If you are thinking about pursing a PhD in marketing, one of the hardest things can be deciding what to do your research and write your dissertation on. It’s probably naïve to think that you’ll just be able to pick a topic without outside influence on your decision. First of all, you’ll probably get pushed into doing something that is related to your advisor’s research or interests, or that there is funding in your department for. Secondly, your research will be constrained by what types of resources you have available to you—for instance, are there datasets to use or will you have to collect your own?
When you do begin working to narrow down your topic idea there are a few questions you should ask yourself:
The first thing that you should realize is that you are going to be working on this project for years. This is probably longer than any single project you’ve done in the past, so it is really important that you pick something that interests you and that you think will be able to hold your interests. You should also think about whether doing this work will help you get to where you want to be in the future. Is it the subject you want to specialize in for your career, or is it a stepping stone to that? If not, it may be a mistake to pigeon hole yourself in it.
You should also think about whether the work has already been done. In other words, does original primary research need to be done to answer the question you are looking at, or can it be answered by work that has already been done.
If you don’t have the means or skills to collect the data that you would need, its better to let that particular research question go. You’ll end up spending more of your time worrying about the data than actually doing your analysis.
You must also make sure that you aren’t just researching a general idea, but that you are answering a specific question or testing a hypothesis.