Brainstorming to Generate Research Ideas

How do you generate ideas for research purposes? Is it difficult to come up with one? The answer is No. It is easy to generate ideas for research as long as you employ a systematic approach to it. This article explores the usefulness of an organized brainstorming session by applying the principles of time management and ideas on how to conduct time-saving meetings.

One of the difficulties encountered by beginning researchers is how to generate ideas for research. This could be due to the lack of familiarity or exposure to the topic at hand. This could also be due to the preconceived notion that research is a difficult task to undertake.

You can easily generate ideas for research by brainstorming on the particular topic you are interested in. Find colleagues, classmates or friends who share the same passion, interest, field of specialization or discipline with you.

However, your group can easily get carried away and might talk about other things which are irrelevant to your initial intention of discussing ideas for research. Say, you talked about someone else instead of focusing on your initial idea for research. And you realized you are already gossiping.

You will therefore need to carry out a method or strategy to bring your idea for research into focus. You will need the following materials to facilitate the brainstorming session.

Materials Needed for Brainstorming Session

1. a new marker (to avoid interrupting the brainstorming session due to depleted ink) or chalk

2. a small (2′ x 3′) whiteboard, blackboard or Manila paper

3. a comfortable room free from distractions

The Group Memory

To avoid the tendency to talk about something else instead of your intention to generate ideas for research, make sure that you have a small whiteboard, blackboard, a Manila paper or anything you can write on where everybody can focus their attention towards it. This is what you call the “group memory”. The whiteboard or the Manila paper in front of the group will hold everybody’s attention as you discuss the idea for research that you are initially interested in but which you find too broad to research on.

You will, therefore, serve as the moderator who will present the initial idea for research that the group will brainstorm on. A group composed of 3 to 4 four people would be best where everyone is seated in an arc in front of you to avoid unnecessary conversations from taking place. Of course, you will need to hang the whiteboard or paste a Manila paper on a wall where everyone can see it. You may refer to the illustration below on how to arrange the seats.

brainstorming session
Seat arrangement for brainstorming session. ©2012 P. A. Regoniel

Mind Mapping

It is best to do this brainstorming at the early part of the day as the mind is still fresh, active and uncluttered by the day’s cares. You can do this in one hour, so 8 to 9 o’clock or 9 to 10 o’clock would be ideal. Never do this at 1 or 2 o’clock as sleepiness can easily slip in but 4 o’clock would be fine because the mind gets a second wind at this time.

Begin with a keyword such as climate change. Write this at the center of the white board, blackboard or Manila paper. From there, come up with a mind map (see mindmapping). Erasing or changing entries will not be problematic if you are using a whiteboard or blackboard. If you are using a Manila paper, just draw a line on each on the entry you want to change.

From the set of ideas in your mind map, select a clump where you can relate two or three variables (You have to read first what is a variable if you are not familiar with this concept). This set of variables now will help you find the applicable theoretical framework to back up your study. The theoretical framework will be your basis in constructing your conceptual framework. If you are yet unfamiliar with these two concepts, read my article What is the difference between the theoretical and the conceptual framework?

At this point, you will be able to generate a lot of ideas for research and focus your attention on those key variables that really matter to you or you are interested in.

© 2012 November 10 P. A. Regoniel

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