You are here: AU  Students Subject portals  Study Metro Writing an Academic Paper Generating Ideas

Generating Ideas

Base the topic of a paper or thesis on something you find interesting, and start thinking of a topic early.


You can use techniques such as brainstorming and mindmapping to generate ideas for a topic.

Ideally, your idea for a topic for a paper or thesis will be based on something you find interesting:

  • something you already know a bit about
  • something you want to find out or learn more about
  • something you feel you can use in your future employment.

Note that if your knowledge or interest is related to a course you have already done, special restrictions apply so you don’t duplicate your own previous independent work. Check the academic regulations for your study programme.

Advice on writing exam papers

An experienced professor from the Department of Aesthetics and Communication gives advice on choosing a topic.

Start early

It is not a bad idea to start thinking about what you might want to write about early. Take advantage of (spare) time to see whether your idea fits you and get comfortable with it – or think of another topic.

If you have an idea for a Master's thesis several semesters in advance, you have time to read and collect material “on the side” and let some ideas sink in at leisure – before you have to think of your thesis in terms of a strict 6-month deadline.

Part of the content of this page was written by Inger H. Dalsgaard, Associate Professor, PhD, Department of Aesthetics and Communication, Aarhus University.