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Selection of a Research Topic

As we all know, this is the starting point of a research process. It is all-important to select a topic that inspires you and keeps you motivated throughout the research process.

It is critical to devote time and effort to select the appropriate topic. There are two general approaches to developing your study topic.

Choose from a list of eligible study topics provided by a supervisor: You can share your ideas with a possible supervisor at an early stage. They will have the knowledge and experience to help you decide on a study topic. They will be able to tell you which of the solutions is ideal for you. This method of picking a study topic is not always available, but it is most prevalent in science and engineering. Though your supervisors will have a superior understanding of the field and may have strong recommendations about what you should focus on, working on your own ideas is much more rewarding in the long run.

Create your own original research topic: This is the most prevalent option in humanities, business, and law studies. You may discover a wide topic of interest based on your interest in an area of study, and after reviewing the literature or other background material, you may focus on a specific issue.

If you want to propose a unique topic on your own, here are some pointers to help you:

1. Look for a topic that interests you: Read a variety of literature to locate a topic that you are enthusiastic about. If you choose a topic that is close to your heart, you will be more likely to stay motivated while carrying out your research. As we all know, completing research takes up a significant portion of our time, and if that time becomes tedious, it will be tough to maintain our interest. As a result, we must choose a topic that is of interest to us so that conducting research becomes fun. The research topic influences the future of research academics' careers.

2. Make a keyword list: Keywords are the foundation of your Research Topic. You may simply locate relevant material from journals, publications, and other databases by using keywords. Desk research comprising a literature survey is quite beneficial when choosing a research topic. You won't be able to collect enough information to concretize your research topic if you don't have it.

3. Gather background information: Involve yourself in the hunt for information related to your topic. Encyclopaedia, portals of research studies, journals and periodicals, and the most commonly utilised source, internet surfing, can all be employed for this background search. In addition to all of these sources, you can speak with knowledgeable individuals and experts in the intended study topic.

When conducting your literature review, use keywords. This will assist you in developing a research gap. Research gaps can be defined as a vacuum or hole in earlier studies. After obtaining background material, it is expected that you will arrive at a study topic, however broad it may be.

4. Keep up to date with the latest information: Ensure that you are up to date on the most recent advances in the field. This ensures that your idea is novel and has not been handled by another researcher.

5. Focus on topic: At this point, you may want to try to narrow down your research topic. You must be specific, unique, and realistic about your capabilities. If your topic is too wide, you will be overwhelmed with information and unable to focus. Filter the study topic using important keywords to get an idea of what you should perform during your investigation. Once you've decided on a general theme, the W's technique is an excellent way to start thinking about many facets of your topic and begin to focus on it. 

  • WHY did you choose the topic?  What interests you about it? 
  • WHAT are the major questions for this topic?  Is there a range of issues and viewpoints to consider?
  • WHO are the information providers on this topic?  Who is affected by the topic? 
  • WHERE is your topic important: at the local, national or international level?  Are there specific places affected by the topic?
  • WHEN is/was your topic important?  Is it a current event or a historical issue?  Do you want to compare your topic by time period?

Here are some options to consider when narrowing the scope of your topic:

  • Theoretical approach:  Limit your topic to a particular approach to the issue.  For example, if your topic concerns cloning, examine the theories surrounding the high rate of failures in animal cloning.
  • Aspect or sub-area:  Consider only one piece of the subject.  For example, if your topic is human cloning, investigate government regulation of cloning.
  • Time:  Limit the time span you examine.  For example, on a topic in genetics, contrast public attitudes in the 1950s versus the 1990s.
  • Population group:  Limit by age, sex, race, occupation, species or ethnic group.  For example, on a topic in genetics, examine specific traits as they affect women over 40 years of age.
  • Geographical location:  A geographic analysis can provide a useful means to examine an issue.   For example, if your topic concerns cloning, investigate cloning practices in Europe or the Middle East.

6. Make sure the topic is relevant: Your study topic should be relevant to the field. It will be tough to publish if others do not think your study report is interesting enough to read. Furthermore, the paper must be relevant to your own profession.

7. It must be feasible: This is perhaps the most significant aspect of choosing a study topic. You must have the requisite budget and time to carry out the research on the chosen topic. Never underestimate the complexity, timeliness, and budgetary requirements. Make a reasonable plan for carrying out your research.

8. Be flexible: Be adaptable in your approach. Some of your early notions will almost certainly be questioned as your investigation progresses. If necessary, you may need to alter or modify your question. The ability to adapt to any situation at any time is referred to as flexibility. Even at the last minute, a researcher should be prepared for change and adjustment in their research topic.

9. Create an outline: After taking all of these factors into account, a researcher will have a clear outline of the study issue. The researcher can now describe all of the steps he or she intends to do in relation to the topic. The researcher might break down the research issue into smaller subtopics that will eventually become your research objectives.

10. Specific research topic: Finally, after all of your deliberations and efforts, you will be able to formulate your thesis topic. The research topic should have grown more specific. It will be more engaging, educational, and concrete now!

USEFUL READINGS

For a more serious discussion of the topic, read the following resources:

 
• Andy Luse, Brian Mennecke, Anthony Townsend: Selecting a Research Topic: A Framework for Doctoral Students
 
• HamidKeshavarz and Mohammad Reza Shekari: Factors affecting topic selection for theses and dissertations
 

USEFUL VIDEOS

How to develop a good research topic?

How to develop a good research topic?

How to find a good research topic in less than 60 minutes?

HOW TO PROCEED?

  • Select a broad area and topic of your interest.
  • Find out relevant keywords related to the topic
  • Gather background information through a literature survey
  • Talk to knowledgeable persons and experts
  • Narrow down to a specific topic.
  • Make sure that your topic is relevant and feasible
  • Keep your topic flexible to adapt changes, if required.
  • Hurray! You have a research topic with you, now!

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