Imagine that you want to do right by the world, e.g., fight obesity, reduce waste, or make fashion sustainable. It is a big goal and before you know it, you try to boil the ocean. Your thesis topic needs to be big enough to be meaningful and small enough to be feasible. We accomplish that in four steps:
- Describe the big goal
- Turn it into a smaller goal of desired behavior change
- Make it targeted
- Put it in a context
For example, obesity is a pandemic that threatens people’s health and comes at high healthcare costs. Yet, it is hard to do something about it directly. We need to translate it into a smaller goal of desired behavior change, e.g. reduce sugar consumption (by nudging consumers to drink less soft drinks), exercise more, fight snacking, or promote different means of transportation (e.g., biking instead of driving).
We need to make the accomplishment targeted. For example, you may choose children as your target, because once obesity has developed, it is hard to fight. Now, that is still too broad, because you need to understand how to reach children. Therefore, we put the behavior change into a context. For example, you want children eat fruits instead of crisps upon return from school in the afternoon. The desired behavior change is a change of snack; the context is home at 3PM.
You have arrived at a potential research question in your thesis topic development paper: how to ensure children’s healthy afternoon snacking?