The topic of your dissertation must be worthy of researching. But how can you know, that it is? These requirements help.

1. It is a real PhD topic, if it is a topic at all

You can recognize a topic by these characteristics:

  • A topic contains more than 5 definable words.
  • The subject has at least two nouns with a relationship between them.
  • A problematization and thus question is recognizable in the topic.
  • A research gap, research question, research objectives and expected results can be derived
  • Ensure that this criteria is met.

2. It is a real PhD topic, if I present new findings at the end, a new model.

New knowledge means knowledge that does not yet exist anywhere else in documented form. This is practically a new model.

The result of research is ALWAYS a model, i.e. a representation of reality. This also applies to descriptions in literature!

3. It is a real PhD topic if I can publish the findings first.

Obviously, you need to be the first to publish your findings. This is only possible if you can foresee at the beginning what kind of knowledge you will gain and how you can obtain it. If you can foresee that the topic is too complicated or rather a team topic, then look for another topic.

By the way, this is a very good incentive to finish quickly because then no one will beat you to it. Write a cumulative PhD instead, then your chances increase of being first.

4. My topic is worthy of promotion if my model is based on existing models

You should use common terms so people will understand you. But that is not the most important thing!

You need a solid foundation for your arguments in the form of assured knowledge. This knowledge is already tested which will save you time and help you gain new knowledge faster.

A completely new topic is not good at all. Then you can't build on any insights in the field.

5. My subject is worthy of a doctorate if I use scientific methods

Scientific methods are all those techniques, means and concepts that are suitable for obtaining knowledge because they reliably enable new insight to be gained.

This includes all possible methods of data collection and analysis, regardless of the source. The methods must allow for a targeted collection of data and ensure data quality.

The analysis must be possible without gaps. You have to be able to gain new insight based on what is known with the help of the acquired data, using specific methods.

The methods must be known and documented. You have to describe them so that others can test them the same way you did, and thus repeat your procedure. This way your results can be checked and confirmed.

6. My topic is worthy of a doctorate if I work with empirical data

Processing existing knowledge from scientific sources is undoubtedly a scientific achievement. Such a so-called review, however, has its limits.

By evaluating say 100 existing studies, certain new insights can be gained. BUT: it is quite impossible that these new findings can be regarded as validated without empirical verification. These findings must be empirically verified. The review can and must be the starting point, but we still need empirical data.

Empirical data is diverse, as this list shows:

  • Documents of players such as minutes, interviews, mission statements,
  • Opinions,
  • Polls,
  • Observations of all kinds,
  • Measured values of certain quantities.

So once we complete the literature review, we need a research design to collect and analyze empirical data.

7. My topic is worthy of a doctorate if other researchers can repeat the procedure without gaps

Your actions must be describable. This is the only way someone can check whether your findings are correct. So test the topic at the beginning to see if you can explain your procedure to someone. Be on your guard if that sounds complicated.

Make sure that your topic is worthy of promotion from the beginning. This saves you a lot of revising and duplication of work.

Good luck writing your text!

Silvio and the Team Aristolo

PS: Check out the PhD Guide for writing a PhD in 200 days.