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Postgraduate thesis tips: where to find new material


It can be incredibly difficult to find a completely new topic idea, or locate new material for writing your thesis. Usually what you have to do is use existing ideas but put them together in a totally unique way. You can even try applying them to an original problem. To add to that, you also have to generate some new and authentic research data!

3 Tips for choosing your thesis topic

This is one of the most frustrating processes for a student – choosing a topic. It’s a big commitment, and you want to make sure you’re choosing the right one. There are 3 criteria for a good topic.

  1. It must be novel or original. When you think about it, almost every new discovery is based on combining ideas that already exist. They are just put together in new and original ways. To make it new, you must have a new outcome, a new subject or a new methodology. So in order to accomplish one of these three things, you must look at the research that’s already been done.
  2. The context of your thesis – even though you’ve stumbled on a very interesting problem to use as your thesis topic, it isn’t all you need. You must show how your problem fits in context with existing material. It has to be something no one has done before. You can use ideas from other peoples’ methodologies. You must justify the importance of your research; in other words why does it matter.
  3. You must show your competence in carrying out this research. Your knowledge of the field and the specific topic of interest must show through in your writing. Your skills will be highlighted.

Finding new material

Because your thesis has to be unique in a world where practically everything has been done before, you must find new by putting old together in new ways. You can do this be scouring the research in your chosen topic, reading scholastic journal articles and checking the news for anything that pertains to your topic.

You might want to start out with several different ideas and then run them past your professor or faculty to see what their advice would be. They are often following new research in their fields of study and may have some brilliant ideas you can borrow. They may even have ideas for research they just don’t have the time to do themselves.