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Choice of topic

You often have to actively do something to come up with a good idea for a topic.

Ideas do not have to be something that suddenly comes to you. You often have to actively do something to get the creative processses started and to create ideas. When you try to develop ideas, it is important that you do not censor yourself and your thoughts. Be open to the ideas or whims that comes – also those that may seem crazy and useless. You can always evaluate their value afterwards.

What can you get written?

It is important to remember the deadline you are working with and to find a focus that fits that deadline. Try to find a problem statement that fits the physical scope that your paper has to have and the time you have to write it. A lot are afraid that they do not have enough material and then choose a topic that is too large compared to the scope of the paper.

Your supervisor can help you to evaluate if the time schedule you have made for your writing process is realistic. You can also set up meetings with your supervisor so you continuously have a new deadline to work forward to. This can be a good way of forcing yourself to keep the deadlines. Read more about supervision here (awaiting translation).

When you have chosen and narrowed down your topic, you can formulate a problem statement.

Get started with the ideas

Sometimes the ideas come by themselves and sometimes you have to help them coming. 

Below you will find examples of six different methods that can help you to get ideas to a topic.

Exercises for inspiration

Mindmapping

It can be useful to create a mindmap to get an overview of your thoughts and ideas. 

  • Start by defining what the starting point of your mindmap should be. 

  • Write down words or sentences on in the center of a big, blank paper. 

  • Then write down all your thoughts, theories and idea around the word or sentence. 

  • Everytime you write something down you must draw a line back to the starting point or too one or more of the other notes. 

This way you might discover nye angles and connections that can be difficult to keep track of in your own head.  

Nonstop writing

Nonstop writing can help you develop a thought or idea and to get it written on a paper. 

  • Choose an overarching topic. 

  • Write with no interuption about the topic for 5 minutes. You must not stop at anytime even if you do not have thoughts. Then you must write random words until new thoughts and ideas comes up. 

  • After the 5 minuts you read your text and select some interesting angles - these can be used for brainstorming afterwards. 

You can read about and perform the non-stop writing exercise here.

Idea collection

Ideas can often come at once or as a sudden impulse while you are doing something else. It can be useful to write them down as soon as they come. 

  • Always have a notepad with you. Ideas can come when you least expect it. Make sure you have a notepad by your bed, in your purse or even at your couch or dinner table. 

  • Write more on the ideas when you have better time. In this way you quickly find out if the topic or idea is worth working foreward with. 

  • Du kan med fordel samle alt i et idédokument - så kan du bruge dem igen til din næste opgave.

  • You can advantageously gather everything in an idea document - then you can use them again for your next paper. 

Group exercise: The circular technique

The circular technique is a method to collaborate with other students, e.g. your studygroup, about idea generation.

  • Collect a group of approx. 4 persons.

  • Give a A3-paper to each person.

  • Each person should write a loosely idea down. There is no requirements to the quality of the ideas. 

  • When this is done, everyone draws a circle around their ideas and pass the paper on to the person next to them.

  • When you receive a paper with an idea on it, write all the things that you can think of related to the idea on the paper. It can be good advices, similar ideas, literature proposals, questions etc. 

På den måde får I hjælp til at bygge videre på eller undersøge de idéer, I har, og fællesskabet omkring idéudviklingen kan virke inspirerende.

This way you help eachother to develop or investigate the ideas that you have and the coomunity around the idea generation can be inspiring. 

Criteria for topic selection

[Awaiting translation]

By setting some criteria, you can get closer to your topic choice for free assignments. Get the criteria exercise (pdf) [insert link to picture]

  • Start by finding three elements that you know that your assignment should not contain or adres. It can be both professional material, methods, approaches etc.

  • Then you will find three elements that you would like to use in your assignment.

  • Finally, you will find examples of topics that live up to as many of your criteria as possible.

By following this progression you will narrow down what you think could be exciting to deal with. At the same time, you will translate thoughts about your assignment into concrete examples that you will be able to work on further.

Kilder til inspiration

Sources for inspiration

[Awaiting translation]

Gennemgå punkterne på billedet med et mindmap (pdf) og forfølg hver pil. Skriv gerne noter til hvert enkelt punkt, og find på den måde det emne, som du gerne vil arbejde med.

Review the points in the picture with a mind map (pdf) [insert link to picture] and follow each arrow. Feel free to write notes for each item, and in that way find the topic that you would like to work with.

Use your knowledge and professionalism

You have gained several professional experiences with different topics and areas during your study time - use them!

When you need to find a topic for an assignment, you can find inspiration in the knowledge you have already acquired.

Inspiration from your knowledge and professionalism

Use your former knowledge

You do not have to come up with a pioneering idea every time you write an assignment. Sometimes it can make sense to reuse empirics from previous assignments, courses and projects, and place it in a new context or work on a theory you have used in the past. Ask yourself the following questions to get started:

  • What topics and what type of empirics have you ´previously worked with?
  • What electives have you had? Why did you actively choose these subjects over others?

  • What tools, theories and areas of knowledge have you gained in the various subjects and courses?
  • What assignment topics have you been genuinely interested in while writing them? Can you further develop on this topic or angle it differently?

  • Was there an aspect or subject area that you did not previously have the opportunity to explore, but that you wanted to dive deeper into?
  • Is there some kind of correlation between the topics you have dealt with in the past? It does not have to be a common thread, but maybe you have the feeling of some kind of context or an overall area of interest.

What would you like to do afterwards?

If you have an idea of what you would like to do when you graduate, it may be a good idea to include it in your topic - especially if you are going to write a thesis. Think about what industry you can see yourself in when you graduate, or what could be an exciting task in a future job.

Maybe you can write in collaboration with a company or organization that fits into your future plans. You can also immerse yourself in a topic that is related to what you want to do in the future. This allows you to use your thesis to qualify for the job market.

Use your assignment as a step into the job market: 
  • Focus on what work assignments you would like in the future, and find an angle on the kind of assignments that you can use in your bachelor project or thesis.

  • Find a field within the work area that you would like to be a part of where there is a lack of knowledge or research.

  • Hvilken funktion vil du gerne have? Kunne du tænke dig at undervise, forske, skrive, koordinere, analysere eller noget helt andet? Måske kan du undersøge aspekter af din foretrukne arbejdsfunktion i en opgave, så du kommer ud med en specialiseret viden om netop det område.

  • What function would you like to have? Would you like to teach, research, write, coordinate, analyze or something completely different? Maybe you can investigate aspects of your preferred job function in a task so that you come out with a specialized knowledge of that particular area.

Experience

  • Do you have experience from current or previous jobs that you can use in your assignment?

  • Are there areas where you have a greater knowledge on which to base your research?

  • Maybe you have been an intern during your studies, where you have gained knowledge of some exciting issues.

  • Do you have a unique insight into an issue because you have been in close contact with a company / organization / other?

Contact companies

If you want to collaborate with a company, but do not have a connection to one in advance, you can start by looking at jobbank.au.dk. Here you can:

  • both as a company and student create project proposals.

  • click on the different project descriptions to see how they are designed.

  • get acquainted with a lot of companies that you may not have known in advance.

  • gain new insight into what companies might need to get researched.

In any case, it is a good idea to be well-prepared before contacting a company so that you seem professional when proposing a collaboration. It is important to have a clear purpose and a balance of expectations for the collaboration. You can read more about business collaboration step-by-step, so you become wiser about research, contract and possible challenges.

Use your surroundings

Inspiration for assignments can come from many places. Use your interests or relationships to find an exciting and relevant topic.

Inspiration from your surroundings

Use your fellow students

It can give you inspiration for new topics if you talk to others about their topic.

  • Find out what others are writing about.

  • You can also try to get an overview of thesis titles from your subject. Search for thesis here.

That way, you can get an insight into what may not have been written so much about, what's up in time, or you can be confirmed in what you find interesting. When you know what others are writing about, or what has been written about in the past, you can also better get a sense of what a thesis is - or can be.

Find inspiration in current discussions

You can include news and debates from the media or your subject area in your choice of topic. That way, you can actualize your assignment and put it in relation to issues that concern society right now.

Are there current events or discussions that concern you?

  • If there is something in the current debate that you find particularly interesting, it might be used as part of your assignment.

  • It may also be that it can be incorporated into the discussion or perspective of your assignment.

Are there current issues that are exciting at your faculty?

  • Have seminars or guest lectures been held recently that could be initiating to find a topic?

  • Has anyone brought up a topic that you would like to know more about and perhaps even be able to contribute a new perspective to?

Thesis seminars

Many departments offer thesis students that they can attend thesis seminars or thesis groups.

There you can get help and inspiration from other thesis students, teachers and lecturers for e.g.

  • how a thesis can look like.

  • to search for literature

  • the writing process.

  • planning your work so you can more easily submit by the deadline.

The thesis seminar is a forum where students can share experiences and spar with each other. It is an obvious place to get information about being a thesis writer.

Get inspiration from your free time

Do you have interests outside the university? It may be that you can use a knowledge you have acquired in your spare time. Or maybe you can do a scientific study of something that you have gained a practical knowledge of.

Think about what you are passionate about:

  • Is there something that may not immediately have anything to do with your subject, but that you really find exciting?

  • Maybe it can be included in your assignment?

If you are a sports coach for a group of children in your spare time, you may have a special interest in communicating to this target group. If you are a scout leader in your spare time, you may know a lot about organization and collaboration. Or if you spend a lot of time on Facebook, it may be that a study of identity perceptions and communication forums will be something for you.

Examples:

  • Interest: Film. Topic: Developments in Danish film history 1950-1980 with a focus on gender roles.

  • Interest: Politically active. Topic: Political rhetoric in conflict situations.

  • Interest: Sustainability. Topic: Legumes as a source of protein.

  • Interest: Virtual reality. Topic: The impact of virtual reality on children's physical development.

How would you like to work?

Think about how you work best and what research approaches you want to use.

Most major assignments, especially theses, consist of a combination of different research methods. It is a good idea to consider which research methods you would particularly like to work with. For example, you could consider:

  • What do I have good / less good experiences with?

  • Are there methods I would like to have more experience with before I graduate?

  • Are there methods that are often used to work with the topic / problem formulation? Do I want to use these or do something else?

  • Are there methods that my supervisor has an extra in-depth knowledge of?

  • What is the supervisors' response to my ideas for research methods?

Read more about study methods here. (Awaiting translation)


See also

Get an overview of Master's thesis titles from your academic programme, and get inspired by other people's choice of subject.


Thesis and project collaboration

Find a relevant topic or issue by writing Master's thesis, project or exam in collaboration with a company/organisation. Explore the possibilities on your study portal