Basics of choosing a dissertation topic

How to Choose a Dissertation Topic Like a Pro

“Do not reinvent the wheel, just realign it.”

Everything in this article is not new to you. But, we’ve made it clearer for you to understand what it takes to choose the right dissertation topic.

Too many options but only one choice.

It’s confusing, right?

From the coursework to the course content, choosing a topic isn’t easy.

More so, you will be stuck with the dissertation topic from the beginning of your thesis writing to the end.

Continue reading to know what I am saying…

So how do you choose a dissertation topic?

Step1: Brainstorm ideas

Find a piece of paper and write down ideas from the top of your head.

Tooltip: Relate the ideas to your field of study.

When doing this, do not over think about the topics. Out of those ideas, select three to five ideas that you think are unique to your field of study.

Step 2: Discuss with a friend or a peer

Listen: Don’t be a lone wolf. Ask for help. Dissertation writing is not easy. Choosing the right topic is even more challenging.

Request your classmates to form a discussion group. Discussion groups will go a long way to generating your first dissertation topic.

Word of advice: stick with topics and issues you understand.

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Step 3: Consult with your Supervisor

Now that you have a preliminary dissertation topic, consult with your supervisor.

The good thing about this step is that you get to know the pros and cons of your topic. If the topic is too broad, the supervisor will inform you.

What makes a dissertation topic ideal for research?

Although it’s hard to create a perfect research topic, the elements of a good dissertation topic can help you to know the ideal topic.

The checklist:

i).It should explore a new gap of knowledge in your field of study

Sometimes, you find yourself choosing a researched topic. But, you should come up with a new angle or perspective towards the field of study.

Get this: Always explore something new.

ii). It is should be interesting

Choose a topic that makes other researchers in the same field want to learn more about the topic.

And not only other researchers, but the topic should be interesting to you too.

After all, you are going to be stuck with it for a while. And your interest is what will keep you motivated.

iii) It should have enough supporting literature

Choose a dissertation topic with enough supporting evidence.

In short, when choosing your dissertation topic, do not choose a topic you know nothing about. Stick with simple, easy and specific topics.

iv) Choose a dissertation topic that you are passionate about

Writing a dissertation may take a few months to even a few years for PhD students. It’s only reasonable that you choose something that you are passionate about. This will keep you motivated.

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 Step 4: Create research questions from your ideas

Sound silly? It’s not

Coming up with ideas is half the struggle. You now need to develop research questions from your ideas.

Here’s the deal… questions will help you to identify the key elements of your dissertation.  Let’s assume that your topic is leadership styles in private companies.

Some of the questions that you can come up with are:

  1. What makes a good leader in the 21st century?

  2. What is more important in a leader? Increase sales or satisfaction among employees?

  3. Just because you are the founder of a company, does that guarantee that you should be the CEO?

Good research questions will help you to remain focused on your topic.

The don’ts of choosing a dissertation topic

i) Do not choose topics whose questions have the yes or no answer

For starters, when you choose an issue that has a straight yes or no answer, there will be no room for research.

For example: should institutions get rid of evening classes? the answer is either yes or no.

What if you could twist the same topic to be:

“the impact of evening classes on educational standards- A case study of University of Washington.”

See the difference?

ii). Do not choose topics that are too narrow

When choosing your dissertation topic, you need to leave room for research and change. Let’s assume that you want to study the benefits of moving to large cities for a young professional.

It would then be wise to focus on several cities and instead of only London or NewYork. This will help increase diversity in your dissertation.

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iii). Do not choose topics that are too broad

Striking a balance between broad and narrow is the true nature of a winning dissertation. As noted, the goal is not to change the whole world with your dissertation but rather to change a part of it.

An example of a broad topic can be:

Gun violence, HIV/AIDS, investment, or fashion.

A specific topic in regards to fashion could be:

“Is there anything new in fashion among young women in their twenties? A case study of fashion trends from 1980 to 2018.”

iv). Do not use trending topics

Where do you get your daily dose of controversial topics?

Latest celebrity news, surgery went wrong, or who have divorced who?

Check this out…the topics are interesting to read or gossip about on a lazy weekend.

But most of the times they are not related to academic research. It gets worse because they are based on rumors and not facts.

So please avoid them.

To wrap up: Be flexible

When writing your dissertation, you will hit roadblocks here and there. Frustration and fatigue will be your friend at some point but keep an open mind.

Choose a topic that will be flexible for change. If something is not working, then try something else.

This is the second part of writing a winning dissertation. If you didn’t read the first article please check it out.

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Samson is a freelance writer specializing in content writing, essay writing and college subjects.