Master Log 02: Finding a Topic

and how pen, paper and crayons will help you find your direction

In June I will have to hand in my Master thesis and final project. Here I keep a diary on my progress and show how certain techniques are applicable in non-academic life.

My Master thesis will have two parts: a theoretical one and a practical one. The practical part will be a journalistic multimedia presentation on the Internet. I decided to let it circle around food waste. It is a topic I am personally interested in and it was easy to come up with some ideas to tackle it.

1. Collect Ideas

That enthusiasm left me when thinking about the theoretical part, which should at least loosely be connected to the practical one. I am a pen and paper person, so I  wrote down everything that came into my mind concerning the theoretical part of food waste and journalism. My ideas ranged from environmental to investigative journalism, from multimedia to social media theories. Putting them in relation to each other, sorting them into categories and creating a mind map, I ended up having a jumble of terms and lines on the paper.

2. Colour and group them

It was time for colours. I framed all terms that somehow belonged together with the same colour, and all of a sudden I had six differently coloured bubbles linked up on my paper.

3. Strictly focus

I strictly narrowed it down to two. That is always the hardest part, but the narrower the topic is, the lower the chance to get lost. The rest is excluded.

4. Ask Questions

Lastly those two bubbles entailed subjects I wanted to know more about. So I formed questions. The crucial point here is to avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no. (However, that depends on your field of studies.) I ask for processes and functions. I let the questions start with “How…”. That way I encourage myself to look at courses of action and proceedings, because in research you will hardly get a clear yes or no.

What’s YOUR topic? And how did you find it?

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