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Choosing a Dissertation Topic? Ask These 4 Questions.
Your dissertation is the culmination of your doctoral degree. Whether you’re pursuing your PhD degree online or on campus, choosing a dissertation topic is exciting, but it can also be difficult.
While it’s essential to select a doctoral dissertation topic you’re passionate about, it’s also essential to ensure it passes a research “litmus test” that answers four fundamental questions. These questions all revolve around a core doctoral-level research problem that helps to establish whether or not your dissertation contributes new data to your field or discipline.
Question 1: Is your doctoral dissertation proposal justified?
While your doctoral degree program may have helped you discover a passion for a particular area of interest, it’s not enough to be passionate about a dissertation topic. There must be significant, scholarly evidence—statistics, published scholarly research, and so forth—that your proposal will address an urgent issue in your field.
Question 2: Is your dissertation topic grounded in academic literature?
Your doctoral dissertation must either build upon or counter previously published academic research on the topic. A good idea is not enough. You must develop your proposal on a strong foundation of published research that you can contribute to your original research.
Question 3: Is your dissertation proposal original?
Your doctoral dissertation must make a truly original contribution to the field, either by creating a new point of view or generating data. For research-based doctorates (PhD degrees, such as a PhD in Management or PhD in Health Services), your dissertation topic must reflect a meaningful gap in academic literature. For professional doctoral degrees—such as a Doctor of Education (EdD) or Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree—your proposal must address a meaningful gap in practice.
Question 4: Is your dissertation topic amenable to scientific study?
Whether you’re pursuing a PhD in Health Services or a DBA degree, all good dissertation proposals must be framed in the context of a methodical inquiry that permits multiple possible conclusions. To arrive at those conclusions, a scholarly, systematic method of inquiry—much like the scientific method many of us learned in high school or as undergraduates—must be applied to address the problem.
Passionate about a particular field of doctoral study? Inspired to write a dissertation of your own?
Discover how Walden University, an accredited online university, helps working professionals reach their full potential with rigorous online doctoral degree programs. Walden University even hosts a cloud-based library called ScholarWorks, a repository of publications that showcases the university community’s collective scholarly and creative thought leadership.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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