Monday, July 21, 2014

Choosing a Thesis Topic


This week a student, faced with a dilemma over choosing her thesis topic, wrote to me as follows for advice.
I've been reading your posts for a period of time and it is really helpful. Therefore, I would like to consult you on the matter of a thesis since your experience and knowledge in this field surpass my poor one. I'd appreciate your help. Actually, I'm confused about a thesis topic. Sometimes, I find myself into machine translation assessment and other times audiovisual translation, subtitles in particular. I did read on every single aspect of translation studies and yet it is hard to decide. So, could you please help me by suggesting some useful topics that you think are worth doing research about? Or maybe some good ideas to start with.
Here's my reply.

Dear XXX,

I'm glad to hear you find reading my blog useful.

In order to answer you, I'd like to know something about your background. Where are you from? Where are you studying? What languages do you know?

I ask this because, as a general principle, you should choose a topic that is relevant to the context in which you live. In that way it should be easier for you to find data at first hand, perhaps even in your own personal experience. For instance, I write about multilingualism and translation because I've been living for 50 years in societies (Quebec, Valencia) that are multilingual and use translation on a daily basis from childhood, not because I've read about them. Do not choose topics like MT or AVT just because a lot of other people are studying them and writing about them at present. That's 'jumping on the bandwagon'. Try to be original. In that way you may be lucky enough to add something fundamental to our understanding.

Hoping this is helpful.

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Source: www.saminverso.com

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