Step 1 : Explore a Topic


Examine potential dissertation topics based on personal interests and faculty research interests.

  • Talk with faculty about their research interests and any active research they are in the process of pursuing
  • Talk with other members of the DPCES cohorts about your ideas and get feedback from them
  • Begin thinking about using papers and assignments in DPCES core coursework as springboards for research into possible dissertation topics
  • Consider keeping a journal of your research process and progress

Library Resources:

  • Dissertation Handbook, p. 9
  • Library Orientation
  • Library Homepage - From here you can access the library catalog, databases, Instruction Services, Subject Resources, Reference Desk, Library News and Net search Tools.
  • Borrowing privileges - Circulation Policies
  • Psychology and Counseling Subject Resource Page - Selected Psychology and Counseling Databases, Tests and Measurements, Selected Subject Resources, Electronic Journals, Organizations, Career Resources, and many other useful resources.
  • NetLibrary - e-book collection
  • WorldCat - Books and other materials in libraries worldwide
  • Interlibrary Loan - Interlibrary loan (ILL) services provide eligible patrons with resources which are NOT available in the Regent University Library . The above link has the policies regarding the service. Note: Click on the First Time users link to create a username and password if you want to use Illiad or Interlibrary Loan Services.
  • Reference Services - virtual librarian, copyright information, virtual reference resources, database guides, Washington Campus Services, Library, reference desk hours.
  • The Virtual Reference Desk is particularly helpful to the distance students. The software allows a librarian to guide you with a search using live webpages. Students can chat instantly with the librarian on duty. The desk is open from Monday-Friday 2-3p.m. and Monday-Thursday 9-10p.m.
  • Digital Dissertations - Citations and abstracts to doctoral dissertations and master's theses. Full-text access also for some of the dissertations.
  • Psychology and Counseling Librarian: Marta Lee

John's Experience:

In his first semester in the program, John starts thinking about his topic area for his dissertation. He has a few general ideas of what he'd like to do some research in, but he's still unclear about exactly what he should write about at this stage. In talking to some of his fellow cohort members, he discovers he's not the only one at this stage of the process.

View the steps John takes to hone down his dissertation topic and begin his research.

Pitfalls to Avoid:

  • Don't rush into choosing a dissertation topic; begin to think about your topic early in the program.
  • Don't choose a topic reactively or precipitously.
  • Don't "fall in love" with a topic; don't be unwilling to revise it or have to mourn the loss of it if a faculty member is not available to be your chair.
  • Don't spend a lot of time researching a topic in which no faculty member has a research interest, or it may be time wasted.
  • Don't pick too expansive a topic that takes too long to finish, or a topic that is too limited and not reflective of doctoral dissertation inquiry. Spend sufficient time thinking about possible topics, researching them, and talking about them with your dissertation committee. Be willing to select a topic that is less ambitious but more manageable for the project at hand.