Education

Follow these 6 steps when choosing a dissertation topic.

Deciding on a topic for your dissertation is the first step in making sure your research goes as smoothly as possible. When choosing a topic, it’s important to consider: Your institution and department’s requirements, your areas of knowledge and interest ,the scientific, social, or practical relevance,the availability of data and sources, the length and timeframe of your dissertation

If you have no dissertation ideas yet, it can be hard to know where to start. Follow these steps to begin narrowing down your ideas.

1: The very first step is to check the practical requirements of your educational programme. This determines the scope of what it is possible for you to research. What is the minimum and maximum word count? When is the deadline? Do you have to choose from a list of topics, or do you have to think of a topic yourself? Should the research have an academic or a professional orientation? Are there any methodological conditions (e.g. do you have to conduct fieldwork or use specific types of source)? Are there any other restrictions? Some programmes will have stricter requirements than others. You might be given nothing more than a word count and a deadline, or you might have a restricted list of topics and approaches to choose from. If in doubt about what is expected of you, always ask your course or department coordinator.

2: Start by thinking about your areas of interest within the subject you’re studying. It’s a good idea to pick a field that you already have some familiarity with, so that you don’t have to start your research completely from scratch. You don’t have to be an expert on the topic, but if you’ve already read a few articles, that gives you a good starting point to find out more.

3:Try skimming through a few recent issues of the top journals in your field, as well as looking at their most-cited articles. For inspiration, you can also search Google Scholar, subject-specific databases, and your university library’s resources. If you’ve already read some articles in the field, check their reference lists to find more useful sources. As you read, note down any specific ideas that interest you and make a shortlist of possible topics.

4: After doing some initial reading, it’s time to start narrowing down your broad area. This can be a gradual process, and your topic should get more and more specific. Try to find a specific niche that not many people have researched yet (such as a neglected author or time period), a question that’s still being debated, or a very current practical issue. If there’s already a lot of research and a strong consensus on your topic, it will be more difficult to justify the relevance of your work. But you should make sure there is enough literature on the topic to provide a strong basis for your own research. At this stage, make sure you have a few backup ideas — there’s still time to change your focus. If your topic doesn’t make it through the next few steps, you can try a different one. Later, you will narrow your focus down even more in your problem statement and research questions.

5: There are many different types of research, so at this stage, it’s a good idea to start thinking about what kind of approach you’ll take to your topic. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend on your dissertation, it might be best to focus on analyzing existing data from primary and secondary sou

6:It’s important that your topic is interesting to you, but you’ll also have to make sure it’s academically, socially or practically relevant. Academic relevance means that the research can fill a gap in knowledge or contribute to a scholarly debate in your field. Social relevance means that the research can advance our understanding of society and inform social change. sol

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