How to Choose a Dissertation Topic | Complete Guide

    November 21, 2022

Dissertation Topic


For any given dissertation, the starting point is choosing the topic. Selecting the topic sounds easy. In this case, you’re given a chance to write about something you like or anything you think is worth your time to study. Unlike essays, the dissertation doesn’t have titles.

A dissertation is a unique working project and is a real test of your academic writing skills. Therefore it has to stand out from everyone else’s. Consider the following when choosing your dissertation topic:

  • The scientific or practical relevance
  • Your areas of interest
  • What are your institution and department’s requirements
  • Availability of data and resources
  • The timeframe of your dissertation

8 Steps on how to choose a dissertation Topic

Step 1: Go through your program requirements.

You need to check your program requirements and determine what your research can focus on. 

There are those programs with strict rules compared to others. Some can do with a deadline and word count; for others, you might have a restricted list of topics and approaches to choose from. If in doubt about what is expected of you, consult with your supervisor.

  • Check for minimum and maximum word count.
  • The deadline?
  • Should the research have an academic or a professional orientation?

Step 2: Identify a broad field of research

It would be best if you thought about areas of interest within the given study area. Examples of broad ideas include:

  • Health policy
  • Economic history
  • Twentieth-century literature

Step 3: Skim through books, journals, and articles

To understand what is trending on your potential topic, you must go through a few recent issues of the top journals in your field. 

Check for the most cited articles. Ensure you get access to top journals in your topic, simply Google “scholarly journal” with your relevant subject. Read through the ideas and make a list of potential issues and how they can be broadened into the dissertation.

Step 4: Find a niche.

Now that you have already completed the preliminary research, the next step would be to evaluate every topic and scrap the ones that are too broad or too narrow.

You need to identify a niche that needs more research or a topic that is still debatable among researchers. You can investigate contemporary issues that have an impact on humans and society.

For example, from the above topics:

  • Health policy Reproductive rights in South America
  • Economic history European economic history German labor union history
  • Twentieth-century literature Twentieth-century Irish literature Post-war Irish poetry

Rectangle: Rounded Corners: Pro tip: ensure you’ve got enough literature on the topic to have a solid basis for your research. Ensure you’ve enough backup ideas in your storeThe topics are still broad, and you can still find books, journals, and articles about them. Try to find a niche where you can make your mark, such as something only a few people have researched a current practical issue.

Step 5: Consider the type of research

Research types vary, and at this point, you need to focus on the following:

  • Data collection through field research or carrying out experiments
  • Analyzing already existing data from archives
  • Interpreting novels, paintings, and films
  • Comparing different interpretations, theories

Rectangle: Rounded Corners: Pro tip: data collection is always time-consuming. If you don’t have much time, then its best to analyze existing data from primary and secondary sourcesDissertations can combine more than one of these, but the type of research will influence which aspects of the topic it’s possible to address, so it’s wise to consider narrowing down your ideas

Step 6: Determine the relevance 

Ensure the topic is academically, practically exciting, and relevant to your field of study. To efficiently meet your requirements, choose a case connected to current issues. This can be based on the society at large or from a relevant academic discipline.

Practical relevance:

Here, the research can be applied to solve concrete problems in life.

Academic relevance:

The research can fill a knowledge gap or contribute to a scholarly debate in your field.

Step 7: Is the topic plausible?

However, only some things you think would be a good topic for a dissertation will be a good topic. Consider the length and allocated timeframe before you make the final decision on the subject.

Do you need time to read all the most critical academic literature on this topic? If there’s too much information to tackle, then you’ve to narrow it down again and again.

Will you be able to find enough sources or gather enough data to fulfill the requirements of the dissertation? If finding enough information is complex, then you can use your focus. Make sure that you have enough funding and practical access.

Step 8: Get your topic approved.

You might be required to submit a brief description of your topic; if the subject differs from what you thought, you can still switch focus early in the dissertation process.

Make sure you have enough time to start a new topic, and always check with your supervisor or department.

At, we’ve got dissertation writers who can also provide you with custom topic ideas and outline on your chosen topic to help you get your subject and research plan approved by your instructor.

Frequently asked questions

How do I know I have an excellent main research question?

Ensure your question contributes to solving the initially defined problem. It should:

  1. Be relevant and original
  2. Be flexible and specific
  3. Be researchable

What is a dissertation prospectus?

A prospectus describes what you plan to research for your paper answering all the questions of why, when, and how you will conduct your research. It outlines decisions taken about your project, from the topic and hypothesis to the main objective, before submission for approval.

How do I write questions to ask for research?

They should be:                                           

  • Complex enough to develop the argument
  • Focused on a single issue
  • Very specific
  • Relevant to your field of study

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