How To Pick A Dissertation Topic

How To Pick A Dissertation Topic

Choosing a dissertation topic can feel like a real challenge. Sometimes the pressure of producing such a large piece of work overwhelms you and even picking a topic to start with can seem like an impossible task! Although your dissertation is important, make sure you avoid getting caught up in the stress of it by taking control and making the right decisions to help you throughout this process.

When approaching the start of a dissertation, make sure you have a clear head. Although you may not know what topic you want to write your dissertation on, there are many things you can do to help decide what’s right for you. One of the most important things to remember is to stay calm and think logically. That will help you to maintain the correct perspective throughout the whole process.

Where do I start?

It’s perfectly normal to feel daunted by the prospect of starting a dissertation. There are many students going through the same thing at the same time, and many of them will feel the same way. Start by choosing your dissertation topic. Although this can also be a challenge, after all it will form the basis for your whole project, it’s the best way to kick things off. It will allow you to focus your mind and move forward.

Top Tip:

Your chosen subject matter should be interesting to you and your lecturer. Your interest in the subject will you push you forwards in those moments when you feel your motivation is fading. As well as that, your tutors' interest in the subject matter will compel them to read on and possibly engage more in supporting you.

I can’t pick a dissertation topic…

Don’t panic! Starting things off is always the hardest part. Begin by listing all the important things to remember, such as who your dissertation supervisor is, what date the deadline is and what the word limit is set at. Then, begin to jot down the areas that are of the most interest to you. These can be as broad or as focused as you want. Sometimes it’s better to start broader and then set yourself the task of narrowing it down into one, concise topic for your dissertation.

Top Tip:

When researching and narrowing down your subject area, a good place to look is scholarly articles. Often these pieces will list “Recommendations for Future Research” which show gaps in the literary market that could be potential areas for you to focus your dissertation on.

Another excellent resource in the early stages of thinking of dissertation topic ideas is your supervisor. They have helped to guide many students through the exact same process and will have some really supportive advice to pass on. Try arranging a meeting with your supervisor in the initial stages so that they’re involved and you have taken on board all of their advice from the very beginning.

What’s important when deciding on an interesting dissertation topic?

It’s not uncommon for students to sometimes be too ambitious when it comes to their dissertation topics. The high word count can cause panic, thinking it’s unreachable and, to combat this, complicated and wider-reaching subject matters are tackled. Don’t fall for this! Although your word count may be high, and although you may have a long period of time in which to write your dissertation, both will soon be used up.

Top Tip:

Your dissertation topic ideas must be solvable and achievable. If you can see that many others in your subject area have tried to tackle a topic and failed, don’t then choose this for your dissertation. Make sure that your dissertation topic is interesting and, crucially, conclusive.

What do I do if I keep changing my mind about my dissertation topic?

As with undertaking anything that’s on a large-scale, you must go about it in an efficient and organised manner. This organisation allows you to fulfil your work commitments in a time-efficient way. It's important from the initial stages of writing your dissertation that you’re diligent and gain a thorough understanding of what you wish to discuss. Not only will this reduce your stress but the organisation will allow you to keep your creativity flowing throughout the whole process.

Top Tip:

As part of your organisation for your dissertation project, plan in feedback loops with your supervisor and/or professor. This is a sure-fire way to evaluate the effectiveness of the research that you’re undertaking. Use current research methods and statistics. If there are gaps in your literature, or you have encountered poor methodology examples, then these must be addressed prior to starting the dissertation. That way you know you’ve got a large stack of reliable and authentic resources to draw upon when it comes to writing your dissertation.

And remember…

When all is said and done, your dissertation will be read by a small collection of people during its marking stages. Your dissertation should try to pique the attention of this small audience, primarily through the use of dynamic style and content wherever you can. You’re not writing a speech for Barak Obama to address to the American people! Keep perspective.

On the subject of content, it's important that you choose a topic that you're interested in, and one that you have sufficient knowledge of. This will allow you to write with authority and enjoyment. Ultimately, writing a dissertation takes time and commitment so stay calm and maintain a clear head, and try to enjoy it!

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