I. CHOOSING A SUBJECT Selecting a subject seems like an easy task, but it is entirely possible to make critical mistakes at this early stage, sabotaging the ultimate outcome. Many students make bad choices at the outset-choices that, in the case of a dissertation, can literally waste years of effort. A good choice will not only be better from a scholarly point of view, but it will also provide a more do-able, fun, and satisfying creative activity for the writer. A good subject has five attributes:

1. A good subject is important. The subject must be important in terms of substantive policy, theory construction/validation, or both. Beware, for example, of case studies that have no clear implications for public policy and no particular relation to theories in the field. Even in historical studies, it is best to pick a topic that transcends mere description. For instance, although a history of Wyatt Earp's life might be acceptable, it might be more interesting to write on theories about the role of the American frontier in forming the political culture of the country using Wyatt Earp's life to illustrate.