How to get the perfect thesis research topic in one hour or less

A thesis statement is “a short statement, usually one sentence, that summarizes the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, etc., and is developed, supported, and explained in the text by means of examples and evidence.” (Source: Dictionary.com)

Based on that definition alone, it’s reasonable to assume that, coming up with a thesis statement might sound easy, but it can be very challenging.

I want to stick a pin here and say that, what I am about to explain is akin to the cover page title of your research paper. It is not to be confused with the objective of the paper or the hypothesis that’s to be proven or disproved in your study.

The problem comes when you try to zero in on a statement you can develop with minimal issues. You have to get as specific as possible because you really don’t want to give yourself too much work.

What I am about to share with you, has worked for me and I’ve used it with my clients too. Almost every time, a statement was crafted within an hour, sometimes less.

BUT, I am going to start with the secret strategy first. It sets a good foundation for you to “NOT stress out” while you’re actually doing the research.

LOOK BACK FIRST

What do I mean by this?
Well, what you have to realise, at all times, is that your final research paper should showcase a bit of everything you learned during your entire programme. Each subject was considered integral to your holistic understanding of the discipline.

So, with that in mind, you need to look back at the courses and ask yourself:

  1. What course stood out to me the most?
  2. Which subject was I most comfortable with?
  3. When did I get the highest grade/s?
  4. What subject area did I understand fully and easily?

This helps you to centre your thesis topic around an element of your learning that allows you to easily support the statement.

Then, rank the other courses from easy to difficult. This will help you to shape the research in a way that incorporates each subject in different degrees. It will show the lecturer/supervisor that you absorbed everything that was taught and it can also help you segment your research to populate the paper! But you must also include definitions and theories associated with these topics. You don’t need to overdo it, but to mention it will augur well for you (Ding ding! Extra points).

If you’re just beginning your programme, and happen to be reading this, you’ve got a crazy head start!

All you have to do is… Look Forward

As you move along your programme, take mental checks of the four points I mentioned before and follow the ranking system.

You have to get as specific as possible because you really don’t want to give yourself too much work.

Now, let’s get into crafting the thesis statement. I’ll it in explain in 8 steps.

Step 1 – Select a broad topic that you are passionate about

What do you want to speak about; generally?

Financial Technology (FinTech)? A disease like diabetes? Divorce or marital separation? Human Resource? Politics? Entrepreneurship?
Whatever it is, let it be something you are interested in so you won’t feel overwhelmed or regretful while doing your research.

I’ll be using an example of a recent thesis statement I helped someone develop. I would like you to keep in mind, this was a research paper that was based ONLY on credible secondary data; mostly journals, articles and books.

We began with Logistics and Supply Chain Management with a focus on “Logistics”.

Step 2 – Choose a segment of the broad topic that links to the subject that you are most comfortable with

This feels like a weird step two, right? I know. But you see, it also makes for an interesting angle for the thesis statement. You are strong in the topic, you have the material to return to, it is associated with something you actually like. What better way to start!

So, using our example, Step 2 – customer service was identified as a comfortable topic for expansion.

So now we have Logistics + Customer Service.

Ok, good so far.

Step 3 – Look for research papers with keywords

And by “keywords” I mean the words you’ve used from Steps 1 and 2 WITH the word “thesis”. Logistics + Customer Service + Thesis.

You will get a general idea of what kind of research was already done in these areas. You will get variations, but you will begin to see common themes.

This person saw a few thesis topics that included the words “Logistics Service Quality”. This stood out and was noted as three words to include in their thesis statement.

Here’s another tactic that can take a bit more time. You can go straight to the limitations of the study or the conclusion to figure out what gaps you can use to carry your study also. The disadvantage is that you may not find as much literature, but the benefit is that you could pioneer a study that explores an under-examined topic.

Step 4 – Add a niche factor?

This person wanted to add an element that would improve logistics service quality – Information Technology systems. They repeated the search, now using “logistics service quality” + “Information Technology systems“.

With this, they came upon some studies that began to detail IT systems used in Logistics. These included systems such as Electronic Data Interchange, Barcode / RFID, Vehicle Tracking Systems, Enterprise resource planning, etc.
They chose Enterprise Resource Planning because it could also be used to measure productivity with real-time data while optimising operations.

Note that, at each stage of the search, the broad words are swapped out for more specific words.

So now we had Logistics Service Quality and Enterprise Resource Planning. Some headway was being made.

Step 5 – Introduce your angle

Remember the words “service quality”, well, this is one of the features of an organisation’s “competitive advantage”. This was the angle this person chose.

The first line was then created, “Logistics Service Quality Management for Competitive Advantage.

Still broad, right?

So this is how we drilled down…

Step 6 – Choose your demographics

For the secondary data research, the soft drink industry was selected (because the person liked Coca Cola, ha!). The geographical location of the US was selected simply because it’s where Coca Cola is manufactured.

What do we have now? Logistics Service Quality Management for Competitive Advantage in the carbonated beverage industry in the US.

Step 7 – Add the guiding words

I call them guiding words because they tell the reader what direction your research is going to take. These include (but are not limited to) words such as

  • Analysis
  • Assessment
  • Examination
  • Investigation
  • Review
  • Study

You can refine them more like this:

  • An In-depth Analysis
  • A Quantitative Investigation
  • A Critical Review

Step 8 – Pull it together and arrange accordingly

There is nothing wrong with you playing around with the order of the words. You just have to be clear about the direction of the research. I would even advise that you ask for feedback about your statement

The final thesis statement was this:

Logistics Service Quality Management for Competitive Advantage – an investigation of Enterprise Resource Planning Systems in the Carbonated Beverage industry in the US.

This was good enough to get a thumbs up from the supervisor. Yay! But, it actually could have been even more detailed because some research papers require more detail.

For example, if primary research methods were allowed, the industry could have been narrowed to one company – Coca Cola.

The statement could then have been this:
Gaining Competitive Advantage with Enterprise Resource Planning Systems – An Examination of Logistics Service Quality Management in Coca Cola“.

Now, the length and details of statements vary. I once had a classmate who named her thesis “The Americanisation of Trinidad and Tobago”. It was one of the simplest thesis statements I ever came across and yet the intent was so clear. My thesis statement was boldfaced and clear: “The (Traditional) Media Do Nothing to Encourage an Interest and Involvement in Local Culture“. My results did not validate my stance, however. The findings exposed the shortcomings of media and local cultural groups that led to a decrease in interest and involvement. Someday I may publish it for you all to see. I did A LOT of work for that reality check!

Here are examples of statements from some of the people I’ve assisted:

  • Mediation as an Intervention Strategy to Resolve Conflict Between Persons Who Are Blind and Family Caregivers
  • From Millions to Billions โ€“ An Imperative Analysis of the Development of a Feasible Growth Strategy for an Emergent Credit Union
  • Transitioning From Traditional To Fintech: Modernising Customer Service In An Indigenous Bank โ€“ The Introduction Of Personal Teller Machines
  • The use of multi-channel distribution as an alternative to extensive marketing for organisational profitability: A critical review of The West Indian Tobacco Company Limited (WITCO)

Final Thoughts: Look at you! Getting your thesis statement on! Seriously though, although moving from 1 to 8 may look seamless, the process still takes some time. But with these guided steps, you’ll get that perfect title in less time and with a clear and researchable topic. Then, the next step would be to get that paper to sound as professional and polished as the statement itself! Yup, that’s another blogโ€ฆ
You’ve got this!

If you liked the information I shared, I’d love for you to pay it forward and pass it on to someone else ๐Ÿ™‚

[Online] Certificate, Diploma or Degree?

This week I had a discussion with a friend – she’s is a mature professional who wanted to upskill. While chatting, she said, “Some people may be intimidated if they have to do a whole course at once. I know it was indicated that single courses can be had. For me personally I’d prefer to start small. Certificate first…especially in courses like psychology.” As I listened to her expressed concern, I realised that, especially as she is new to online learning, searching for the most suitable programme is a challenge because she is trying to decide which to do – a Certificate, a Diploma or a Degree?

She is not alone.

In March 2020, The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), reported that โ€œan unprecedented number of children, youth and adults are not attending schools or universities because of COVID-19,โ€ with governments in 100 countries having announced or implemented closures. In 85 countries, schools nationwide have been closed, affecting more than 776.7 million children.

Over 776 MILLION! Wow!

This number accounts for those already attending school, however, as COVID-19 triggered an increase in unemployment (and the restructuring of businesses), there has been a surge in the need for many individuals in the working class to either upskill or retool. I think that it’s safe to assume that the amount of “students” that are not “in a school” is way more than 776 million. Get what I’m, saying?

Also, just like my friend, more people are considering enrolling in programmes to learn a new skill or enhance their professional resumes. I see the number increasing even more now.

If you are new to online learning read this: 5 Tips for New Online Learners

That got me thinking about how many people are experiencing the same dilemma. This must be quite the anxiety-inducing pickle to be in. So in order to help persons, like my friend, make an informed decision I decided to present some information that I believe would be helpful.

Certificate, Diploma or Degree? Let’s define them first with some explanations for each.

What is a Certificate?

Insert name and course *smile emoji*

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a certificate as:

  1. “an official document that states that the information on it is true, e.g. a birth/marriage/death certificate or a doctor’s/medical certificate”, or
  2. “the qualification that you receive when you are successful in an exam”, e.g. a Certificate in Plumbing.

We’ll move ahead with definition #2, of course. Certificates are attained through short courses or programmes which have varying timeframes:

  • A few hours e.g. a Certificate of Participation in a music workshop.
  • A day – you know, like that one time your boss sent the department to learn High Impact Business Writing and you didn’t want to go and then you were glad you went, but you probably still don’t use it because the office has templates *slaps forehead*.
  • A few weeks (usually about 6-8 weeks) e.g. a certificate in Social Media Management.
  • A few months e.g. a Certificate in Cosmetology.

A certificate is cost-efficient and focuses on a specific area or skill. This way you can gain that particular skill without years of schooling. It’s also great if you’re looking to make a career shift. However, its main limitation is that you may not be able to make any move outside of the chosen discipline; unless you do additional certificates.

What is a Diploma?

Your entry to another career.

The Macmillan Dictionary clearly explains a diploma as:

  1. “a course of study at a college or university in  vocational subject (one that prepares you for a particular job) e.g. a Diploma in Psychology.”
  2. “a course of study at a college or university in an academic subject that people sometimes do after getting a degree.” 

Diplomas (or career diplomas) are more comprehensive than certificates and take a bit longer to get, but can be obtained in a year or two. Diplomas are field-specific and are mostly offered in technical and vocational areas like massage therapy and Information Technology.

Diplomas cost less than degrees and have minimal, if any, prerequisites. They concentrate on the skills necessary for the field. The limitation of a Diploma is that it’s just that, a Diploma. You may end up feeling like you’re in limbo and not quite at the finish line with your new certification; it’s above a certificate and just below a degree – get what I mean?

What is a Degree?

You’ll be proud, and relieved, when you’re done.

The definition given by Britannica is as follows:

Degree, also called academic degree, in education, any of several titles conferred by colleges and universities to indicate the completion of a course of study or the extent of academic achievement.”

Study.com pulls out all the stops to give us the full overview of this type of “certification”:

You can read more about what each entails by clicking here.

The first thing to note about a Degree is that degrees are often a requirement by employers. They take more than two years to complete and are more all rounded with the courses that are enveloped within the programme. Since degrees include elective courses e.g. a language or an art of some form like public speaking (I think public speaking is an art), you end up gaining more intellectual range which gives you a solid foundation to choose different career paths. I’ll give you a personal example.

I did my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communication. It took me 6 years to do as a part-time student. I know what you’re thinking, “That’s crazy!” right? Yeah, well, it is usually a 4-year full-time programme. Anywhos -it was the best 6 years of my life. I loved every course. I did history, social media management, speech writing and public speaking, website development, photography, journalism, economics and accounting, Spanish. The list was extensive; as you could imagine. At the end, I specialised in Public Relations. I was able to apply for many types of jobs because of this degree. I never regretted it.

So, how do you choose?

Certificate, Diploma or Degree?

I’ll give you five overarching considerations to help you decide. Please note that, each of these prompters speak directly to the scope of your budget and the urgency you’ve placed on upgrading your credentials. Also know that there will be some overlapping features.

#1 Is it complementing a qualification you already have?

Recommended – Certificate.

A certificate would give you the specialisation you require within a targeted discipline. It’s very good to do if you need to fill a gap, expand your skill-set portfolio or modernise an existing skill to adjust in a timely manner with changing markets. Doing a certificate would signal “adaptability”!

#2 Will it give you access to another, or higher, position within your career?

Recommended Diploma or Degree.

Diplomas are like Associate’s Degrees (which I did not elaborate on, I know). They are more significant than certificates but not as weighty as degrees. Because they cost more and take a longer time to earn, there is a higher level of seriousness that is projected with this qualification. Doing a Diploma is usually the first step in beginning a career change, but it is also a great way to position yourself a specialist in a particular area. It signals “decisiveness”!

#3 Is it an entryway into another field or entrepreneurship?

Recommended – Diploma

As the definition states, diplomas are attained for certain fields and are heavily focused on what is needed for that career, only. If you wish to move on from being an employee and become an entrepreneur, or perhaps you want to consider consultancy in an area you are passionate about, a diploma will open that door for you with a reasonable budget and a shorter time frame. It signals “advancement” or “liberty”!

#4 Does it make you more marketable?

Recommended – Certificate.

If you’re looking to become more marketable, you need to sprinkle a few tokens on your resume. Assess your environment, survey job postings, pay attention to the evolution of business operations. You’ll begin to see what’s missing. More so, you’ll notice which of the missing things you can actually do and you should get on. It signals that you are “forward-thinking”!

Read more about skills you should learn here: 6 skills every student should learn โ€“ or be able to do

#5 Is it a stepping stone for something greater?

Recommended – Degree (or selectively, Diploma).

Are you seeking to meet the market requirement for a stable job? Do you intend to climb the academic ladder within a chosen career path? While a diploma will steer you to where you wish to go, a degree will definitely authorise your arrival. If the degree is an undergraduate degree, it is also an essential qualification to obtain a higher-level degree such as a Master’s, Master of Philosophy (MPhil), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), or a Doctorate. A degree, undoubtedly, takes much longer to earn and costs more; in every way. Both shift your potential for better compensation packages; positively. Of the two, a degree is clearly more formidable. It signals “professional”!

Final thoughts: I hope this information provided enough fodder to make contemplating your next step easier. Any decision to obtain a new qualification should be applauded. It should matter a lot because your name will be on that final, validating, paper and your resume will carry that new qualification. So, decide where you want to be and just begin!

The Graduate Guru will be your silent cheerleader *wink*. Now get to it!

Letโ€™s have a chat about your concerns?

Book a free 15-minute Discovery Session now. Click here to set your date and time!

Or get in touch and shoot me a message, or a question. Click here.

If this blog can help someone you know, share it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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