Looking for interesting dissertation topics


Choosing your dissertation topic can be an incredibly difficult decision, and is one of utmost importance in your professional career. Why?

Because it acts as the first piece of research for which you will be well known in your field. It is also the one piece of writing that your colleagues will scrutinize when you consider giving you a job in their department.


When you are looking for interesting dissertation topic, consider the following:

  1. Push the envelope.
  2. This may seem remedial but it is true. It is true even here. You want to push the envelope. This mathematical reference relates to curves, or the limit of the performance of an aircraft. Pilots were originally told to push the envelope in an effort to test the aircraft they were in. Consider how this applies to your field or topic. In order to “push the envelope” your topic:

    • Must not repeat something that your field already has
    • Must be something that professionals in your field would be interested in, or at least something that takes an interesting take on the matter
    • Must teach researchers in your field something useful, so useful in fact that professions in your field will not be able to ignore it.

  3. Methods must match your theory
  4. Make sure that your methods match your theory and that your theory matches your methods. Make sure you develop your method and your theory at the same time, so that you can rest assured they match. Make sure the theoretical frame that you choose will have corresponding methods and that you know your methods can answer the questions posed by your paper.

  5. Your question should be easily answered with a “yes” or “no”.
  6. When you pick your dissertation topic, it should be something that resonates with you, something that cannot be easily answered with a mere “yes” or a “no”. Look into empirical analyses, comparative ethnographies, quantitative network analyses, etc… none of these can be answered with a single word and therefore provide you with a strong dissertation topic.

  7. Remember that some research questions are just not good.
  8. This may be hard to hear, but it is no less true. Some topics are just bad. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your topic is something you can justify undertaking before you start writing out your proposal and putting in time and effort.

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