D. Thesis committee, passed your preliminary/oral/qualifying examinations, and have done an awful lot of research along the way. Theres a glimmer of hope in your heart that maybe just maybe this will be your last year in graduate school. Though incomplete, they are certainly useful. Check also the University of Michigan microfilms of unpublished dissertations. Because in some departments and in some disciplines your access to your mentor might be limited, you may find it advisable to talk over your preliminary ideas with your peers and even show them your dissertation proposal before you give it to your mentor.
And in the real world, the selection of a dissertation topic is often going to be a matter of negotiation in some respects between advisor and student. I don't think I've ever had a student come to me with a list of three of four possible topics to get my take on them, but that seems like a pretty good. This means giving a broad (and well-referenced) overview of your sub-field, how it fits into the broad context of your field and why its important, and how your specific research has addressed some of these particular issues. Eight oclock the next morning I was up writing again. Abraham Pais, physicist, youve been in graduate school for many years now, and youve come a long way. Youve completed all of your coursework, formed your Ph. Your abstract. This is just two or three sentences introducing your field, followed by one sentence about each of your papers, and concluded with one or two sentences about future work. The first, second, and fourth of these are things you must convince your committee of during your defense; the third, however, is something that must speak for itself within your written dissertation.