CONSIDERATIONS FOR TOPIC APPROVAL
What constitutes a “good” or “great” topic for your dissertation? Our philosophy at ARC is that the ideal topic is one that is interesting and important to you, for which a compelling research gap clearly exists and, just as importantly, for which the existing peer-reviewed literature aligns well with the methodological and theoretical frameworks chosen. Working on your topic approval with ARC will provide you with the assurance that the research focus you choose based on our guidance will meet all of your chair and doctoral committee requirements.
We also closely consider the ease of collecting data or finding participants for your thesis data analysis, with special attention paid to the required sample size and types of participants (e.g. educators, industry professionals, etc.) with whom you might work. In consulting with our clients, we often recommend that students explore a pre-existing phenomenon using a new or modified approach, such as a different research methodology or relevant theory extension; another excellent option for students who are more focused on application rather than theory underlying a phenomenon is to explore a practice-focused problem, usually involving a hot topic or current issue, with the inclusion of relevant data from experimental studies, interventions, or observational studies aimed at evaluating the potential efficacy of proposed measures and solutions.
Considerations for Topic Approval
Another important consideration for selecting a feasible dissertation topic is to choose a research area where your study findings can be interpreted based on recent, peer-reviewed literature. Most doctoral degree programs require that students begin browsing and annotating relevant citations from scholarly journals, books, and other academic and practitioner-based sources as early as the coursework phase of the program.
If you need to identify a topic quickly under a time crunch, one idea that always works is to work with a research topic that aligns with the Recommendations section from peer-reviewed citations, which will allow us to be certain that your dissertation research is both justified and needed. In any case, there is a need to make sure that we’re focusing mostly on recently published sources, as motivating our study with older sources will result in committee feedback stating that your topic is outdated.
Strategies for Topic Approval
After you’ve selected a dissertation topic you’d like to pursue and collected relevant sources from the literature to support your study, you will need to come up with a problem statement and a purpose statement describing what general and specific objectives will be met through your research in addition to other sections exploring what significance your study will serve, what instruments will be used to measure or evaluate the variables and datapoints, and what methodologies and theories will be used to produce and evaluate the results and findings. One of the most important grading criteria for topic papers entail alignment, where information provided on each of the sections of your topic paper needs to be consistent and flow well with all other sections.
At the culmination of the topic selection process comes topic approval. Many universities require submission of a pre-dissertation document, often known as the dissertation research plan, concept paper, idea paper, letter of intent, topic approval paper, or prospectus. The purpose of the pre-dissertation document is to introduce your topic and demonstrate a cohesive plan for completing your actual dissertation. The pre-dissertation document clearly identifies your research gap, provides an overview of the peer-reviewed literature support, and identifies the relevant conceptual or theoretical frameworks and research methodologies that your study will utilize. The pre-dissertation document serves as an important planning tool to guide and outline the remainder of your dissertation project.
Don’t need to complete any kind of pre-dissertation planning document? Some degree programs do not require a pre-dissertation topic research paper but instead gear the Comprehensive Exam toward the purposes of dissertation research planning. If this is the case for your degree program, you may be required to choose a dissertation topic rather quickly as many exams have a time limit of 3-7 days from when you receive the prompt. There are also faster-paced degree programs where you can start immediately on your Chapters 1-3 without completing a separate topic development process. It is important to discuss with your dissertation chair and committee early on what the requirements will be for your topic approval so that you’re fully prepared when the time comes.
No matter your specific needs and requirements to obtain topic approval, ARC has got you covered. We take a strongly collaborative approach to assist with choosing your topic, which, as the capstone of your educational career, we understand is deeply important to you. Our phone consultations are highly customized to fit your specific interests, preferences, and needs. For the pre-dissertation document, ARC works with students based on their specific academic requirements. Let us help you choose the right topic and get it approved in an effective, efficient manner.