Finding a topic is one of the most important steps in writing a dissertation. Some students find it easy to quickly decide on the topic because of their interest in an area of research or they are clear on what they wanted to study before even entering graduate school.
For many students, finding a suitable dissertation topic is the most challenging part of their graduate study. A number of students get stuck since they believe they have to find something that is “completely original or new”. The idea of getting a “totally unique” topic for such a sizable project is often mind boggling and does not result in settling on a topic early in the research phase.
The belief that a dissertation should be completely novel is a misunderstanding. No research is utterly original. Every research relies on the work of others to some degree. In fact, the most valuable research simply builds on the research already carried out by other researchers.
To make life easier for the students struggling to find a dissertation topic, we have put together a list of sources that will spark ideas for your dissertation
Academic books that you are presently studying in your programs or that you have used in past courses can be considered a great way to obtain ideas for dissertation topics. Often, the authors of textbooks point out areas of controversy or gaps in the considerable research on specific topics.
Although studying course books will provide you with ideas for your dissertation or thesis, you will need to steep yourself in the books in your field and related areas.
This will allow you to validate the details of how other scholars have conducted research. These details are available in studies of original, empirical research (such as both quantitative and qualitative studies) printed in professional publications.
As you read, focus particularly on the objectives, research questions, or hypotheses that are explained in the chapters. Consider the methods used to examine the research questions or test the hypotheses.
You must pay particular attention on the discussion section also. Within discussions, researchers often describe implications of their research for theory and practice, discuss limitations with their studies, and suggest possibilities for even more research.
Dissertation researched and written by previous pass outs can also serve as another great source of dissertation topic selection. Make sure to get dissertations that received great grades at least to serve as models. Try to find:
- Best rated dissertations in your field or related fields,
- new dissertations in the selected field at various universities,
- good current dissertations suggested by faculty in your department, and
Examine the titles of these dissertations. If a title interests you, read the abstract of the study. If you are still interested, get a copy of the document and read specifically the review of the literature and the suggestions for further research.