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Eight steps to choosing a good dissertation topic

Choosing a topic for your research project, dissertation, or thesis is the initial step to ensuring that your project is successful. Important things to consider when selecting a subject include the following:

  • The timeframe and length of the dissertation
  • The practical, social and scientific relevance
  • Your areas of interest and knowledge
  • The requirements from your institution and department
  • Availability of sources and data

Knowing where to start your dissertation can be quite tricky. Here are some steps you can follow to succeed.

  1. Check the requirements
  2. Checking the requirements is the initial step of your program. It will determine the scope of your research. Such include word count, timelines, topic, orientation, methodology, and limitations. If you are not sure of what is needed, seek advice from your supervisor.

  3. Choose a bread field
  4. Think of areas such as online marketing, health policy, economic history, or current literature. Pick a field that you are familiar with and one that won’t force you to start researching from scratch. You don’t need to be an expert or specialist in the topic you only need, a little knowledge to get you started.

  5. Reader related articles and books
  6. Go through past material to get an idea of how you will go about it. Make good use of online resources as well as the school library. Make sure you write down key points you come across that will boost your dissertation.

  7. Find a niche
  8. After you are through with your research, narrow down to your specific area of interest. For instance, from the fields you mentioned in section 2, you can narrow down from a broad field to a particular niche. Try to focus on a unique subject and one that fewer people are researching. If you pick a topic with a lot of research carried out around it, it will be difficult to explain the relevance of your research.

    At this point, be sure to have some additional ideas that you can fall back to if your initial topic does not go through.

  9. What kind of research will you be carrying out?
  10. It comes in many different kinds. As you do your search and choose a topic, keep in mind the research you are going to use. The types include comparing scholarly approaches, interpreting cultural objects, analyzing existing data, and collecting original data.

    Most dissertations are often a combination of several types. Your method and research design don’t have to end at this stage. However, choosing the research type will influence the possible topics.

  11. Determine the relevance
  12. You might have an excellent topic, but it serves you no good if it is not relevant practically, socially, or academically. Choosing a topic that addresses current debates and issues is one way of making your research relevant.

  13. Make it plausible
  14. Before you decide on a subject, consider the practicalities, timeframe, and the length of conducting your research. If you are working on research with a short timeframe, think of a topic that won’t require you to start from scratch. Establish sources, access, and funding for your research materials.

  15. Submit your topic for approval
  16. Most educational programs require that you submit your proposal for approval before you embark on the main project. Consult your supervisor before you draft the final research proposal.


Remember that your initial choice is not the final one. You can change it if you feel it is strong enough. It is advisable to make changes early into the process to avoid a lot of disruptions and the risk of starting again. Ensure that you have ample time to redo your search. With the above tips, you are now ready to begin your dissertation.

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