Finding Potential Dissertation Topics
A lot of doctoral students settle in on ideas for their dissertation topics within their first year of their programs and never consider another topic after that. For some, this works out quite well, because the selected topic has been of consuming interest even before entering a doctoral program. By the time they reach the point of refining that topic into a research question, they have almost become experts on the research that is already out there and how their research idea can contribute to that research. For most others, however, narrowing down a topic field so early may be risky business. It is find to have an abiding interest in a certain topic within one’s field, but it is quite another to come up to that final 12-18 months and then be unable to refine the general topic into a worthy research project or unable to find enough significant research that will provide the background necessary to drive something new. If you are looking for a dissertation topic area, you may find these suggestions helpful.
Methods of Finding Dissertation Topics
- The Big Idea: Remember, you are looking for a big idea. Finding a topic and a thesis for a normal research paper has probably not been very difficult. But finding the big idea for a dissertation that will result in a work that is the equivalent of a book is quite another matter. So, in your field of study, look for the big ideas in your coursework that are intriguing to you.
- It is fine to want to “strike out” on your own to refute years of research conducted by others – after all, you are in an advanced program in your field. But if you have to come up with research that is going to refute a big hunk of prior research and evidence, you have a huge mountain to climb. Others who have attempted this before you have often given up, either failing to get that dissertation finished or having to begin all over again, with a different topic. If, instead, you find a way to add to the research that has gone before you, you can effectively “change the subject” without the heavy burden of proving others wrong.
- Read..read..and read some more. It is fine to read your texts and outside reading assignments that professors require for their courses. However, when you come across a general area of interest, take the time to read more about it on your own. And don’t make the mistake of limiting your reading to just one phase of the area. Spread out a bit. In that spreading, you may find a topic that intrigues you more and that will allow you to present fresh and exciting new research. Suppose, for example, that you are a sociology major and you have developed a huge interest in poverty. You begin to read every journal article, every news story, and every report you can find on poverty in large urban settings. You are printing them all out, because it’s all great research and data. But everything you are reading relates only to urban poverty. How much research do you think is out there on urban poverty? Probably enough to fill an entire warehouse! One day you come across a recent research study on rural poverty, and it fascinates you. Here’s a sub-topic of poverty that has far less research history and one in which you could perhaps contribute something new. And there is a rural area not far from you that could be a perfect setting for your research.
You are now “back to square one” in your reading, because you have finally decided upon your topic. And that’s really okay. In fact, if you are running out of time, and you need to refine that topic into a research question, you might want to contact a dissertation writing service and get some of that legwork done for you. Such services can supply you with a consultant who can “round up” relevant and current literature, provide you with summaries, and even suggest research questions that would be worthy of pursuit.
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