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How do I choose a dissertation topic?

Pondering ScholarChoosing the right topic is crucial. The topic you choose will be with you for a while, maybe even for life!

Create It; Don't Find It

Well, your topic is not going to come to you in the wilderness or in the library. It's too easy to get lost in those places. Think of creating, rather than finding, a topic. You may want to begin with research interests you've already begun ... in your job, in your graduate course work, your master's thesis, or with other research projects you've been involved in.

Is It the Right One?

The criteria I use to evaluate a topic are:

  • Is it YOU?
  • Is it interesting to advisors or prospective employers?
  • Are you well grounded in the scholarly literature so that you can position yourself in the field?
  • Is it manageable, given your time frame, resources, and availability of data sources?
  • Is it within your range of competence?
  • Is it significant in practical or theoretical terms?
  • Is it original? (Has it been done before?)
  • Does it take you where you want to go?

 

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