The period of writing a doctoral dissertation is one of the most hectic periods that any Ph. D. holder goes through.
The prospect of getting through your ten thousand-word (or more) dissertation within the given timeframe and successfully managing to defend it in front of the committee in your college inspires fear among many post grads and is one of the major reasons for many of them graduating late.
You are probably here because you have no idea how to start your dissertation. You are not alone. Getting started is usually the hardest part.
It may seem like getting a research topic, carrying out the research and finally getting down to writing your entire dissertation is an insurmountable task. You are probably right. But being difficult does not necessarily mean impossible.
The professional writers at Unemployed Professors have taken the liberty of putting together some pointers and research topic ideas to get you through this rough patch in your academic life.
Pointers to kick starting your dissertation
- Disregard orderliness
Hold on first, though. This does not mean that your work should be in shambles. Orderliness in this sense means starting from the beginning and working your way through the entire paper till the very end.
This is a common mistake that post-grad students make when writing their dissertation. Writing from beginning to end puts you in unnecessary pressure to plough through your entire paper.
Below are some points to guide you through this section;
- Leave the intro and abstract for last – For most of us, coming up with a good intro and an abstract for your paper is one of the hardest part to get through. This is because most of the time, you barely know what you want to write in the rest of the paper. You might kill yourself trying to come up with a great intro and abstract and then complete your paper and realize that both differ much from the rest of the body of the paper. A good tip that many doctorate students realize much later on is that, it is much easier to come up with an effective introduction and abstract once the paper is done.
- Start with research and preliminary data – A good point to start with your paper would be with the research. This is because in this part, after coming up with a research topic, collecting data either from your own research or from previous research by others is quite easy. You can then go to more complex sections once done with this huge chunk of your dissertation.
- Outline methods and results next – Once done with your research and after collecting the data, you can harmonize and analyze it using approved statistical methods and come up with conclusive results. These can then go down in your paper as another big chunk covered.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Until you are completely done with your dissertation, the deadline and huge amount of work you have to accomplish by then will always be looming over your head.
This feeling cannot just go away and the best way to deal with it is to learn to live with it.
You should also know that there is no “moment of genius” and stop waiting on it. Even when you feel like every fiber of your body is against sitting down and putting some work, you should learn to force it into doing your bidding. Because unless you do so, your deadline will come and go without you doing any meaningful work.
- Avoid distractions
Distractions are a big hindrance to your completion of the dissertation. These are more consistent and unrelenting if you have a family and some kids at home. Below are some tips to avoid distractions.
- Some distractions are those that pop up in your head, a reminder of a meeting you should attend, an item you should deliver or a kid you should pick from school. These thoughts have a tendency of sticking in your head for long periods of time. A way to deal with them is to write them down on a piece of paper.
- A great way to avoid distractions is to take breaks. And lots of them. Come up with a time plan. Write for 30 minutes or even an hour and take a 15-minute break. That way, your mind will keep to the task at hand.
- Do NOT multitask – Emphasis on the NOT. You may pride yourself in your multitasking abilities but this will not work on your dissertation. Dedicate time to only doing the paper and nothing else if you plan on completing the dissertation in time.
- Your supervisor is very important
Your supervisor determines how fast you complete your dissertation. If the supervisor is not helpful, reliable and approachable, and you have an option to swap him/her, dump them. A supervisor should be someone you can talk to about your worries and whichever direction you should take next in the paper. If they are anything but that, then they will only drag you down.
- Stop comparing yourself to your friends
Constantly checking up on your friends to ask how far they have gone will only serve to make you feel self-conscious about your progress or vice versa if you are ahead of them. It also wastes valuable time. Settle down and saddle up. You shall complete the paper at your own pace. It is not a competition on who will finish theirs first.
- Reward yourself after every achievement
This is an awesome way to keep you rejuvenated. After achieving your set target for the day, go treat yourself. Buy yourself that drink you crave. Settle down to some good Netflix and chill. Have some ice cream because you deserve it.
- Overcome your fear of errors
It is normal to fear making spelling and grammatical errors because, honestly, they are bound to happen. Just write. Proofreading can be done to rid your paper of the errors.
If you fear making an error in your paper you can talk to your advisor or look at how the previous graduates from your department did their dissertations. This should give you a clue on how to go about it.
Moreover, your dissertation is not supposed to be your best life work. Keep that for when you have years of experience under the hood.
- Seek feedback as often as possible
Meet with your supervisor as often as possible to discuss your progress. This way, if you make a mistake in the paper, it can be corrected early and rewriting entire sections of the paper can be avoided.
Negative feedback should also not scare you. It is there to help you come up with a better dissertation.
- Just write
It has been proven that the more you write the more ideas will come up. Just make a start and ideas are sure to come. Even when you do not feel like writing, sit at your writing station and start writing something.
Research topic ideas for your dissertation
There are a million and one research topics you can write. We have outlined a few topic ideas classified by subject to help you get started.
- Business and finance
- Evaluation of the success of ‘green’ accounting policy.
- The extent to which intellectual capital is a hidden value in company financial statements.
- Competition among supermarket retailers.
- Effects of Corporate Social Responsibility on sustainability.
- The evolving means of advertising.
- Challenges facing ethical businesses and their movement to a mainstream corporate environment.
- The economic impact that Brexit is expected to have on the European trade bloc.
- Does expensive necessarily mean that a product is of good quality? A case study.
- Consumer behavior towards and the effectiveness of traditional forms of advertising in the modern world.
- How microfinance institutions have taken Africa by storm. A case study of Kenya and Nigeria.
- Communism in the twenty-first century and its effect on the global market.
- Methods for more effective learning.
- How education has evolved in the twenty-first century.
- How parental and community involvement influences learning.
- The effects of negativity on students and the learning process.
- How students can be influence to better make career choices.
- Effective methods in the regulation of technology in schools.
- The role and impact of homework in the life of adolescents.
- The impact of teachers to the behavior and performance of the students under their tutelage.
- The formation of cliques in high school and college and how they perpetuate bullying.
- Education advancements in the field for people with speech and visual impairments.
- An analysis of the effectiveness of sex education on students and its correlation to teenage pregnancies.
- Computer science and technology
- The impact of technology on physical human interaction.
- Evaluating the change in the use of mobile computing and intelligent devices in the last decade.
- The health hazards that radiation from telecommunication devices and infrastructure poses to the human population.
- The evolution of resource and data management strategies with the advent of cloud computing.
- An in-depth analysis of the possibility and likelihood of the establishment of a colony on Mars.
- The effect that rapid technological advancement has had on genetic engineering and biotechnology.
- An investigation of the security of money and personal information with the increasing frequency of cyber-attacks.
- Personal data collection and how it shapes the emerging field of profiled prices in online shopping sites.
- Human resources and management
- Effectiveness of human resource management theories in practice.
- Objectivity vs subjectivity as methods of employee evaluation.
- An evaluation of pay-gaps for people in the same field across the world.
- The impact of technology on human resource management.
- How personnel selection procedures affect the output of the company.
- Researching the relationship between diversity and corporate social responsibility and how it affects the performance of an organization.
- The effect that the transition from one management structure to another affects employee motivation and commitment.
- The effects that Brexit could have on immigrant workers from the EU nations.
- How employee management can be more effectively done in non-profit and low-profit to maintain high commitment and output levels.
- How robots and automation in industrial manufacturing are changing the employment rates.
- Understanding the function of the prefrontal cortex in terms of how it is connected to other parts of the brain.
- How personality disorders are related to genetics.
- Cognitive impairments and their effects on emotions and anxiety of the patients.
- The multidimensional causes of schizophrenia.
- How personal experiences affect the decision-making processes of a mind.
- The effects of nature on the happiness levels of an individual.
- Women and their involvement in government all over the world.
- Authoritarian governance in the world, a case study of China and Russia.
- The effects of dominant parties on the American political scene.
- Tax refunds; their importance and how much the government would gain by abolishing them.
- Politics in the gulf countries and America’s involvement in the Middle-East politics.
- Involvement, or lack thereof, of the United Nations in internal civil wars in the past decade.
- The effects that discussions of racial intolerance, bigotry and immigration have on impressionable young minds.
- An investigation into the drinking patterns of teenage and post-teenage youth.
- The impact of the internet on the social skills of teenagers.
- A study on the extent of trauma caused by gun violence incidents in schools on the survivors.
- What are the major causes of suicides among the American teenage population?