Choosing a Dissertation Topic | Tomorrow's Professor Postings

 

picking a dissertation topic

Jun 22,  · Choosing a topic can be one of the most important choices you will make in your professional career because it determines the first major piece of research for which you’ll be known, provides a focus for the group of professors you wish to solicit for your dissertation committee, and it is the first thing (along with the text of your letters. Choosing a Dissertation Topic. The first major challenge in the dissertation process lies in choosing a dissertation topic. Your choice determines how long it will take you to complete your study. For most doctoral students, it is an agonizing decision, mainly because of the uncertainty surrounding it. Has it already been adequately researched? Want to know how to come up with a thesis topic? Get tips and suggestions for picking a Thesis Topic and get ideas on choosing a Thesis Subject! How to Come Up With a Thesis Topic It's time. You've known about it. You may have dreaded it. But it's time. Graduate Thesis/Dissertation. Thesis Topics - How to Come Up With a Thesis Topic.


Article on how to find a good dissertation topic.


Waiting for inspiration is not the best approach to topic selection. Dissertation topics do not mystically appear. Some students attempt to find a topic that fits a set of already-collected data, a certain population to which the student has access, or a preferred research methodology. This backward approach is also inappropriate and certain to irritate a potential advisor. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. The first major challenge in the dissertation process lies in choosing a dissertation topic.

Your choice determines how long it will take you to complete your study. For most doctoral students, it is an agonizing decision, mainly because of the uncertainty surrounding it. Has it already been adequately researched? Is it worthy of investigation? How original does it have to be? Is it manageable in scope? To know whether or not it has been researched, or if it is important to the field, picking a dissertation topic, you must first immerse yourself in the literature base.

It would not be worthwhile to conduct another study picking a dissertation topic a problem that has been sufficiently investigated unless, however, you conduct a meta-analysis, meta-ethnographic analysis, or literature synthesis. These research approaches synthesize findings across several studies.

The most effective and efficient ways to select a topic are the following:. Commonly, students consider three to five potential topics before finally settling on one. Scrapping a topic and starting over at least once is the norm. Dissertation topics rarely emerge out of the blue; you must proactively search them out. Here are some potential sources:. Your own professional interests. What excites and energizes you? Faculty members, professional colleagues, and fellow students.

Listen to their suggestions about potential topics. Professional journals in your field. This is where you can find out the hot topics of the day and for the near future. Ask them to help you run a database search on some topic of interest. Review previously written dissertations. Oral defense. Attend as many of these as you can. It opens your eyes to what happens during a dissertation defense. Current theories. Have any new theories come out in your field, or are existing theories being questioned?

Conferences and seminars. Often these picking a dissertation topic with current interest areas in the field. Talk with presenters and authors to get their ideas about researchable topics. Outside agencies or professional organizations that conduct research. Leading scholars in your interest areas.

Usually, picking a dissertation topic, authors and researchers eagerly talk with someone interested in their ideas and research. Call and find out what they are currently doing, and ask their advice about potential studies. Your current job setting.

Are there problems that need solutions in your workplace? Your boss might have a pet topic that could enhance your career opportunities. However, be cautious. If you think a topic might be suggested in which you have no interest, you are better served not to conduct this research. A dissertation is an extensive, scholarly endeavor, and the topic picking a dissertation topic be one in which you have strong interest. References in your field. Many handbooks and bibliographies exist in most subject areas.

Some useful examples in the field of education are the following:. Handbook of Research on Teaching. Published by the AERA, picking a dissertation topic, this handbook provides. Harvard Educational Review. Edited and published by graduate students at Harvard. Review of Educational Research. Published by the AERA, this quarterly journal. Sincethe, picking a dissertation topic. Distinguished scholars in these areas write the articles.

The topics are selected because of their timeliness or immediate practical value to educators and researchers Martin,picking a dissertation topic, p.

All discipline areas have their own encyclopedias, handbooks, or yearbooks. You can access them on the Internet by keying in your area e. How do you know if your particular topic has picking a dissertation topic potential to become a scholarly dissertation?

Most universities and doctoral faculties agree that the doctoral dissertation should be an original piece of research and significant to the field. However, what constitutes originality or significance is open to interpretation and usually differs among various faculty advisors. Madsen clarified the elusive term originality. He claims that a topic must have the potential to do at least one of the following: Uncover new facts or principles, suggest relationships that were previously unrecognized, challenge existing truths or assumptions, affort new insights into little-understood phenomena, or suggest new interpretations of know facts that can alter people's perceptions of the world around them.

No hard-and-fast rules exist for selecting a topic. Following are some general criteria for considering potential topics:. It needs to hold your interest for a long time. It takes longer than you anticipate to write an acceptable dissertation. It must be manageable in size. Most students begin with a topic that is too large. Your goal is to add a small but significant piece to the knowledge base and graduate! Save the Nobel Prize-level research to do as a postgraduate. It must have the potential to make an original and significant contribution to knowledge.

Can you find a hole, a gap, a missing piece in the knowledge base that you can fill and that would be useful to theory or practice? It must be doable within your time frame and budget. Given your current picking a dissertation topic, is it a feasible topic to undertake? Traveling to Russia or conducting a longitudinal study may not be possible. It has to have obtainable picking a dissertation topic. It has not already been sufficiently researched.

There is no value to conducting one more study about a topic that has been researched over and picking a dissertation topic again. It should be acceptable to your advisor and committee members.

Start a dissertation topic file. As you get ideas about possible topics, place them in a separate file folder that you can review from time to time. This helps keep your topic antenna up and alert for new ideas. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of making a concerted effort to become familiar with the literature and to talk with experts in your field. You cannot know for certain if the topic you desire is significant, nor can you have a clear notion about what is known and not known about the topic.

Some might think it outstanding, while others claim it has no value. The thing to remember is that you only have to satisfy your dissertation committee to pursue a topic that interests you. Time spent pursuing a lost cause can cost you valuable time and make it difficult to obtain an advisor.

In other words, as the adage says, if the horse dies, get off! One strategy in pursuing a dissertation topic is to replicate a previous study. Replication simply means doing the study again, picking a dissertation topic. It is quite the opposite. Knowledge accumulates incrementally through studies that build on each other over time, and replication adds strength and clarity to research findings.

You can make a valuable contribution by repeating an important study. It may be important to verify, reinforce, or contradict the results of earlier studies Balian, picking a dissertation topic, Caution : It would not be wise to replicate a trivial study or one with weak methodology or incorrect statistics.

 

How to Pick a Dissertation Topic | Harvard University - The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

 

picking a dissertation topic

 

Want to know how to come up with a thesis topic? Get tips and suggestions for picking a Thesis Topic and get ideas on choosing a Thesis Subject! How to Come Up With a Thesis Topic It's time. You've known about it. You may have dreaded it. But it's time. Graduate Thesis/Dissertation. Thesis Topics - How to Come Up With a Thesis Topic. Choosing a Dissertation Topic. The first major challenge in the dissertation process lies in choosing a dissertation topic. Your choice determines how long it will take you to complete your study. For most doctoral students, it is an agonizing decision, mainly because of the uncertainty surrounding it. Has it already been adequately researched? Jan 27,  · GSAS is starting a community-wide discussion on the subject of how to pick a dissertation topic. Share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter (#dissertation), and look for advice from faculty and deans in the next GSAS Bulletin. How do you home in on a topic that will prove engaging and fruitful, while avoiding dead ends?