Things To Know Before Starting A Dissertation: Topic Selection Tips

The potentially greatest source of topic ideas for your dissertation is the pool of academic journals where other researchers explain what the limits were of their own research and suggest new areas of inquiry open to exploration. Many students don’t realize this is a superb source of possible topics. These other writers have already completed their research and writing their own paper and through this journey they’ve discovered where the holes in the research lay. It’s almost as if they’ve discovered gold mines of new ideas to explore and laid them out for you.

University professors suggest you be both persistent and proactive in finding and finalizing your topic choice for your paper. Here are some suggested steps you go through:

  1. You need to have a strong understanding of the course material you have studied thus far, as well as research tools and methods you may be using. There are computer statistical software programs to master, as well as referencing rules and styles.
  2. Read academic papers on a regular basis so you know how other writers approach their topics, what’s expected and what’s acceptable in your field of studies.
  3. There are several different places to get topic ideas. You can look in academic journals, as outlined above, or search elsewhere. Some really great topic ideas are generated from news articles, blogs, economic events, global or local situations, and so on.
  4. Remember not to make your choice in complete isolation. There are many people whose input could greatly help you in narrowing down an idea and formulating the perfect topic for your dissertation paper. These could be colleagues, other students, teachers, professionals in the field, and so on. If possible, brainstorm with them. Write down all their suggestions as well as whatever creative ideas come to your mind.
  5. Keep in mind you may have a false start. It’s possible to find a topic you’re really excited about only to later on discover it’s already been covered, or something about it just isn’t going to work logistically to complete the research. Be flexible. Be ready and willing to make some tweaks or changes as necessary, or even to scrap that idea and pursue another. The topic selection phase shouldn’t be rushed because all the work you’re going to do within the next few years will rely heavily on that one topic!