Choosing a Great Dissertation Topic: Part 1
A Guide for Developing Dissertation Topics & Ideas
Choosing a dissertation topic is one of the most crucial decisions you will make as a doctoral candidate. When choosing a dissertation topic, the first thing to consider is that you are not simply choosing a dissertation topic from a list of dissertations, but that you are creating a unique proposal that builds on the contemporary topics and current research in your field. Choosing a dissertation topic is not easy, but if you take time to read over some of the tips we outline below, you will be on the fast track to having your dissertation proposal approved.
The Dissertation Proposal
Before you start your dissertation, you must first complete the dissertation proposal. Choosing a dissertation topic is the first step towards completing the proposal. The dissertation proposal is the groundwork for the rest of your study. Thinking about the dissertation proposal is important when choosing a topic, because the proposal is like a miniature dissertation in itself. It proves that you have developed an adequate dissertation topic for which you have conducted enough research.
It is important when choosing a dissertation topic to keep in mind that the proposal must be precise enough to outline what you want to do for the dissertation. When choosing a dissertation topic, it is important to think about the proposal and about what kinds of questions you will be asking in your dissertation. It is also important to think about the relevance of your dissertation topic in your area of study.
Keeping in mind the requirements for both your dissertation proposal and the rest of the dissertation chapters, there are some general things to consider when deciding on a topic. We will guide you through the dissertation topic development process step by step, outlining and discussing the primary problems to consider when deciding on a topic. The primary problems to consider when choosing a dissertation topic are:
Is my dissertation topic interesting to me?
Is everyone in my dissertation committee on board with my topic?
Is my dissertation topic based on work in which I have a solid background?
Is my dissertation topic manageable?
Is my dissertation topic original?
What academic abilities do I have to improve upon in order to complete my dissertation?
How much interest do I have in my dissertation topic?
Before you start working on your dissertation proposal, take time to thoroughly consider the following tips when choosing a dissertation topic.
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Tip #1: Is my dissertation topic interesting to me?
This is perhaps the most important advice for completing your dissertation. Many dissertation candidates have gotten bogged down because they choose a great dissertation topic, demonstrate doctoral-level ability and get their topic approved, but later loose interest in their topic. If your dissertation topic is not that interesting at the beginning of the dissertation process, think about how interesting your dissertation will be a year from now! Choosing an interesting dissertation topic requires some forethought.
A good way to determine whether your dissertation topic will hold your interest is to look over the topics you have covered in your academic career prior to the commencement of the dissertation process. What are the topics that continually raise burning questions that could be used to create a dissertation? Try to imagine a dissertation that you wish had your name on it. What is the title of that dissertation? Thinking through these issues when choosing a dissertation topic will help you decide on a topic that truly interests you. Request Dissertation Help Now
Tip #2: Is my dissertation topic based on work in which I have a solid background?
In many ways, the dissertation represents not only the culmination of your academic career, but will also provide direction about the areas of research you may want to pursue in the future. When choosing a dissertation topic and developing your proposal, you may come across a number of potential dissertation topics. Sometimes, just before choosing a dissertation topic, doctoral candidates have the desire to change their topic based on new ideas they have studied in preparation for the dissertation proposal. This can lead to a lot of confusion and bog down both the process of choosing a topic and preparing the dissertation proposal.
In another scenario, dissertation candidates may be influenced by an advisor to pursue a dissertation topic that they are not well prepared for. If you pursue a dissertation topic that you know well, you have already completed half of your research. You have compiled many of the topics and references you will use in your dissertation and are familiar with the topics in the field of study. This prior work may facilitate the writing of the dissertation proposal and help you in preparing for your dissertation defense. However, you must balance what is best for getting your dissertation completed efficiently, with your level of interest. If you are bored with a research topic that you have investigated thoroughly, it may be better to pursue a different topic that will sustain your interest throughout the dissertation proposal and writing process.
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Tip #3: Is my topic a manageable dissertation?
It is important that the dissertation topic you choose is focused enough to finish your dissertation on time, but rich enough that your dissertation is appropriate in length. To decide if you have chosen a manageable dissertation topic, you want to choose both a dissertation topic that explores a narrowly focused topic and a topic that has enough depth and complexity. Many doctoral candidates start out with a dissertation topic that is too large to cover for a dissertation. There are several ways to narrow the scope of your dissertation topic. For example, if you decide you want to study aggression for your dissertation, you may want to ask yourself what kind of aggression study would generate the best dissertation material. Good dissertation topics focus on specific phenomena. Will your dissertation topic focus on aggressive driving? Will your dissertation topic focus on aggression and alcohol use, etc.
You can also limit the target population of your dissertation. For example, if your dissertation focuses on mens issues, depending on the topic of the dissertation, you might limit the participants studied in order to narrow the scope of your dissertation. Then, instead of studying all men for your dissertation topic, your topic might focus on white middle aged men who live in the Midwest. Therefore, your dissertation topic, instead of being about "aggression" in "men" becomes a dissertation on, aggression and alcohol use among white middle aged Midwestern men. Of course, this dissertation topic could get even narrower, but in the beginning of your dissertation topic search, it is good to make sure you leave room to grow.
The above example is focused on dissertation topics within the social sciences, but similar rules apply to dissertations in other fields. Your dissertation may be in a field that studies animals. If so, think through the primary characteristics of your population in relation to your dissertation topic to help you limit your topic. For each new set of vagaries involved in your dissertation topic search, go through the same limiting process to create a succinct dissertation proposal.
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Tip #4: Is my dissertation topic original?
Another major obstacle in choosing a dissertation topic is coming up with a dissertation topic that is unique. In some ways, dissertations represent the vanguard of new research in a given field. A review of dissertation candidates dissertations in your field of study will give you a good idea of new paradigms and areas for future research. Therefore, there is some pressure on doctoral students to develop original dissertation topics that contribute to their field of study. This can make many doctoral candidates nervous and overwhelm them when choosing a dissertation topic. A few simple pointers can help you choose an original topic.
Keep your dissertation topic in mind when reading academic articles that are relevant to your topic. Look for problems in academic research and ask yourself if you have an interest in this area of research. In addition, many articles and other dissertations will have a section called "limitations". This section can help you develop your dissertation topic. When choosing a dissertation topic, read articles and dissertations in your field of interest and think about these "limitations" as a possible dissertation. Also, in looking for a dissertation topic, it is useful to look over recently defended dissertations in your field, especially the dissertations from students of your academic institution. By reading other dissertation topics, you can find topics that interest you. Some of these dissertations may raise questions that you could answer in your own dissertation.
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Tip #5: What academic abilities do I have to improve upon in order to complete my dissertation? How much interest do I have in my dissertation topic?
Regarding the uniqueness of your dissertation topic, another question you might ask yourself is, "does my dissertation topic fit with my current academic abilities?" Often dissertation candidates who are working on their dissertation topics come to understand their strengths and weaknesses as a scholar. Your dissertation is a time when you must face your limitations and work towards improving your academic abilities.
Dissertation topics that address more personal issues often sustain your interest longer, and represent dissertation topics that you are already familiar with. However, extremely personal or emotionally charged dissertation topics run the risk of turning your dissertation into a soapbox to air your personal demons. This is an important dynamic to balance when choosing your dissertation topic. However, different fields and dissertation topics have their standards, and dissertation advisors and consultants often help keep you on track. Request Dissertation Help Now
Tip #6: Is everyone on my dissertation committee on board with my topic?
Many dissertation candidates have trouble finishing their dissertation because they have chosen a dissertation topic that is not in line with the expectations of all of their committee members. Dissertation committees, which are often made up of three or more professors, often have disagreements over the direction of the topic. The dissertation candidate often gets caught in the crossfire. Thus, part of choosing an appropriate dissertation topic (if you want your dissertation proposal to be approved) is making sure that the topic you choose is in line with the interests of your dissertation committee members.
The most important person involved in helping you choose a dissertation topic is your primary advisor. He or she should be the primary advocate for your dissertation topic. The best way to make sure your committee is on board with your dissertation topic is to read over their past work, current research and other dissertations they have sponsored. In addition, it is sometimes advantageous to pick dissertation committee members from a pool of professors who have liked your past work.
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For postgraduate students, finding a topic for their research proposal to work on their master’s thesis or dissertation is the quintessential part of their coursework and it can also be very time-consuming. The research proposal and project are not only essential for passing the course, but also define the students’ abilities to pass the test, show critical thinking skills and how they work independently and on research-based projects.
The Research Proposal and Its Purpose
Postgraduate research projects are usually written in the form of a thesis or dissertation and are of such high importance that graduate students may find this is the one are where they need to compile the most important information that’s well organized and precise. Master’s students should know that their research proposal will be brief and contain general information.
A research proposal can typically be about 500 words and up to about 1,000 words in length. The purpose of the research proposal will be to cover the essential areas that the research project will further explore. The first step in drafting a research proposal is choosing the appropriate topic. This should be a topic the student identifies with and one that is practical enough to research within the specific time frame.
Format for Writing Research Proposals – Is There a Standard?
Yes, there is a standard. The research proposal template is a standard that all students use and it should be clear and concise. It should also be well-structured and follow a chronology. It must also be achievable and realistic as there are time constraints that should be observed. Close attention should be paid to relevant documentation, all supporting statements, and a clear coherency about the subject matter. The research topic that is chosen should also address any existing gaps that might be encountered within the scope of the relevant literature.
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Steps for Starting a Research Proposal
Once a research topic has been selected, the student will then use it to formulate a research proposal. As we previously mentioned, the research proposal may be about 500 words in length up to 1,000 words in length. The proposal will also include a title, a research question, a brief explanation detailing why that particular topic is relevant, the literature reviewed, the methodology and the time frame. The goal with the proposal is to submit a clear structure and outline that will further expand on the knowledge base about that particular research field. This is why students should seek a topic and research question they are curious and/or passionate about, not just one where they can easily get the approval of the course director.
The next step after the approval is to then start on the research project. The student will then go about carrying out the stages of assembling the research project in strategic stages and cycles that are relevant to all research projects. The student will work on conducting a comprehensive literature review based on the research question, they will define and set up a detailed methodology and test whether it will work. The student will also start to collect their research data and analyze it so they can then draw conclusions defined by their data analysis. The student will also describe the research steps they utilized in depth in their research project.
Best Ways to Conduct Academic Research
How to Write a Research Proposal – What’s the Process?
The research project is an important step in completing a student’s coursework. It will show a clear and well-thought plan as a final project. When you write your research proposal format, it’s a summary that will explain what you plan on examining in your research project. It will also explore how the student will go about collecting their data and analyzing it. The proposal will give a general direction the student plans to take with their thesis/dissertation.
For specific requirements such as overall length and the specific information the course director may be looking for and the time frame, the student should refer to the specific requirements that the course director outlines. As the student sets up the proposal, it will have a specific outline and areas to work on. These include:
The Introduction. The introduction states the research question and gives the research plan background information on the subject. It may also give insight to broader issues that may surround the topic.
The Methodology. The methodology outlines the sources the student will use to gather their research and whether they will collect quantitative data or qualitative data. The student will also include how they will analyze their data and if there are any biases in their research.
The Objectives. The objectives the student hopes to achieve will be mentioned here. This is a good area for the student to state the outcomes they may anticipate and goals they hope to achieve with their research.
Literature Reviewed. The literature reviewed will define the various citations the student used for their research. The student may also utilize works from other researchers and mention any differences or similarities they found. This is also an area to give an analysis of the work that others have completed.
Constraints in Research. This last section details any constraints the student may have come across in their research. Some topics may be too broad or have more complex issues related to them and the student can clearly state any constraints they came across in their understanding of the work.
Where to Get Ideas for a Research Proposal?
The student can find several sites online to help them come up with a research proposal idea. To find help online, the student can use the following resources to help them:
- Research Proposal Topic Resources
- Books (Primary and secondary sources)
- Journals (Professional associations, trade journals, magazines)
- Newspapers (New York Times, Wall St. Journal)
- Video Recordings (Documentaries, films)
- Governmental Reports (Census Data, Dept. of Public Health, etc.)
- Other Dissertations and Dissertation Abstracts
Topics for Research Proposals
Here are several ideas for the graduate student in need of proposal topics for their Ph.D. dissertation or Masters Thesis; they are categorized by several of the more popular departments (English, Political Science, History, etc.) and by difficulty, the more simplistic topics most appropriate for a Masters Thesis.
- The Lasting Influence of the Beat Generation: How Their Literature Speaks to Posterity
- Decadence in American Literature
- The Macabre of Edgar Allen Poe
- How the English Language Has Evolved Over the Last 20 Years Due to Improvements in Technology
- Sexuality in Contemporary English/American Literature
- Masochism and Sadism in British Gothic Literature
- The Pointlessness of Poetry in the 21st Century
- The Long-Lasting Effects of Individualism in British Romantic Literature
- Environmental Ethics in American and American Indian Literatures from the 17th Century to the Present
- The Pretentiousness of British Literature and its Exclusion of the American Reader
- How History Helps Humanity Avoid Making the Mistakes of Old
- Women’s Right and Women’s Suffrage
- Imperialism through Asian Eyes
- The Geographical Limitations of the Roman Empire
- The Fall of the Roman Empire
- Eastern Europe Before, During and After Communism
- Comparison of FDR and Winston Churchill During World War II
- Inner-Workings of the European Union
- Changes in Diplomacy After World War II
- The History of Diplomacy Since the Middle Ages
- Malaysian Foreign Policy in the Post-Mahathir Era, (2003-Present)
- The Haitian Crisis of 1991-1994: Constraints and Asymmetry in United States-Latin American Relations
- Christianity in the American South
- Buddhism in the 21st Century
- Spirituality of the Native American Indian
- Interpreting the Bible in the 21st Century
- The Diverging Views of Christianity in Europe
- Advantages and Disadvantages to Standardized Testing the United States
- 21st Century Approaches to Education
- Job-embedded Learning: How Teachers Learn from One Another During the Workday
- A Review and Analysis of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
- Applications and the Relevance of Existentialism in the 21st Century
- Deficient Causation in Leibniz
- Rational Hope in Kant’s Moral Religion
- Heidegger’s Critique of the Cartesian Problem of Skepticism
- The Prescriptivity of Conscious Belief
- Aristotle on Modality and Determinism
- The Effect of Positive Thinking on Life Success
- Identifying Predictors of Aggression in Children
- Anger, Aggression, and Irrational Beliefs in Adolescents
- Emotional Intelligence as a Predictor of Victimization Among Adolescent Males
- Rational Emotive Behavior Play Therapy vs. Client Centered Therapy
- Utilizing a Psycho-Educational Intervention to Reduce the Effects of Exposure to Media Images on Body Image in Young Adolescent Girls
- Adolescent Deviance Within Families and Neighborhoods
- Procedural Justice During Police-Citizen Encounters
- Meta-Analysis of Early Life Influences on Behavior in Criminals
- The Effects of Individual Vulnerability and Lifestyle/Routine Activities on Fear of Crime and Perceptions of Risk in the School Setting
- The Adoption of Crime Prevention Technologies in Public Schools
- A Look at How Objective Journalism and Free Speech Sustains Democracy – and How the Absence of Both Promotes Autocracy
- Publicity Matters: How Promotional Journalism and Public-Relations Marketing Can Go Hand in Hand
- New Journalism: How the Incorporation of Narrative and Fiction Techniques Brought Forth an Innovative Approach to Conveying the News and News-Worthy Topics
- The Transition from Print Media to Online/Digital Media and the Role of Both Moving Forward
Once students have chosen a topic, they will want to ensure it’s suitable for their field of study and narrow enough that they will be able to complete it in the time frame given by their course director. For students that need dissertation or thesis help, contact Essay Masters, the World’s Best Writing Service. With knowledgeable writers that have thorough experience with dissertations, writing a master’s thesis and Ph.D.’s, we can help you with your assignment today. Essay Masters has over 200 Ph.D. level researchers and 1,800 MBA level writers ready to help you with your research project. Contact us today!