Monday, February 8, 2010

What should I research for my dissertation?

After 3.5 years of night classes in downtown Chicago and then reading for and writing my comprehensive examinations (all while working full-time and having one then two and now three kids) I have been at the dissertation proposal stage for sometime now. However, I changed my topic a little over a year ago because I turned it into a chapter entitled “Qualitative Standards and Learning Outcomes for Study Abroad” for the upcoming book A History of Study Abroad: 1965 to Present to be published in March 2010 by Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad (I believe that everyone attending the upcoming Forum on Education Abroad conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA will get a copy of the book).

If I was explaining my current idea for a dissertation topic in a Twitter post it would look something like this: “Dissertation to be: Towards the Development of a Methodology to Measure Public Diplomacy Outcomes of International Education Programs”. I’m not trying to minimize a dissertation by talking about it in 140 characters. It’s just that this is all I have right now…an idea that is very interesting to me but now I need to figure out if this is a good idea for a dissertation topic and, if so, how I would even go about researching this.

Anyone have thoughts on this?

Okay, back to my lunch hour of reading all the resources on the Interagency Working Group (IAWG) on U.S. Government-Sponsored International Exchanges and Training website at Maybe I can focus my dissertation somehow on IAWG???

Photo credit: ionntag


  1. Have you thought about looking at Fulbright? I think that the English Teaching Assistant program would be particularly interesting from this perspective.

  2. @Pajarita - Many thanks for your comment. I've been doing much thinking the last few nights and focusing on the Fulbright program is a possibility and perhaps the ETA program!

  3. Hi David, I think you are definately on the right track with the dissertation.. I have now finished working full time and am now focusing on my PHD - the topic is international students and Australia's public diplomacy... I have another 3 months of reading yet till I need to confirm which way I go with this...from my initial look at the literature this area is greatly lacking...

  4. I can't really comment on the topic much (here in italy, the diplomacy results of study abroad are surely negative) but the idea of having to express your dissertation in a tweet is not at all reductive, but rather something I think everyone should have to do. Maybe in two tweets. As i learned in years of grad school there are different answers for different publics when they ask "what's your diss on?", but in all cases you must summarize!