The option term is going by at light speed, which means that it is nearly thesis time. And while the course conveners have been quick to tell us that we have plenty of time to sort out projects and not to get too stressed out, I have, in fact, been stressing out about it. In particular, the process of choosing a project idea has been intensely frustrating for me. I would describe it as running on a sort of hamster wheel that cycles through several stages.
Back in December, I started a word doc of words and concepts relating to topics that I found interesting and potentially thesis-able. Over the past two months, it turned from a word association game into what was basically one long run-on sentence that now scares me to look at or think about. Clearly, though getting all the ideas out of my head had been somewhat cathartic, there were limits to brainstorming.
Narrow down topics
I figured the best way to get away from my overlong brainstorming document was to mash some of the ideas together and see what Google thought. Google sent me down a rabbit hole of organization websites and academic papers. I was learning a lot about urban resilience and flood management but had no idea if anything I was turning up was in the realm of reasonable for a master’s thesis. I needed a new perspective.
Talk to people
Fortunately, the course comes with some built-in people to have project ideas at, namely the option conveners. One of my conveners very patiently helped talk me through the scope of what I wanted to do for half an hour. She then recommended further people who might know more about the topic, so I went to talk to them as well. On the one hand, it was good to get more new perspectives; on the other, each new person brought up new possible areas to look into.
Back to the brainstorm doc. In fairness, it now is marginally more coherent than before. However, the specific and investigable research question that I was hoping would form from my efforts has yet to emerge...instead I just have more potential topics. I have done more research and talked to yet more people; the cycle doesn’t look like it’s going to let up any time soon. To be honest, I am probably too open to suggestion and would find this situation a lot easier if I could dredge up some tunnel vision. Since I can’t magically do that though, I may end up relying on the research proposal deadline in April to spur me into some decision. Until then, I’ll keep running on the hamster wheel.