How can I find my topic?

The topic should be of interest to you, and the methods and theoretical approaches of the respective discipline should be adequate for working on it. In order to start narrowing down the topic, consider the following (combination of) aspects:

  • geographical scope
  • time/period covered
  • relevant institutions
  • available material
  • theoretical concepts and/or approaches
  • methodological approaches
  • authors
  • your own interest in acquiring knowledge
  • prerequisites specified at the seminar.

The type of aspects that are relevant for you depend on your personal interest and will ultimately be reflected in your research question. Even if you choose a topic that has already been covered multiple times, your research question may provide a new perspective. The more precisely you define your topic, the more precise your research question will be.


Answering the following questions can help you decide on a topic:

  1. What is of personal interest to you (in everyday life and/or in your discipline)?
  2. What can you find about this topic in specialist literature?
  3. What problems are related to the chosen topic?
  4. Why should it be investigated?
  5. Are there any research gaps? If so, where?

It is not easy to answer these questions, but as is the case in any research process, they can be answered through an intensive literature search and through consulting secondary sources that are relevant to the topic (articles, books, documents, web sites, films, etc.).