Okay, I’ll probably be struck down by the dissertation gods but I’m going to take a stand on this. Here goes: One of the biggest mistakes doctoral candidates make is overrating the importance of passion. You’ve heard it dozens of times–pick a dissertation topic you’re passionate about. That’s simply too overwhelming a directive.
By this time most people are passionate about finishing, about reading a book for pleasure, about never again hearing the words that end in “ology” or “istic” (epistemology, ontology, and positivistic, heuristic), and being called doctor for the day (any more than that and people start asking you to look at a mole on their back).
My recommendation? Pick a topic that you’re interested in or better yet, one that you can leverage to actually make some money once you’re done with school. So let’s say you’re a vice president of HR; you choose something like the decentralization of HR and do a positivistic case study of one organization that is going through this HR change process. Or you could do an interpretive study of the same topic but do a deep dive into the various stakeholders’ feelings about the change in the way HR is being delivered.
Time-saving tip: The easiest way to pick a topic is to review a bunch of dissertations on your topic (HR decentralization) and look at two sections in chapter five. One is “limitations” and the other is “suggestions for further research.”
So for the example above, a limitation would be that the researcher only used one company, or one industry, or one geographic area and you could do the same study but broaden it to include two companies or a different industry or multiple locations. Most dissertations are pretty explicit about their suggestions for further research. The advantage of this some might say lazy method is that you’ll get some ideas of places to go for the literature review.
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