So you’ve reached that milestone in your education journey where your teachers want to see how well you have absorbed the information and how efficiently you can apply it in a real-life situation to solve problems. As your deadline for topic submission nears closer, the stress reaches an all-time high, and we understand how tough it can be to decide a topic where you would be investing a large chunk of your time and the university’s resources. You might have already spent a lot of time researching on how to choose A PhD program and now you have a new challenge. We have devised some pointers for you to navigate through your search for the best dissertation topic for either your undergraduate or postgraduate degree.
The crux of this discussion is to make you realise that the topic you choose must be something you are very passionate about but at the same time, there should be an aspect of it that you are curious about. Once you have figured that out, you can probe further into the knowledge gap and create a topic that is relevant to your particular field.
Step 1: What am I passionate about?
For undergraduate degrees, your research project might be shorter but for PhD or Master’s, it is usually book-length. For a Master’s, it is even more important to choose the right topic because this is what you will have to show on your resume for your future career prospects (especially if you don’t have work experience) and it will narrow down your field for you as it establishes your domain expertise. So choose something that you are excited about! Your excitement and passion about the topic is also going to help you during interviews after your Masters or PhD when the employer asks you about it. If you are planning to study abroad, it is important to look into the local culture and trends of the research industry over there.
If you are not passionate about the topic, it will become very difficult to finish the thesis. Here’s a brainstorming tip: during your classes or while you are reading, if a certain topic rings a bell for you, note your thoughts down and reflect on it.
Step 2: Considering limitations while brainstorming
Now that you are delving into your passions, it is important to keep in mind the limitations of your work so that you can complete it efficiently and in time. A Master’s thesis decides your career trajectory and is seen as a competence test by employers. Here are some things that you must evaluate while making a list of topics:
- Your program’s requirements: Usually programs might specify a narrow range of topics, methodologies, minimum word count, etc. so keep this in check while making a list. There are multiple ways to research- like quantitative research or qualitative research- you can find out more here.
- Personal strengths and weaknesses: This thesis is also a great way to exhibit your best skills so check what kind of work will be involved- is it more technical or conceptual. Does it go well with your approach?
- The literature available: There should be ample existing literature on this topic for you to peruse through. It should be enough for your literature review and for you to find a new angle from.
- Job market: Employers are usually looking for a certain set of technical skills. Try to choose a topic that exhibits those skills.
- The amount of time it will take: PhD research usually takes about 4 to 5 years but there isn’t much time for undergraduate and Master’s so choose a concise topic.
Step 3: Brainstorming methods
There is a plethora of literature in your library and so many interesting suggestions. Here are some techniques to think in the right direction:
My interests: Go through the list of assignments and papers you have written during your coursework and see which topics sparked your interest. These will be your core areas.
Read journals: Academic journals on your subject are filled with trending topics that might spark your interest
Talk to colleagues and professors: Talking to seniors, friends and teachers who can give you honest feedback about your list of topics is extremely useful
Step 4: Finalise a topic
Once you have a list of potential topics, you can start reading up on them by going through the theses in the campus library, Google Scholar or JSTOR. This will help you cut down the irrelevant ones in your list of topics. Use the following checklist of questions to choose your final topic:
- Is the research for this topic feasible given your resources?
- Is it meaningful and does it solve a real-life problem?
- Has anyone already done similar work on this topic?
- Do you have a suitable advisor in your university’s faculty to supervise this thesis?
Once you have made sure about the above mentioned factors, it is time to finalise the topic and when you are doing so, the research question in your proposal must be the right balance of broad and precise. Instead of saying ‘Does the media portray only negative news?’, pose the question like this instead:
‘What kind of information does the media propagate and what influences their decisions?’
So avoid yes/no questions for your dissertation topic.
Even after you have chosen the right topic, you will need several meetings with advisors to polish the idea and adjust it. Don’t let the criticism push you down and take every setback as feedback that you can use to strengthen your research studies. There is a lot to learn from this journey and if you get stuck and need help with tutoring, you can discuss with us.