Bodong Chen

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Notes: Ph .D. Thesis Research: Where do I Start



Citekey: @davis2001

Davis, D. (2001). Ph .D. Thesis Research: Where do I Start? Retrieved from Research.pdf


This article is very important–maybe the most helpful one in terms of articulating promisingness in looking for thesis topic. It centers around some points such as being interesting, important, and new.

1. How Do I Find “The Right Topic”?

2. How do I know if I have an interesting topic?

New + Important: you are working on an important problem with real-world counterparts and that matter in substantive terms, and moreover that your approach to the problem is new.

–convince readers that the novel element in your paper is in fact important; after reading your paper, researchers familiar with the literature in your area should see the world differently. –After reading your study, will the leading researchers in the field be forced to look at the area in a way differently than they did before and in a way that matters substantively.

–the results have to be convincing.

You should choose a topic that is demonstrably important, that has elements which are themselves new and important, and the resulting study should be both reasonable and convincing.

3. Where do I start? Strategies for Research

“Research Frontier”

there is often a set of questions that the leaders in the field are currently struggling with and may be very far from having definitive answers. Being able to weigh in on these problems with a new insight (and avoid dead topics) is an important step.

4. Inspiration is where you find it.

In the end, there can be no rules for finding a thesis topic, since it can’t be mechanical. Much depends on your creativity and inspiration, your insightfulness and energy. A bit of magic is required. How do you create your own magic? Some people say their best ideas come when they are in the shower, or playing raquetball, or … . I’m not sure the answer is that I should direct you to take lots of showers! You have to find your own muse. Success and failure, in the end, are in your hands only.