Who can help you formulate a clear, simple and defensible dissertation project? Clearly, that is what committee members do for their students. But, committee members and chairs typically are not that helpful with the “up front” work required to figure out a good dissertation question to ask.
Who can help out then? Perhaps you believe the only people who can be helpful are colleagues who are familiar with the field. After all, they are generally familiar with the research and what type of dissertation your committee members are willing to accept. There is no doubt that committee members can be very helpful.
What about your friends who have little interest in scientific research? Should you even bother talking with them about your dissertation? Would they really understand the complexity of it all? I say yes.
I believe it is helpful to talk with all of your friends and family about your dissertation project. You will surely get blank stares and yawns in the beginning, With each explanation of your dissertation comes greater clarity on your part. As you hear yourself talk you are more clear about what you are doing.
Clarity comes from having to explain the idea to someone who knows nothing about the research area. Once people begin to tell you that your idea is interesting – you have a viable project.
Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.