PART 3 - Criteria for Topic Selection
Now that you know where to look for ideas and you might have already managed to come up with one or two topics you are particularly interested in, the next obvious question is:
How do I know if your particular topic has the potential to become an academic thesis?
Well, your bachelor thesis should demonstrate that you have acquired thorough knowledge of Fashion Management and you are capable of using specialised methods and techniques to carry out research and analyse results on your area of study.
Your thesis must show that you can reflect and interpret the most important concepts and research findings within the field of study and you can apply it to practical, market-based environment.
In brief, in your thesis you should be capable of:
formulating a main question and objective based on the given scientific/business/marketing/economic/ethical concepts and theories
selecting research techniques that are appropriate to the main question
selecting suitable methods for data collection and processing
carrying out the research itself
conducting literature study
drawing conclusions based on the results of their own research, and reflecting upon relevant social, economic, business or ethical issues
Based on the given goals, let’s see some criteria for topic selection:
Well, it should definitely be original, however, what constitutes originality or significance is open to interpretation and usually differs among various faculty advisers. What academics generally mean when they say "original research" is something that you have discovered yourself that has never been published before in that context.
So, the rule of thumb here is: it has not been sufficiently researched yet: There is no value to conducting one more study about a topic that has been researched over and over again.
Let’s have a look at some examples. What can the problem be with the following titles?
Analyzing the powerful role of marketing in the contemporary fashion world
Clothing represents many things in an individual - power, status and ambition
The success of Dior
Yes, exactly. They are way too general and popular. They have been old news and discussed to death. I am not saying that after some pondering and some additional great ideas we cannot liven them up, and turn them into a marketable fashion management idea but it may not be worth the effort. But! If you have any idea how to bring any of them true to life and make them a perfect thesis topic, let us know in the comment section!
- Originality could involve solving an open problem, but it also could be that you create something new that no one has considered before, and it could also be a tiny bit of progress on an obscure open problem.
Marketing sustainable clothing to Hungarians – Changing the course
This would involve a lot of research and even more hard thinking, since changing the attitude of Hungarians is definitely an open problem. However, the topic has great opportunities and has the potential to become a thesis topic.
- Uncover new facts or principles, suggest relationships that were previously unrecognized, challenge existing truths or assumptions, give new insights into little-understood phenomena, or suggest new interpretations of know facts that can alter people's perceptions of the world around them. Such as the following topics, which clearly have the potential to become thesis topics:
Modest Fashion (Religious fashion)
3D Printing in Fashion
Modular fashion – customized and convertible outfits – Launching Dooq into the Hungarian market
Of course we cannot simply reinvent the wheel - that is, it is almost impossible to come up with an idea that has never occurred to anyone anywhere around the globe. But we should at least try to put the idea to such a context (in terms of company/geographical location/marketing etc.) that has never been published before.
How can you do that? Let me show you through an example.
I have done a little research on the following topic:
Nylon: The most ravishing fashion innovation
There is an abstract of the study on the following site, which raised my interest.
I quickly found that there is an entire book available on the topic, besides the bibliography given on the site of the study:
I realized that on the net there is a lot of information on the history of nylon, which can be used for further background studies:
I found several nylon manufacturing companies which supply the greatest sportswear brands (Adidas, North Face, Triumph etc.). This can give ground to further study both on the material, technique and the marketability etc.
I found a stylish brand which uses ECONYL, recycled nylon, for its products, thus turning synthetic into sustainable. This is an interesting concept, highly-marketable.
If I went on doing more research I would probably checked other brands using similar materials and I would consider a market research on the issue. How much further we can get on this topic is only a matter of interest and imagination.
As you could see, no hard-and-fast rules exist for selecting a topic in terms of originality. The basic purpose of a thesis is to demonstrate that you can do acceptable research in your field. Whereas, it is for your personal career-development to choose a topic that would later give you a pronounced advantage, that special cutting-edge on the fashion labour market.
2. It must be manageable in size
Most students start to work on a topic that is too large. Remember you can’t do it all. Those inappropriate topics would include for example:
Today’s fashion trends and the role of women in it
Influence of fashion magazines and fashion bloggers
These are way too broad and general. I am not saying that they cannot be refined to fit a thesis topic, but they don’t in their current form. If you have any idea how to refine them, leave a comment in the comment section!
Your goal is to add a small but significant piece to the knowledge base and graduate! Save the Nobel Prize-level research to do as a postgraduate.
Thesis topics need to be easily manageable, concerning factors such as your geographic area, the resources and facilities available to you. The size of your thesis topic can be tricky; you want it to be manageable but not so narrow that you will be limited while researching.
3. Possible to complete within your time frame and budget
Given your current situation, is it a feasible topic to undertake? Travelling to the US or conducting a longitudinal study may not be possible.
An investigation into the wearing of academic dress amongst Britain's public school teachers: A traditional dress code in danger?
The study of cultural trends in the fashion world brought by Lady Gaga
Well, I don’t think I should add anything to these ones. :-)
4. Getting access to obtainable data
You must be able to collect data for the study from an appropriate sample size in a reasonable period of time.
A study on how economic issues shape fashion trends
Well, let me admit, it is a great topic. For a PhD dissertation. Elaborated on 250-300 pages. Written in 2 years. So do not try to work on such a large-scale project in such a limited time.
5. Interesting enough to keep you on track for a long time.
Students most of the time are surprised to find that it takes longer to write an acceptable thesis than they anticipate . You want a thesis topic that will hook the attention of others, as well as maintain your own attention. Your thesis topic should relate to what you've been studying and should stand up to scrutiny. Last but not least it should take you further on your career track. Remember, part of writing a thesis is having to defend it later. And who knows, you might want to realise or sell your business idea - elaborated in your study - and turn it to a successful business!
6. It should be acceptable to your adviser
The signatures of your adviser and teachers determine whether or not you will get your degree. As you develop your thesis topic, always keep in mind your interests, strengths, and weaknesses. You should also bear in mind the readers' expectations, as well as the assignment restrictions. Try to develop two or three possible topics in case you encounter a lack of supporting information. You don't have to commit to just one idea at the beginning of the process. You can bring your ideas to your adviser, who will help you determine which one is the most promising. If your adviser is enthusiastic about your topic, he or she will be that much more invested in helping and supporting you.
7. Relevance - it should be practical and marketable
Choose a narrow, well-defined topic which is relevant to your ongoing studies and also to your future work interest. Try not to pick a topic that is too popular, as it will be hard to generate interest in your thesis. However, be careful with marketability, because it is subject to change, so don't feel obligated to choose a thesis topic that reflects the latest craze in your field.
The marketability of Katy Perry's choice of outfits
The evolution of hats from magicians, witches and ascot to the present trends
Disney Female Cartoon Fashion
I just love these ones. :-) However, I don’t think any Fashion Management student could find them relevant in their future work.
BUT, let me give you another example, which at first sight might seem extreme, but I remember one of my 1st year students doing a great market research on this topic last year... so why not? :-) Any comments on this next one? :-)
Discerning dog-wear: From plastic mac to boutique Barbour
If you have any idea how to use these in a thesis let us know in the comment section!
Next blog post: Part 4: Choosing a Thesis Topic
Literature consulted for writing this post:
The Dissertation Journey: A Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Planning, Writing, and Defending Your Dissertation, by Carol M. Roberts.