Writing a doctoral research paper is not a simple task. Therefore, we have written a number of articles that may help you focus and organize your thoughts during the writing of your dissertation. These articles cover a wide variety of issues, from the choice of the research topic, through the process of writing the research itself, to an article that provides guidelines to writing the doctoral dissertation after writing a professional book in the field.
How do I choose the topic for the doctorate?
The choice of the doctorate topic is the most critical stage in the writing of the research work.
For part of the population of doctorate students, this is a simple stage that comes with the decision to write a research work, since the topic has been ‘cooking’ in their minds day and night. Even if the research topic and research question are not phrased perfectly, it is at least possible to begin to work on the research proposal (to search for professional literature, to think about the research methodology, and to create the structure of the research proposal/research work).
However, for most of the population of doctorate students, this stage is not simple at all. This stage influences, directly, the manner of performance of the research study, its duration, and the continuation of the researcher’s professional career.
In these instructions we have collected for the potential doctorate student four points to consider in the choice of the topic of the research. Through these elements we present to you the influence of the choice of the topic on the research work itself and on the researcher’s academic/professional development. (These are supposed to help in the choice of the appropriate topic). In addition, we recommend to the future researchers who have already chosen a topic for their doctoral work to examine whether the topic they have selected meets these important criteria we now present.
Attraction to the researched topic. The topic must interest you and awaken your curiosity. This section may seem obvious, but it is important to us to note that it is very important. First, the doctorate is the result of an intensive research work that is performed over a period of time of a number of years. Therefore, an attempt should be made to enjoy the writing process. Research and writing that do not give you pleasure will cause you, in many cases, to do other things instead of work on the research and thus will extend the time span of work. (In contrast, with a topic that incites your curiosity and interests you, you will want to work and thus will finish the research in as short a period of time as possible and will enjoy the work process as well).
Existence of professional literature. It is not possible today to write a doctorate work that comes from nowhere. All research works must be based on previous research studies / books / articles, etc. We recommend that the researcher choose a topic only after he has examined that there is professional literature on the topic that he can find and access and that he has the conditions to analyze it. In many cases the researcher chooses a certain topic only to find that he cannot find or access existing professional literature. The review of the literature is a considerable part of every research work, and therefore the researcher should examine that there is professional literature to review before he selects the topic.
Access to data or research subjects. As in the previous section, it is important to choose a topic for which the researcher can access the research material found at the basis of the research work: research subjects, legal documents, laboratories, materials, and so on. Without access to this material, it will be difficult to investigate a certain topic. For instance, we do not recommend a behavioral research of the mentally ill population unless the researcher can access this environment and can find research subjects who will constitute the basis of his work. It is important to note that in many cases feasible access to these research subjects is not sufficient, and it is necessary to obtain the research subjects’ consent, their guardian’s consent, and/or the treatment institution’s consent, according to regulatory law.
Personal improvement. The researcher needs to aspire for the doctorate research to promote him in the continuation of his professional path. It is important to choose a field that the researcher intends to address in the future, a field where the doctoral work can help open the doors that were closed to him before he wrote the research and that he is interested in opening. Just like we all prefer to be treated by a physician who specializes in the sickness we are suffering from, it is important to find the same “illness” that the researcher would like to specialize in so that he can be the person we want to turn to.
Prior thought and planning in these four sections will focus you in the writing of the doctorate, will significantly facilitate the research process, and will increase the chance of enjoying its fruits in the future. It is important to note that it is possible to investigate the researched topic in the framework of the master’s degree thesis. Naturally, in many cases the topic researched in the framework of the master’s degree thesis is the most relevant topic for the researcher and therefore he will want to continue to investigate it.
Part of the help and service provided by PHD Institute is personal help in the choice of the topic for the doctorate.
This service is provided free of charge and does not obligate the student.