Clinical Psychology Dissertation Topics

Clinical Psychology Dissertation Topics-86
You've watched other classmates sweating over their dissertation topics, poring over the literature, agonizing over their research design, writing and editing. But students don't need to view that general area as a trajectory of their career. Ideally, dissertation advisers say, students identify a research interest in the first or second year of their program and then use that general area as a theme throughout their coursework.

You've watched other classmates sweating over their dissertation topics, poring over the literature, agonizing over their research design, writing and editing. But students don't need to view that general area as a trajectory of their career.

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Ernst-who is in the University of Texas at Austin's individual differences and evolutionary psychology program-has spent her entire graduate career researching behavioral genetics.

"Selecting the topic sort of fell into place naturally as a product of the research I have been doing for the past five years," Ernst says.

"I know when I go to the reference sections, and I'm not finding any new things-when I keep turning up the same things over and over again," Foster says.

IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM AND QUESTIONS Once you feel confident that you've covered the literature, identify the rationale for your study, why it's important and what hasn't been studied about it before, Foster says.

Ask your dissertation committee-which usually comprises three or four faculty members you choose when you first begin your dissertation-for feedback on whether they believe you'll be able to recruit enough participants or obtain animals, if needed, dissertation advisers suggest.

After her extensive lit review, Ernst was able to pinpoint her research questions for her dissertation on problem behavior development, including: Are there predictable developmental trajectories for problem behaviors?Instead, experts encourage students to view the dissertation as a teaching exercise, in which they learn how to conduct, design and analyze independent research. "The topic is the foundation for everything-with a good topic and research question, you'll be set to go," says Melinda Stoops, Ph D, a director of the counseling center at Framingham State College in Framingham, Mass., who has spoken at APA conferences on writing the dissertation.Experts offer the following advice on tackling these beginning stages of your dissertation-from getting organized to narrowing your topic to identifying your problem and research questions.To do that, Cone suggests writing a paragraph or two summarizing the literature review.Then, determine what unresolved issues are identified in the most recently cited studies-and most relevant to your study.Cone and Foster also suggest that students: For example, Foster says in her research on girls' aggression, "aggression" as a keyword didn't cover it.Without trying other keywords, she would have missed key information on "delinquency" and "conduct disorders," which use similar criteria to define the population.What factors influence the development of problem behaviors for vulnerable individuals across the life span?She identified these questions by finding the gaps within the problem behavior development literature."Sometimes you are going to feel lost and like you don't know where you're going," Foster says."The reason for that is because you are trying to do several things concurrently-you're trying to learn about this whole field and get a conceptual framework of how to map out this area of research." But, it's nothing your classes haven't prepared you to take on, Foster says.

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