Your dissertation will likely be the most important piece of research and writing you will ever do. It will be the crowning achievement to your entire academic career and be the work upon which your professional career will stem from. You will devote months your dissertation, and therefore want to be sure you are researching and writing on a subject that truly interests you. There are thousands of possible geography topics to base your work on, but if you are having trouble coming up with fresh ideas you should try one of the following for inspiration:
Visiting your university library or local public library is always a great place to start. Reference librarians will show you how to optimize your searches, give you ideas, and show you where you are to find most of your sources. Indeed, most students today don’t utilize reference librarians as much as students did just a decade ago. But they are highly-trained individuals who will know a lot more of where to start your research than you can imagine.
Your university will likely have access to several online journal abstracts for you to peruse using your university affiliation – i.e., student library card. Ask your reference librarian what the best geography-related journals are and spend time looking through abstracts in past issues. You’ll get plenty of ideas as well as get an understanding of what type of material provides the primary focus for scholarship.
In recent years, several companies have sprung up that collect completed dissertations from students around the world. The content is uploaded and checked up via subscription. All citation information is provided to you as well as instructions on how you can use and cite the material. Many of these companies offer trials so that you can browse their available titles and abstracts before you commit to subscribing or downloading material. Use this to get some fresh ideas on top of what your peers have been working on.
The easiest way to get ideas for your dissertation is to speak directly with your advisor. He or she will know a lot about your previous work and will likely steer you towards topics that are interesting to both you and ones in which there is plenty of source research material available. You will also get a good feeling for what it is your advisor expects from you in the coming months. So definitely take the opportunity to meet with him or her before you get started on your research.
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