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Can you answer some questions about being a sociology grad student?


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I'm at work on a novel in which one of the characters is getting a PhD in sociology. I'm wondering if any real sociology grad students can help me as I attempt to impersonate one in my novel. Here are some questions I have.

How does my character come up with her dissertation topic, and what exactly constitutes a good dissertation topic?

For the purposes of my story, I know that she's doing qualitative research. And I think (but am not sure) that her topic has something to do with class and/or first gen college students.

What motivates people to get a PhD in sociology? Is it personal? Intellectual curiosity? A wish to change things?


The more answers and possibilities and the more specifics, the better. Thank you to anyone who takes the time to respond. I really appreciate it.

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Not far enough along to truly answer the first question satisfactorily so you're going to need to ask people who have finished their degrees or are almost done.

Re: the research — there are many people who do research around these topics. Keep in mind that there are really strict IRB requirements about how this research can be done, so you'll need to look into IRB guidelines around qualitative research if you plan to say anything about the project itself.

Re: what motivates — it's different for different people. Generally some combination of intellectual curiosity and desire to do research/stay in academia.

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