This PowerPoint presentation was forwarded onto our graduate student e-mail list. I thought that others who are in the process of thinking or writing about their dissertations might find it useful.
It looks like these slides were adapted from a presentation that Charles Tilly gave. There are five slides with content, and I pulled the one that I found the most helpful. It shows the relationship between the risks and rewards of choosing dissertation topics. Basically, he recommends picking a topic that is somewhere in the middle, though closer to the bottom-left than the top-right (he suggests saving that for your post-doc).
Also, for those who might have missed other really helpful dissertation advice check out Fabio's Grad Skool Rulz number 10 that also describes picking a topic and numbers 12 & 13 on actually writing your $^#@@ dissertation (his words, not mine). And, for what it's worth, I
Now, back to my prospectus...