We shall take it as a given that a good academic work is focused. I have trouble imagining a dissertation writer who wouldn’t agree that their dissertation ought to be focused. But focus doesn’t get enough attention early in the process. Yes, early in the process we are seeking to refine a focus by exploring a range of possibilities. All of these are important reasons not to focus too intently, too early.
But this piece is about feedback and how to get and use feedback effectively; this is about submitting work to professors for feedback. You may have many ideas in your head and you may still be seeking focus, but, when it’s time, you want to submit something that is focused. You can have all the competing ideas that you want rattling around in your head, but what you put down on paper for submission needs to be focused.