Writing the thesis is not only a necessary step on your path to graduation: it is also an opportunity to get involved! It is essential, therefore, that the choice of topic is targeted: if the topic matches your interests, the result will be more engaging. Before drafting the project, make sure you have the necessary skills to develop it and verify that the necessary material is accessible and easily accessible, and that the method and tools are adequate for the chosen subject.
Remember also that a positive attitude will encourage the exchange of ideas with the speaker and the other teachers and will allow you to carry out an original work.
Once the topic has been identified, it is a good idea to limit it well to prevent your thesis from being generic or incomplete, taking into consideration its usefulness and interest: “the more you narrow the field the better you work and the more you go on the safe side” , writes Umberto Eco in his book How to do a thesis.
Find the material
Where is it?
The material needed for your research can be found in physical places, such as archives and libraries, but also in virtual spaces: Internet and library systems can prove to be, in fact, your very useful allies. Another effective strategy is to consult the bibliography of specific volumes (manuals, important texts on the subject) to broaden the spectrum of your readings.
- Libraries. They are the first resource to rely on. Your supervisor can help you, especially at the beginning, by indicating the most useful locations. Librarians and catalogs, paper or electronic, can also provide you with adequate support and guide you in your search. It is generally advisable to start from the nearest libraries but if the book you need is in another city, you can take advantage of the library network that connects the different universities.
- Newspaper and periodical libraries. The library is a collection of newspapers, magazines and periodical publications in public and university libraries, for consultation and reading. The newspaper library is often a specialized area within a library.
- Archives. In this case it is advisable to first inquire about any archival constraints regarding the consultation of some materials: a formal request may be required.
- Library systems. It is an easily accessible resource. Thanks to organic and institutional coordination between similar libraries it is possible to find out about the location of the materials.
- Search engine. The catalogs of many libraries can be consulted online, through special research masks.
- The OPAC (On-line Public Access Catalog) is the computerized catalog of the libraries. Among the search criteria there are, usually, the author, the title, the subject, the publication data (place, publisher, date) and a possible key word. By entering one or more words in the search window it is possible to display information relating to the volumes and their location.
- To make the most of the OPAC tools, it is a good idea to carry out research as detailed and specific as possible; initial articles, prepositions, conjunctions and diacritical marks can be omitted.
Organize the material
During the consultation and the study of the materials, it will be useful for you to write some reminders (bibliographic records) in which to indicate the data (author, title, edition, etc.) of each volume; this work is very important in order not to waste research and to facilitate the final bibliography.
In the same way, take note of the citations of your interest, specifying the source and the page number, and keep the schemes, your comments and summaries (reading cards) neatly. Such work may seem slow and boring, but it will allow you to proceed quickly in the later stages. Finally, always remember to verify the reliability of the sources and discuss their relevance with your supervisor.