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Hello all, I just read the other, older thread about how to find a dissertation topic, but just thought of starting a new one with my specific question. I have often read that the best way to go about a research project is by thinking about a research question first, and then finding the relevant datasets to empirically answer the question. However, I guess this is pretty difficult in development economics/international agricultural development that I am aiming to specialize in. Furthermore, I reckon that being assigned to work on a particular project as an RA, it would be much easier to think about a research question within the contours of the project's survey data set. Do you think this reverse approach is the more feasible and efficient one during PhD although it will be limiting in terms of the area of the research question itself - in general for Econ PhD, and specifically for development economics? If you think of a particular research question for which you want to conduct a small experiment, which might possibly cost a lot, are external funds easily available? Is writing external grants even encouraged during a doctoral program? Look forward to hearing your responses. I am starting PhD in Ag/Applied Econ this Fall. Thanks!