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The science of motivation

Kou Murayama

Motivation is important in almost every aspect of human behavior. When you make a decision, your choice is certainly influenced by your motivational state. When you study mathematics, your motivation to study mathematics clearly affects the way you learn it. Despite its obvious importance, empirical research on motivation has been segregated in different areas for long years, making it difficult to establish an integrative view on motivation. For example, I studied a number of motivation theories proposed in educational psychology (as my PhD is in educational psychology) but these theories are not connected with the motivational theories studied in social psychology or organizational psychology. Furthermore, the way motivation is defined and theorized is fundamentally different in cognitive/affective neuroscience (Murayama, in press). In other fields such as cognitive psychology, motivation has been normally treated as a nuisance factor that needs to be controlled (see Simon, 1994).

The times have changed, however. In recent years, researchers have recognized the importance of more unified and cross-disciplinary approach to study motivation (Braver et al., 2014). This multidisciplinary, multimethod pursuit, called Motivation Science, is now an emerging field (Kruglanski, Chemikova & Kopez, 2015). Our Motivation Science lab takes an integrative approach, drawing from multiple disciplines (e.g., cognitive, social and educational psychology, cognitive/social neuroscience) and multiple approaches (e.g., behavioral experiments, longitudinal data analysis, neuroimaging, meta-analysis, statistical simulation/computational modeling, network analysis ). We explore a number of overlapping basic and applied research questions with the ultimate goal of providing an integrated view on human motivation.

Motivation and learning

If you are motivated, you learn better and remember more of what you learned. This sounds like an obvious fact, but our lab showed that the reality is more nuanced. The critical fact is that not all motivations are created equal.

In the literature of achievement goals, for example, people study primarily for two different goals — to master materials and develop their competence, which are called mastery goals, and to perform well in comparison to others, which are called performance goals (Dweck, 1986; Nicholls, 1984). Mastery goals and performance goals represent the same overall quantity of motivation, but they are qualitatively distinct types of motivation. We conducted a series of behavioral experiments to examine how these two different types of motivation influence learning (Murayama & Elliot, 2011).

In the study, participants were engaged in a problem-solving task and received a surprise memory test related to the task. Critically, participants performed the problem-solving task with different goals. Participants in the mastery goal condition were told that the goal was to develop their cognitive ability through the task, whereas those in the performance goal condition were told that their goal was to demonstrate their ability relative to other participants. The participants in the performance goal condition showed better memory performance in an immediate memory test, but when the memory was assessed one week later, participants in the mastery goal condition showed better memory performance. These results indicate that performance goals help short-term learning, whereas mastery goals facilitate long-term learning.

That was a laboratory study where the learning situation was somewhat artificial. To further test whether mastery orientation facilitates long-term learning, we turned to an existing longitudinal survey dataset. In this study, we used longitudinal survey data on more than 3,000 schoolchildren from German schools (Murayama, Pekrun, Lichtenfeld & vom Hofe, 2013). Using latent growth curve modeling, we showed that items which focus on the performance aspect of learning (“In math I work hard, because I want to get good grades”) in Grade 7 predicted the immediate math achievement score whereas items focusing on the mastery aspect of learning (“I invest a lot of effort in math, because I am interested in the subject”) in Grade 7 predicted the growth in math achievement scores over three years. These results mirror our findings from the lab, providing convergent evidence that mastery-based motivation supports long-term learning whereas performance-based motivation only helps short-term learning.

With some additional neuroimaging and behavioral experiments, we are now examining the underlying mechanisms of this time dependent effect of motivation (Ikeda, Castel, & Murayama, 2015; Murayama et al., 2015).

Reward and motivation

Do rewards enhance learning outcomes? This is a question that has long sparked controversy in education literature. According to recent findings in cognitive neuroscience, the answer seems to be yes. Indeed, there have been a number of studies, including ours (Murayama & Kitagami, 2014), that have shown that rewards (e.g., money) enhance learning due to the modulation of hippocampal function by the reward network in the brain (Adcock, Thangavel, Whitfield-Gabrielli, Knutson & Gabrieli, 2006). On this basis, some argue for the value of reward in education (Howard-Jones & Jay, 2016).

But research in social psychology has also found that extrinsic rewards can sometimes undermine intrinsic motivation when people are engaged in an interesting task. This phenomenon, called the undermining effect or overjustification effect (Deci, Koestner & Ryan, 1999; Lepper, Greene & Nisbett, 1973), suggests that extrinsic rewards are not always beneficial for learning.

To demonstrate this possibility, we replicated the undermining effect using a neuroimaging method (Murayama, Matsumoto, Izuma & Matsumoto, 2010). Participants were randomly assigned to a reward group or a control group and engaged in a game task while being scanned inside an fMRI machine. Participants in the reward group were instructed that they would receive performance-based monetary rewards whereas participants in the control condition did not receive such instructions (i.e., they played the game just for fun). After the scanning session, we found that participants in the reward group showed less voluntary engagement in the task than those in the control group, indicating that their intrinsic motivation for the task was undermined by the introduction of extrinsic rewards. A follow-up brain imaging session showed that the undermining effect was reflected in the decreased activation in the striatum, part of the reward network in the brain.

The undermining effect suggests that rewards may not benefit learning on tasks that people would perform without extrinsic incentives (i.e., interesting tasks). To directly test this possibility, we examined learning performance on interesting and boring trivia questions when participants were rewarded (Murayama & Kuhbandner, 2011). The results showed that working on a trivia question task for a reward enhanced memory performance (in comparison to a non-reward condition) after a delay, but this was the case only for boring trivia questions. This outcome indicates an important limit of the facilitation of learning by extrinsic rewards — they may be effective only when the task does not have intrinsic value. As we showed elsewhere, intrinsically interesting tasks are memorable by themselves (Fastrich, Kerr, Castell & Murayama, in press; McGillivray, Murayama & Castel, 2015), and rewarding intrinsically interesting learning materials may be a waste of money (i.e., no benefit of rewards) or even detrimental to later engagement or performance.

In sum, this line of findings showed a nuanced picture of how rewards facilitate learning. Surely rewards are effective in motivating people and enhancing learning, and this is supported by a neural link between the motivation (reward) and memory systems in the brain. But there are certain conditions, such as when a task is intrinsically interesting, where rewards may undermine motivation and thus bring no benefits for learning.

Competition and motivation

In our society, it is common for authority figures to introduce competition as a means to increase people’s motivation and performance. But does this assumption that competition is an effective way to increase people’s motivation and performance have an empirical basis? A large empirical literature has addressed the effects of competition on performance, but these studies have been conducted rather separately and no integrated theoretical perspective has been offered.

To address this issue, we conducted a meta-analysis to quantitatively synthesize the previous studies on the effects of competition (Murayama & Elliot, 2012). When we computed the average effect of competition on performance, with 174 studies (more than 30,000 participants) including both experimental and survey studies, we found a very small average effect (r = 0.03, 95% CI = [-.00, .06]). We tried to identify potential moderating factors, but none emerged. However, we observed considerable variability in effect sizes across studies.

One straightforward interpretation is that competition has virtually no effects on task performance. But this does not fit with our phenomenological experience of competition. When we are placed in competitive situations, we can clearly feel that our motivation is altered. Therefore, we proposed an alternative motivational model that could explain the puzzlingly weak competition-performance link.

According to our model, when we face competition, we adopt two different types of motivational goals: performance-approach goals and performance-avoidance goals (Elliot & Harackiewicz, 1996).  Performance-approach goals are goals that focus on positive outcomes of the competition (“My goal is to outperform others”) whereas performance-avoidance goals focus on negative outcomes (“My goal is not to do worse than others”). Importantly, previous research has shown that performance-approach goals positively predict task performance whereas performance-avoidance goals negatively predict performance (Elliot & Church, 1997).

We posited that competition triggers both performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals, and that these co-activated goals cancel each other out (because they have opposing effects), producing an ostensiblye weak effect. We tested this “opposing processes model of competition and performance” with an additional meta-analysis, longitudinal surveys, and a behavioral experiment, providing strong support for the model. These results indicate that competition engages multi-faceted motivational processes, which explains why the introduction of competition does not consistently bring motivational benefits (see also Murayama & Elliot, 2009).

Curiosity, metamotivation and motivation contagion

We are currently working on several different projects on motivation, with the core aim of unraveling the nature and function of intrinsic rewards in human behavior. Although extrinsic incentives undoubtedly play an important role in shaping our behavior, humans are endowed with the remarkable capacity to engage in a task without such incentives, by self-generating intrinsic rewards. Forms of motivation triggered by intrinsic rewards are often referred to as interest, curiosity or intrinsic motivation. But the psychological and neural mechanisms underlying the generation of intrinsic rewards are largely unclear (Braver et al., 2014).

For example, we are currently examining the neural correlates when curiosity leads us to make a seemingly irrational decision. There are a number of anecdotal stories where curiosity pushes people to expose themselves knowingly to bad consequences, such as Pandora’s box, Eve and the forbidden tree, and Orpheus, but this seductive rewarding power of curiosity has been underexamined in the literature (for exceptions, see Hsee and Ruan, 2015; Oosterwijk, 2017). In our ongoing project, we present participants with magic tricks (to induce curiosity) and ask them whether they are willing to take a risk of receiving electric shock to know the secret behind the magic tricks. The preliminary findings from our neuroimaging analysis indicated that the striatum is associated with people’s decision to take such a risk to satisfy their curiosity, suggesting that internal “rewards” play a critical role for curiosity to guide our decision making.

Although intrinsic rewards and extrinsic rewards play a similar role in some situations, some aspects of intrinsic rewards are unique. One such aspect is metamotivation. Metamotivational belief refers to our beliefs and understanding of how motivation works (Miele & Scholer, 2018; Murayama, 2014; Scholer, Miele, Murayama & Fujita, in press). Like recent findings on metacognition (Kornell & Bjork, 2008; Murayama, Blake, Kerr & Castel, 2016), our studies indicate that people are often inaccurate in their beliefs about the motivating property of intrinsic rewards. Specifically, when we asked participants to work on a boring task and to make a prediction about how interesting the task would be, their prediction was inaccurate. Their predicted task engagement was less than their actual task engagement, indicating that people tend to underestimate their power to generate intrinsic rewards when faced with boring tasks (Murayama, Kuratomi, Johnsen, Kitagami & Hatano., under review). This inaccuracy of our metamotivational belief could partly explain why authority figures are often so reliant on extrinsic rewards to motivate other people (Murayama et al., 2016).

There may be multiple ways that we generate intrinsic rewards. One may be through observational effects (Bandura, 1977). Imagine that you have a friend who likes mathematics. Even if you initially did not like mathematics, observing your friend enjoying mathematics repeatedly may create a fictive internal reward, making you feel as if you also like mathematics. We call this motivation contagion (Burgess, Riddell, Fancourt & Murayama, under review), and we are working on several different behavioral and neuroimaging studies to explore this idea using a variety of network analysis methodologies. Through behavioral experiments, diary methods and computational modeling, our lab also explores other channels through which humans generate intrinsic rewards (e.g., intrinsic rewards produced by challenging situation).

In sum, motivation matters. But at the same time, we need a comprehensive picture of how different types of motivation fit and function together to produce behavior. Our Motivation Science Lab is working to achieve this integrated understanding of human motivation.


The work described here was funded by the Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (PCIG14-GA-2013-630680), JSPS KAKENHI (15H05401 and 16H06406), a grant from the American Psychological Foundation (F.J. McGuigan Early Career Investigator Prize), Leverhulme Trust Project Grant (RPG-2016-146), and Leverhulme Research Leadership Award (RL-2016-030). I thank my collaborators on these projects, including Andrew Elliot, Reinhard Pekrun, Alan Castel and Kenji Matsumoto.

Adcock, R.A., Thangavel, A., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., Knutson, B., & Gabrieli, J.D.E. (2006). Reward-motivated learning: Mesolimbic activation precedes memory formation. Neuron, 50 (3), 507-517.

Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Educational Psychology Review, 84 , 191-215.

Braver, T.S., Krug, M.K., Chiew, K.S., Kool, W., Clement, N.J., Adcock, A., Barch, D.M., Botvinick, M.M., Carver, C.S., Cols, R., Custers, R., Dickinson, A.R., Dweck, C.S., Fishbach, A., Gollwitzer, P.M., Hess, T.M., Isaacowitz, D.M., Mather, M., Murayama, K., Pessoa, L., Samanez-Larkin, G.R., & Somerville, L.H. (2014). Mechanisms of motivation-cognition interaction: Challenges and opportunities. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 14 , 443-472.

Burgess, L., Riddell, P., Fancourt, A., & Murayama, K. (under review). The influence of social contagion within education: A review.

Deci, E.L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R.M. (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 125 , 627-668.

Dweck, C.S. (1986). Motivational process affects learning. American Psychologist, 41 , 1010-1018.

Elliot, A.J., & Church, M.A. (1997). A hierarchical model of approach and avoidance achievement motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72 , 218-232.

Elliot, A.J., & Harackiewicz, J.M. (1996). Approach and avoidance achievement goals and intrinsic motivation: A mediational analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70 , 461-475.

Fastrich, G.M., Kerr, T., Castel, A.D., & Murayama, K. (in press). The role of interest in memory for trivia questions: An investigation with a large-scale database. Motivation Science .  

Howard-Jones, P. & Jay, T. (2016). Reward, learning and games. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 10 , 65-72.

Hsee, C.K., & Ruan, B. (2016). The pandora effect: The power and peril of curiosity. Psychological Science .

Ikeda, K., Castel, A.D., & Murayama, K. (2015). Mastery-approach goals eliminate retrieval-induced forgetting: The role of achievement goals in memory inhibition. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41 , 687-695.

Kornell, N., & Bjork, R.A. (2008). Learning concepts and categories: Is spacing the “enemy of induction”? Psychological Science, 19 (6), 585-592.

Kruglanski, A., Chernikova, M., & Kopetz, C. (2015). Motivation science. In R. Scott & S. Kosslyn (Eds.), Emerging trends in the social and behavioral sciences. New York: Wiley.

Lepper, R.M., Greene. D., Nisbett. E.R., (1973). Undermining children's Intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward: A test of the "overjustification" hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 28 , 129-137.

McGillivray, S., Murayama, K., & Castel, A. D. (2015). Thirst for knowledge: The effects of curiosity and interest on memory in younger and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 30 (4), 835-841.

Miele, D.B., & Scholer, A.A. (2018). The role of metamotivational monitoring in motivation regulation. Educational Psychologist, 53 (1), 1-21.

Murayama, K. (2014). Knowing your motivation: Metamotivation. Annual Review of Japanese Child Psychology (Special Issue on Motivation and Psychology) , 112–116 (in Japanese).

Murayama, K. (in press). Neuroscientific and psychological approaches to incentives: Commonality and multi-faceted views. In A. Renninger & S. Hidi (Eds.), Cambridge handbook on motivation and learning. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Murayama, K., Kitagami, S., Tanaka, A., & Raw, J. A. (2016). People's naiveté about how extrinsic rewards influence intrinsic motivation. Motivation Science, 2 , 138-142.

Murayama, K., Pekrun, R., Lichtenfeld, S., & vom Hofe, R. (2013). Predicting long-term growth in students' mathematics achievement: The unique contributions of motivation and cognitive strategies. Child Development, 84 (4), 1475-1490.

Murayama, K., & Elliot, A.J. (2009). The joint influence of personal achievement goals and classroom goal structures on achievement-relevant outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101 (2), 432-447.

Murayama, K., & Elliot, A.J. (2011). Achievement motivation and memory: Achievement goals differentially influence immediate and delayed remember–know recognition memory. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37 (10), 1339-1348.

Murayama, K., & Elliot, A.J. (2012). The competition–performance relation: A meta-analytic review and test of the opposing processes model of competition and performance. Psychological Bulletin, 138 (6), 1035-1070.

Murayama, K., Blake, A., Kerr, T., & Castel, A. D (2016). When enough is not enough: Information overload and metacognitive decisions to stop studying information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42 (6), 914-924.

Murayama, K. & Kitagami, S. (2014). Consolidation power of extrinsic rewards: Reward cues enhance long-term memory for irrelevant past events. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143 , 15-20.

Murayama, K., & Kuhbandner, C. (2011). Money enhances memory consolidation — but only for boring material. Cognition, 119 (1), 120-124.

Murayama, K., Kuratomi, K., Johnsen, L., Kitagami, S., & Hatano, A. (under review). Metacognitive inaccuracy of predicting one’s intrinsic motivation.

Murayama, K., Matsumoto, M., Izuma, K., & Matsumoto, K. (2010). Neural basis of the undermining effect of monetary reward on intrinsic motivation. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107 (49), 20911-20916.

Murayama, K., Matsumoto, M., Izuma, K., Sugiura, A., Ryan, R.M., Deci, E.L., & Matsumoto, K. (2015). How self-determined choice facilitates performance: A key role of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 25 (5), 1241-1251.

Nicholls, J. G. (1984). Achievement motivation: Conceptions of ability, subjective experience, task choice, and performance. Psychological Review, 91 , 328-346.

Oosterwijk S (2017) Choosing the negative: A behavioral demonstration of morbid curiosity. PLoS ONE 12 (7): e0178399.

Scholer, A.A., Miele, D.B., Murayama, K., & Fujita, K. (in press). New directions in self-regulation: The role of metamotivational beliefs. Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Simon, H.A. (1994). The bottleneck of attention: Connecting thought with motivation. In W. D. Spaulding (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation, Vol. 41. Integrative views of motivation, cognition, and emotion . (pp. 1-21): Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.: University of Nebraska Press.

The views expressed in Science Briefs are those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions or policies of APA.

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phd topics in motivation

7 Ways To Successfully Keep Your Motivation During Your PhD

phd topics in motivation

Written by Jeanette McConnell, PhD

I reached a place in the third year of my PhD studies when I couldn’t see the point anymore.

Running one reaction after another, making yet another molecule to test and characterize.

I wasn’t learning anything, I wasn’t making any grand discoveries, and it wasn’t exciting.

I didn’t know how to deal with the stress, anxiety, and depression that I faced on a daily basis.

I was burnt out.

I used to find lab work exciting.

I was the first one in the lab in the morning and I couldn’t wait to find out how the newly synthesized molecule faired in my biological tests.

I was filled with drive and motivation.

But at the beginning of year three, it was gone.

When I talked to my family, they couldn’t understand. “ You’ve lost your motivation? But, you’re trying to cure cancer!? ”

No, no I’m not.

I’m cooking up and purifying useless compounds all day long.

I wondered how I got to this point.

Where was the passion and motivation that had gotten me this far?

Determined to get my mojo back, I did some research.

I found out that I wasn’t alone . I read tons of stories about other people overcoming their personal motivation loss — in academia, in a job, in fitness, and in writing.

It was inspiring.

I tried to absorb all the information and loved the support I received from my alternative career mentor .

I started to take care of myself.

I went to the gym and practiced yoga.

I reconnected with my passion for soccer.

And, I remembered why I began this PhD in the first place.

I figured out a way to re-inject some adventure into a project that I had completely lost interest in.

With each change I made, I felt the motivation and passion return, not only for my research, but also for my life.

phd topics in motivation

Why Losing Motivation In Grad School Is Normal

First, remember that you are not alone in your motivation loss.

Even Usain Bolt, the only sprinter in history to win both the 100m and 200m gold medal at three consecutive Olympics, struggles with motivation.

Before the 2016 Olympic games, he told The Guardian that he struggled to get out of bed for training.

Sustaining motivation toward a goal that is several years away is daunting.

According to a survey by the NSF , the average time taken to earn a PhD from the beginning of the doctoral program is 5.7 years. And according to the NIH , a postdoc lasts between 2 to 7 years, on average.

That’s a potential 12-13 years trying to maintain your passion and motivation, despite grueling and frustrating work.

(Sound too long to you? Take a look at the reasons why PhDs should stop applying for postdocs and start applying for research scientist positions .)

Based on those long timelines, it’s not surprising that according to a study by The Council of Graduate Schools, 44% of doctoral students lose their motivation and do not complete their degree within 10 years.

That’s a 44% dropout rate for doctoral candidates.

So how do you become part of the 56% of students who find their motivation and finish their degree?

PhD students must go past their comfort zones and expand their personal limits

7 Ways To Not Lose Your Motivation As A PhD Or Postdoc

Losing motivation is normal, particularly when you’re facing real challenges.

The kind that are daunting, even scary… but definitely uncomfortable.

According to motivational speaker and former clinical defense attorney Mel Robbins , we will only ever feel motivated to do the things that are easy.

Resilience, as developed by persevering through adversity and rejecting the comfort zones we love so much, is the real path to success in industry, and anywhere else.

This is what makes PhDs the most sought after job candidates .

Your ability to take life’s most challenging problems and try and find solutions.

You will do an experiment countless times if you feel it will take you one step closer to uncovering the truth.

There are days when you want to give up (which you now know is normal).

There will be days when you wonder why you started in the first place.

A PhD success story is always about one that never gave up and fought against motivation crashes.

Here are seven ways to maintain your motivation as a PhD or postdoc…

1. See the big picture.

It is easy to become demotivated by a never-ending to-do list of mundane tasks.

Ditch your addiction to the to-do list and focus on how each action you take contributes to a larger overall goal.

In the Harvard Business Review article, The Power of Small Wins , researchers showed that employees were more motivated and happy when they felt they were making progress toward their overall goal.

What is your big picture goal?

If you have forgotten it along the way — go dig it back up.

Now, write it down.

Focus on how each action you take during the day gets you one step closer to that goal.

Be purposeful with your actions so that they actually do serve your big picture goal.

Celebrate small successes on your path to a PhD

2. Celebrate successes.

Achieving any big goal doesn’t happen overnight.

It’s important to celebrate all the successes along the way.

Celebrate your big wins, as well as the small ones.

Celebrate your coworkers’ wins.

Celebrate your supervisor’s wins.

Beyond bringing some fun into your life, celebrating small successes along your path brings joy back into the journey.

The technique of celebrating can be incredibly helpful when you’re struggling with motivation.

It breaks your rut and helps you focus on what you’re working towards, and not just what you’re frustrated with in the short-term.

On difficult days, reward yourself for the basics — even if it’s just setting up an experiment.

Over time, the impact of those rewards can be huge.

3. Focus on another passion.

A study published in the International Journal of the History of Sport found that the ‘dual-career’ demand faced by student athletes is beneficial to their performance in both areas.

When your academic achievements soar, so does your performance in other areas of your life, typically.

During struggles with motivation, identify with another passion you have and cultivate it.

Reconnect with your passion for sports, hobbies, or other talents that you have enjoyed in the past, to benefit from the ‘dual-career’ idea.

Invest time in something you are passionate about.

Do not feel guilty about spending time on something that is not your research.

The time away will benefit your research.

The motivation you feel for this second passion will flood over into your PhD or postdoc work.

4. Eat and eat well.

Most PhDs have lost count of the number of times they skipped a meal to finish an assay or start another reaction.

If you have sacrificed meals for the lab, you might have even bought into the idea that this is a sign of devotion to your project.

In reality, it’s just setting yourself up for failure.

Lack of food reduces your blood glucose level — and you need that to focus.

Your cognitive abilities are directly affected by the food you eat.

Take the time to eat a good, healthy breakfast and lunch.

Give your body the nutrients it needs, and it will reward you with top-notch focus and an improved mood.

In fact, this study in the British Journal of Health Psychology found a correlation between eating fruits and vegetables, and a higher state of mental well-being.

5. Drink water.

In addition to eating regularly, drinking an adequate amount of water is essential to maintaining your motivation.

The amount of water your body needs to function is often underestimated.

PhD candidates and postdocs tend to choose drinks with caffeine, rather than water.

Sacrificing hydration for stimulation to push through is a grad school trademark.

But an unhealthy one.

An article in Nutrition Reviews discusses how dehydration can lead to a lack of motivation, reduced cognitive function, headache, and reduced kidney function, among many other adverse physiological effects.

Give yourself a leg up and combat the contribution that dehydration is playing in your lack of motivation by drinking lots of water.

phd topics in motivation

6. Change your perspective.

You used to have motivation and passion for your project.

Try to remember why.

What about the project previously motivated you?

See your situation through the eyes of that freshly minted undergraduate.

For many, early motivation can simply be attributed to the fact that your PhD is something new.

Every new thing seems sparkling with adventure.

Until the newness burns out .

Whatever moved you to the diligence and passion you had in the beginning, try and remember what it was.

How can you bring that excitement back to your present situation?

How can you make this project you have been working on for years seem new?

How can you make this project feel new again?

It might be that learning a new technique and applying it is enough.

For others, it might be creating a new adventure by trying something new in a different part of the world.

However you reinvent newness with a new thought or process for your work, improved motivation will be a byproduct of that creative process.

7. Invest in yourself.

This one is especially tough when you are at the bottom of a motivation pit.

Think about it…

Who does your experiments?

Who analyzes your data?

Who gives your presentations?

You do (obviously).

You and your well-being are of the highest importance.

According to an article in The Guardian , happy and healthy employees are more motivated and productive.

If you are not at your best, your project and your motivation suffer.

Investing in oneself means something different for everyone.

Maybe you take the time to do yoga every morning, or go to the gym every afternoon.

Maybe you set aside Sundays to bake, play video games, or go for a long walk.

Your physical and mental health are key to regaining your motivation and maintaining that motivation throughout the rest of your PhD or postdoc.

This same work will also help you maintain that motivation and overcome frustration and depression while job-hunting after your PhD or postdoc.

It is common to lose your motivation during the long process of a PhD or postdoc. You are not alone and there is a way out. Reject the complacency of your comfort zone and the monotony that is draining your motivation and focus. Take the time to invest in your well-being, eat well, drink water, and adjust your focus. The motivation to keep going is there; you just have to let it out.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists.  Apply to book a Transition Call here.

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phd topics in motivation


Jeanette is a chemistry PhD turned science communication enthusiast. During her PhD she realized that her favorite part about research wasn’t actually doing research, but rather talking and writing about it. So, she has channeled her passion for discovery into teaching and writing about science. When she isn’t talking someone’s ear off about her latest scientific obsession, you’ll find her on the soccer field or reading a good sci-fi novel.

Jeanette McConnell, PhD

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If you have a PhD, you’re overqualified for an industry job. PhDs are lab rats and can’t understand business. You can’t get a job without industry experience. Do any of these sentences sound familiar to you? Have you been looking for an industry job unsuccessfully and have reached a point where you ask yourself if your PhD has any value whatsoever? These sentences are myths, commonly said by either academics who don’t understand anything about industry, or by other job candidates who don’t want to compete with PhDs. Hiring managers for PhD-level industry positions want the best candidates possible. After…

4 Skills PhDs Have That Employers Are Desperately Seeking

4 Skills PhDs Have That Employers Are Desperately Seeking

The number of PhDs wanting to transition out of academia increases every year. Initially, most of these PhDs were recent graduates and postdocs.  But as the crisis in academia has gotten worse, we are seeing a lot of adjunct and even tenured professors wanting to leave. They feel professionally unfulfilled in academic positions because they are overworked, work in uninspiring roles, and/or are paid marginal academic stipends, fellowships, and wages.  Far too many PhDs are unable to find any meaning or joy in their academic careers, which negatively impacts both their professional and personal lives. Unfortunately, many of these PhDs end up…

The Exciting (or, Dreadful) First 90 Days Of A New Job. Here's What To Expect

The Exciting (or, Dreadful) First 90 Days Of A New Job. Here's What To Expect

Like many PhDs, I thought I could jump into my first industry position ready to hit the ground running. Much to my surprise, this was not the case.   During the first few months of my new position, I felt like I was drowning. Everything I thought I knew about my field, how research is conducted, and how companies operate was turned on its head. I was not prepared for this major shift, and it showed. I waivered between trying to impress my managers and sitting mute in meetings, intimidated by everyone in the room. If I had known what…

The Inside Scoop On The Industry Onboarding Process

The Inside Scoop On The Industry Onboarding Process

Nothing could prepare me for the shock I received walking into my first industry onboarding experience. Literally, everything was different from what I had experienced in academia. The processes, the culture, the pace – absolutely everything. I also had no idea what onboarding meant. I heard the word tossed around but, to me, it was just the process you went through to get all the mandatory paperwork out of the way. That was so far from the truth. My first onboarding experience lasted almost 6 months. Yet, throughout that whole process, I had no idea that I was still being…

The One Productivity Hack Every PhD Needs To Get Hired In Industry

The One Productivity Hack Every PhD Needs To Get Hired In Industry

If your job search isn’t producing results, perhaps you’re doing too little. Or, just as likely, you’re doing too much… too much of the wrong things. You may think “If I just spent more hours of the day searching and applying for jobs, I’m sure to land a job eventually.” But investing more time into a job search without a strategy is time wasted. An effective job search strategy is one that conserves our most precious resource: our mental energy.   Protecting your mental energy is the one productivity hack that every PhD needs to get hired in industry. As…

3 Factors PhDs Must Consider When Deciding Company Fit

3 Factors PhDs Must Consider When Deciding Company Fit

If you recently started your job search, you probably feel the pressure of proving that you’re a good fit for the industry roles you’re applying to.  You have to carefully craft your cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile, and prepare for countless interviews just to prove you’re  qualified for a position.  This pressure can make you feel that employers hold all the power, and the only thing that matters is convincing them that you’re the best candidate for the role. Don’t let this pressure make you neglect other key components of a successful career, like company fit.  You’ll likely accept…

8 Work Qualities PhDs Should Assess When Planning A Career Move

8 Work Qualities PhDs Should Assess When Planning A Career Move

If you have a PhD, you’re among the 2% of the population who has committed to push a field of knowledge forward.  That makes you one of the most innovative people in the world. This is something special. As such, you deserve to work in a position where your tenacity and ability to solve problems are out of good use. Where you feel satisfied and are rewarded for your job. That’s why I encourage all PhDs to look for an industry position, because academia is a dead end where dreams go to die. However, you have to be strategic when…

Top Industry Career eBooks

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

Isaiah hankel, phd & arunodoy sur, phd.

Learn about the best 63 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah hankel.

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah hankel, phd.

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.

How to Get a Ph.D. in Positive Psychology

How to obtain a PhD in Positive Psychology

In order to find a satisfactory answer to this question, we asked:

After putting all of their responses to this question together, we feel like we’re in a good position to give you a satisfactory answer to this question.

Doctoral Programs in Positive Psychology

Option 1: claremont graduate university (cgu).

The Quality of Life Research Center at Claremont Graduate University offers two streams of Ph.D. positions:

Please visit their website or send an e-mail to  [email protected] if you want to find out more.

Option 2: University of East London (UEL)

Although it’s not as clear as CGU’s program, apparently there is a possibility of doing a Ph.D. at the  University of East London  as well. You can follow the link and fill in the form for further inquiry.

I will ask the current lecturers of the MAPP program at the UEL for more information and update this page accordingly.

Option 3: Get the Ph.D. position in a field of your own choice

Lisa Sansom remarked that “at the Ph.D. level, it’s more about your supervisor than the actual name of the program. Marty’s Ph.D. students at Penn don’t, as far as I know, get a Ph.D. in positive psychology but that is what they are studying effectively. Same with Barb and Sonja and most of the big names. Find the supervisor who is working and researching in the field you want to spend several years of your life and go there.”

PhD programs in positive psychology facebook

This means that if you know which branch of positive psychology (e.g. subjective wellbeing , mindfulness , resilience , positive psychotherapy  etc.) you like to do research into, you should find a positive psychology researcher who is active in that field by using this list  and then contact him or her about the possibilities for doing a Ph.D. under their guidance.

What is a Ph.D. Exactly?

A Ph.D. is a research degree while BSc and MSc (or BA and MA) are taught degrees.  In a research degree, students learn through research and take full responsibility for their learning. In other words, a Ph.D. is a relatively big research project that the research student conducts independently with only the supervision of a senior research professor at the university.

Such research projects lead to a thesis of publishable quality of roughly about 80,000 words.  The research and hence the thesis should make an original scientific contribution to the field of its study.

What does a Ph.D. in Psychology Look Like?

A Ph.D. in psychology usually takes three years full-time, and up to six years when studied part-time. What you need to consider about a Ph.D. in positive psychology, is that at the Ph.D. level, positive psychology merges with psychology in general. So, you do not need to find a university specializing in positive psychology.  In fact, even universities that do not teach positive psychology at BSc or MSc level, conduct some research on various topics that are directly related to positive psychology.

Know your Outcome

However, before you make a final decision, think carefully about the topic of your research. It would be hard to spend three years researching a topic that you’re not truly passionate about.

Ask yourself:  “Do I really want to spend at least three years, researching this particular topic?” Additionally, think about what you want to do with your Ph.D.  What is your main motivation and what do you expect to achieve through that Ph.D.?

Choosing a University

Make sure that you choose a university that is suitable for you in all respects. Gather as much information as possible beforehand. Find out about their facilities, accommodation (if required) and most importantly about their research culture.

Also, learn about your potential supervisor (e.g. about his/her research experience, publications and methods) and arrange to meet your supervisor (or at least contact him/her by email) even before applying for the course, to see if they are willing to supervise your proposed topic. Be aware of miscalculating what is required of you.

How to get Funding or a Scholarship?

Securing the necessary funding for your Ph.D. is another vital step in achieving your research ambitions and there are various funding systems.

Obviously, one method is raising your own private funds (self-funding), but most people rely on studentships granted by the university or a research body (e.g. Medical Research Council in the UK) that supports the university. Your chosen university can provide details of such grants.

Make sure that you understand the available funding systems, the eligibility criteria for each scheme and the extent of the support provided by each arrangement, before applying for the course.

An important point to remember is the fact that Ph.D.’s supported by studentships, grants or scholarships usually relate to a specific topic. Such subject matters could cover a wide spectrum or can be associated with a narrowly defined area. This will limit your choices, so you need to search far and wide to find the studentship that supports your favorite topic.

Further Resources

Visit the following websites to see a selection of advertised studentships and additional information about Ph.D. places.

That’s all there is to it!

We wish you the best of luck in finding a Ph.D. position within the field of Positive Psychology! If there’s anything that we can help you with please don’t hesitate to ask.

All the best!

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Article feedback

What our readers think.

Yashu Bhargav

Nirwan University, Jaipur (NUJ) has a strong commitment to high quality research and aims to enhance the professional competence of the scholars. The University offers Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) Programme to the eligible scholars, who are interested in doing research. Every candidate is expected to follow the procedures laid down for fulfilling the requirements of Ph.D. Programme of the University & University Grant Commission (UGC).

Jacqueline Burnett-Brown

I hold a PhD in psychology, an MS in counseling psychology, and post-doc work in marriage and family therapy – do I need to pursue further studies in positive psychology to obtain a license to practice as a positive psychotherapist?

Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

Hi Jacqueline,

The requirements to become licensed and practice as a therapist tend to differ between locations. Generally, yes, you need to complete a number of practicum hours, be supervised by another licensed therapist, and obtain a license to begin practicing. To help, we recently released a comprehensive guide on becoming a therapist to help you figure out these requirements. You can learn more about the guide here .

Hope this helps!

– Nicole | Community Manager

Margeret Forchione

Hi , i want to know more about funding system .. I’m from Egypt and i want really have PhD in positive psychology but have some issues with it’s fees

shripuja S

I’m an psychology post graduate from India. I do not have funds for my PhD. I would like to do my PhD in positive psychology. How do u suggest me to go about it.


yes , wonderful to be part of this affirmation community .Appreciative enquiry is the leading topic and relevant topic today .I live in India and I want to pursue Ph.D. in this field . How can some one help me

Hugo le Roux Guthrie

I am interested in positive psychology in changing the lives of the severely mentally ill. I believe a real connection with positive life will lead against what exists in Australia as a culture of failure, abominably referred to as “mental health” ( what I call ‘Pantosis’) As you would understand low expectations lead to low outcomes. Please contact that I may more substantially raise awareness of ability to overcome for the neglected and assigned; those who are said to be psychotic.


Pointer: consult your GP whether there are any sort of IAPT solutions (Improving Access to Mental Treatment) in your area.


Mr zolfagharifard salam.etelat dar morede gereftane paziresh PHD dar reshteye positive psychology mikham.che tor mitunam ba shoma tamas dashte basham?sepasgozar

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PhD in Leadership Studies Dissertation Topics

The following dissertations were successfully defended by students in our PhD in Leadership Studies program:

Adell, Robbie - Principal Mentoring in Western North Carolina:  An Investigation Of The Existence Of A Relationship Between Participation In A Mentoring Program And The Years Of Service Of A Mentored Principal

Alexander, Heather - Relationships Between Leadership Styles And Self-Efficacy Among Public School Principals Employed In Western North Carolina

Allen, Deborah - An Examination Of Inclusion In A Rural, Public Middle School In Tennessee

Amchin, Deb - The Effect Of Building Assessment Coordination Tasks On Elementary Counselors’ Ability To Provide Test Anxiety Reduction Curriculum To Third Graders

Anderson, Aaron - High School Course Taking Patterns And Achievement In Mathematics

Antisdel, Noah - A Case Study On The Impact Of University Business Decisions On Nontraditional And Online Student Persistence

Bailey, Mitch - Examining The Effectiveness Of Instructional Coaching Through The Implementation Of Reading First In Southeastern Kentucky Schools

Baker, Almaria - Teacher Perceptions Of Early Childhood Assessment In An Urban School District

Baker, Diana - Teacher Perceptions Of Efficacy Teaching ELL Students In Mainstream Classrooms In Selected Appalachian Kentucky Districts

Baugh, Mary - An exploration Of Digital Literacy Practices In Kentucky

Bennett, Doug - Impact Of Combining Key Principles From Instruction And Technology To Computer Assisted Learning Design

Bergantz, Letitia - Kind And Level Of Motivation Among Paramedic Students In Two Community Colleges In Alabama;  An Application Of Maslow's Deficiency Motivation In Program Selection

Betsworth, Heather - Measuring The Technological Creativity Of Kentucky Teachers: A Comparison Between Educational Sectors

Bogale, Nasser - Job Satisfaction, Career Departure, And Mobility Intentions Among School Principals In Southern Ethiopia

Bohman-Rigsby, Amy - Teacher Experience And Student Achievement:  A Correlational Study

Bolander, Jennifer-The Impact Of Leadership On Teacher Efficacy In Collaborative And Inclusive Classrooms

Bolton, Nathan - Examining The Availability Of Ministries For People With Autism Within The Kentucky Southern Baptist Convention

Bonzo-Sims, Laura - Effectiveness Of Mathematics Interventions On Closing The College And Career Readiness Gap In An Urban Kentucky School District

Booker Jr., John - A Causal-Comparative Analysis Of Different Leadership Styles Of NAIA College Football Coaches

Bowling, Joyce - Teachers' Perceptions Of Classroom Websites And Their Effect On Parental Involvement

Boyle, Shawn - Social studies and reading scores:  an administrative concern

Boyle, Tucker - The Inaugural Leadership Styles Of Joseph Smith

Brahim, Naomi - Relationship Building With Adult Staff A Component Of College Readiness Among Middle School Students

Brent, Matthew - An Analysis Of Student Government Association Leadership And Academic Achievement In The Commonwealth of Virginia

Brewer, Melanie - An Analysis Of The Reliability Of A Field Experience Evaluation For A Christian College In Kentucky

Briggs-Jackson, Darcy - A Causal-Comparative Study Of The Preferred Leadership Style Of Employees And Supervisors In The Work-Study Program In A Rocky Mountain Region Community College Setting

Brumbaugh, Dustin - Teacher Dispositions And Student Achievement:  A Correlational Study

Burke, LaWanda - Attaining The Degree: Effective Supports For Educating Undergraduate Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Byrd, Joni - Standardized Testing In Tennessee:  A Correlational Study Between Stanford 10 And Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program

Canter, Lora - Factors Affecting Faith Integration Among Faculty At A Faith-Based Institution:  Implications For Adulth Learning Assumptions

Carender, Bruce - Principal And Teacher Perceptions Leadership Styles And How They Correlate To Student Achievement In Central And Eastern Kentucky Schools

Carey, Dale - Perceptions of leadership styles, charisma, and biblical authority in pastors

Carner, J. David - A Causal Comparative Study Of Trio Director/Assistant Director Leadership Styles As Perceived By Trio Staff

Carrier, Jonathan - Factors Impacting Full-Time Faculty Retention In Mountain Western Community Colleges:  A Causal-Comparative Analysis

Carroll, James - A Causal-Comparative Study Of Perceived Leadership Styles of Community College Presidents In States Accredited By The Southern Association of Colleges And Schools Commission On Colleges

Carter, Craig - Inequalities Of Gifted Education

Chi, Ronald - The Impact Of Participatory Design In Accountability-Support Systems On Teacher Effectiveness

Christy, Ellen - Teacher Perception Of The Ohio Teacher Evaulation System

Clay, Phillip - The Impact Of Student Centered Classroom Management Strategies On Student Engagement For Academic And Behavioral Intervention

Clemmons, Jennifer - Self-Directed Learning:  Exploring A Way Forward For Kentucky Education

Cobb, Krissy - The Impact Of Public School Principals' Leadership Styles On Teacher Job Satisfaction

Coffey, Anita - Maximizing Instructional Grouping:  Small Homeroom Versus Rotating Flex Settings

Coffey, John Morgan - Leadership Considerations Of Employee Job Satisfaction:  A Case Study Of A Non-Profit Addiction Recovery Center

Cole, Ronnie - A Causal Comparative Study Examining Community College Learning Environments For Developmental Math in Virginia

Combs, Rhonda - In West Virginia Schools:  Examining Correlations Between Educator Perceptions Of PLC Implementation And School Performance

Conn, Harry - Reducing Disruptive Student Behavior At The Secondary Level:  An Assessment Of An In-School Suspension Program In Central Kentucky

Couch, Amon - Making The Connection Between Trust and Student Achievement:   A Causal-Comparative Study Of Public High Schools In Kentucky

Courtney, Matthew - Teacher Perceptions Of The Effectiveness Of Professional Development Delivery Styles

Creager, Rachel - New teacher Self-Efficacy In Central Kentucky: A Study Of Recent Teaching Graduates From Universities In Central Kentucky

Creekmore, Jason - The Significance  Of A Leader: A Causal-Comparative Study Of Principal Leadership Styles And Middle School Academic Achievement

Crescitelli, Diane - The Impact Of Common Core Mathematics Standards On Teacher Preparation Programs In Kentucky

Croft, William - An Analysis Of The Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale As A Predictor Of Success On The National Board Exams For Respiratory Therapist

Croom, Keith – Finishing Strong: Army Chaplains, Ministry Burnout, And Army Resilience Programs

Cwikla, Ashley - The Quest For Inclusion:  The Relationship Between Self-Awareness And Perception Of Choice, And The Attitude Toward Requesting Academic Accommodations Amongst Students With Visual Impairments In Post Secondary Education

Culpepper, Kevin - Alabama's Virtual Online Schools:  Learner Characteristics Affecting Success in Virtual Secondary Education Settings

Dalton, Robert - Situational Leadership: Analysis Of The Relationship Between Teacher Competence/Commitment And Preferred Leadership Styles

Damron, Heather - The Impact Of OSHA’s Stand –Down Campaign On Fatal Falls In The Construction Industry In A Kentucky:  A Causal-Comparative Study

Daniels, Deborah - Impact Of Graduate Performance Outcomes On Student Achievement:  A Causal-Comparative Study At A Selective Private University

Davis, Anissa - Principal And Teacher Relationships And Their Impact On Student Achievement: A Correlational Study

Davis, Brian - An Exploration Of U.S. Army Officers' Understanding Of Andragony And Its Relationship To Final Course Outcomes

Davis, Dale - Exploring Teachers' Knowledge And Opinions Of Response To Intervention In Rural School

Deaton, Shannon - Effects Of The English Advanced Placement (AP) Program On College Grade Point Average Among Rural Appalachian Students

DeLuise, Christopher - An Analysis Of Hybrid Leadership Preferences In A Selected Number Of United States Air Force Bases

Dennison, Mark - The Relational Leader: Applying Values And Ethics In Educational Leadership Training Programs Through Aristotelian Principals

Denny, Elizabeth - Education Beyond The Classroom:  The Effects Of After-School Tutoring On Student Reading Performance In The Primary Grades

Detre, Jason - Impacts Of Educational Coaching Within The Green River Educational Cooperative

DeVol, Purva - The Relationship Between Accreditation Pathway And Graduation Rates Of Illinois Institutions

Dickerson, Leisa - Impact Of Principals' Orientation In Relation To Adult Learning In Kentucky High Schools

Doom, Anna - A Comparison f Learning Preferences Amongst Students Enrolled In The Department Of Veterinary Technology At Murray State University

Doran, Lorraine - A Quantitative Examination Of Principals' Leadership Styles And Adult Learning Orientation In K-12 Settings In Tennessee

Dumeh, Raymond - Mathematics As A Language: A Case Study In Advisement Of STEM Majors In A Community College Context

Dunn, Charlene - Technology Leadership:  An Assessment Of North Carolina Public School Principals

Durbin, Casey - Differences In Perception Of The Importance Of Participation Strategies Among Nontraditional Students, Instructors/Professors, And Leaders/Administrators:  A Case Study Of A Nontraditional Higher Education Program

Elliott, John T - The Efficacy Of Parent And Teacher Made Special Education Referrals In Appalachian And Non-Appalachian Schools Of Kentucky

Ewers, Matthew - An Exploratory Analysis Of Economic And Leadership Philosophies In Higher Education

Felts, Deborah - The Effects Of Time In Clinical Experiences On The Scores Of The PRAXIS II Principals Of Learning And Teaching As A Measurement Of Teacher Effectiveness

Ferris, Jan - Career Advisement And Attrition In Ohio's Public Community Colleges:  A Causal-Comparative Study

Fiamengo, Stephanie - Marriage And Family Therapy Graduate Programs:  Program Leadership Style And Student Perceptions Of Competency Among Graduate Students In Los Angeles County, California

Fish, Richard - A Comparison Of Teacher Leadership Style Preferences Among South Carolina Educators

Flanagan, Valerie - The Influence Of Leadership Styles Upon The Mum Effect Tendencies Of Kentucky Principals

Flynn, Kathleen - Factors Affecting Physical Preceptorships Of Physician Assistants Students

Friend, Rebecca - On Virtual Leadership:  Stylistic Preference In The Digital Classroom--A Case Study

Gailbreath, Amber-The Effects Of Technology Integration On Achievement In High Schools In Wilson County High Schools In Tennessee

Gar, Joseph – The Effectiveness Of Program Evaluation As A Measure Of The Retention Of First-Year Students In Community Colleges

Garland, Heather - Reading Intervention Effectiveness:  A Focus On Reading Recovery

Garner, Brian - Leadership Styles and Teacher Experience Among International K-12 School Educators: How Teacher Experience Can Guide Administrative Support

George, Terrance - A Causal Comparative Study Of The Preferred Leadership Styles Of Student Affairs Professionals

Gilbert, Christopher-Faculty And Staff Perceptions Of Presidential Leadership Among Private Colleges And Universities Located Within Central And Southern Appalachia

Gilliam, Pamela - Transformational Leadership And Leadership Perceptions Of Academic Departments In A Small Liberal Arts Setting

Goad, Chester - A Study Of Service Delivery Models And Leadership In Postsecondary Disability Programs In Tennessee  

Goforth, Michael - Principals’ Perceptions Of Instructional Leadership And Student Achievement:  A Causal-Comparative Study Of Region VII High Schools In Virginia

Gothard, Sheila - A Causal Comparative Study Of The Preferred Leadership Styles Of Employees In Higher Education Based On Their Length Of Tenure

Graham, Crystal-Examining Instructional Leadership Practices As They Impact Middle School Gap Group

Greek, Stephen - A Comparison Of Readiness For Self-Directed Learning Among University Students Enrolled In Private Universities In Uganda And Kentucky

Griffith-Green, Nicole - Effectiveness Of Developmental Math Interventions On Student Learning In A Community And Technical College

Grimes, Donnie - Finding Frequent Patterns In Data Streams: Implications For Managing Information On Student Prospects

Gross, Karen - An Analysis Of Principal Leadership Experiences Of Veteran And Beginning Teachers In Arizona

Gross, Tiare - Leadership Preferences Of Counselors Who Work With Female Domestic Abuse Victims

Guess, David - Effective Leadership Styles In Profitable Trucking Companies

Hamid, Hadi - An Impact Of Career And Technology Education (CATE) On Student High School Graduation And Higher Education Matriculation Rates In Beaufort County, South Carolina

Harara, Ahmed - Analysis Of Preferred Leadership Styles And Organizational Commitment Of Private Schools Teachers In Orange County, Florida

Hare, Emily - A Causal Comparative Study Of The North Carolina Community College President And Preferred Leadership Style(s)

Harmon, French - A Comparative Analysis Of The Theological, Technological And Musical Factors In The Implementation Of A Contemporary Worship Service In A Southern Baptist Church.

Hayes, Clint - Factors Affecting Student Success In Community College Biology Courses InTthe Southern Appalachian Ares Of Kentucky

Hazard-Irvin, LaWanda - Exploring Teacher Morale In Jefferson County Public Schools:  A Correlational Study

Hemming, Ben - Understanding The Opinions And Attitudes Of LDS Faith-Based Correctional Volunteers Regarding The Impact Of The Inmate-Volunteer Relationship On Reentry Work

Higgins, John - Higher Education And Police Work:  An Assessment Of The Selection And Promotion Processes In Local Kentucky Law Enforcement Agencies

Hill, Brenda - Promoting Teacher Efficacy, The Roll Of Leadership And Professional Development For Successful Implementation Of Common Core State Standards

Hollen, Lori - The Effectiveness Of Professional Learning Groups As Primary And Reference Groups

Howard, Brandy - The Effect Of Year-Round Education On Elementary Student Achievement:  A Comparison Of Two Districts In North Central Kentucky

Huffaker, Dustin - Preferred Superintendent Leadership Styles Found In East Tennessee School Districts

Inman, Kenna - Leadership Effects On The Success Of Students With Academic And Learning Problems

Isaacs, Mary - Factors Affecting College Student Enrollment And Workforce Placement In An Appalachian Context

Ivey, Jason - Factors Affecting Perceptions Of Foreign Language Instruction Among Secondary Students In An Appalachian Context  

Jackson, Jerry - College Choice:  An Appalachian Perspective

Jackson, Summer - Factors Affecting First-Year Student Retention In A Private Appalachian College

Jaegar, Carrie - Traditional And Non-Traditional Student Perceptions Of Faculty Advising Leadership In Kentucky Private colleges

James, Kim - Efficacy Of Developmental Courses In Improving Retention In Higher Education

Jarboe, B. Trey - The Effects Of Dual Credit Programs On Student Recruitment At A Private Appalachian University

Jeffers, Amy - Teachers' Education In Phonemic Awareness Instruction In Southern Appalachian And Midwestern States:  A Regional Comparison

Jones, Rachel - The Effects Of State Mandated Testing On The Morale Of Teachers And Administrators

Kaiser, Jennifer - An Exploration Of The Impact Of Leadership Styles On Levels Of Nurse-to-Nurse Incivility And Interpersonal Relationships

Keck, Linda - Meeting The Reading First Challenge In A Rural East Tennessee School

Keenan, Helene - A Comparison Between The Preferred Leadership Styles Of Public School Teachers At All Grade Levels And The Styles Practiced By Public School Administrators At All Grade Levels In West Tennessee

Keeton, Angela - Perceptions Of School Readiness:  A Comparison Of Parents And Teachers In Scott County, Tennessee

Keith, Mary - Kentucky Educators' Perspectives On Pay-For-Performance:  A Causal Comparative Analysis

Kemme, Brenda - Parental Involvement In The RTI Process In A Jefferson County Public School

Kennedy, Barbara - Teacher Leader Dispositions:  A Causal-Comparative Study At A Selective Private University

Kennedy, T. Mike - A Causal Comparative Study Of Connecticut’s Cali Initiative

Kerby, Kenneth (Brad) -The Impact Of Kentucky’s Professional Growth And Effectiveness System On Student Achievement And Related Professional Educator Perceptions

Kerns, Staci - An Assessment Of Grading Practices And Student Achievement In International Christian Schools:  A Causal-Comparative Policy Analysis

Khattapan, Charat - The Effectiveness Of Video Lecture Capture In Asynchronous Online Classes:  Comparing And Evaluating Class Outcomes, Effectiveness, And Student Satisfaction In Online Classes With Lecture Capture

Knowles, Lindsey - The Relationship Between Special Education Teacher Satisfaction And Graduation Rates Of Students In Special Education Programs:  A Correlational Study Among Four Neighboring School Districts In Central Florida

Knuckles, Jennifer - A Causal-Comparative Study Regarding Perceived Effectiveness Of School Social Workers In Kentucky Public Schools According To School Administrators, Teachers, and School Social Workers

Langley, Margie - Gendered Class In A North Georgia Public School:  An Assessment Of Academic Progress

Lattimore, Sharis - Examination Of Andragogical Assumption Used In Professional Development For Teachers In A Large Urban School District

Lawson, Charles - A Causal-Comparative Study Of Test Pressure And Leadership Practices In Tennessee

Lawson, James - A Comparison Of Preferred Leadership Styles For Post Secondary Criminal Justice Educators Within The Commonwealth Of Kentucky

Lee, Dwayne - Vocational Education In Appalachia:  A Vital Component Of Fulfilling The Goal Of Differentiated Instruction

Levin, Joy - Preferred Leadership Styles Of Faculty In American Physical Therapy Programs And The Impact Of Demographic Factors On Leadership Styles

Lewis, Lisa - An Exploration Of The Predictive Association Between Professional Capital And Efficacy:  A Study Of Early Learning And Elementary Teachers In Rural, Appalachian Context

Linn, Stacey - Standards Based Grading An Exploration Of Educators' Readiness To Implement

Linton, Robin - The Effect Of Mentoring And Coaching Strategies On Leadership Skills Of Public School Principals In Kentucky

Lipscomb, Pauline - Appalachian Women Leaders In Higher Ed: Generations Of Change, Division And Unity

Little, Vaughn - Improving Workforce Development: An Assessment Of A High School Pathways Program In Central Kentucky

Maddox, William S.- High School Curriculum Factors Affecting First And Second Year Retention Rates Among Appalachian College Students

Martin, Jeannie - Conservation-Based National Service Impacts On Participant Leadership Skills And Career Self-Efficacy

Martinson,Kurt - An Examination Of Hybrid Leadership And School Climate

McCarty, Karla-Victimization:  An Analysis Of Common Characteristics Of School Bully Victims

McClendon, Steven - A Correlational Study Of Computer Self-Efficiency, Student Engagement, And Learning Outcomes In A College Intermediate Algebra Course Using A Computer-Based Learning System

McDaniel, Melissa - A Causal Comparative Analysis Between The Formation And Dysfunction Of Professional Learning Communities Among Elementary Teachers In Fayette County, Kentucky

McGuire, Garrett - The Influence Of Autocratic, Democratic, Laissez-Faire, And Situational Leadership Styles On Uniting Efforts Among S&I Faculty And S&I Principals’ Perceptions Of Leadership Training

Meeks, Janet - The Impact Of Superintendent Leadership And Mentoring Practices On Principal Effectiveness

Miracle, Kimberly - Theological Perspectives Of Faculty In The Bible Belt Region In Institutions Affiliated With The Council For Christian Colleges And Universities

Morris, Steven - The Committed, Passionate, And Intimate Leader:  A Study Into Triangular Theory And The Role Of Its Components Within The Leader-Member Exchange Theory

Muhlenkamp, Chad – Perception Of School Leadership And Academic Achievement In Kentucky Elementary Schools

Nelson, Michael - A Causal-Comparative Analysis Of Principals' Leadership Styles And Student Achievement In Arizona's Tribal Schools

Neuner, Christine - Teaching Adult Learners:  An Assessment Of Instructional Practices In Two-And Four-Year Colleges In Select Southeastern States

Niles, Deborah - A Critical Analysis Of Principal Feedback And The Correlation Between Improved Teacher Efficacy And Teacher Ratings On The Professional Growth Effectiveness System In Kentucky

O'Connor-Rowe, Dawn - Co-Curricular Engagement Of Online West-Coast College Students

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Research proposal motivation.

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Motivation research topics

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Interesting Topics for Research Proposal on Motivation without Wasting Time on Google

The dissertation needs motivation as well as interesting topics for building its discussion on., maintaining focus throughout the dissertation writing process is difficult, but once you have a good topic in your hand; it becomes easier to maintain the focus. but first is the research proposal on motivation.

A research proposal on motivation is the first thing to submit to your supervisor. A proposal has to be approved if a student wants to move to the next step – dissertation writing .

The majority of students use different terms to find topics on motivation these terms are dissertation on motivation, topics related to motivation, employee motivation topics, topics to motivate employees, etc. We generate topics for all your related terms these motivation research topics examples are the best collection to fulfill your requirements.

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626 Dissertation Topics for Ph.D. and Thesis Ideas for Master Students

If you are about to go into the world of graduate school, then one of the first things you need to do is choose from all the possible dissertation topics available to you. This is no small task. You are likely to spend many years researching your Master’s or Ph.D. topic and writing the text. This means that choosing a dissertation topic should not be taken lightly.

Our specialists will write a custom essay on any topic for $13.00 $10.40/page

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👍Top 10 Dissertation Topics

🆚 Dissertation vs. Thesis: Is There a Difference?

People often consider a thesis and a dissertation to be the same thing. Yet, there is an important distinction between them. The key difference is that you need a thesis to complete a master’s degree, while a dissertation is necessary for obtaining a doctorate. Keep in mind that it’s vice versa in European higher education.

Here are some other differences:

Despite these differences, theses and dissertations have a lot in common:

🔝 Top 10 Thesis Topics for 2023

🎓 Thesis Topics & Ideas

Below, you’ll find a collection of excellent topics for a thesis. To simplify the task, it’s not a bad idea to use a topic chooser . We’ve also prepared a checklist that will help you make the right choice. If you agree with the following statements, you’ve chosen a good thesis topic:

The picture shows the main characteristics of a good thesis topic.

Wondering where to find the most current topic for your research? We’ve collected them below.

Computer Science Thesis Topics

Computers surround us everywhere. From hospitals to home offices, it’s impossible to imagine life without them. A doctorate in computer science can allow you many career opportunities!

Humanities and Art History Thesis Topics

Do you want to put your passion into words? Would you like to share your ideas with the world? Then pursuing a Ph.D. in the arts or humanities is the right path for you.

List of Science Topics for Your Thesis

A dissertation in science will probably require you to run numerous experiments. Many of them will probably go wrong. But the one that does work might be the next big breakthrough! Find a suitable research theme in the following list of topics:

Daniel Keys Moran Quote.

Architecture Thesis Topics

Architecture is more than just aesthetics. That’s become especially clear ever since the doctrine “form follows function” gained traction. Whether you’re into baroque or Bauhaus, there’s plenty to discover about architecture.

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Thesis Topics in English Literature & World Literature

Was your New Year’s Resolution to re-read the 100 most influential classical works? Then you might want to consider writing a thesis in advanced higher English. Check out these engaging prompts:

Criminal Justice Thesis Topics

Are you a forensic science student who prefers research to actual police work? In that case, a dissertation in criminology is a great idea. This way, you can work on preventing crime from the comfort of your desk.

Piers Anthony Quote.

Geography Thesis Topics

If you enjoy unveiling Earth’s secrets, this section is for you. Here you’ll find geography dissertation ideas ranging from studies of movement to regional phenomena.

Sociology Thesis Ideas

Sociology studies how humans live together. A dissertation is a great way to dive deeper into a particular subject. You can get as specific as your heart desires! Check out our sociology thesis topics:

💡 Dissertation Topics for Ph.D. students

Below you’ll find a list of excellent dissertation ideas in different fields of study. They are more difficult than thesis topics and require more research. Jump to the section that interests you and find the topic that suits you best! But first:

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What Makes a Good Ph.D. Topic?

Usually, universities would expect your dissertation to be original and relevant in the field of the research. Moreover, it would be worthwhile if it has the potential to make a change.

This checklist will help you see whether you’ve made the right choice. Your dissertation topic is good, if:

Dissertation Topics in Education

Learning is a lifelong experience, and the importance of schools cannot be overestimated. Research in this area is critical to improving education standards. Have a look at these topic ideas to get inspired:

Business Dissertation Topics

There are many things a business administrator should keep in mind. Finances, marketing, and development are just the tip of the iceberg. So, the choice of topics is practically endless. Check out this selection to narrow down the possibilities:

Law Dissertation Topics for Ph.D. Students

Legal science is not dull as one may think. It’s crucial to evaluate laws at any point in time. Do they fit the current norms? Does something or someone need more protection than before? If you want to garnish your legal education with a Ph.D., here are some topic suggestions:

Psychology Dissertation Topics

The mysterious ways of the human mind offer many research opportunities. Psychology encompasses sub-fields such as behavior and cognition. Whatever your area of expertise, you’ll undoubtedly find something interesting in the list below.

Nursing Dissertation Topics

A nurse’s work is hard. Unfortunately, they rarely get the credit they deserve. With a Ph.D., you could become an advocate on the problem. Or you could concentrate on optimizing their work environments.

Marketing Dissertation Topics

Good marketing is what made you buy that product you didn’t know you needed. Marketing needs plenty of scientific research for it to be successful. You can contribute to this effort with one of the following topic ideas:

History Dissertation Topics

History is written not only by the victors but also by history students. Your dissertation can shine a light on understudied cultures. Or perhaps you want to focus on how a specific event impacted the world. Find inspiration among the following dissertation questions and ideas:

Quote by Elie Wiesel: “In Jewish history there are no coincidences.”

Dissertation Topics in Management

Companies and employees alike benefit from well-thought-out management strategies. So, a thesis in management has the potential to improve work environments even further. Kickstart your research by choosing one of the following topics:

Qualitative Dissertation: Ideas for Proposals

If you want your thesis to be more practical, you’ve come to the right section. Common approaches for qualitative dissertations include researching case studies, surveys, or ethnographies. Because of this, fieldwork will be an integral part of your doctorate journey.

Quantitative Dissertation Proposal Topics

Some scholars just love working with data. Are you one of them? Then you’ll probably enjoy quantitative research. If you’re into finding patterns and making predictions, here are some enticing topics:

Dissertation Topics in Educational Leadership

Educational leadership is a science focused on helping students to achieve their academic goals. It includes the motivation of staff and learners, improvement of educational programs, and creation of a healthy, productive environment in institutions. Want to dedicate your research to it? Take a look at these topic samples:

✅ How to Choose a Thesis Topic: Main Steps

In case you have no idea where to start from, here is a quick guideline on how to choose a Ph.D. thesis topic:

We hope this article helped you to choose a suitable topic for your dissertation. We wish you good luck with your research!

Learn more on this topic:

✏️ Dissertation FAQ

While working on a dissertation, you might deal with several types of research. The main research types are primary, qualitative, quantitative, and legal. In any case, it’s the way in which a researcher studies the subject using a particular methodology.

First of all, make sure that you are personally fascinated by the subject. This is essential for any thesis, be it master’s or an undergraduate dissertation. Besides, make sure the topic is feasible and hasn’t been studies much.

A good dissertation title is the one that represents the subject under study. To state which aspect is being studied is also important. The title should include neither a hypothesis nor a conclusion: think about it as “spoilers”—nobody likes them.

Just like any paper, a great dissertation is the one that is well-organized. The topic of the paper should correspond to the title. The text should have a cohesive structure with a definite introduction, argumentative main part, and a logical conclusion.

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Good evening Sir/Ma’am i wish to request for a PhD project topic in the field of clinical research and Life sciences .

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Hello! Please help me to find research topics in Information Systems and Techonologies (data analytics in intelligent agriculture or higher learning institution of education).

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How choose the best easy Ph.D topic in English subject

Hello! Please help me to find research topics in Economics (Accounting and Controlling, Management, Managerial).

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Please can I have a dissertation topic on physiology

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I need PhD research topic in Statistics- Robust regression or time series. Thanks

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How to Write a PhD Motivation Letter with Samples and Expert Tips

PhD Motivation Letter Sample

Article Contents 11 min read

Reading over some PhD motivation letter samples will give you an idea of how to make yours a strong, central component of your application to get into grad school . In addition to your grad school CV , a PhD motivation letter is a chance for you to demonstrate objectively why you are an excellent candidate for the faculty to which you are applying. Unlike a personal statement, a PhD motivation letter is distinct in its unique focus on your academic and research background with little mention of your personal story. This article will take you through the significance of the PhD motivation letter, describe what makes a stellar motivation letter, and provide examples. 

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Do You Need to Write a PhD Motivation Letter? 

Yes, you must write a PhD motivation letter. It is mandatory for most, if not all, PhD programs, regardless of your field of study. Disciplines ranging from arts and humanities to physics and computer science all consider motivation letters (aka “statement of purpose” in some countries) a major component of your application.

Of course, you will also have to fulfill the other documentation requirements, like submitting your transcripts, CV, personal statement, and letters of recommendation, but a motivation letter has a specific intent: to summarize your academic achievements up to the present and what you plan to achieve in the future at this particular school.

The faculty who ultimately consider your application look for how you and your PhD topic match with the mission and values of their program. Personal details and other motivations are best left to your personal statement or letter of intent because the motivation letter is strictly an academic summary.

A great PhD motivation letter should highlight how and why you are prepared for the rigors of PhD-level work. It should include the details of your academic career that have propelled you further into your field of study, like an inspiring professor or undergraduate course that sparked interest in your field.

The following list will provide more insights, but you should remember that whatever you write must be backed up by a concrete, real-world demonstration. It is not enough to say, “I am interested in XYZ because of XYZ.” You must include specific events in your undergraduate and graduate studies where you excelled.

If you are applying for a PhD, that in itself suggests you have a bevy of academic and extracurricular experience to glean from, be it co-authoring a published paper, your time as a TA, or some type of academic recognition. Many stand-out motivation letters single out specific instances when you showed an outsized passion for your studies.

Dos and Don’ts in a PhD Motivation Letter

1. Gain Skills and Experiences

The track to obtaining a PhD degree is a long one, which is why anyone who wants to become a PhD should commit early on to what it entails. All PhD candidates must have both an undergraduate and a master's degree to even apply, so that means structuring your studies around those requirements.

You should gain as much experience in your field, learn new skills related to your studies (a new language, for example, or technical skills), and participate in as many extracurricular activities as possible. Gathering the necessary skills and experiences to enter a PhD program should be the first step, since they are a reflection of your commitment.

2. Start Writing Early

You should begin drafting your PhD motivation letter at least a few months before the deadline. Because it is one of the most important parts of your application, you want to give yourself time to refine it. Refining means going through multiple drafts, soliciting and receiving feedback from other candidates, getting professional grad school application help, and making changes as you go along.

3. Consider Your Audience

The people who will read your motivation letter are renowned academics who have devoted their lives to one particular subject. Your letter needs to reflect your respect not only for them, but for the field of study that you both share. You should write with genuine verve when talking about your topic. Remind them of why they committed so full-heartedly to their career by demonstrating how enthralled you are with your studies.

4. Use Active Voice

You should put “you” in your story. Avoid using the passive voice and hiding behind your achievements as if they spoke for themselves. The admissions committee members want to read about how you approached your studies and learn about your insights into the future of your field of interest. They do not want a cold recitation of your CV but a spirited defense or explanation of what you value most about your topic.

1. Don’t Forget About the Formatting

PhD admission requirements differ between the many programs out there, so be cognizant of how they ask you to format your paper. If the requirements state a two-page limit, then write two pages. The same goes for other criteria like font size, paragraph spacing, and word length. A rambling, incoherent letter is the last thing you want to submit, so make sure to keep it within the guidelines.

2. Don’t Include Personal Stories

A personal statement is the place for formative stories from the past, not your motivation letter. You can include personal thoughts and opinions about your field of study, even unfavorable ones, to show you have a unique perspective, but steer clear of using personal elements like early childhood experiences or anything unrelated to your program.

3. Don’t Ramble

Keep in mind that your writing and organizational skills are also on display when you submit your motivation letter, along with everything else about you (grades, college letter of intent , transcripts). Again, remember who you are writing for: professors with years of experience researching and writing. They, more than anyone, know what good writing looks like, so be concise and clear in your writing.

4. Don’t Shy Away from Failures

The collected experience of those reading your essay guarantees that they know a thing or two about failure. Whether it was an unpublished paper, or a failed experiment, showing your determination in the face of adversity paints a complete picture of who you are as a researcher and academic.

But, again, setbacks in your personal life should not be mentioned. Limit your story to problems you encountered during your undergrad, graduate, or research fellowships and how you sought to overcome them. Mention a class or subject you struggled with or a drop in your grades and how you improved them.

Structure of Your PhD Motivation Letter

The structure of a great motivation letter is easy to follow because its focus is so narrow. The body of your letter should only mention highlights from your academic career, in a very specific chronology starting with your undergrad and progressing from there. But the structure should also cover three main points:

You can adjust the structure based on the requirements of the PhD program you are applying to, but it should cover the reasons you want to commit yourself to this program, what you plan on achieving, and how you have prepared yourself to accomplish those goals. If you already went to grad school, then you can rework your college statement of purpose to use as a template.

PhD Motivation Letter Sample #1

Dear Members of the PhD Selection Committee,

My name is David White, and I am writing to you to express my interest in pursuing a PhD in the Migration Studies program at X University. I recently completed a Master of Ethnography at Y University with an emphasis on the cultural exchange between migrant communities and their adopted homelands viewed through the lens of shared trauma and memory.

In the media, migration is often described as a “crisis,” a designation that has always made me bristle. I assert that migration is one of the most fundamental aspects of our species, yet it has been flagrantly mislabeled to serve the political and socioeconomic interests of a few.

My research is centered around the ways that migrants form new identities based on their experiences. Conversely, I have also explored how an innate identity based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation impacts a migrant’s journey and how those markers expose them to further exploitation or, at the other end, fortify their resolve and inspire perseverance in the face of tremendous odds.

The need for further investigation into identity and the interplay of migration and culture came into focus for me during my second-year undergrad Political Science degree at XYZ University. I was influenced by the work of writers like Franz Fanon and Edward Said, who questioned the foundations of a post-colonial identity and whether it was ever possible for colonized people to form an identity separate from their colonizers. I took an anthropology course, The Nature of Humans, that impacted me greatly. It prompted a Cartesian examination of my own beliefs around identity, as it firmly associated the emergence of human societies with factors such as migration, evolution, adaptability, and diversity.

During my time as a graduate student, I secured a place on a research project headed by Prof. Mohamed Al-Nasseri, a diaspora studies expert. Professor Al-Nasseri's thesis was that policymakers were ignoring the psychological profiles of migrants when assessing their material needs and financial assistance levels.

Our four-person investigative team liaised with a local, non-profit resettlement agency who connected us with volunteer migrant families based in University Town. Under the supervision of Professor Al-Nasseri, we formulated a questionnaire based on the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-V for traumatic events, while taking into account the newly revised definitions.

Mindful of the possible triggering effect our questions could have, we invited a peer, fellow survivor/migrant, and, in some cases, a religious leader before we conducted the interviews or to sit-in on our interviews.

During the interviews, I felt both inspired and indignant. I maintained my composure and objectivity, but the fire within raged. Unfortunately, our findings were inconclusive and what we discovered in our interviews did not wholly support Dr. Al-Nasseri’s thesis. But the experience and motivation I took from the project were enough to fuel my desire to explore the topic of identity formation in migrant communities who have undergone severe trauma.

The Migration Studies program at your institution will provide what I consider the perfect research and support network to further my investigation of these topics. I have followed the work of the esteemed Dr. Ellerman whose research into the treatment of post-traumatic stress has informed the direction of my own research. Dr. Ellerman has opened new pathways for thinking about trauma that I wish to incorporate into my thesis project when the time comes.

Until then, I am grateful for the opportunity to apply to this institution and am ready to discuss my future with you should my candidacy prove successful.

David White

My name is Melanie Hicks, and I am writing this letter to fulfill the admission requirements of the Visual Arts PhD Program at Z University. I have already submitted my audiovisual portfolio, CV, and transcripts, along with three letters of recommendation from, respectively, my master’s degree supervisor, Dr. Dana Redmond, my thesis supervisor, Dr. Allan Lee, and my research colleague, Mark Fowler.

I would like to take this opportunity to expand further on the conceptual themes I have focused on in my artistic output over the past decade, contextualize the pieces I have submitted, and elaborate on the goals I have should my application to this program be successful.

My artistic career, from very early on, has been defined by modes of observation, the interplay of observation and reflection between subjects and objects within a sociopolitical realm, and the harnessing of Blackness as a form of radical self-interpretation – all of it couched within the media of still and moving images.

During my undergrad as a Fine Arts student at X University, I was lucky enough to be showcased at the Kepler Gallery for my series, Painted Faces, a collection of photographs I took while working as a freelance photographer for an independent newspaper in Chicago. My focus in that series was the effort and preparation female congregants of an all-Black church put into readying themselves for Sunday services.

After my undergrad, I traveled to Boston to volunteer in local after-school programs with children from minority backgrounds who had an interest in photography. All of them had grown up with easy access to a phone capable of taking crisp, digital images and had never taken film photographs, so it fell to me to show them how to develop prints in a darkroom.

As part of my portfolio, I have submitted photos I took during that time, along with selections from my Painted Faces series. I never constructed a specific narrative with the photos I took during my volunteer work, but they were informed by the social realist photographers and photojournalists who captured the Civil Rights Movement by participating in protests and documenting the unrest.

Gordon Parks is a major influence and part of the reason I am pursuing my PhD studies at this institution. Prof. Alys is a foremost expert on Parks’ work and curated the Parks Retrospective at the Local Museum. Parks himself said that the subject was always more important than the photographer, and I agreed with that statement for a long time, until I began reading Arthur Danto and his artist-centered philosophy of art. While many disagree with Danto’s definition of art as an elitist utopia, I would argue that he opens the gates to everyone, and that anyone can gain entry to the “artworld.”

There is no better exemplar, I think, of the democratization of the “artworld” first posited by Danto than Basquiat, who was not only “allowed” access to the “artworld” but redefined it, in his indomitable way. Basquiat’s quality of outsider-turned-insider and Danto’s liberating of the parameters of what defined art are central themes of my project to understand whether “outsider” artists still exist, given how new technologies and platforms have pushed Danto’s definitions beyond their logical boundaries, if not obliterated them completely.

I hope this program can help me refine my project while matching my urgency to further expand the definition of art and artists to be more inclusive of not only racial minorities, but non-binary and trans people, who are at the forefront of questioning the validity of assigned identities through the curation of their very genders or lack thereof.

I am grateful to this esteemed panel for considering my application, and I would like to close by expressing my profound admiration for the achievements in art, art theory, and the philosophy of art each of you has contributed to a long, continuing train of thought.

I would be honored to accept a place beside you as a PhD candidate.

Melanie Hicks

Motivation letters are used in areas other than academia, but a PhD motivation letter is different for several reasons. Regardless of your particular field of research, the letter should include important points about your academic achievements, research interests, and why you want to continue your research at the faculty to which you are applying.

Even though PhD motivation letters tend to be short – between 500 and 700 words – their length is often the most vexing thing about them. Because students have a hard time condensing their years of study and research into a few words, we hope this article will help you focus your writing and give you insight into what to include.

No, they are not the same. A motivation letter has many different applications but is primarily a summary of your academic and professional achievements. A personal statement is an essay explaining your personal reasons for wanting to enter a specific profession or academic institution.

You should focus only on concrete, real-world examples of how you performed, learned, or grew as the result of an event in your trajectory toward a PhD and how you plan on contributing something new to your field of study. You should also make sure to have enough material, in the form of experience or academic goals, to write a compelling letter.

PhD motivation letters are important because they let prospective PhD candidates distill their background and experience succinctly, so that selection committees can more easily judge their character, commitment, and potential. 

Some people do find it challenging to write a letter about themselves without rambling or sounding incoherent. But if you prepare ahead of time, think honestly about your answer, and write several drafts, you should be able to write an above-average letter. If you are still struggling you can also get application help from professionals. 

Programs tend to ask for either a one or two-page letter, between 700 and 900 words. 

You can talk about anything that has do to with your past work to get to the PhD level, including aspects of your academic career, internships, independent or supervised research, fieldwork in a specific context, and any work experience you have related to your field of study. 

You should not mention any personal motivations for wanting to pursue a PhD. You can write about your intrinsic motivations to become a doctor of philosophy in your personal statement, if you are asked to submit one with your application. 

PhD programs around the world have various entry requirements that differ among schools. Some institutions ask for a motivation letter, while others ask for a personal statement or letter of recommendation and letter of intent, which has elements of a motivation letter but is not the same. 

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phd topics in motivation

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How to Choose a Good Research Topic for Your PhD

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Choosing the right research topic is quite often a daunting task, especially for PhD students. However, developing a good research question has a positive impact on students’ research careers. Thesis advisors offer help during this initial stage. Later on, PhD students are expected to choose their own research topic for subsequent studies.

When navigating through several interesting research topics, it becomes necessary to strike the right balance between curiosity and societal needs. Moreover, funding agencies fund compelling research proposals based on meaningful and highly relevant research topics. Selecting a good research topic can, therefore, increase the odds of academic success.

PhD Research Topic and Your Career

Performing a meticulous literature survey helps researchers identify existing research gaps and devise novel strategies for addressing them. Once the research gap is identified, it becomes imperative to choose a meaningful research question. A well-chosen research question can lead to a compelling research proposal. In fact, doctoral researchers can positively shape their entire career by finalizing a good research proposal. Researchers are expected to choose topics that can potentially lead to impactful publications. Good publications fetch good citations. Well-published and well-cited researchers can easily find satisfying jobs in academia or industry. Choosing the right research topic, thus, can open doors to satisfying job opportunities worldwide.

Pathway to Success

There are several ways to ensure success in research. When in graduate school, students need to undertake several measures to identify a compelling research topic. Although conducting a thorough literature survey certainly facilitates this process, it is virtually impossible to choose the right research topic solely based on literature surveys. Students and early-stage researchers, therefore, need to brainstorm thoroughly with their advisor, talk to experts, and attend research seminars/conferences to listen to (and network with) established researchers. Quite often, taking up the relevant coursework (especially for interdisciplinary research areas) simplifies the process of research topic selection.

Choosing the right research question helps researchers stay focused and motivated throughout their career. Meaningful research questions eventually lead to meaningful discoveries and inventions. Robert Smith presented in Graduate Research: A Guide for Students in the Sciences (ISI Press, 1984) a list of 11 research questions to consider:

Keeping these questions in mind while developing a research question can set the stage for a productive and fulfilling career.

Common Mistakes

There are several mistakes that students and early-stage researchers commit during the process of research topic selection. Some of the most common mistakes include:

Finally, scientists should work in an environment that nurtures the natural chaos of developing a research direction. PhD advisors should also make it a point to thoroughly groom and mentor their PhD students. A good thesis advisor enables his/her students to choose good research topics.

Did your thesis advisor choose a research topic for you? Did he/she train and mentor you well? Were you able to choose your own research topic? Are you happy with your chosen research topic? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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Research topics for science or literature: Deep knowledge and a keen interest in any subject with a scholarly attitude are the prerequisites for any research work.

I am allowed to choose my research topic.

i want research topic for p.hd

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Thank you for posting your query. Selecting a good research topic is the first step towards carrying out a successful and impactful research study. A good research topic can help you attract funding and also help you to successfully publish in a prestigious journal. Unfortunately we are not aware of your field of research and hence will not be able to suggest you research topics. However, we can share few tips that might be helpful in selecting an appropriate research topic for your PhD. While choosing a research topic, you must carry out a thorough literature survey in your field or genre of research and look for a research gap. Identifying the research gap makes it easy to select a research topic and an appropriate research question. Once you have selected a research topic, you can check through our checklist available here .

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