This first course helps you to develop your research idea. You’ll start by choosing a correct topic: one that you can study scientifically. You will learn which literature you need to read at this stage of your research, and the most effective ways to find academic articles using popular academic search engines such as Google Scholar.
Next, you will choose a research strategy that will ensure that you study your topic in a relevant manner. It doesn’t matter whether you would like to study your topic using statistics, interviews, or a literature study: these 5 popular research strategies can be used for a quantitative and a qualitative thesis. Finally, you will write a thesis statement: a short description of your topic and your research strategy that you can immediately send to your supervisor.
You have a clear, focused and relevant thesis topic
You have a research strategy to study your topic
You have found and read the most important literature
You have written a thesis statement that you can send to your supervisor
The focus of this course is to help you find a topic and a research strategy. This also means that we will have a look at some literature so that you quickly get familiar with your topic, and to verify that it is in fact studied by other researchers. Not just any literature will do: for your thesis, you need to read and discuss scientific articles. Nowadays, it’s not that easy to separate scientific articles from look-alike articles : so-called ‘science journalism’. Curious to learn more? I have included a sample lesson from this course on how to recognize a scientific article. Click here to view this lesson!
Questions and answers
What is an ‘incorrect topic’?
Answer: Choosing a topic is not as easy as it sounds. I often meet students who pitch their research idea as follows:
“I want to study why people choose Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola”
“I’m interested in women in high-tech sectors”
“I want to look at Bitcoin”
“In my thesis I want to do research on vaccination programs”
“I’m interested in studying the Brazilian honey bee”
The problem with these ‘topics’ is: they are not topics! Surprised? Don’t worry, many students are when they first hear this. In this course, I will explain exactly what is wrong with these examples. But more importantly, I will help you choose a correct thesis topic.
Is a research strategy the same as a research method?
Answer: No, they are different. Your research strategy defines how your study will generate a new piece of knowledge about your topic, or: why your study is relevant. Your research method is the method or instrument you will use to study your topic: e.g. statistical analysis, interviews, experiment, literature study.
In this course, we will therefore primarily focus on making sure your research idea is relevant and interesting (= research strategy). We will discuss how to choose your research method in the next course: How to write your research proposal.