No, I can't give you a thesis topic

December 6, 2016

By far, the most common message I receive is a variation on the following;

"Please send me a topic for my PhD in [insert subject I've never studied]"

Over the last 6 years, I've probably been asked this at least 1000 times, with my responses ranging from the polite, to the sarcastic, to the outright rude (my response to the person who told me to "plz hurry up" fell into the latter category). So here's a quick rundown of reasons why I can't and won't.

First, I studied physics. While I know a bit about other subjects, I am not expert enough to be able to think up relevant and viable research topics on demand for them.

But ignoring that point for a moment, let's pretend I am so awesomely brilliant that I am up to date in all the research trends in every research domain; I still wouldn't know what was an appropriate research topic for you. What might be a perfectly good topic for one person may be totally unsuitable for another, and your choice of topic should not only depend on the kind of things you are interested in, but also your existing skills and your access to relevant resources.

While I have helped people refine their ideas and proposals, it has taken hours of discussion to do so. You can't just email a stranger and expect them to do it all for you.

So no, I can't provide you with a topic, but I can provide you with these hopefully helpful links;

How to choose a thesis topic

Research proposals: a good idea is not enough

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PhD: an uncommon guide to research, writing & PhD life

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