One of the biggest challenges when getting started on your dissertation can be choosing a suitable topic. If you're lucky, you may have a clear idea of what you wish to write about. But often, it's a lot more complicated than that and your search may seem daunting and overwhelming.
This brief guide will help you find your way through the forest and find a suitable topic for your dissertation.
Choosing a topic
- Think carefully about your own interests. What topics during your studies have you found most interesting? Is there a particular area that is linked directly to future career aspirations? Is there a topic you find straightforward and confident about? Is there an area you wish to explore in more depth?
- Talk to your classmates. Find out what topics they're investigating and considering. Does this spark your interest? Discuss your ideas and choices with them, and find out what they think. Have they encountered any problems? Their questions and feedback may help you decide if your choice is any good, or help you sharpen your focus.
- Check out past dissertations in the library (available online). Look at titles of research papers in your subject and read the abstracts of those you find most interesting. This may springboard ideas of where you could take your research.
- Look for controversies and/or topics that you've been sceptical about. Is there something in your course that has sparked debate and argument? It's often the case that controversial issues generate significant amounts of research, and so such topics are ripe for investigation with plenty of supporting evidence.
- Create a shortlist and generate some provisional research questions. These questions can range from simple definition and explanations to more complex critical and evaluative types. Do some initial digging and you may find that one or two of these questions become the actual research questions(s) you use for your dissertation.
- Choose a topic with sufficient, relevant and up-to-date resources. It's vital that you're able to fully support your research with evidence - academic papers, data and stats, studies, theories, arguments, positions, experimental development etc. If you find it difficult to locate related and relevant sources, then you may be heading down a dead end and you should consider another topic.
I hope this short guide has helped you focus your thoughts and ideas, and kickstarts your writing.
Adapted from: https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/all-resources/writing/writing-resources/planning-and-conducting-a-dissertation-research-project