The Key to Choosing a Successful Dissertation Topic
Choosing a topic is the first major obstacle to writing a good dissertation. Before you commit, it is useful to remember the criteria of a successful thesis. It should be novel: have a never achieved outcome, address a never researched question, or apply a new methodology. A dissertation should be put in the context of the previous research. A researcher should have the competence to execute the project. Now, let’s examine the tips that will help you to come up with great dissertation topics.
- Choose a topic you are passionate about.
- Conduct preliminary research.
- Choose a manageable topic.
Look for the patterns of your interest. Compose a list of classes you’ve taken, authors and texts you enjoyed reading. Remember the seminar papers you have written. Can you see any persistent patterns? Start a file for problems that catch your attention. Doing this early in your graduate career will help you quickly choose the topic for the dissertation. The most important thing is, however, to think about the way you want to enter and contribute to the scholarly conversation in your field. Try getting feedback from your advisor. It is important that the topic is interesting not only to you, but also to other people in the field. Also consider whether the academic press is willing to publish papers similar to yours.
If you’ve decided on the broad topic, but have some problems with determining a specific angle or research question it can be useful to conduct a free-writing exercise. Write as much as you can about the topics for about fifteen minutes. Include all the questions and remarks you can think of. Repeat the exercise several times. Now, examine your notes and consult your advisor to find out if any of your ideas can be turned into viable research questions. You can also try to find intersections between several of the listed issues.
Learn what other scholars have said about the problem. Scholars often identify the areas that have not been thoroughly investigated in their own papers. Sometimes it is possible to reexamine older studies in a new context, or applying a new methodology. Talk with the professors and advisors as they can often give great ideas for topics.
Don’t overdo with the scope of your project. You may need to narrow the problem down in such a way that you would be able to solve it in a reasonable time. A time frame longer than two years increases the risk of unexpected complications. For example, someone may identify and solve the problem before you do.