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Thread: Masters thesis

  1. #1
    Member
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    Oct 2009
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    Los Angeles
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    Masters thesis

    I am a grad student and I'm beginning to think about a possible thesis topic but I'm having a hard time pinning it down.

    I'm interested in urban geography, urban streets, and urban public spaces. I was thinking about focusing on complete streets as a design and planning concept.

    I am a generalist and this is probably the hardest part of research for me...narrowing it down to a manageable topic. Any ideas are appreciated.

  2. #2
    Member
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    Sep 2010
    Location
    Westminster, MD
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    Narrowing your topic

    Narrowing your topic is hard to do if you are interested in many things. For a master's thesis you will commit a significant amount of time to it, but it's not a lifetime committment. My doctoral dissertation has nothing to do with my master's topic. So that may take some of the pressure off. Start with some recent journal articles in the areas that interest you to get a sense of the what the edges of your field look like. Read the papers critically, looking for gaps or debates. Also think about why complete streets and similar topics interest you. Why are some streets "complete" while so many are not? Do all streets need to be complete? Are there different degrees of completeness? Can you retrofit incomplete streets? Just start brainstorming some questions without committing to them. Maybe a good one will emerge. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Apr 2009
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    Montreal/Quebec/Canada
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    Narrowing down a topic is hard, but it doesn't come down to your interest as much as the research and study methodes and implication of your work. If your topic is too broad and you have too many parameters or information to consider then your work won't produce any tangible information. It'll just be a cluster of possibilities with a conclusion that leads nowhere.

    When I did my undergrad thesis, I realized that it comes down to producing new information that is applicable. You need that "ha-ha!" moment when people look at your work. It doesn't mean that it has to be groundbreaking, but rather that in the topic it applies, it provides a meaningful contribution.

    Maybe look at the implications your work might have. Talk to some local officials about problematic streets and public spaces in your area, or even projects they are working on. This will help to narrow your geographical scope and give you a good case study to maximize the relevance of your research.

    The research method is also something that will in itself force you to limit the scope of your work. Determine some approaches you'd like to take and look at past thesis or research which uses them.

    Good luck!

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