A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing a Sound Dissertation Topic

author By Mary Boies

A career in a graduate's academic life begins with the consumption of knowledge and ends by producing and disseminating it. Choosing a dissertation topic announces your contribution to the scholarly world and should be guided by your personal and intellectual interests. In most cases, choosing a good title depends on many factors discussed in this article.

choosing a good dissertation topic

The team that wrote this article comprises career dissertation writers who have completed and supervised dissertation writing in top universities ranging from undergraduate to master through to Ph.D. levels. It is an experience-based guide that will give you almost everything you need as you settle down to choose a good article for your dissertation and, by extension, thesis.

Developing an appropriate topic is always tricky, especially when a supervisor discards your choices and directs otherwise. However, using the tips below, you will most likely meet the topic requirement criteria specified by your supervisor and the dissertations committee. Many wish we knew about these steps and recommendations before choosing our topics; it would have been agonizing and stressful. These tips can be applied by anybody, especially those who want to excel and score first-class on their dissertation.

Let us share some steps and tips on choosing a good dissertation topic. We hope that they will come in handy as you set out to research and contribute to the very knowledge that you consumed for continuity.

Characteristics of a Good Dissertation Topic

So, what makes a good dissertation topic? One may ask this simple yet so complex question. Answering the question leads you to a befitting topic and title for your dissertation, depending on the subject, course, or career of focus.

Here are some characteristics of a good dissertation topic:

Choosing a dissertation is akin to juggling; some topics are more important to discard than others. A dissertation comes in handy when seeking positions or a job. Therefore, ensure that your topic makes sense. It should bear the weight of the entire dissertation. When making a contract between your dissertation committee and yourself, the dissertation proposal or prospectus comes in handy. If you have a great topic, you are halfway done convincing the committee that you are worth the salt.

Factors that should determine your topic of choice

You must observe certain aspects when deciding on a topic for your dissertation and, by extension, your research project, capstone, or thesis. Consider the following things:

These should be the guiding factors for choosing dissertation ideas and turning them into topics. However, if you have no idea or do not know where to begin, here are some practical tips that can help you narrow your ideas to a specific topic.

Tips to use when Choosing a Dissertation or Thesis Topic

Here is a cheat sheet for choosing your dissertation topic. When undertaking a dissertation, you will be engaged for several months. Therefore, you must select a topic that will be easier, more challenging, and more manageable to help you draft a good proposal and, later, a dissertation.

1. Consider the requirements

When you are technically, mentally, and physically set to begin writing your dissertation or thesis, it is vital to first start with acquainting yourself with the course and departmental requirements for your program of pursuit. Getting this right helps you define the scope of your research and, thus, the topic.

Consider aspects such as:

Consider these factors as you choose the topis so that you undergo a seamless dissertation writing process. It is up to you in some sources and institutions to decide on these factors. If you doubt the steps you are about to take, it is always advisable to call the supervisor or department coordinator for guidance.

2. Consider a broad field and choose a niche

It is advisable to have a funnel-like thinking process like you do when writing essay introductions. Begin from a broad perspective to a very narrow perspective. In this case, begin the topic research process by considering the areas you are interested in within your study subject. For example, if you are studying Marketing, think of digital or online marketing, AI-based marketing, omnichannel marketing, etc.

And ensure that you select a field that you are familiar with. Although not common, there are specific topics that allow cross-linking of concepts. Remember, at these early stages; you need not be an expert; you will have time to prove your expertise as you write the paper. Choosing an industry or a field of research gives you a good starting point in your topic research process for the dissertation.

Within the field, narrow your broad idea into a specific area. For instance, look at aspects such as affiliate marketing, online ads marketing, or social media marketing. You can further narrow this down into engagement strategies, strategies to measure success, best approaches, or pros and cons. Again, further research and consultation should yield a good topic in the end. As you develop these narrowed-down ideas, try to come up with rough drafts of the rationale, problem statement, and research questions. Also, look at how other scholars have researched these topics, focusing on the research gaps and recommendations for future research.

3. Generate ideas at an early stage

When you have narrowed down to a given niche and thought about the possible topic for your dissertation, begin by generating ideas. The process here is brainstorming for topics so that you choose the right topic that will yield reasonable hypotheses or research questions.

Among the many questions you should ask yourself include:

  1. What have you covered in the course?
  2. What are some of the topics that you have an interest in?
  3. Is there any topic that stands out among the rest?
  4. Is your chosen topic idea relevant to research, theory, or practice in your field?
  5. What have others written on the topic before?
  6. Are there any research gaps identified by those who have studied the topic?
  7. What are your goals and objectives for writing the dissertation?
  8. Is there a new or developing area in your subject?
  9. Is there anything that you feel needs to be addressed in your field

You should then use mind maps or idea grids to break down the possible topics during the early stages.

4. Do not strive for perfection at first.

A common misconception when choosing a dissertation topic is perfecting it. However, at the start, it does not have to be unique and perfect just yet. Do not strive to select a topic that will impress your supervisors and the dissertations committee right away.

Remember, you are not reinventing any wheel but contributing to a scholarly discussion that began ages before birth.

Even when you are certainly other people have tackled the topic, do not be afraid to choose it. Of course, your perspective, angle, and approach could be entirely different. However, you will still contribute uniquely if you can portray the same via your dissertation proposal.

You will always find a great and unique approach when writing your literature review. Therefore, please choose a topic not because it is fantastic but because you can research and write on it.

5. Make it resonate with your career interests

As a student whose career begins with the consumption of knowledge and its corresponding output as you end it, you need to choose a topic that can help you progress in your career. If, for instance, you are studying aviation management, focus on aviation-related dissertation topics, ones that can get you a spot in an airline or airport.

Consider the specialization you want for your career and choose a topic that is relevant to it. Determine how your topic will be your unique selling point to differentiate you from your competition. You need to be strategic with the topic you choose so that it stands to defend your next steps as you advance up the career and academic ladder. Most dissertations prove knowledge in research because most students do not want to be career researchers if they want to use the master's dissertation or thesis as a stepping stone to their doctorate level. Therefore. Consider a topic you can handle using a new methodology that you can sustain through your Ph.D.

6. Choose a topic that interests you

Apart from supporting your career interests, choose a topic for your dissertation if you find it interesting to you. It makes your research life easier. When selecting a topic, choose a topic you think much about.

Think about the issues around you, in your organization, ones you have encountered, or one that is affecting your community. It could be something that brings you bad or good memories or one that makes you angry. And before you settle for a dissertation topic, ask yourself if you can hold to it for the longest time without getting bored.

On the same note, you can also select topics you have covered in past assessments. Again, you will be amazed at how much information from past assessments can help you choose an exciting topic.

And if you think a topic from the past assessments can be explored in an entire dissertation, let the professor or lecturer who took you through the course be your supervisor.

7. Choose a relevant topic

As you choose a topic that interests you, ensure that it fits socially, academically, and practically. If religion, economics, and geography also fit as aspects that can help you narrow down the topic, consider the topic's relevance from that angle.

Regarding academic relevance, ensure that the topic will fill a research or knowledge gap as it contributes to a scholarly discussion in your field of study. Social relevance comes from the fact that the research topic can help understand society and institute positive change that affects society's social settings. The topic must also be practically relevant to solving real-life issues.

To choose a relevant topic in all aspects, let it be a topic related to the current issues or debatable concepts in society or within your subject area. Your research problem and questions must define your topic's relevance.

If you are doing a dissertation inclined towards professional training, such as nursing practice, management, or engineering management, consider the professional relevance of the dissertation topic you choose. You can also, for instance, focus on the safety and security aspects of airports and airlines if you are studying aviation. But, most importantly, think of the future of your career and choose a topic that will stand the test of time.

8. Maintain Simplicity

Most students who fail in class and academic assignments do complicated things. And those who pass are the ones who focus on the simplicity of everything they are handling. Choosing a complex topic to surprise your supervisor is a wrong move. It will make you sweat and wish the dissertation is over so you can rest.

As a good strategy, develop a topic or list of potential dissertation topics that are straightforward. After all, your supervisor will advise you on the best angle to focus on, given your present ideas.

With time, your topic will bud out and become uncontrollable if you go for a complex topic. On the other hand, simple topics are easy to tame and trim. Think of a simple topic you can address through a 10000-word dissertation and allow you time to defend and graduate on time. Go for small yet simple topics; they will save you time, win the trust of your supervisor, and make work easier when researching and writing your dissertation.

9. Choose with the methodology in mind

Some institutions and departments prefer a given set of methodological approaches and thus research. As you select the topic, be certain about the type of research and methods you will use. For example, will you be collecting primary data, using secondary data, interpreting cultural artifacts, or comparing scholarly approaches?

In most cases, you are allowed to combine these methods of research in a dissertation. Consider the research design and methods as you research the dissertation topic. Collecting primary data takes time, and there are methods to use. It can be qualitative.

10. Let the topic be manageable

In your quest to find a topic for your dissertation, select one based on concepts, theories, or frameworks you are privy to.

The topic should be manageable. Look at what other students have written for their dissertations and identify the gaps in their studies from the recommendations they have shared for future related studies.

You can also look at journals and conduct a literature search to develop an angle of research that you can maintain from start to end. Look at the structural, methodological, and content gaps, and come up with a topic that addresses the weaknesses.

Check whether your hypothesis is manageable, given the methodology you have selected. As you select the topic, also consider the ethical facts of your research.

If, for instance, you are engaging participants in the research, consider if the topic will give you an edge over the ethical considerations of research.

Confidentiality, privacy, anonymity, and consent must be factored in. consider manageability from all angles, including time. If the topic is narrow yet requires more time for research, you are better off choosing a topic that fits within your time frame. For example, go for small-scale quantitative studies for your undergrad and master's level dissertations, where you only need less than 30 participants. This will save you resources and time.

The process of analyzing data will also be more straightforward compared to having a large pool of participants. You can consider approaches such as focus groups, interviews, surveys, or observation, depending on the scope of your topic.

If you want an easy-to-complete topic, go for a qualitative approach, which is manageable within short durations. And if it is allowed, you can mix the methods to ensure methodological rigor.

11. Utilize online resources for your topic search

Getting inspiration when writing essays, term papers, and research papers is always the order of the day. If you find that even after brainstorming, you are still stuck or struggling to pick a good dissertation topic, consider seeking help online.

There are different ways to get inspiration online. You can go the hard way by searching for past dissertations at your level or higher to get inspired. The process entails accessing university websites. You can use the search term "Topic+Dissertation+PDF," where you specify a broad topic area and get Pdf copies of the past dissertations. You can add a plus sign and your level of studies, such as doctoral, master's, or undergraduate, to further narrow the search.

You can also access dissertations and thesis databases such as ProQuest to view dissertations written by your colleagues. Interestingly, our dissertation writers develop topics based on this approach and are always accurate. Of the three topics they suggest, supervisors are always at crossroads to help you choose one because all of them are worthy.

So, the second approach is to hire a dissertation writer to develop three different topics for you to choose from. Before selecting the topic, the writer will ask questions about your interest and then advise you on the best angle, method, and approach.

Finally, you can look at recently published journal articles focusing on an area you are interested in. For example, you can search "Peer-reviewed/scholarly journal + your topic + year + subject" to yield articles from which you can get inspiration when picking a topic.

12. Consult your dissertation supervisor for topic suggestions

Your dissertation supervisor has a beautiful wealth of knowledge and experience. Many students have brought topics to them, some good, others bogus. Given your interests and understanding of the marking process, they can guide you to a series of topically relevant issues or areas to consider.

Although some might annoy you to the core, they always mean well. It would help if you asked for feedback on your selected topics or ideas to incorporate a good topic. They know where the shoes bite the most, and you should take their recommendations seriously. Take advantage of their experience, knowledge, and expertise. And while at it, be flexible with your expectations because they will constantly critique everything, but for a better course.

After selecting three topics, let your supervisor assess and give feedback. Then, use the feedback constructively to fine-tune the topics.

Related Readings:

Final Take!

When developing a good dissertation topic, you need to be very careful. You must pick a manageable, straightforward, explorable topic from a narrowed-down niche. Ensure you are passionate about the topic and can write a dissertation proposal and an entire dissertation.

Choosing a good topic signifies that you are ready to advance your career and contribute meaningfully to the academic field. Choosing a good topic matters a lot for graduate studies or undergraduate studies. If you follow the steps and tips above, finding a good proposal and dissertation topic will not be challenging.

A quick one; when choosing a topic, select something relevant, engaging, manageable, knowledgeable about, simple, current, and narrow. Suppose you need help with choosing a topic.

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