How To Come Up With Strong Dissertation Topics In Philosophy
Writing a dissertation is by far the hardest academic undertaking for most students. Not only is it typically the longest document students will ever write, by it also involves primary research, which is often a totally new approach. On top of all of this, coming up with strong dissertation topic, particularly in a subject like philosophy, can be a daunting process. Whether you’ve already been admitted to a program with a proposed topic and you are working to revise and refine it, or you are starting from square one to come up with a topic, there are several important factors for you to keep in mind.
Follow these easy tips to come up with a strong dissertation topic in philosophy:
- Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your program
- Research cutting edge work
- Think toward the future
- Be flexible
One thing to keep in mind is that you won’t be picking a topic for your research in a vacuum. When you apply for a program and to work with a specific advisor, chances are you’ll be committing to work on something at least tangentially related to their field of study or their research interests. Particularly for a field like philosophy, you should also be aware of what some of the strengths and weaknesses of your program are. If the faculty in your program tend to focus on a certain time period or style of philosophy, you’re better off trying to pick a topic that fits in with that, than going totally against it, because you will have better resources available to you if you match your topic to your program.
While this isn’t as much of an issue with a field like philosophy than say chemistry, it is also a good idea to try to find out where the cutting edge work is happening now. Try to position your research around that cutting edge work.
When choosing your topic you should also think about what you want to be doing with it in the future. This research will help to set up your future career, so make sure they match or at least have something in common. If you want to teach in the future, part of what will carve out your niche on the faculty somewhere will be what you’ve specialized in. And your specialization will start with this research.
It is also very important to remember to be flexible. Your research will change and evolve, and that’ s okay!