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The dissertation topic “hole in the ground” January 7, 2012

Posted by thinkphd in : Dissertation , trackback

A dissertation topic is like a hole in the ground.

A poor dissertation topic hole is easily dug – it is wide and shallow, and never goes past the top soil. Just any ol’ shovel will do, and most anybody can dig this one if he has enough time. This dissertation hole is a hundred miles wide, and it doesn’t tell us much about what’s under the surface.

In contrast, a good dissertation topic is like using a borer to drive a hole in the ground – deep, deep, and deeper. It is difficult to drill and goes through layer and layer and layer, down through the bedrock. It will take longer to drill this hole. Sometimes the drill point struggles and groans and shakes. The hole on the surface is deceiving because it looks small, but this dissertation hole is a hundred miles deep, and it gives us lots of information about what is truly under the surface.

Now consider your dissertation topic: is it wide and shallow, or narrow and deep?

If you are having difficulty with your topic, perhaps you are not digging the right kind of hole?

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1. Sequoiasam - January 11, 2012

That’s a great analogy. How does one narrow the topic?