The field of psychology is very broad. In fact, it includes the entire study of human behavior, belief, personality and thought. Additionally, it is a very popular field- there are tens of thousands of graduate students across the world every year, working on thousands of different dissertation topics. There is so much to be studied and such a variety to choose from when it comes to choosing a subject for your dissertation project.
However, though the variety of possible topics is vast, there are several factors that can be used to assist you in narrowing them down to your topic. These factors relate to your personal interest and expertise when it comes to research, the interest of your adviser and committee, the project idea’s feasibility, and the ability of the ultimate work to be published.
First of all, you should select a topic that directly relates to those psychology-based topics that you find are the most interesting and you know the most about. Take a look back on those classes you took and ask: which areas did I excel in? If you did well in social cognition and attitudes, then choose a topic that is related to attitude formation, person evaluation, or persuasion. If you did well in child psychopathology, then choose a topic that is related to the diagnosis, treatment, and community outreach among those children who have psychological diagnoses. Take that knowledge that you already have, and apply it to your new dissertation topic. v
Interests of Advisor and Committee
Additionally, make sure that you choose a topic for you dissertation that interests your advisor. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one that they chose themselves, but should be an area that they know a lot about. This will help to make sure they will be able to offer you feedback, insights, and suggestions. Also, if they are interested, they will be much quicker to respond to questions and return your drafts with comments. This also applies to the committee members as well.
There are many students who end up experiencing a delay in the progress of their degree because the dissertation topic they have chosen is much too challenging or long-term. So, before you settle on a topic, ask yourself which of the options you will be able to get completed in no more than two years, with your budget. Typically, those dissertation topics that require applied research, clinical trials, multiple large, national surveys, and longitudinal studies are bad ideas because they can take many years to finish.
Finally, your dissertation should novel, provocative, and worthy of publication in an academic journal in the industry. When you go into the job market with your new PhD, you will want to have several different publications on your CV, especially any research you did on your own. So, when choosing your topic, ask if it is one that is only popular at the moment, or if it is exciting enough that many people in the field would care to read about.
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