Anais Saint-Jude, Director of the BiblioTech program at Stanford. Stills from the video. Credits: Linda Cicero, Stanford News Service.

Narrow your Topic

Start by distinguishing between the set of interests you have in a particular topic (such as an author's body of work) and the more focused questions or themes that might make feasible project topics (such as the influence of one of that author's works on his or her contemporaries). 


Consider a range of potential mentors.  You may or may not find someone whose work directly overlaps your own ideas, but you're likely to find faculty who either ask different questions about the same subject, or similar questions about other subjects. 

Be prepared for the possibility that a mentor will urge you to shift focus.  For example, they may think your ideas have great merit, but believe that a project would be more feasible if it were redirected to a different field site. 

Many mentors will begin by offering a reading list, and ask you to return for a discussion after you have made your way through it.  While this can represent a great deal of time on your part, their selection of particular works makes your time much more productive than it might have been otherwise.