Shortlisting a PhD Thesis Topic: 4 Useful Tips for Students 

by Madhura Panse
Shortlisting a PhD thesis topic: 4 useful tips for students - Paperpal

The decision to pursue a PhD is in itself a brave and bold step, considering the different challenges that lie ahead in the journey of a doctoral student. However, an even bigger question that may arise after you have decided to embark upon this journey is how to choose a research topic for PhD, one that keeps you motivated enough to overcome all the other challenges. Every doctoral student has their own set of goals and aspirations, especially when it comes to pursuing research that has an impact on society. For many students, it is essential to have a PhD thesis topic that addresses real-world problems in their respective fields. However, finding a novel research topic is no mean task, especially in an era where there is a high output of research papers, talking about every possible topic. So how can you simplify this process? This article talks about some simple pointers that you can keep in mind, while shortlisting a research topic for PhD.

  • Enlist all the real-world issues that matter to you

You can start the process of narrowing down a research topic for PhD, by making a list of all the real-world issues that matter to you, keeping in mind your subject area, skills, experience and personal aspirations. This will allow you to get a broader idea of the kind of impact you want to have on society. An in-depth comparison of different issues combined with your personal goals will help you make an informed decision and enable you to understand how passionate you are about a particular topic. You can keep repeating this step and shorten the list as required, until you get to your final PhD thesis topic.

  • Do a preliminary research to understand gap areas

Once you have made a list of all the possible research topics for PhD, and are ready to start the process of narrowing it down, begin performing some preliminary research of your own to understand specific gaps in each topic. Comparison of gap areas, especially after gaining a thorough idea of all the research that has already been done, will also help you understand how keen you are to work on an unresolved question; this is an important consideration as your research project may go on for months or years. Apart from this, you may also need to consider the economic aspects of choosing a particular PhD thesis topic vis-à-vis the potential and availability of funding throughout your entire period of doctoral journey.

  • Check the feasibility of your problem statement with experts

While choosing a research topic for PhD, one of the common mistakes that students make is gaining very little knowledge about the feasibility and execution of their problem statement and study design. This is where you can consult relevant experts or mentors in that particular field. Having had their own share of ups and downs in the professional journey, they will be able to guide you in polishing your problem statement, in some cases changing it altogether in order to formulate a study design that can effectively address the gap area. Experts are always willing to do their bit and help in choosing research topics for students.

  • Avoid excessive focus on technique preference

As prospective PhD students, it is natural to look at the doctoral journey as an opportunity to gain experience in new techniques and to expand your technical portfolio. However, giving excessive importance to the possibility of learning new techniques might not always be helpful when choosing a particular research area for your PhD thesis topic, especially if there is no guarantee that the topic will keep you motivated throughout your PhD. During your doctoral journey you will inevitably develop and grasp new techniques, which will help you expand your technical portfolio even later in your professional journey. However, in order to utilize your fullest potential in solving a particular issue at the doctoral level, you need to know how to choose a research topic for PhD that does justice not only to your technical abilities but also to your creativity, hard work and motivation.

We hope you find the above pointers useful and it helps you understand what needs to be considered while choosing a research topic for PhD, making your doctoral journey a fulfilling and wholesome experience.

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