However, what constitutes originality or significance is open to interpretation and usually differs among various faculty advisors. He claims that a topic must have the potential to do at least one of the following: Uncover new facts or principles, suggest relationships that were previously unrecognized, challenge existing truths or assumptions, affort new insights into little-understood phenomena, or suggest new interpretations of know facts that can alter people's perceptions of the world around them.
(p.38) No hard-and-fast rules exist for selecting a topic. Following are some general criteria for considering potential topics: Most students begin with a topic that is too large. Your goal is to add a small but significant piece to the knowledge base and graduate!
To know whether or not it has been researched, or if it is important to the field, you must first immerse yourself in the literature base.
This backward approach is also inappropriate and certain to irritate a potential advisor.
Make a list of key words and phrases to initiate the search. Are there problems that need solutions in your workplace?
The results of a computer search should help you discover whether a dissertation is possible on this topic or whether the topic has been “done to death.” 5. The discussions that occur during a dissertation’s oral defense often suggest potential topics. It opens your eyes to what happens during a dissertation defense. Your boss might have a pet topic that could enhance your career opportunities. If you think a topic might be suggested in which you have no interest, you are better served not to conduct this research. Distinguished scholars in these areas write the articles.
This helps keep your topic antenna up and alert for new ideas.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of making a concerted effort to become familiar with the literature and to talk with experts in your field.
Ogden (1993) reminded us that “the basic purpose of a dissertation is to demonstrate that you can do acceptable research in your field. Save the Nobel Prize-level research to do as a postgraduate. The signatures of these individuals determine whether or not you become “doctor.” Text Box: Helpful Hint Start a dissertation topic file.
As you get ideas about possible topics, place them in a separate file folder that you can review from time to time.