Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Academic Advising

Academics

Selecting a topic

Selecting a topic is one, if not the, most important steps in the thesis writing process. Though different fields define and identify topics in different ways, the process usually involves some of the following:

  1. In your course work at Wheaton, you have no doubt been struck by themes and ideas that have especially captured your interest. Your aim in the end is to identify a topic that seems interesting enough to pursue in detail for one whole year. Think of the thesis as your chance to explore in depth some subject you find exciting or even perplexing.
  2. As you take courses and meet with faculty in your department, you most likely struck up conversations with professors whose work you find intriguing. These connections are your best leads in seeking a thesis topic. If you have not become close to a faculty member by your junior year, you should actively take steps to get to know one as soon as possible. Professors undoubtedly know what topics are worth exploring in your field of study, and that relate to your specific interests.
  3. Your readings and studies may have led you to see that there are hotly debated questions in your field. Maybe different scholars or researchers disagree on some topic you have an interest in, and you may find that you side with one group, or that you would like to find out who is “right”. A review of the articles and books discussing this topic will give you clues as to what sorts of position you might take. Here, the reference librarian will be your best friend in searching the literature on your topic.

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