dtopicsWhat is the dissertation?

A doctorate degree is the highest level one can earn. What makes the doctorate different than other degrees is the dissertation process. The dissertation is typically doing original empirical research that answers a research question within five chapters. There are a few colleges that utilize a three chapter dissertation, but most have a five chapter dissertation. So for this month’s blog the goal is to explore the dissertation, what it is and selecting a topic.


The dissertation starts out with creating a research question. The research question is a specific question that focuses on your chosen area of study. What happens many times is individuals want to answer their question by stating something they believe and they want to do the research to support their belief. The first step to creating a dissertation topic is to remember the goal is to write a question that you want to research the answer. So keep it to a question with no preconceived thought about what the research will or will not show.

The dissertation topic overall has plenty of opinions about how to pick your topic. As I prepare to head into my dissertation, I have been told select something you are passionate about, select something that you can complete to become a doctor, select something in your field of study and the list goes on. I have had so much advice on how to pick my topic that it is hard to muddle through what I have been told. I had a topic for my dissertation, but it was going to be so complex that I was going to need probably about eight null hypothesis and alternate hypothesis. My goal is to complete my dissertation in a timely fashion and that means keeping it simple. One tip to remember is the dissertation process typically takes a year or more, so do not expect to rush through it.

Recently, one of my professors, Dr. Stein, recommended the following information in terms of helping to determine a dissertation topic. Dr. Stein recommends selecting three topics, not specifics, but topics. Research each of the topics in terms of seeing what research has been completed in each of the areas and look for limitations or questions that have not been asked. This will allow you to create a dissertation question which is when you achieve the heart in the middle. The heart is where there is a specific dissertation research question that can be used. Currently, this is where I am at in the dissertation process.

Dissertation Diagram

Selecting a dissertation topic and writing the research question are not as easy as one might believe it to be. The challenge is to not have any thoughts or ideas about what the research will show. The reason for not trying to answer the research question is to ensure there is no bias. So think of the dissertation as a topic that you want to answer and keep in mind, that if you are not in a medical program most schools will not allow medical research.

I hope this helps when it comes to selecting your dissertation topic and writing your research question! Happy studying!