• svahl

Dissertation Ideas!

I've started narrowing down my dissertation. I've been told I have ideas that "need multi-generational solutions," which indicates that I might have to focus my ideas a little.


My advisor gave me good direction by telling me to come up with 25 things that I think about all the time. Some have to do with academia, but not all. From this, I came up with a list of nouns, which wasn't so helpful from the advisor's perspective.


I then jumped into coming up with related questions. I've done some of the work before using ideation, affinity diagramming, and other knowledge categorization like mind-mapping.


This image shows a mind map I created of ideas I was interested in for my dissertation. Text is unreadable.
A career or two worth of research ideas

I initially sort of data-dumped the ideas and then started clustering. As I was doing this, I added linkages between the ideas. Then, I started more purposefully separating them into main ideas vs. more supporting ideas. That is - some of these ideas will need to come up no matter which project I choose, but I don't necessarily want them to be the full focus of the dissertation. This is things like regulation, ownership and attribution, who is the creator?, and similar ideas.


After spending some time thinking about it, I'm focusing in more on the idea of AI/creativity and problem finding. That is, there is a lot of work into AI's help with brainstorming, but what about a more peer-level partner that can help identify and formulate the problem? When I'm thinking through ideas, I like to bounce them off a peer, but what if there isn't someone around to do that? Would it be possible to work with AI in a similar way? What would be the best format be to do this?


This leads to a few directions. I can look more at the technological aspect: embodied vs. not etc. I can also look more at methodology: how to iterate the process? Does introducing a bunch of the ideas at the beginning help, or should there be a more controlled release of ideas?


One of my advisors mentioned Dr. Roni Reiter-Palmon's work on creativity and problem finding, so I'm going down a rabbit hole of reading her papers. I've also obviously run into work by Dr. Mark Runco and many others.


I'm excited about this direction, and am seeing a lot of interesting potential. Now to just come up with a workable idea that is dissertation-sized.

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