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Start your thesis

As a student, you have to do assignments, write papers and a final thesis. A good understanding of the research process is essential in order for you to have an idea of what you have to do and how to do it best. During the research process you have to locate the information you need, evaluate and cite it. The first step: choosing your topic, research question and making a realistic planning.

Which steps should you take?

First of all, do you understand the assignment and the criteria? Write it down in your own words. What kind of sources do you have to use and when is the deadline?
Are you able to choose a topic?

  • Pick a topic that you are interested in (discipline, era or method) and that is not too narrow or too broad.
  • Take inspiration from your required readings, newspapers, or theses by former students. Make a mindmap to see the bigger picture.
  • You can find background information on Google, Wikipedia, bibliographies and encyclopedia. Ask yourself: what can you add to the discussion.

The tutorial Topic development helps you with choosing a topic (source: UMKC Libraries).

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Your research question needs to be understandable for your audience, focused and requires research.

  • Avoid questions that can be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’, formulate a ‘problem’ that you need to answer.
  • Choose an open-ended question by starting the question with ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘when’, and ‘who’.
  • Write down what you know and still want to know about your topic.
  • Sharpening your question is always possible.

It's important to make a realistic, concrete plan. This will help you to set goals and motivate yourself. The tutorial Time Management Skills can help you with your planning (source: The Open University).

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This tutorial helps you with the start of your thesis (source: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).

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  • Ask your question online or call us.
  • Make an appointment to meet with a subject librarian and get help with choosing a topic, finding information, developing effective search strategies, searching the library catalogs and databases and evaluating information sources.
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