Five Tips for Choosing a Dissertation Topic

So Many Choices, So Little Time

Choosing a dissertation topic is not just about expanding on an idea or area of your expertise that expresses your passion. Your goal is to graduate with a PhD or doctoral degree. To do that, the Dissertation Board must accept your dissertation, which means this process begins when you choose a worthy topic.

Outlined below are five tips to help you choose a dissertation topic that is original, scalable, and solvable.

Tip #1. Consider Choosing a Controversial and Trending Topic

Regardless of the year you’re living in when you begin researching a topic for your dissertation, you can always find hundreds of ideas by just reading the latest headlines locally, nationally, or internationally. Then drill down within those topics for concerns and controversies that stir up people’s emotions. Ask yourself if you can stay the course to research, document, and provide solvable solutions that can sustain your momentum until you turn in your dissertation. Remember, if you choose a boring topic, you just might get too bored with the research and procrastinate fulfilling the last requirement before getting your degree. Get inspired.

5 tips to choosing a dissertation topic

Curious as a cat about which dissertation topic to choose?

Tip #2. Choose a Topic that is Scalable and Does Not Have a Predictable Solution

Research is that word that either excites or scares students into oblivion. If it excites you, then you could easily spend five or more years researching your topic. If it scares you, you might have selected a topic that was too broad to drill down to the challenging moment of a conclusion.

Choose a scalable topic that requires enough investigation that will allow you to demonstrate various procedures that others might not research as possible conclusions to your arguments. Can the problem you’re presenting be solved? Is the outcome predictable, or can you position it in such a way that the solution remains hidden until you reveal it? Make sure you can solve the problem you’re presenting.

Tip #3. Behind Every Great Dissertation Is a Writer Who Is Organized

Maybe you’re exceptional at creating organizational systems and cataloging your research results, but then maybe this isn’t your strongest asset. Regardless of your background and your personal tendencies to taking snippets of information and assembling them into an easy-to-manage retrieval system, start now by creating a methodology that you’ll follow. By assembling your data into manageable folders, files, or categories, your dissertation will almost write itself when your research phase is complete.

Tip #4. Use Your Own Master’s Thesis as the Groundwork or Foundation for Your Dissertation Topic

If you choose not to invent an entirely new topic to argue and solve in your dissertation, you might want to consider using your master’s thesis as a starting point. This guarantees that you already know your topic well, and the amount of time you’ve previously invested will save you time while writing your dissertation. Just remember that you might need to restructure and expand on your content, but that is not an impossible task considering the alternative choice of starting a new topic from scratch.

Tip #5. Create an Original Spin to Someone Else’s Dissertation

By choosing a topic that’s already been published by another student or another university, you can provide a new perspective, argument, and solution that is totally opposite or contrary to the original. I would recommend getting your committee to agree to the topic first before you put any additional time into the concept. It’s always preferable to get approval first, and then begin the research than writing the dissertation and getting disappointed when the board rejects it.

In conclusion…

Start by considering your options, your organizational strategies, and the length of time you want to invest before choosing a dissertation topic that your committee will approve. When in doubt, ask for approval. It’s the committee’s responsibility to respond to your inquiries. Better now than later.

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