PhD candidates must complete a dissertation as the culmination of their doctoral studies. The dissertation is the final step in your academic journey. Typically completed after successful completion of your comprehensive exams, the dissertation requires large amounts of research. A PhD dissertation is an extensive, formal document that argues in defense of your selected thesis. Upon completion, a dissertation must remain original and substantial. In general, every statement within a dissertation must be supported by a reference to reputable published scientific literature or your original work.

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What is a dissertation? 

A dissertation is an extended piece of written work for a higher degree, such as a PhD. Your dissertation typically marks an important and exciting milestone along your academic journey. Usually divided into chapters, this challenging academic paper contains a scientifically detailed examination of your subject matter, with evidence to prove your theory or findings. Your dissertation will also serve as an academic achievement that you can put on your CV and professional resume. Researching, outlining, and drafting your dissertation is a lengthy process. You may begin to feel overwhelmed, but not to fear the professional writers of First Class Dissertations is here to help!

How to choose the appropriate topic?

Writing a thesis or dissertation can seem like a monumental task, but the best way to ensure that your project goes well is to get the question right. The research question is the topic, and the question must be narrow enough for you to collect and analyze data, qualitative or quantitative, to answer in 50 to 100 pages of text. Of course, you don’t want just any simple question, but one that is both interesting and useful to your field.

Focus: you must have a clearly defined area/topic to investigate.

Let’s start with a silly example that will show the process of narrowing down a topic.

Examples of vague topics:

(Most broad) Scholars in the field of basket making are interested in how baskets are constructed.

Some of these scholars are interested in hand construction of baskets.

Some of these scholars are interested how hand construction of baskets has changed over the past 100 years.

Some of these scholars focus on this changing hand construction in indigenous cultures in past century.

Some of these scholars are interested in this changing hand construction in indigenous cultures in the past century to better understand the hand construction of baskets as it reflects what they are meant to contain.

Example of a focused, concrete topic:

When choosing a topic, select a general topic and expand upon it until there is quantifiable depth to work with. For example: the impact of advertising on consumers. Determine an industry or sector to focus on. Decide which/how many companies to focus your research on. The culminating, well-developed dissertation topic: Changing construction of baskets made by hand by indigenous cultures to respond to mass produced goods that are to be carried.

The trick is to simply start with an idea. Next begin to map it out and as you develop your topic it will become more concrete.

Things to consider when selecting a topic.

Are you genuinely interested in the topic?

Do you have expertise, knowledge, educational background, or experience within the field of the selected topic?

Will your topic provide a large enough interest to populate the necessary research materials needed to successfully complete the dissertation?

Do you have the resources to completed said research?

Will this topic allow you to meet your deadline?

Be creative

Your topic should be well defined but manageable. Select an original topic, or approach a common topic form an entirely new perspective. Be sure to select a topic that ignites your interest.

Resources to generate ideas

Read everything: newspapers, journals, periodical, academic sources.

Use media: watch television, news programs, Trouble at the top, etc.

Have a chat with someone within the field you have chosen to research. Pick their brain to begin your own initial brainstorming.

Review the Thesis Collection within your library.

Literature Review

Affords a better understanding of the subject area, helping you to identify/clarify the topic of focus.

Helps to determine the scope of what is already known and remains unclear.

Provides an analytical framework for analyzing your research findings.

A good review should be relevant, specific and critical

A poor one reads like the content page of a text

Be sure to distinguish between academic articles and journalistic articles:

Academic articles are often scholarly reviewed, and contain theories, research, analysis, etc. (e.g. Journal of Marketing Management).

Journalistic  articles may contain facts, data, opinions, etc. They are not scholarly reviewed articles (e.g. Marketing Weekly, FT).


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