Learning the theories is not enough, you need to verify them through actual application of prevailing paradigms that explain complex phenomena. And the first crucial thing you should do is to identify a good research topic.
How do you identify a research topic? If you have this dilemma at this time, here are 10 guide questions on how you should be able to get out of this bottleneck and apply whatever research training you have had while doing course work.
10 Guide Questions on How to Identify a Research Topic
1. What topics does your funding institution support?
While you may have a lot of choices to begin with, it pays to find out first the priority topic of your funding institution. It is possible that you have very good ideas to pursue, but you may not have the financial resources to fuel your investigation. If you can afford to spend for your research then you may have more leeway.
2. Does your research output have any use at all?
After conducting the study, will your research work help shed light on issues or resolve some sort of problem that will make life better for people? The greater the utility you can get out of your research, the more satisfaction you will gain. Find a need and address that need using your research skills.
3. Are research tools available for your use?
What method or methodology will you apply in your study? Do you have equipment or materials that need to be purchased or available in your university? Using existing equipment or instruments will be to your great advantage. It will save you time, money, and effort.
4. Can the research problem be answered within the given time frame for you to finish your course?
If your scholarship allows you two years of doing research, then it’s just sensible that you finish your thesis within this period or even less. Anyhow, your first research venture is essentially just a practice, in partial fulfillment of your course requirements.
5. Do people search for answers to your question?
You need to cite people related to your work. You might have that misconception or wrong notion that nobody ever did a study along the topic that you have in mind. There will always be related literature and studies which you can review to narrow down your search to a concern that nobody delved into.
A popular topic such as climate change may be broad but many things can crop out of it. Also, funding along this concern appears to be very much available nowadays.
6. Is your research topic novel?
If you thought about your research topic as a result of your personal experience such as visiting a community needing help on some health issue, or predicament that significantly affect their lives, then that would be a great research topic. It is also expected to be of great utility to people. Chances are, you are treading a new path. If you pioneer an area of research, eventually, you will become an authority in that niche.
7. Is your problem within the range of your discipline?
When you specialize, you narrow down your focus so that you become an expert in that discipline. The more you know about your trade, the less that you know about other things. But then you have to make sure that you work within the range of topics within your discipline so your research is relevant to your field of specialization.
8. Did you seek guidance from your research adviser?
You may think confidently that your topic is the best there is. But your professor has the experience and broader understanding of your field so don’t hesitate to consult a senior researcher or experienced professor regarding your topic.
9. Did you explore the literature?
Browsing through recent research papers in your discipline will give you ideas on what issues or problems are being studied. You start off with observations and verify these observations with a comprehensive review of relevant literature.
A university subscription to a database of scientific journals is a big help. Web of science is a scientific publication authority many researchers have been depending on for many years.
For third world countries, this is not easy; and researchers have to contend with whatever they have at hand. This impacts on the quality of their research although open access journals are becoming popular and may be the norm in the future (see doaj.org).
10. What strengths do you possess that will enable you to do the required tasks in your study?
You have to assess your capabilities or skills to undertake what you have in mind. Be realistic. Don’t study the corals if you don’t even know how to swim and is afraid of water. Your health may also prevent you from doing a very good research intention.
Finally, all these tips will be for naught unless sensibly applied. Words are useless unless put into immediate action. Start off now and share your discoveries.
©2015 June 20 P. A. Regoniel