Saturday, September 08, 2012

Topic for PhD in Management

Every week I get at least one email requesting me to suggest a topic for PhD. Well, I don't understand how can someone expect me to know what their area of interest is. Getting a topic and doing research in it is not as simple as it may sound. Doing a PhD is a long process, sometimes it lasts for a few years. Its not a project work that can get over in a few days or months. The topic should be one that would retain your interest for at least the next 5 years and help you in your future research.

For people who want topics for PhD, I have compiled some emails that I got. Please go through them and try to answer their questions. My standard reply is given below.

Email 1
i am xxxxx ,old 22.. i have completed my MBA last year. i wish to do my doctrate in management..(part time in ignou bangalore). what topic can i choose???????? my specialization in MBA is (HR & SYSTEMS).........

Email 2
I am planning to do my PhD in management/ marketing or related subjects. Can you please suggest some topics...? It is urgent. Kindly reply within 1~2 days.

Email 3
Dear Sir, I am a CA and willing to pusue phd in Management. Kindly guide me the topics. Thanks

Email 4
Pls suggest me the topic for further which slightly relevant to finance or as you suggest for better work ...I will be thankful to you for this.....

Email 5
Dear Sir , I am regular reader of your web site & look forward to new subjects everytime keenly.I have done MBA with marketing as major n finance as minor please suggest relevant topic n stream for phd though i am interested to pursue phd in management . looking forward for your reply in anticipation. Thanks & Regards,

Email 6
I want to do P.hd in Managemet topic, kindly suggest me the topic management.

My Standard Answer: I suggest the following ways to narrow down on the PhD topics

Thumb rule: Topic should relate to your Bachelors or Masters subjects
The simple reason for this is that you need to have a strong foundation in the subject you wish to do research in. One way to get around this restriction is to take courses in your area of choice after you get admission into PhD program.

Research Methods / Research Methodology

Buy text books on the above subject and go through them thoroughly. I think, buying a Research Methodology text book is the first thing you should do. It would give you an idea on how to approach the subject and a systematic method of approaching the research topic. Remember, the results or conclusions of your research is not important, it’s the method you use to solve the problem. 

Academic Journals
Go through or browse articles in academic journals and editorials. You will get an idea of the latest published stuff. Look at the references of research articles, try to see which authors are cited most often. Read their papers.

Attend Academic Conferences
Go to academic conferences, attend paper presentations and talk to authors and professors doing research in that area. Listening to them and seeing their presentations would give you a clear idea on the depth you need to go into. You would also get to know the latest and hottest ideas.

Choose a research area that is at least 15 years old
You will have enough background material to start with and build your research. No research area is old or new, it’s the way you approach it. This thumb rule would help you avoid fads that have a short lifespan.

Always have a backup plan / Plan B
Most of the time, you would end up throwing out what you have done in the past. Sometimes, more than 80% of your past work goes waste. Hence, always have a Plan B.

Best of luck, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at