Picking up powerful topics to explore in a PhD thesis paper

Your PhD thesis will likely be your final piece of academic writing. Needless to say it has to live up to the highest academic standards, and reflect your skills and knowledge. Now you might be a good writer–one able to present ideas in a compelling, readable way and with a great structure.

The following list presents ideas on how to pick a powerful topic for your PhD thesis paper.

  1. Pick a topic you want to write about
  2. For all writing, this is the most important advise. Don't ask yourself what your professor or the academic community might want to read, but purely focus on a topic you care about; a topic you can see yourself working on for years.

    You can–and probably should–consider your professor’s ideas, but in the end you’ll be holder of a PhD degree soon, and with that you want to make your own decisions.

  3. Re-investigate your Bachelor and Master thesis
  4. A great way of picking a powerful topic is to look at your previous academic writings from a new angle. This way you have the basic research covered already and you know how to find reliable sources on the topic. You could even link your previous theses and create a holistic masterpiece to crown your academic career.

  5. Test and investigate ideas before you start
  6. Seek out experts–professors, professionals, or authors–and contact them with your idea. This helps you narrow down the scope and discover challenging questions prior to starting the work. Get as much input as you can before nailing down your idea.

  7. Create a current context around your idea
  8. Can you link your idea to a current global macro-event or megatrend? This way you keep your PhD thesis paper relevant, insightful and you get to work on a topic of current interest.

    Review: Picking a powerful topic

    The most important thing is to ask yourself what you care for and want to write about. It’s your last academic project and you should go with what interest you. Then research the idea further and talk to experts and your professors about nailing down the scope. As a last step, try to find current events that you could link to in order to create a relevant piece of work.

    And–as a last piece of advise–make sure you can find enough quotable sources before making the final decision.