The time has come: the thesis begins and the topic is also halfway and you start to read numerous books and papers. “Wow is all interested in this and then I should investigate this aspect and also this aspect and yes it is very exciting”. The end result is that you become little concrete and end up despairing of the complexity of the many aspects of the thesis. The thesis is therefore in danger of getting a bad grade or even having to be repeated. That is why the credo of a thesis is:

My tip: Choose a clear aspect with a question and examine it in depth and in a comprehensible way.

In this article, I’ll show you how to meaningfully narrow down and stay focused on a topic for a thesis using the metaphor of a landscape and binoculars. I also give concrete examples of how you can transfer the metaphor to topics.

My experience: It is important for you as a graduate that you are able to filter out concrete parts from large and complex issues and observe them in depth. You will be prepared for this with the thesis. For example, a large IT project consisting of 900,000 lines of software code. They need to look for concrete aspects and work through them gradually. This is exactly how it is in the thesis.

Choose your landscape and analyze individual aspects

Imagine your theme as a landscape with a lighthouse with a narrow coastline and sea

Look at the picture. You will see a lighthouse, a narrow coastline and the sea. You examine a landscape that contains three elements. But that is far too much for a thesis. We must therefore concentrate on one aspect. So take a look around the landscape in peace.

In concrete terms, this meansthat the landscape is an over-the-top topic, such as digitalisation. There are many aspects in the landscape that you can explore. The lighthouse, the coastal strip and the sea each an aspect such as technology, collaboration, IT service management, … – while the over-theme (landscape) finds through brainstorming, you will find the aspects by looking around the landscape (literature analysis on digitization).

At this point, you know your main topic, e.g. digitization, and you know roughly which aspect you want to investigate, e.g. agile teams. You can say at this point that you are writing a thesis that explores something with, for example, digitization.

Find a part of the landscape you want to explore

Choose a clear aspect of the landscape and hide everything but around!

Now it is not possible to observe the entire landscape, but only a section. This means that you have to choose a part, as in my example. I chose the narrow coastal strip. Now it says: stay focused! Even if there is a cool party in the lighthouse and the Black Pearl swims on the sea. You don’t care! Stay on the narrow coastal stiffener. Do not sway.

In concrete terms, this means: They examine the digitization and aspect of agile teams or the use of virtual collaboration software. All other aspects such as legal frameworks, frameworks or costs etc. are hidden from you. Of course, this is exciting, but you can then investigate this after the thesis.

You are now ready to say that your thesis is investigating an agile team in digitization or collaboration technologies in the field of digitization.

Find a suitable binoculars to observe the landscape

Now choose binoculars with which you want to look at the world – there is always more than one angle

Now it is necessary to look at the landscape with binoculars. But there is not “a binoculars” but many of them. Binoculars 1 has wide angle lenses, binoculars 2 darkened and binoculars 3 teleangle lenses. Each binoculars gives a different view of the landscape and shows other facets: very precise, dark, very distant,…

You can imagine: If you give the binoculars three people, everyone will tell you something different about the landscape. For example, one person would rather see the structure of the landscape with very little zoom and another more specific details such as plants on the coastal strip with a detailed lens.

Why are you doing this? The world is complex and even if you’ve found the aspect, there are still many many perspectives on the aspect – specifically: Ask 10 people about agility, get 10 answers. So look for a point of view. Furthermore, you are preventing someone from saying that, for me, research is not right or That I do not have the aspect. You can then say, for example, that the research has been done from the point of view of top managers or from the point of view of costs.

In concrete terms, this means: One point of view is your view of the world. From what point of view do you want to see the world or the aspect of the thesis? Examples are a group of people. Managers often see the world differently than employees. In this way, you examine agile teams from the point of view of employees, which also limits your interview partners and literature selection. Theories or certain aspects are also useful, such as the potential for conflicts between agile teams, the cost-efficiency of collaboration tools and much more.

You can now name the topic in its own right and also design the title. Examples are:

  • Agile teams in times of digitalization – a view from the point of view of executives
  • Collaboration of virtual teams – an empirical survey of employees
  • ERP systems in SMEs – An investigation of cost-effectiveness
  • Virtual contract negotiations – a theoretical consideration based on the prisoner dillema

Conclusion: Look at an aspect of the landscape with a certain binoculars

Stay clearly in focus: you observe a piece of the landscape with a clearly defined angle!

You will notice that you can easily get bogged down during a thesis. It is therefore important to define a topic very well and to remain focused. To do this, you first look for a landscape that you want to observe (top topic e.g. digitization) and look around: What aspects of the landscape are there. You choose an aspect of the landscape such as the coastal strip and observe it very closely (e.g. agile teams or collaboration technologies).

Now you should also observe the aspect in a meaningful way. You can use binoculars. But there are not “the one binoculars” but many with different lenses. The lenses represent your point of view and help to meaningfully narrow the aspect of your thesis by a group, theory or fact. Now it’s time to stay focused!

I hope that this simple metaphor can help you with your thesis. Of course, you start with a detailed literature analysis. I have compiled two reading tips for you.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/de/photos/schule-studium-lernen-b%C3%BCcher-read-2051712/

Are there any questions?

If you have any questions, I have two tips. I have summarized my experience from 5 years in the supervision of theses in the book: "Recommendations for the Bachelor and Master thesis". This is available at Springer and Amazon since August 2020. The book is an official reference book and can be quoted. You are also welcome to give me a call. Just look in the booking system for a free appointment . I take a few hours every month to help students.

My tip before submitting your thesis

It is always worth doing a professional thesis Proofreading or check plagiarism to let. The benefit is that you will also get feedback and improve your academic style. Providers such as Scribbr help with good prices for the thesis.

Gender note: I have used the masculine form for easier readability. Unless an explicit distinction is made, women, diverse and men as well as people of all origins and nations are meant. Read more about this.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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