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Finding the right topic for your PHD dissertation can be very challenging. Some students know what they want to write about others have no idea. One method for opening up writer’s block and getting students thinking in the right direction is using prompts. Prompts are there to get the student’s mind working which will help him or her to see problems in their wider dimension and begin to search for positive solutions and approaches.

Some suitable prompts may include the following:

  • Start with your personal interests and define them and why they interest you.

  • Students are encouraged to write about what interests them to engage their commitment and interest.

  • Brainstorming ideas with colleagues or your professor and asking for topic tips.

  • Try writing on the solution to a problem

  • Try defining general topics and breaking them down into pros and cons, such as delinquency, inner city violence, abortion, counter terrorism.

It is important to choose a PHD topic, which has plenty of research possibilities with references and sources. If you find you run out of sources to quote from you may find it difficult to complete your dissertation.

  • Study successful dissertations and see how they have been written.

  • Try to find a good writing style by studying well written texts.

  • Write short dissertations and get your professor or colleagues to read them and offer advice.

  • Seek a topic, which can be argued from either side pros or cons.

  • Search for facts and figures.

  • Look for one main idea supported by  facts.

  • Learn to argue and present facts

  • Learn to write an introduction and a conclusion

  • Look at trends and positive and negative points of view.

Once your mind has absorbed the process of the argument and writing a thesis you will be better prepared to start writing a dissertation of your own. It requires hard work and discipline to follow the task through. Never succumb to the temptation to plagiarize it must be your own work. Being original is difficult but is best attained if you really think your way through a topic and master the different arguments. Always ask yourself what is the aim of my dissertation. It is all too easy to go off course. Perhaps the best prompts of all arise from your own interests and ideas.


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