I'm a second-year PhD student in Management, and I'm wondering whether I should change my dissertation topic or not.

My topic is an established one, but it started to revive thanks to cutting-edge artificial intelligence technologies in recent years.

Currently published papers consist of very complex methodological improvements based on artificial intelligence expert systems. When I embarked in my PhD, I wasn't experienced enough to realize that publishing in this research line requires heavy knowledge of artificial intelligence.

Therefore, should I manage to write my dissertation by examining a specific aspect of the matter, it will be a one-shot.

I know I cannot build my future career in this area of Management.

I've got almost two years left, and I haven't started working on my dissertation. I'm unsure whether to ask my supervisor to change the topic or not.

  1. On one side, I don't want my dissertation to be entirely useless for my post-doctoral position.
  2. On the other side, I don't know if asking my supervisor to redefine the topic might upset him or, even worse, result in lots of workload on a topic that is equally a dead-end. He is not a research-oriented Professor, but an established one who has very little more to prove to the academic community.

Disclaimer: I'm inexperienced, so maybe I'm putting a great emphasis on my dissertation and finding a specific research line. Maybe this is not how academia works. So please, I appreciate your most straightforward suggestions. Thank you all,

  • Definitely a question for your supervisor. Ask it. – Buffy Jan 25 at 13:07
  • Thank you, Buffy. How do you think I should frame my question to avoid upsetting him? I don't want to look neither hopeless nor pretentious. What do you think about the importance of the dissertation? Is it relevant or rather something to "just do"? – user134365 Jan 25 at 13:50
  • Your dissertation won't be your best work ever, one hopes. Just your first. I don't know your field, but finding new tools to further explore old questions seems like it might have a future, not be a dead end. Perhaps you can explore that idea with the advisor. – Buffy Jan 25 at 13:55
  • If your supervisor is an expert in artificial intelligence, then he must think you are also knowledgeable in the area; in this case, you certainly want to clear the air before he finds out you're not and decides you're a fraud or something. On the other hand, your supervisor may not be such an expert, in which case he may (like you, previously) not know that this is essential to this particular sub-field; if so, he's not going to want to supervise the proposed project, because he's not competent, and is likely to want you to switch topics. Either way, explain the problem simply and ask advice. – CAgrippa Jan 26 at 1:25

Like Buffy mentioned in the comments, this is definitely a question for your supervisor. However, before you ask him, I would suggest you first make up your mind and approach your supervisor with the problem and your preferred options/solution, not only the question like you pose it here.

So consider what you want to do. So for example, suggest that you'll follow courses X, Y and Z to get the understanding of AI you need, since you still have two years, and what else you'd do, and what help you'd need from them. Ask them whether they agree on how you want to proceed, or if they have other suggestions.