which one did you enjoy the most when you were studying it?
Zoom in on that topic and see if you can turn it into a dissertation.
Bonus tip: If you found a topic that was based on a previous assessment task, see if you can convince the person who taught that subject to be your dissertation supervisor.
4. Keep it Simple.
Too often, students want to choose a topic that is complex and complicated. They come up with a long, detailed research question (usually with the help of their professor) that, really, is hard to understand!
The best strategy is to come up with a topic that is really, really straightforward. At least, the topic should start as simple and straightforward.
Your topic is going to grow and expand into a monster. It’ll be hard to tame and control. You’ll be following random tangents down rabbit holes that end up being dead-ends. You’ll research aspects of the topic and realize it was a completely pointless exercise.
The way to minimize the crazy growth of your research project is to simplify it right from the start. Make it a really simple idea.
For example, I had a student who wanted to research:
“How big is the gap in mathematics outcomes between children from middle-class and working-class backgrounds by age 16?”
I would think that this topic may be achievable by a top academic with a sizeable research grant, but my student was completing a 10,000 word dissertation for graduating her Bachelor of Arts with Honours.
After several agonizing research meetings, we peeled it back over and again until we ended up with something much simpler and more specific:
“What are teachers’ opinions of the impact of poverty on learning?”
Why is this simpler and more specific?
Well, with the second study, my student has a clear focus group (teachers) and an achievable methodology (interviews). This will be far simpler than somehow conducting tests on 16-year old children, getting a significant amount of children to participate in the study, and then dissecting their mathematics test results by income level.
Instead, we aimed small and simple to ensure the task itself was achievable.
We’re not here to win a Nobel prize. You can do that with your multi-million-dollar post-doctoral research grant. Get your degree first.
5. Ensure it’s Achievable.
This piece of advice builds on the previous advice, to “keep it simple”.
Keeping it simple means making sure you have a clear, small-scale focus.
Esuring the project is achievable means choosing a methodology that won’t break you.
Small Scale Qualitative Studies are Achievable for Anyone
I always suggest to my Undergraduate and Masters level students to aim for a small scale study with no more than 20 research participants.
Now, I know there will be many of you out there who want to do quantitative research studies. And in reality, you can do a quantitative study with a small group of students. These usually involve quantitative action research case studies.
If you’re set on a quantitative study, that’s fine. But find a supervisor with the right experience.
Personally, I usually recommend a qualitative focus group analysis for anyone doing their first dissertation.
The biggest mistake you can make is biting off more than you can chew.
Small scale qualitative studies are the easiest option . They can be achieved within your time frame. And you can certainly still get a very high grade.
So, let’s take the example of the previous research question, which we changed from:
For the first study, you will have to develop skills in quantitative data analysis , find a sizeable cohort of students, get permission from their parents, get special permission to study children you’re your university ethics committee, develop a quality testing mechanism, pilot the test, conduct the test, analyze the data, then interpret it.
For the second study, you will not have to develop complex mathematical skills, bother with getting permission to research children, or deal with the rigor of quantitative analysis.
In other words, you will be able to bypass many hurdles you may face.
That’s the benefit of a small-scale qualitative study. It’s a nice easy first dissertation methodology. You can do it and do it well.
I know my position is controversial, but hey … I’m here to tell you how to avoid problems, not to stand on a soapbox.
Consider Textual Analysis, Semiotic Analysis or Secondary Research
Finding people to interview, survey or participate in your study in any way at all can be intimidating.
I find it interesting and really fulfilling. But I understand if you think it’s too much for you at this point in time.
If you don’t want to have to go out and find research participants for your study, I recommend one of these types of study:
- Textual Analysis : you can look at policy documents or newspaper articles and analyze their ideological positioning , for example;
- Semiotic Analysis : The quintessential semiotic analysis is the analysis of advertising images or movies and the examination of the ways they depict people of different races, social classes or genders;
- Secondary Research: Look over other people’s research and try to identify themes across a range of research studies.
Now, these three different methodologies are far outside of the scope of this discussion, but consult with your dissertation supervisor if you’re overwhelmed by the idea of conducting research with real human beings. One of these three methodologies may help you bypass that process, and make the dissertation feel more achievable for you.
6. Search Online for Inspiration
If you’re still struggling to choose a dissertation topic, go online to get inspiration!
There’s a few ways you can do this. Here’s a few good ones:
a) Google Previous Dissertation Topics
Many universities upload their students’ dissertations onto an online repository. This means there are a ton of open, free to access databases of previous students’ dissertations all over the internet.
Simply google “Dissertation” + “pdf” + a topic you’re interested in. If you’re a masters student, you can do “masters dissertation” + “pdf” + the topic; and if you’re an undegrad, then simply do “undergraduate dissertation” + “pdf” + the topic;. Simple!
Up will pop a ton of dissertations that you can instantly download to check out previous students’ successful dissertation topics.
Another benefit of doing this is that you’ll be able to view and model the structure that previous students have used as well. This can be super beneficial for you early on!
b) Look at Recent Articles Published in Journals focused on your Topic
If you scroll through the recent issues of journals in your topic, you’ll find a range of research topic ideas.
To get access to top journals in your topic, simply google “Scholarly Journal” + your topic. For example, I am a professor in education. So I’d google “Scholarly journal” + “Education”.
The homepages for a ton of journals will pop up in the Google search. Quickly scan through the recent issues of those journals to see if any ideas will pop up that interest you!
c) If you’re Studying Education or Teaching, Check Here
Lastly, a quick plug for another post I’ve written for dissertation students:
- 51+ Dissertation Ideas for Education students .
Go check that out if you want to write a dissertation on the ‘education’ topic.
7. Trust your Dissertation Supervisor
Your dissertation supervisor will have walked many students just like you through the research process before.
Look, I know many dissertation supervisors can be disappointingly aloof and disconnected from your research. And relationships can get very frosty with your supervisors indeed.
Trust your supervisor. They make recommendations for a reason. They know how to navigate the dissertation writing process. If your supervisor makes a recommendation, strong – very strongly – consider it.
Your supervisor also has expertise in one area of research or another. Take advantage of their expertise. Be flexible and let them sway you down certain paths. You need a knowledgeable partner in the research process.
So, trust your supervisor. You need their expertise more than you know.
8. Come up with 3-5 Ideas and Bring them to your Supervisor for Feedback
Your initial dissertation topic ideas will probably need a lot of refinement.
The person who will help you to refine your topic will be your dissertation supervisor. Their main job, unfortunately, is to curb your enthusiasm. It’s to show you what problems you’ll face if you follow certain paths and recommend alterations to ensure your topic is achievable.
So, approach your supervisor with your 3-5 top ideas and watch them do their magic. They should advise you on how to turn your ideas into reality.
Your ideas can be specific or broad – really, it doesn’t matter because you’ll walk out of your supervision meeting with a lot of changed ideas. It doesn’t need to be set in stone.
You could, for example, go up to your supervisor and say something like:
- “I’m interested in Erikson’s theory of development. Do you have any suggestions of how I can use Erikson’s ideas for a dissertation?”
- “I’m really into conservative politics. What ideas do you have for an achievable topic?”
- Any other ideas…
They’ll help you shape and mold your topic into something achievable.
9. Lastly, Stick to your Choice
When I did my dissertation, I questioned my topic daily: I’d always be thinking up new, better ideas for my dissertation!
But once you’re locked in, it’s hard to change your mind. You’re going to get ethics permission to conduct your study, not anyone else’s!
So, my advice is simple:
Once you’ve chosen your topic, commit.
If you’re desperate to do another topic, fine, do another degree. If you’re doing your Master’s right now, bank those other ideas for a potential PhD down the track.
But once you’ve made your choice, really … you’ve got to commit, block out all your regrets and dig in.
Don’t worry about your friends who chose a dissertation topic that is better than yours. Stay in your lane, be content with your topic, and create a great product.
Writing a dissertation is an exercise in being practical more than anything. That start from the very first choice: choosing a dissertation topic that’s achievable and good for your career, and will also put you on the path for top marks.
Chris Drew (PhD)
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 13 Secondary Data Examples
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 31 Instinct Examples (In Humans and Animals)
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ Montessori vs Reggio Emilia vs Steiner-Waldorf vs Froebel
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HOW TO SELECT A RESEARCH TOPIC Selecting a Topic
The ability to develop a good research topic is an important skill. An instructor may assign you a specific topic, but most often instructors require you to select your own topic of interest. When deciding on a topic, there are a few things that you will need to do:
Brian Mennecke , AM Townsend
Abstract This article provides an explanation of the process for selecting a research topic. The article uses Kuhn's classic work on scientific revolutions to delineate the steps in developing theoretical research within an area. The paper provides methods for preparing to develop a research topic, steps for approaching a research problem, as well as methods for problem theoretical development.
Furkan H . Yolcu
Selecting a research topic for dissertations can really trouble students sometimes here a quick and practicable quide
After reading this chapter, you should be able to answer the following questions: • What are the initial steps for developing an action research project? • How do you generate a topic for action research? • How do you develop a question once you have chosen a topic? • Once you have developed a question, how do you proceed with your action research project? Chapter Aims and Goals The intent of this chapter is to initiate the strategic plan of your action research by identifying a topic of significance and to begin the process of formulating a research question to guide your study. As you proceed through this chapter, you will develop an understanding of • how to begin the action research process, • what makes for a meaningful and productive action research topic, • how to narrow the focus of potential topics, • how to clarify your topic by writing a statement of the problem, • how action research questions are formulated, and • how to evaluate your topic and potential research questions. The challenge of identifying a research topic for your action research project is that there are a multitude of possibilities for you to explore. Most teachers have many questions
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Your research paper, and the resulting thesis statement, must be an ARGUABLE issue. Be prepared to present the actual findings of your research convincingly even if you discover that your findings differ from your personal opinions. Remember, research is objective and not a " soap box " for personal views. The following topics have been divided by subject:
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What Constitutes a Research Problem? A good research problem must support multiple perspectives. A research problem should be phrased in a way that avoids dichotomies and instead supports the generation and exploration
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Need Help with Developing a Great Topic?
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Research Topics for Masters Students | Latest Topic Ideas
Studying for a Masters degree calls for comprehensive research during the coursework period, and then the need for developing a Master’s thesis sees most students realize the need to understand the research process. This means that the students need to develop research topics for their assignments and later come up with a topic for their final-year thesis. Developing Master's students’ research topics requires guidance most of the time due to the vitality of the research project they are supposed to submit. Depending on the area of study, the students are supposed to understand the guidelines provided by their supervisors or institution on the way they should proceed with their research project or thesis and how to develop the best research topics. Masters students have a wide range of research topics to choose from, depending on their field of study. Here are some of the most popular ideas to develop outstanding topic suggestions for master’s level research projects ; they are trendy & relevant in various disciplines.
Sample Masters Research Topics & Suitable Ideas for Projects
Indeed, the available research topics are so many for them to exhaust. With expert help, masters students can be able to choose the most suitable ones for their research which is researchable and achievable without much struggle.
Masters Thesis Topics – Relevant Topics for Research
Masters thesis topic suggestions to consider for your research project:.
Selecting a thesis topic can often be a challenging process, yet it provides a great opportunity to contribute to your chosen field. A suitable topic should align with your academic and career interests while being challenging enough to demonstrate your ability to conduct independent, in-depth research. Suggestions for a potential thesis topic could include exploring emerging trends from business & management, computer science, education, engineering to many more depending on your area. Below are some ideas and suggestions for consideration as masters level thesis topics
- Business and Management: Business and management are broad fields with numerous sub-disciplines, such as finance, human resources, marketing, operations management, and many others. Possible thesis topics in these fields include: The impact of social media on brand reputation; The effect of workplace diversity on team performance & An analysis of the factors affecting consumer behavior.
- Computer Science: Computer Science is a rapidly evolving field that is constantly changing and adapting to new technologies. Masters thesis topics in this field can cover a wide range of topics. This includes artificial intelligence and machine learning applications in various industries; The impact of big data on decision-making processes & An analysis of cyber-security threats and defenses.
- Education: Education is a field that is constantly changing and adapting to new theories, methods, and technologies. Master's degree thesis project topics in this field can include: An investigation of the effectiveness of online education; A study of the impact of teacher diversity on student outcomes & The role of technology in the classroom and its effect on student engagement and learning.
- Engineering: Engineering is a field that deals with the design, construction, and use of machines, structures, and systems. Sample thesis topics in this field can include: The development of new materials and technologies for energy production; An investigation of the effects of climate change on infrastructure & The application of renewable energy sources in various industries.
- Environmental Science: Environmental Science is a field that deals with the study of the natural environment and the impact of human activity on it. Masters thesis project topic suggestions in this field can include an investigation of the impact of climate change on biodiversity; A study of the effects of pollution on human health and the environment & An examination of the role of renewable energy in mitigating climate change.
What Makes a Topic Qualify for a Master's Level Thesis?
A Master's level thesis requires a comprehensive understanding of a specific subject and the ability to conduct independent, rigorous research. Therefore, the topic chosen should fulfill certain criteria:
- Relevance: The topic should be relevant to your field of study and align with your academic and career goals. This allows you to leverage your existing knowledge and skills during your research.
- Originality: While the topic doesn't necessarily need to be entirely new or undiscovered, your approach or perspective should offer original insights. This means that the research can fill gaps in existing literature, challenge established theories, or provide new interpretations.
- Rigor: The topic should be complex enough to require rigorous research, allowing you to showcase your ability to analyze and synthesize information, solve problems, and contribute to your field's body of knowledge.
- Feasibility: Consider your resources, including time, funding, and accessibility to data or sources. A good topic is one that you can feasibly research within the constraints of your program.
- Impact: Ideally, your research should have some potential to impact your field of study, whether by influencing policy, informing further research, or otherwise contributing to the academic discourse.
Ultimately, thesis topics for master level s hould be a balance of personal interest, academic rigor, and practical feasibility. Working closely with your academic advisor can help guide you through this important process. As much, we are always very ready to help you by developing sample thesis topic suggestions for your thesis paper so that you choose the best for your consideration.
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Masters Degree Research Topics – Most Recent Project Ideas
There are many masters students research project topic ideas that students can consider. Some of these are:
- Business and Economics : This field is broad and encompasses many different topics, such as marketing, finance, and management. Students can choose to research topics such as the impact of social media on consumer behavior, the role of financial intermediaries in economic growth, or the impact of mergers and acquisitions on the market.
- Health Sciences : Health sciences are another broad field that encompasses many different topics, such as psychology, nursing, and medicine. Students can choose to research topics such as the impact of sleep on mental health, the impact of physical activity on mental health, or the impact of mental health on physical health.
- Technology : Technology is a rapidly evolving field, and students can choose to research topics such as the impact of artificial intelligence on society, the impact of the Internet on privacy, or the impact of social media on society.
- Humanities : The humanities are a broad field that encompasses many different topics, such as literature, philosophy, and history. Students can choose to research topics such as the impact of globalization on cultural diversity, the impact of technology on cultural identity, or the impact of historical events on cultural identity.
In conclusion, masters degree research topics are a critical factor in determining a student's future success. To choose the right research topic, students should consider their academic interests and the feasibility of the research they are about to conduct.
Best Help with Masters Degree Project Topic Ideas
Master's research project ideas & topics help, how to develop a great topic for a masters level research project.
We have listed some techniques on how to develop a great topic for a Master’s research project .
✔ Be objective- When developing a topic for your research project, always factor in your areas of interest, the aim of your research, and the institutional guidelines (if any) for your study.
✔ Be flexible- When developing a research topic, you do not necessarily have to come up with just one topic, try to come up with as many research ideas as possible which you can then narrow down to say 3 topic selections each with an aim for the research. From here you may seek guidance from your supervisor on the best one to proceed with.
✔ Be specific- Choose a well-defined topic, with a specific focus and scope for the research, from which you can generate clear objectives for the research. Being specific with your areas of research is beneficial when developing the research questions for the study.
✔ Consider your target audience- When choosing a research topic you should put into consideration the individuals or groups that will benefit from your study. The people who your research is intended for. This helps give a clear direction and scope for your research.
✔ Research extensively- Before choosing a suitable topic for your research, you should carry out in-depth research on similar studies done by other researchers in your field of study, their findings, the methodologies they used, and the areas they recommended for further research. This can be very insightful when selecting a topic
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Microsoft Ignite 2023: AI transformation and the technology driving change
Nov 15, 2023 | Frank X. Shaw - Chief Communications Officer, Microsoft
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As we reach the end of 2023, nearly every industry is undergoing a collective transformation – discovering entirely new ways of working due to AI advancements.
Microsoft Ignite is a showcase of the advances being developed to help customers, partners and developers achieve the total value of Microsoft’s technology and reshape the way work is done.
As we round out the year, there are strong signals of AI’s potential to transform work. Take our latest Work Trend Index . Eight months ago, we introduced Copilot for Microsoft 365 to reduce digital debt and increase productivity so people can focus on the work that is uniquely human. What everyone wants to know now is: Will Copilot really change work, and how? Our research, using a combination of surveys and experiments, shows the productivity gains are real:
- 70% of Copilot users said they were more productive and 68% said it improved the quality of their work; 68% say it helped jumpstart the creative process.
- Overall, users were 29% faster at specific tasks (searching, writing and summarizing).
- Users caught up on a missed meeting nearly 4x faster.
- 64% of users said Copilot helps them spend less time processing email.
- 87% of users said Copilot makes it easier to get started on a first draft.
- 75% of users said Copilot “saves me time by finding whatever I need in my files.”
- 77% of users said once they use Copilot, they don’t want to give it up.
Today, we will make about 100 news announcements that touch on multiple layers of an AI-forward strategy, from adoption to productivity to security. We’ll zoom in on a few key areas of impact below.
Rethinking cloud infrastructure Microsoft has led with groundbreaking advances like partnerships with OpenAI and the integration of ChatGPT capabilities into tools used to search, collaborate, work and learn. As we accelerate further into AI, Microsoft is rethinking cloud infrastructure to ensure optimization across every layer of the hardware and software stack.
At Ignite we are announcing new innovations across our datacenter fleet, including the latest AI optimized silicon from our industry partners and two new Microsoft-designed chips.
- Microsoft Azure Maia, an AI Accelerator chip designed to run cloud-based training and inferencing for AI workloads such as OpenAI models, Bing, GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT.
- Microsoft Azure Cobalt, a cloud-native chip based on Arm architecture optimized for performance, power efficiency and cost-effectiveness for general purpose workloads.
- Additionally, we are announcing the general availability of Azure Boost , a system that makes storage and networking faster by moving those processes off the host servers onto purpose-built hardware and software.
Complementing our custom silicon, we are expanding partnerships with our silicon providers to provide infrastructure options for customers.
- We’ll be adding AMD MI300X accelerated virtual machines (VMs) to Azure. The ND MI300 VMs are designed to accelerate the processing of AI workloads for high range AI model training and generative inferencing, and will feature AMD’s latest GPU, the AMD Instinct MI300X.
- The preview of the new NC H100 v5 Virtual Machine Series built for NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPUs, offering greater performance, reliability and efficiency for mid-range AI training and generative AI inferencing. We’re also announcing plans for the ND H200 v5 Virtual Machine Series, an AI-optimized VM featuring the upcoming NVIDIA H200 Tensor Core GPU.
Extending the Microsoft Copilot experience Over the past year we have continued to refine our vision for Microsoft Copilot, a set of tools that help people achieve more using AI. To go beyond individual productivity, we are extending Microsoft Copilot offerings across solutions to transform productivity and business processes for every role and function – from office workers and front-line workers to developers and IT professionals.
Microsoft is the Copilot company, and we believe in the future there will be a Copilot for everyone and for everything you do. Some of our Copilot-related announcements and updates include:
- Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365: This month, Copilot for Microsoft 365 became generally available for enterprises. Already customers like Visa, BP, Honda and Pfizer and partners like Accenture, EY, KPMG, Kyndryl and PwC are using Copilot. We continue to bring new value, based on learnings from our Early Access Program and other research channels. The new Microsoft Copilot Dashboard shows customers how Copilot is impacting their organization – with insights like those found in our Work Trend Index. We’re introducing new personalization capabilities that help Copilot offer responses that are tailored to your unique preferences and role. To empower teamwork, new features for Copilot in Outlook help you prep for meetings, and during meetings, new whiteboarding and note-taking experiences for Copilot in Microsoft Teams keep everyone on the same page. And customers who need it can now use Copilot during a meeting without transcription retention. When you give Copilot a seat at the table, it goes beyond being your personal assistant to helping the entire team – check out the Microsoft 365 blog for updates across the suite including PowerPoint, Excel, Microsoft Viva and more.
- Microsoft Copilot Studio: AI transformation begins by tapping into an organization’s unique data and workflows. Microsoft Copilot Studio is a low-code tool designed to customize Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 by integrating business-critical data and build custom copilots for internal or external use. Copilot Studio works with connectors, plugins and GPTs, allowing IT teams to steer Copilot to the best data sources for specific queries.
- Microsoft Copilot for Service: The newest copilot to provide role-based support helps businesses accelerate their AI transformation of customer service. Copilot for Service includes Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 and helps extend existing contact centers with generative AI. In customer interactions, agents can ask Copilot for Service questions in natural language and receive relevant insights based on data sources from knowledge repositories, leading to faster and smarter resolutions.
- Copilot in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides: Combining the power of generative AI and mixed reality, this copilot helps frontline workers complete complex tasks and resolve issues faster without disrupting workflow. Available first on HoloLens 2, the hands-free copilot will help service industry professionals use natural language and human gestures to offer interactive guidance through content and holograms overlaid on the equipment.
- Microsoft Copilot for Azure: This is an AI companion for IT that simplifies day-to-day IT administration. More than just a tool, it is a unified chat experience that understands the user’s role and goals, and enhances the ability to design, operate and troubleshoot apps and infrastructure. Copilot for Azure helps IT teams gain new insights into their workloads, unlock untapped Azure functionality and orchestrate tasks across both cloud and edge.
- Bringing Copilot to everyone : Our efforts to simplify the user experience and make Copilot more accessible to everyone starts with Bing, our leading experience for the web. Bing Chat and Bing Chat Enterprise will now simply become Copilot. With these changes, when signed in with a Microsoft Entra ID, customers using Copilot in Bing, Edge and Windows will receive the benefit of commercial data protection. Over time, Microsoft will also expand the eligibility of Copilot with commercial data protection to even more Entra ID (formerly Azure Active Directory) users at no additional cost. Copilot (formerly Bing Chat and Bing Chat Enterprise) will be out of preview and become generally available starting Dec. 1. Learn more here .
Reinforcing the data and AI connection AI is only as good as the data that fuels it. That’s why Microsoft is committed to creating an integrated, simplified experience to connect your data to our AI tools .
Microsoft Fabric is part of that solution. Available now, Microsoft Fabric reshapes how teams work with data by bringing everyone together on a single, AI-powered platform that unifies all those data estates on an enterprise-grade data foundation.
Copilot in Microsoft Fabric also integrates with Microsoft Office and Teams to foster a data culture to scale the power of data value creation throughout the organization. We’ve made more than 100 feature updates since Build and expanded our ecosystem with industry leading partners , and have over 25,000 customers including Milliman, Zeiss, London Stock Exchange and EY using it today.
Unlocking more value for developers with Azure AI We continue to expand choice and flexibility in generative AI models to offer developers the most comprehensive selection. With Model-as-a-Service , a new feature in the model catalog we announced at Microsoft Build, pro developers will be able to easily integrate the latest AI models, such as Llama 2 from Meta and upcoming premium models from Mistral, and Jais from G42, as API endpoints to their applications. They can also customize these models with their own data without needing to worry about setting up and managing the GPU infrastructure, helping eliminate complexity.
With the preview of Azure AI Studio , there is now a unified and trusted platform to help organizations more easily explore, build, test and deploy AI apps – all in one place. With Azure AI Studio, you can build your own copilots, train your own, or ground other foundational and open models with data that you bring.
And Vector Search , a feature of Azure AI Search, is now generally available, so organizations can generate highly accurate experiences for every user in their generative AI applications.
The new GPT-3.5 Turbo model with a 16K token prompt length will be generally available and GPT-4 Turbo will be in public preview in Azure OpenAI Service at the end of November 2023. GPT-4 Turbo will enable customers to extend prompt length and bring even more control and efficiency to their generative AI applications.
GPT-4 Turbo with Vision is coming soon to preview and DALL · E 3 is now available in public preview in Azure OpenAI Service , helping fuel the next generation of enterprise solutions along with GPT-4, so organizations can pursue advanced functionalities with images. And when used with our Azure AI Vision service, GPT-4 Turbo with Vision even understands video for generating text outputs, furthering human creativity.
Enabling the responsible deployment of AI Microsoft leads the industry in the safe and responsible use of AI. The company has set the standard with an industry-leading commitment to defend and indemnify commercial customers from lawsuits for copyright infringement – the Copilot Copyright Commitment (CCC).
Today, Microsoft takes its commitment one step further by announcing the expansion of the CCC to customers using Azure OpenAI Service. The new benefit will be called the Customer Copyright Commitment. As part of this expansion, Microsoft has published new documentation to help Azure OpenAI Service customers implement technical measures to mitigate the risk of infringing content. Customers will need to comply with the documentation to take advantage of the benefit.
And Azure AI Content Safety is now generally available, helping organizations detect and mitigate harmful content and create better online experiences. Customers can use Azure AI Content Safety as a built-in-safety system within Azure OpenAI Service, for open-source models as part of their prompt engineering in Azure Machine Learning, or as a standalone API service.
Introducing new experiences in Windows to empower employees, IT and developers We continue to invest in and build Windows to empower people to navigate the platform shift to AI. We are thrilled to introduce new experiences in Windows 11 and Windows 365 for IT and employees that unlock new ways of working and make more AI accessible across any device. To further our mission of making Windows the home for developers and the best place for AI development, we announced a host of new AI and productivity tools for developers , including Windows AI Studio.
Announcing NVIDIA AI foundry service Aimed at helping enterprises and startups supercharge the development, tuning and deployment of their own custom AI models on Microsoft Azure, NVIDIA will announce their AI foundry service running on Azure. The NVIDIA AI foundry service pulls together three elements – a collection of NVIDIA AI Foundation models, NVIDIA NeMo framework and tools, and NVIDIA DGX Cloud AI supercomputing and services – that give enterprises an end-to-end solution for creating custom generative AI models. Businesses can then deploy their models with NVIDIA AI Enterprise software on Azure to power generative AI applications, including intelligent search, summarization and content generation.
Strengthening defenses in the era of AI The threat landscape has evolved dramatically in recent years, and at Microsoft Ignite we are introducing new technologies across Microsoft’s suite of security solutions to help defenders make the world a safer place.
Microsoft Sentinel and Microsoft Defender XDR (previously Microsoft 365 Defender) will be combined to create the industry’s first Unified Security Operations Platform, with embedded Security Copilot experiences. With built-in generative AI, it’s a single, powerful experience focused on protecting threats at machine speed and aiding defenders by simplifying the complexity of their environment.
Additionally, the expansion of Security Copilot embedded within Intune, Purview and Entra will help IT administrators, compliance units and identity teams simplify complex scenarios. In Entra, identity administrators can quickly troubleshoot identity access. In Purview, data security alerts deliver rich context to help resolve problems faster. In Intune, IT administrators can use “what if” analysis to keep business running while improving governance and compliance.
And that’s just a snapshot of what we’ll be announcing at Ignite. As a reminder, you can view keynote sessions from Satya Nadella, Rajesh Jha and Jared Spataro, Charlie Bell and Vasu Jakkal, and Scott Guthrie live or on-demand.
Plus, you can get more on all these announcements by exploring the Book of News , the official compendium of all today’s news, and the product blogs below.
Watch the keynotes and get all the latest photos, videos and more from Microsoft Ignite
The online event for Microsoft Ignite
With a systems approach to chips, Microsoft aims to tailor everything ‘from silicon to service’ to meet AI demand
Introducing new Copilot experiences to boost productivity and elevate customer experiences across the organization
Simplify IT management with Microsoft Copilot for Azure – save time and get answers fast
Introducing Microsoft Copilot Studio and new features in Copilot for Microsoft 365
Announcing general availability of vector search and semantic ranker in Azure AI Search
GPT-4 Turbo with Vision on Azure OpenAI Service
How Azure AI Content Safety helps protect users from the classroom to the chatroom
Elevating the developer experience on Windows with new AI tools and productivity tools
Microsoft unveils expansion of AI for security and security for AI at Microsoft Ignite
Tags: AI , Azure AI Content Safety , Azure AI Studio , Microsoft 365 , Microsoft Copilot , Microsoft Fabric , Microsoft Ignite 2023 , Microsoft Security Copilot , Model-as-a-Service
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