Universiteit Leiden

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Start your thesis

As a student, you will 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 a idea of what you have to do and how to do it best. During the research process you will follow a number of steps in which you locate the information you need, evaluate and cite it. The first step: choosing your topic, research question and making a realistic planning.

Tutorials

First of all you have to look at the assignment criteria: Are you able to choose a topic, what are the limitations, and when is the deadline? After looking at these criteria, you can think about a topic. A few tips:
1. Take inspiration from your required readings for a course you liked, explore new topics in newspapers, or have a look at other theses by former students. Ask yourself: what can you add to the discussion?
2. Pick a topic that you are interested in. This can be a specific discipline, era or method.
3. It's important to narrow down or broaden your topic to a size where you can find enough relevant, academic and accessible sources.
You can use these tutorials: 

Choosing a Topic

Learning
Objective

Choose a topic that fits your assignment and find ideas for topics in library resources.

Duration

30 minutes

By

ACC Library Services

Topic development 

Learning Objective

Learn about different research topics, the research process and about ways to narrow your topic.

Duration

10 minutes

By

University of Missouri-Kansas city

Mind Mapping

Learning Objective

Make a Mindmap of your topic

Duration

30 minutes

By

University of Arizona

An important step is choosing a researchable question. Your research question needs to be understandable for your audience, focused and requires research.
Tips:
1. Avoid questions that can be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’, formulate a ‘problem’ that you need to answer.
2. Choose an open-ended question by starting the question with ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘when’, and ‘who’.
3. Write down what you know and still want to know about your topic.
4. If you have chosen a research question (sharpening is always possible), it's important to make a realistic, concrete plan. This will help you to set goals and motivate yourself.

These tutorials can help you with the start of your research: 

How do I start a literature search?
Learning Objective This tutorial demonstrates how to search systematically for literature using a five-step-by-step plan. It explains how to select search terms and information resources relevant to your topic.
Duration 10 minutes
By VU University Amsterdam
Research Basics Guide 
Learning
Objective
Use this guide to learn the basics steps of research or paper you have to write.
Duration 60 minutes
By Hartness Library 
Project Planner
Learning Objective Learn about the researchprocess and about making a planning.
Duration 60 minutes
By Sage researchmethods
Time Management Skills
Learning Objective Learn about planning, prioritising, study goals and what to do if you fall behind. 
Duration 30 minutes
By The Open University
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