No, I can't give you a thesis topic

By James Hayton,
December 6, 2016
I'm James, I'm a former physicist (PhD, Nottingham, 2007) and author of "PhD: An Uncommon Guide to Research, Writing & PhD Life".
Since 2010, I've been helping PhD students all over the world overcome barriers in their research and writing
My strategies have helped thousands of PhD students just like you to build confidence, write better and finish on time

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

Free Live Webinar:

How to adapt your PhD during the coronavirus crisis (and beyond)

Sunday 3rd May, 5pm UK time*
(6pm CET, 12 noon EDT, 9am PDT)
register free
*if you can't make the live event, you can still register and watch the recording

Stay up to date...

The PhD Academy:
Online training and support for PhD students

learn more...

For more detailed guidance and support...

The PhD Academy All-Access Pass

Weekly calls with James

You don't have to do it all alone! Get the All Access Pass for weekly group calls and Q&A sessions with James

Every online course

Build your skills and confidence with our detailed video courses. Go at your own pace and get advice and support when you need it

Get the book!
PhD: an uncommon guide to research, writing & PhD life

order now on amazon