There’s no worse feeling than realising that you may have chosen the wrong dissertation topic, especially after weeks of planning and meetings with your supervisor. But better now than later!
If any or all of these 5 signs sound familiar to you, the important thing is: don’t panic! There is always something that can be done or someone that you can go to for advice. We’re here to tell you how to recognise the signs that you’ve chosen the wrong dissertation topic and help you to come up with a solution.
Not Enough Literature
Choosing a niche topic may seem like a good idea to start with; after all, originality is key. However, if you start your research and realise that there is not enough literature to support your thesis, that’s a sign that something is wrong. It’s a bad idea to build a dissertation on too narrow a foundation, as the work will likely be patchy and uneven where there are gaps in your research or no available resources, causing the whole thing to come crashing down. Academic sources are essential for any dissertation; this is what the markers will be expecting you to use to back up your arguments; if there are no peer-reviewed academic sources, you are in trouble. However, don’t forget that you can change the wrong dissertation topic!
Tip: Make sure to read extensively around your topic before you start planning. Obviously it is good to be original and to avoid topics that have already been covered many times, but there is such a thing as overdoing it! You may not find much literature for ‘Donald Trump’s Road to Presidency!’
Too Much Literature
On the other hand, the literature available can work the other way too. It may be tempting to choose a dissertation topic that many people have researched before, due to the amount of information you can use. However, if you feel overwhelmed by the volume of literature available, or find yourself struggling to condense information into its key components, you’ve probably chosen the wrong dissertation topic with too broad a foundation. Dissertations with too wide a focus will only skim the surface of the topic, instead of going into great detail and making in-depth observations.
Tip: Just because the dissertation is a long and detailed project, this does not mean that you have to cram as much into it as possible. Take the time to highlight your key areas of interest and work your way down to include only the most important information.
A Bad Feeling
This is often the most telling sign of all. If you find yourself feeling demotivated, stressed or panicky when working on your dissertation, this is a sign that you may have chosen the wrong dissertation topic. Understandably a dissertation is a challenging piece of work, but it is also one that you should be able to research and write with confidence and even enjoyment! Struggling to get started or feeling confused and lost are signs that you may need to adjust your topic, or consider re-thinking the whole thing. This may seem daunting, but the sooner you acknowledge that changes need to be made, the better! An indicator that you are struggling with your dissertation is if you are unable to talk about your work in sufficient depth to your friends. People will always ask about your dissertation and if you cannot give them a clear answer as to what you are doing, you have probably chosen the wrong dissertation topic!
Tip: If you have a gut feeling that you’ve chosen the wrong topic, or that you’re heading for disaster, speak to your dissertation supervisor. They will be able to talk it over with you and steer you in the right direction.
The data collection stage of your dissertation can pose a number of different problems. When you begin researching your method of data collection, you may realise that the sample size will not be big enough for your study, that it will be too hard to collect your primary data, or that the results will be insufficient or irrelevant to your area of study. This will require you to reconsider your topic; perhaps you need to adjust it slightly to fit an easier method of data collection. The wrong dissertation topic can ruin your degree!
Tip: Plan and research your data collection well in advance. Ask yourself key questions, such as: will the data collected will be sufficient? Will you be able to collect it with no great difficulty? Will it support your dissertation? Once you are certain that you will have plenty of useful data for your topic, you are well on your way!
For the duration of your dissertation, your supervisor will likely be your most trusted advisor, there to assist with all aspects of your work; from the early planning stages, right through to guiding you in the dissertation writing process. Therefore, if your supervisor doesn’t seem 100% engaged with your choice, this is a sign that you have probably chosen the wrong dissertation topic. After all, your supervisor will be an expert in the field of your dissertation and will immediately know whether a dissertation is going to succeed or not. Take their opinion into consideration; if they want you to make changes to your topic, there’s a reason for it.
Tip: In the first meeting you arrange with your supervisor, make sure that you clearly outline your ideas for your topic and are ready to take on board any criticism or suggestions.
Do not stick with the wrong dissertation topic!
Change it sooner rather than later!
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