Demystifying the Dissertation Pillar 1: How Do I Choose a Dissertation Topic for the Concordia University Wisconsin DBA Program?

One of the key questions CUW Faculty regularly receive from incoming Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) students is, “How do I choose a dissertation topic?” This is a common and valid question for many students, as this can sometimes feel like a paralyzing decision. It is critical for students to find a topic that is of utmost interest to them. Here are some items to consider when identifying a dissertation topic:

Select a topic

Select a topic that you find interesting and will hold your attention for a long time. The intention of the Concordia University Wisconsin DBA Program is for you to complete your dissertation in three years; therefore, you will be working on your topic for approximately three years.

Research your topic extensively

Become immersed in the literature. Find out everything there is to know about your topic through research articles, books, etc. Identify the key scholars who write and study your topic and read their work. Consider reviewing the references listed at the end of research papers and see what sources interest you.

Review other dissertations

By reviewing other completed dissertations that you can find through library resources, you can get a sense of what other doctoral students have studied within your topic area. Pay attention to the type of study chosen (qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods). Also review the Recommended for Future Research section, as this could influence the direction of your study. As mentioned above, also be sure to study their Reference section.

Consider data accessibility

As part of the dissertation, you’ll conduct a research study, following guidelines you’ll learn about from your Internal Review Board (IRB) training. You will need to have access to the people and or data that will be part of your study. While you might have a brilliant dissertation topic idea, if the study is not feasible to conduct due to data accessibility or costs to conduct the study, it might be appropriate to choose a different topic.

Engage with faculty and other scholars in your field

Speaking with your Research Advisor, Faculty, or even peers in your cohort can act as a great sounding board to review ideas, and postulate new ones.

Ask the right questions

Questions to consider may be: Is my topic manageable in scope? Has the topic been researched before? Is the topic relevant to the field? Do I have access to the data? Is my topic original? Am I excited about my topic?

Know where to look for possible topics

Examine your own professional interests. Find scholars in the field and talk to them. Explore current theories and review previous studies. Utilize a librarian to guide you. Attend conferences and seminars. Look at your current job setting. Research and talk to others!

These are a few items to get you started thinking about Choosing Your Dissertation Topic. In the Concordia University Wisconsin DBA Program, faculty and staff will be there to support you every step of the way.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for Demystifying the Dissertation Pillar 2: What are the Key Parts of the Dissertation, and Pillar 3: What Support Will I Have to Complete the DBA Dissertation.

Learn more about the Concordia University DBA Program here:

— Dr. Jennifer Knowles, serves as assistant professor of business in the DBA program at Concordia University Wisconsin-Ann Arbor.

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