Hello All Dissertation Students,

I am in the process of finding out a topic for a anthropology dissertation , more specifically in forensic anthropology. Although I am quite sure what I want to do, I am interested in having views of others in the fields, and where they think research is lacking. With a bit of luck, my ideas will be amongst the areas suggested!

I am particularly interested in your thoughts on the fields of forensic anthropology, bioarchaeology, and human osteology to write my social anthropology dissertation. Not so much paleoanthropology (unless it is about AMHs, and then perhaps it might be of use).

As for the research on sexing/ageing...I do think it is imperative to keep trying out the methods and finding methods for isolated bones. This can help keep the methods fresh and constantly make improvements to them. Also, the isolated bone methods can be of use in trying to recognize unidentified remains or help un-mix commingled remains.

That being said, I still don't really want to do that for a dissertation topic. Like you said, not very original.

That is why I am trying to see if others have noticed areas missing needed information. I have been doing literature reviews (especially Journal of Forensic Sciences and American Journal of Physical Anthro. to find topics I feel need more information, but sometimes others see things that a person can miss on their own.

Do you have any specific areas that you've noticed?

The response to my question I received is as follows:


Often times dissertations are based on improvements to or gaps in research already conducted. While it may get your degree, this is safe...and boring. Unfortunately, a lot of the research that can be conducted in forensic anthropology is this sort of improvement-based research. I've read numerous papers, theses, etc. on new (and obscure) ways to age, sex, etc. a skeleton. This stuff can already be done. I don’t care if the sphenoid can be used in age determination (which I don't think it can, but you get the point).

I suggest that you sit down, pretend that you are a child and ponder the mysteries of the field. Find something that's hardly been touched...or think of new ways to interpret things. My adviser once told me that what he likes most about new students is that they haven't been corrupted by the field. If you can find a topic that you're really passionate about it will make the research so much easier.
I'd like more research on various indigenous agricultural technologies, including Egyptian use of the Nile River delta and examples of relatively high standards of living which complemented the natural world.

Also, I would like more emphasis in proper representation of the physical features of ancient civilizations. For example, no more white Egyptians or white Jesus.

Finally, I am interested in variable diets of indigenous people and the effects of such diets on their physical bodies... for example, did some people have better eyesight than others? or did some people have fewer diseases than others?... all of which relating to diet, of course. I hope this will help in writing anthropology dissertations.

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