How to Find a Thesis Idea

In thesis writing there are a lot of ways to come up with a strong thesis idea. While many of them run relatively conventional and include helpful pieces of advice like “ask your adviser!” or “talk to other students in similar programs!” this blog post talks about more interesting ways to get in touch with your inspiration.

First, consider this short bullet list of places to look for inspiration:

  • Outside

  • The supermarket

  • Driving in the car, listening to the radio

  • Watching TV

But no, you cry. This is counter-productive! This is distracting! These activities will eat away at your brain until there is nothing left of it except media-saturated grey matter. Where is the thesis idea in the intricate madness that is the modern world.

It’s not so much that you’re filling your head with distractions, it’s that you’re approaching your work in a different manner from a different direction.

It’s not like you have anything to lose anyway.

Activities like watching television (especially the Discovery Channel, which is a really intriguing source of new ideas) allow you to relax and focus your attention on something other than your paper.

In addition to this, you will inevitably push yourself close to the deadline. While at first this might be deemed “useless procrastination,” this pressure will encourage you to focus your attention in order to complete your assignments.

Also, these diversions offer opportunities for your work to be influenced by the modern media forces (fantastic for a film, media, sociology, psychology, or postmodern art thesis). That would be a thesis idea on its own: the effect of media white noise on the creation of academic literature.

However, taking a non-academic approach to finding a thesis idea is not for everyone. Some people thrive in structured environments. Just because you’re in a dedicated state of mind doesn’t mean you’re not capable of being creative.

Everyone can bring a really unique, interesting perspective to the table when it comes to academic writing, especially when you’re dealing with humanities theses or literary analysis.

Another good way to find inspiration for your work is to look at things you have written previously. Try working backwards: look through other writings, cannibalize liberally, and work backwards to figure out your thesis idea.

Asking the people around you, especially the people who work in your field, is among the best ways to jump start creativity. If you don’t surround yourself with interesting people, you can’t come up with interesting ideas. Should you be at a loss for ideas for your next paper, get yourself into a circle of people who will have a discussion about these issues. You’re sure to get tons of thesis ideas from them.

It doesn’t matter what kind of person you are, there is always a way to get your creativity in gear. Whether that means talking to your friends or watching Planet Earth, the world around you is a great source for a new, unique thesis idea.