Tag Archives: college thesis

Two Questions for Great Research Topics

Plain and straightforward tips on how to come up with great research topics. Read on to find out.

Students often come to me and ask what research topics would be worth pursuing to fulfill their course requirements. I always refer them to the university’s research agenda as it defines what the country needs to realize the goals of sustainable development. The university’s research agenda is broad enough to cater to everyone’s interest, but there is a need to bring this down to a level that one can practically pursue in the field.

Recognizing the need to narrow down further the research topic to make it doable, I usually ask my students two questions that will guide them in selecting a research topic and start off their research venture with greater confidence.

Two Questions to Identify Great Research Topics

I ask the following questions to help students find their way in the maze of topics they find particularly when they are online. These questions assist them to arrive at great research topics that are practical and doable.

1. What research topic strikes your interest?

This question is easier answered if a student is a masters degree candidate. But for undergraduate students who do research by groups, selecting great research topics that represent the group’s interest is a bit tricky. A few confident undergraduate students would tell me that they would like to do their research by themselves because of this concern. But I convince them that the investigation is better done in groups considering the multi-disciplinary nature of current research interests. And doing research in groups help them develop desirable values such as cooperation, unity, punctuality, and generosity as they interact with each other.

Hence, there is a need for the members of the group to spend time together to discuss and come up with a topic that will represent everyone’s interest. A mind mapping activity can best capture ideas concepts and let the group see their options better.

2. How much time and money can you allocate to your research?

Sometimes, students tend to undertake projects that are beyond their means to perform as well as fund. Thus, I ask them to prepare a work and financial plan so that they can define the tasks to do, the time required for it, and the associated costs of the activity.

I show a simple work and financial plan below that can help students manage their time, effort, and finances.

TaskTime FrameEstimated CostRemarks
1. Gather relevant literaturexP 150photocopy
2. Develop conceptual framework-xP 500meeting
3. Prepare questionnaire –xP  800printing
4. Gather data—xP 1,000fare, snacks
5. Encode data and analyzexxP 1,500statistician’s fee
6. Write and revise paper–xx
7. Submit manuscriptxP 500photocopy
TOTALP 4,450

x – week performed

After having an idea of the cost involved in carrying out the study, students will now be in a better position to decide if they are willing to incur such expense. This approach prevents unexpected expenses that may be beyond the capacity of the students to fund thus avert cost overruns.

If the research topic entails expenses that are way beyond the capacity of the group to fund, then the rational option is to find another topic that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Simple tips like this make life easier for many students.

©2016 April 5 P. A. Regoniel

Five Tips on How to Write a Conclusion

The conclusion is an integral part of a research paper or thesis. Writing a proper conclusion, therefore, should not be taken for granted. It wraps up the major findings of a scientific investigation and serves as a springboard for future studies.

How should this essential part of a research paper be written? What good practices can you adopt for effectively writing it up?

This article provides five tips on how to write a conclusion with examples for greater clarity.

5 Tips on How to Write a Conclusion

1. Go back to the objectives of your research

To be systematic about it, re-read the objectives of your study or the statement of the problem. Write something about objective number 1, number 2, and so on.

After going through all those methods to answer the objectives or the statement of your problem, write your synthesis of findings in a sentence or two. The idea is to write the conclusion concisely without leaving out the important elements.

Consider this simplified example:

Objective #1. Determine the relationship between time spent by teenagers on social networking sites and time spent with friends offline.

Conclusion: There is a reason to believe that time spent on social networking sites reduces teenagers opportunities to spend time with friends offline.

That is the meat of your conclusion. You can build on that statement and offer ideas so that other researchers can investigate further on the issues you have raised.

You may ask yourself the question: “So what if the time spent by teenagers on social networking sites reduce their time spent with friends online?” You might go on to say that this is an important finding that parents and educators must look into to prevent teenagers from becoming socially handicapped adults. This weakness could lead to inability to work harmoniously with other people.

2. Review your introduction

Make sure that your conclusion addresses the issue or gap that you have identified while exploring the research subject in the introduction of your research paper.

Have you resolved the issues that you have raised or did your investigation lead to more questions?

Your conclusion should wrap up the whole paper. It is here where you integrate all your findings. Integrate means putting all of the ideas together to come up with a general idea. That general idea becomes a theory in the long run; that is if future studies converge towards or support what you are proposing as an explanation for a phenomenon. In other words, this is where you once again present your thesis.

For example, using the study on time spent by teenagers online, your introduction may have pointed out that many of the recent graduates are socially-handicapped employees. So this could be traced to their habits as “screenagers” or teenagers who spent most of their time in front of the computer in the past.

3. Raise questions for further study

Not all research results are conclusive. It is possible that the data you have gathered is not enough to draw out a sound conclusion that can help explain the issue you are looking into. There may be things that need to be added, considered, or factored in to shed better light to an unexplained phenomenon.

You can point this out in the conclusion and offer a course of action that future researchers can take. This will help researchers investigating a similar issue to use your paper as one of the foundations for another study. Your research will help unravel the mysteries of a phenomenon that baffle contemporary scientists.

For example, a medical researcher may have found evidence that immunotherapy works better than all other conventional treatments to cancer. But the samples are quite small such that the efficacy of such treatment could not be established for the general population. It is possible that immunotherapy works for only a certain group of people, but not for everyone.

4. Write from specific to general

Writing the conclusion follows an inductive approach. This means that you write it from specific to general. You have broken down the problem into manageable bits during the analysis. Now, in writing the conclusion, you build from the pieces once again to come up with a broad picture.

5. Leave out the extras

The conclusion should be without unnecessary statements that destroy the objectivity of the conclusion. Avoid statements that are

  • sentimental
  • afterthoughts
  • phrases that state the obvious such as “In conclusion,” “Summing it all up,” etc.
  • unnecessary statistics, and
  • quotations.

Give yourself ample time to practice these tips. Writing a good conclusion is a thesis writing skill that needs to be honed.


Literacy Education Online (n.d.) Strategies for writing a conclusion. Retrieved on May 30, 2015 from http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/conclude.html 2004

The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (n.d.). Conclusions. Retrieved on May 30, 2015 from http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/conclusions/

©2015 June 12 P. A. Regoniel

Thesis Writing: 9 Tips on How to Write the Results and Discussion

Writing the results and discussion section could be one of the difficulties that you encounter when writing your first research manuscript. There is no simple hard and fast rule in doing it but the following guide can help you start off with confidence.

The results and discussion section is also referred to as the data presentation, analysis, and interpretation section. You present the results, show the analysis, and interpret the outcome of the analysis.

As a take off point, it would help if we separate these two terms, i.e., results and discussion, into simply the results and the discussion as separate parts of the paper. In some universities and usually in scientific journals, however, these are taken as one.

Writing the Results

As the term connotes, you should write only the results of your study. What comprises the results? I describe it in detail in the following paragraphs.

1. Graphs, tables, or photographs

Observations are derived from the application of your methodology or method. These can be best presented using tables and graphs as objective representation of the measurements that you made. Numbers are more definite approximations of reality compared to just mere words. Words are more subjective and replete with misunderstanding.

Be consistent with your units of measurement. If you start off with kg, then use the same unit all throughout your paper.

Never should you manipulate the outcome of your measurements. Be honest in presenting information even if the result is unexpected. Whether the result is positive or negative, present it. This is an objective move.

You may also add photographs whenever needed but make sure these are relevant, not just whimsical addition to your paper or a means to flaunt your good photography skills; although it would be advantageous to show such skill coupled with relevance. Pictures can speak a thousand words.

In general, give as much detail as possible in your presentation of the results. Read and reread your statements for clarity. Engage a competent friend or a colleague’s discerning eye for details.

2. Topic sentences or subheadings

It is easy to follow your presentation if you break this into meaningful subtopics based on your stated objectives. A one-to-one correspondence would be great. Say, the first subheading will be about objective one, the second subheading about objective two, and so on.

Notice that in writing this article, it is an easy read to have a subheading for every major thought. This makes for easy reading thus understanding. And the writing becomes logical.

3. Key results

Your key results should be stated clearly at the beginning of each paragraph. It should serve as the topic sentence (see the TSPU Principle). Support that statement with more detail such as presenting the results of statistical analysis.

For example:

There is a significant positive relationship between the number of hours spent by students in answering Mathematics questions and their examination score. This result is consistent across all grade levels in the three schools examined. Table 1 shows the correlation coefficients and their corresponding significance level.

Writing the Discussion

After examining several theses of previous years, I noticed that many undergraduate and even graduate students miss this part. The results were presented as well as the analysis but no discussion is in sight.

So what comprises the discussion? Here’s what should be present in the discussion part:

1. Trends and spatial differences

Trends refer to changes over time. Are your results showing an increasing, decreasing or just plain, constant direction? This should be evident in the graph that you presented.

Spatial differences refer to differences in space or location within the same time frame. Is there a significant difference between the two groups examined? Is there a difference in the morphological measurements of one group of animals obtained from one location compared to another group? These are questions that explore spatial differences.

2. Insightful interpretation of results

Insightful interpretation means well thought explanations. That means you will have to ponder deeply the results of your study and make a knowledgeable statement of your interpretation using the body of evidence at hand. This is where you cite evidences obtained by other authors. You either confirm or affirm other people’s work or refute using your own findings.

3. Generalizations

Be on guard in writing your generalizations. Make sure that the data you analyzed can be extrapolated or will allow you to predict somehow the behavior of one variable. If you have enough samples then you may make a generalization.

How enough is enough, you may ask. If your data has little variability as indicated by low variances, then it is possible that additional measurements will not change whatever trend you have.

Always match your generalization with whatever results you have. Conversely, do not generalize when you have very few samples. Don’t say 50% when you actually have only two, three, or even four samples described in your study. That’s plain absurd.

4. Exceptions to the rule

In scientific inquiry, not all things or factors are discovered. There are always unknown or unaccounted areas. This is the reason why everything is founded on probability. No one’s 100 percent sure. So you should never say “prove” as a matter of contention. Prove means 100% sure which never happens. There are always expected deviants from the norm.

5. Reasons why things happen

Things happen due to something else. Reaction arises from action. These are called determining factors.

Are there reasons why your results follow a trend? Is it evident in your study? If there is, then say it and explain why so, again based on your observations or evidence.

You may guess but make it educated, meaning, you have done your homework. You have reviewed the literature and use it as a leverage for advancing your hypothesis or inference.

Does your finding support or refute what has been done so far? Does it support previously advanced hypotheses?

Remember that there is no such thing as a simple explanation of a complex phenomenon. Find one that is most aligned to your findings.

It would be interesting to be in the controversial side as long as you have done your study systematically and bias is reduced to a minimum.

6. The contribution of your work

What the are the important things that your study has contributed so far in view of what has been laid out in the body of literature? Why is your work important and what things need to be investigated further?

From your set of questions, if many other questions arise, then your work has helped unravel other areas worthy of investigation. This is just how science works. The mysteries of the universe are uncovered yet there are still many unknowns.

No human has absolute understanding of everything. But if your work has potential to make life better, then it’s a great accomplishment.


Kim Kastens, Stephanie Pfirman, Martin Stute, Bill Hahn, Dallas Abbott, and Chris Scholz (n.d.). How to write your thesis. Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~martins/sen_sem/thesis_org.html

Method and Methodology: The Difference

This article explains the difference between method and methodology. These two terms are often interchanged although they mean different things. Read on to distinguish one from the other. Examples are provided to clarify the issue.

In writing the third chapter of the thesis or the methodology section, beginning researchers often confuse method with the methodology. Ironically, some of those students who have finished their undergraduate thesis still could not discern the difference between the two words. Some just say that they mean the same thing. Is this pronouncement correct?

Difference Between Method and Methodology

Looking carefully at the two words, notice that the method is a root word of methodology. Common sense prescribes that the method is just a part of the methodology. Logic dictates that the method gets defined first. What then is a method?

The “method” described in this discussion refers particularly to “research methods.” Research methods are the tools, processes, or ways by which researchers obtain data.

How are data obtained then?

method of projection
Time series analysis?

In social science research, the data gathered for analysis by researchers are obtained using interview, focus group discussion, participant observation, survey, among others. In the natural sciences, data may be obtained using various techniques. For example, an ecologist might want to mark and recapture animals for population studies. A taxonomist might wish to count the scales of fish to distinguish one species from another (morphometrics). A geologist might want to measure the size of soil particles. Or a botanist might want to identify and count all trees in a quadrat. All of these activities refer to methods.

On the other hand, methodology still refers to method but with an extra “ology” at the end of the word. Ology means a discipline of study or branch of knowledge. Therefore, methodology as a combination of ology and method is essentially a study of methods.

Now, methodology suggests that there is a need to study research methods. In writing a thesis or research, it is important to consider what methods are appropriate.

How then shall you know which method to use in your particular study? The answer is simple. You just have to get back to the very reason you embarked on the study.

Where should you look for it?

Of course, the ultimate guide in your research journey is the very reason you are conducting that study. What for is the study? What are its objectives?

These questions are easily answered by simply going back to your first chapter or introduction and reading what you have written in your problem statements or objectives. The first question will be replied to by the first method you will use to satisfy its information requirements. The first method may also answer the next question, or there may be a need for you to devise or find another method.

For example, here are problem statements and the corresponding methods to be used:

Statement of the Problem
1. What is the profile of the respondents in terms of age, gender, and educational attainment?1. Questionnaire
2. What is the level of awareness of the community on coastal ordinances?2. Focus group discussion
3. What infrastructures are indicators of the community’s adaptation to soil erosion?3. Photo-documentation, video footages
4. What is the distribution range of the monkey population?4. Remote sensing
5. Is there a significant difference between blood pressure before and after exercise?5. Blood pressure readings using a sphygmomanometer

Having listed the methods in the above table, you should justify why you used such methods and the guiding principles for using those methods. Describe in detail how the methods will be used to answer the questions you have posed in your study. A suitable method can be replicated or repeated in a similar way. This means that you will have to:

1. define your assumptions,
2. state where you will conduct your study and why you chose that site,
3. determine the specific members of the population and decide how many of them will be involved,
4. specify what statistical tests will have to be applied,
5. describe what procedure or procedures you will take to gather the data, and
6. identify the materials to be used, among others.

The whole thing pertains to your methodology.

If you have written the methodology in such a manner that the reader understands the why and how of your chosen methods, then you have succeeded in writing the third chapter. The rest of the paper should reflect the application of the research methodology.


Cram, F. (2013). Method or methodology, what’s the difference? Retrieved 11 February 2015 from http://whanauoraresearch.co.nz/news/method-or-methodology-whats-the-difference/

Gabriel, D. (2011). Methods and methodology. Retrieved 11 February 2015 from http://deborahgabriel.com/2011/05/13/methods-and-methodology/

©2015 February 15 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (February 15, 2015). Method and Methodology: The Difference. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/02/15/method-methodology-difference/

Two Tips on How to Write the Significance of the Study

In writing the introduction of a thesis, a section is devoted to the significance of the study. This article discusses how to write this section and provides an example to illustrate the technique.

Essentially, the section on significance of the study provides information to the reader on how the study will contribute. It must be specifically stated, however, what the study will contribute and who will benefit from it.

You can figure out several important contributions of your research paper if you let your mind flow. But I find the following tips helpful in writing the significance of the study.

2 Tips in Writing the Significance of the Study

1. Refer to the statement of the problem

Your problem statement can guide you in identifying the specific contribution of your study. You can do this by observing a one-to-one correspondence between the statement of the problem and the significance of the study.

For example, if you ask the question “Is there a significant relationship between the teacher’s teaching style and the students’ long quiz scores in Mathematics?” then the contribution of your research would probably be a teaching style or styles (among say, three teaching styles you evaluated) that can help students perform better in Mathematics. Your research will demonstrate that that teaching style really works. That could be a groundbreaking approach that will change the way teachers teach Mathematics which many students abhor.


2. Write from general to specific contribution

I learned this technique from a former professor while in pursuing my masters degree. It works this way:

Write the significance of the study by looking into the general contribution of your study, such as its importance to society as a whole, then proceed downwards—towards its contribution to individuals and that may include yourself as a researcher. You start off broadly then taper off gradually to a specific group or person.

Coupled with reference to the problem statement, this effectively stimulates the mind to think in a deductive mode, i.e., from general to specific. This writing approach is similar to the Inverted Pyramid Approach discussed in How to Write a Good Thesis Introduction.

For example, in the study on teaching style given in #1, you may write:

significance of the study
Example significance of the study.

These two techniques will prevent your mind from wandering wildly or aimlessly as you explore the significance of your study. Applying them will save time thus allow you to focus on the next section of your thesis. Who knows, this section may also help justify why your study deserves a grant.

©2015 February 9 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (February 9, 2015). Two Tips on How to Write the Significance of the Study. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/02/09/two-tips-on-how-to-write-the-significance-of-the-study/

Writing a Literature Review: Evaluating Websites as Reliable Sources of Information

Writing a literature review is a tedious task unless you apply a systematic approach to it. But first, you must get back to the very reason why you are writing the literature review to appreciate its role in completing your research paper or thesis.

Since the internet is a great source of information and is nowadays a common destination for researchers who want to access the latest information as quickly as possible, care must be exerted in selecting research papers that will help you build your thesis.

This article gets back to the definition of the literature review as a take-off point towards being choosy in using easily accessible websites as sources of information in developing a thesis.

Literature Review Defined

A literature review is a critical description of the literature pertaining to the research topic that you as a researcher chose to work on as part of your thesis proposal or research paper. Emphasis is given to the word “critical.” This implies that you have read a great deal of literature such that you are able to see clearly the issue at hand and make an informed assessment.

Reading a great deal does not mean that you will just read any literature that comes your way. This means that you have read literature that are backed up by evidence, meaning, scientific papers or articles that are found in peer-reviewed journals or reliable sources. Reliable sources ensure that you have a good foundation in making a thoughtful position embodied in your thesis statement.

Selecting Literature from Websites

You must be careful in selecting the literature from websites that will be part of your review because of the preponderance of “scientific” journals that take advantage of unsuspecting researchers looking for a platform to publish their findings in open access journals. To prevent being victimized, evaluate your sources for reliability.

internet sources
Source: http://xkcd.com/386/

Jeffrey Beal, a librarian at the University of Colorado, took time to list questionable open-access journals. If you have been invited to publish in these journals or serve as editor or member of the board, think twice. Browse the site and evaluate the quality of the articles posted. Poor grammar, wrong spelling, or garbled information are tell-tale signs of predatory journals.

It is easy to be misled as everybody can easily access a large body of literature using the internet. You must therefore adopt a prudent attitude in selecting literature from websites that will help you develop a good thesis statement. As open-access journals become popular sources of scientific literature, a good researcher must develop a keen eye in selecting the wheat from the chaff.

©2015 January 30 P. A. Regoniel

A Sample of Conceptual Framework with Statement of the Problem

This article shows how a conceptual framework, along with the corresponding statement of the problem, is organized and written in a dissertation. Take a look at the example on how it is done and try to make one for your paper. You may also use this in your thesis.

You may be thinking about too many theories to base your study on. However, a conceptual framework in built on a theory that serves as the basis for your study. Once you have decided which theory to adopt, try to figure it out if the phenomenon, with all the associated variables in your study, can be best explained by that theory. The example below illustrates how this works.

Example of a Conceptual Framework

This study zeroes in on the professional development activities for teachers by espousing the idea that the classroom performance of teachers is a critical factor for student academic performance. The researcher based her assumption from Weiner’s Attribution Theory that external and internal factors can improve performance.

For example, students may attribute their academic performance to their teachers (external factor) while the teachers may attribute their teaching performance to in-service trainings (external factor) and perhaps, to their teaching efficacy, job satisfaction, and attitude towards the teaching profession (internal factors). These relationships are illustrated in Figure 1.

conceptual framework
Figure 1. Paradigm showing the relationships among the variables in this study.

Statement of the Problem

The purpose of this study is to provide baseline data on in-service training for English, Mathematics, and Science Fourth Year High School teachers from School Year 2006 up to 2010. Also, a professional development model for teachers is proposed.

Specifically, this study sought answers to the following questions:

1. What are the most familiar in-service training activities among teachers? And what are their insights about these activities as to: (a) applicability in the classroom, (b) importance in the teaching profession, and (c) impact on student performance?

2. What feedback do teachers have of the in-service training programs attended in terms of (a) perception, and (b) satisfaction?

3. What are the teachers’ level of teaching efficacy, job satisfaction, and attitude towards the teaching profession?

4. What is the performance of the fourth year high school students in their Subject Achievement Tests in three subject areas: English, Mathematics, and Science during the first semester of SY 2010-2011?

5. Are the teachers’ perception and satisfaction regarding the in-service training programs predictors of their levels of teaching efficacy, job satisfaction, and attitude towards the teaching profession?

6. Are the teachers’ levels of teaching efficacy, job satisfaction, and attitude towards the teaching profession predictors of their student performance in the Subject Achievement Tests?

7. What enhanced professional development model for teachers can be developed on the basis of the results of this study?

Now, you have learned how a theory is used, and how the questions in the statement of the problem are formulated. Take note that the questions in the statement of the problem are arranged according to the flow of conceptual framework. First, it has questions on inventory of in-service training activities, followed by the feedback. The next question is about teacher factors, then results of student performance. The last question relates to the development of the enhanced professional development model.

Can you make it? Yes, you can!

© 2015 January 19 M. G. Alvior

How to Write a Thesis Statement

Once you have made observations, conferred with experts, discussed issues and concerns with friends and read a great deal of literature on your chosen research topic, you should be ready to write your thesis statement. But do you already understand well enough the meaning of a thesis statement? Or are you one of those who find these two words difficult to comprehend?

If the thesis statement concept is quite vague to you, then this should be defined clearly first to foster understanding. Once this is done, then you can proceed to the process of writing those statements. Thus, this article will define thesis statement then provide you with detailed tips on how to write one. Examples are also given.

What is a Thesis Statement?

A thesis statement is essentially a synthesis of what you have read and observed regarding the phenomenon that you are trying to explain. It is a statement that serves as your anchor in advancing your argument about say, the causality of things. Among other things, the thesis statement serves as the focus of your discussion.

The statement that you make is not just a random position but a well-thought one, based on objective judgment and empirical evidence. Empirical means verifiable by observation or experience. It is your “educated” point of view. It is your proposed explanation of the phenomenon after a critical examination of evidence at hand. Are there convincing evidences that can support your contention?

Based on the definition given above, it is therefore necessary that you read a great deal of literature to understand how other people viewed, explored, tested and verified the phenomenon that you are trying to understand. Reading a lot not only broadens your horizon but also helps you pinpoint exactly the problem areas you need to address or look into, in the process, narrowing down your research topic.

If someone wrote a review of literature on the subject, then that’s the ideal starting point. A good thesis statement arises from how well you have familiarized yourself about the research topic. You should aim towards becoming an authority in the research area you have decided to focus on.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

Before you present your thesis statement, you should describe first the setting or situation which served as basis or foundation of your statement. This is called contextualization. You may refer to the article How to Write a Good Thesis Introduction on details on how to do this. You should be able to present your thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph of your exposition. State your point of view in a sentence or a few sentences.

In the ensuing paragraphs, provide examples and existing evidences to support your argument. Your research paper will supply the needed method or methodology to test your point of view or thesis. Your conceptual framework will serve as your map in conducting the investigation.

Examples of Thesis Statement

The following are examples of thesis statement in different fields of specialization.

  1. Overfishing continues to occur due to a generally poor understanding among fishers on the link between fishing intensity and the reproductive capacity of target fishes.
  2. Adolescents and young adults devoting at least six hours a day in front of their computer screen become obese in their adult years.
  3. Urban dwellers are better off using conventional over-the-counter drugs than herbal remedies due to problems of accessibility.
  4. Employees walking at least 30 minutes a day are able to accomplish their tasks on time compared to their sedentary colleagues.
  5. Chronic exposure to blue light from LED screens (of computer monitors and television) deplete melatonin levels thus reduce the number of sleeping hours among middle aged adults.

Notice in the above examples that the specific variables of the study are described. This defines the scope of the study and makes analysis easy, focused, and doable.

Further, the thesis statement is not carved in stone. While more information is gathered along the way, the thesis statement may be revised or rewritten for better treatise of the subject. This is where your thesis adviser’s suggestions, assuming he or she has a better grasp of the subject, come in handy.

©2015 January 1 P A Regoniel

10 College Research Topics to Explore

Are you a college student looking for a relevant research topic to explore?  Do you find it difficult to figure out what you would want to pursue given the limited time you need to prepare your thesis? This article is for you.

The article provides tips on how to come up with your research topic plus 10 research topics that you might want to pursue as you begin to write your first research paper.

What is a good research topic?

One of the things that college students find difficult in the course of preparing their thesis is how to come up with good research topics to explore. The identification of a good research topic is actually one of the most challenging activities that college students have to face as they begin writing their first research paper.

What topics are considered to be research topics appropriate for college students? As a professor handling research subjects in the university, I start off with questions that guide students in the course of developing their research topics. Among the questions I ask are the following:

  • What problems or needs in the communities around you can you help address using research as a tool?
  • What current issues do you know that have arisen in the past few months that caught your attention?
  • Is the research topic you intend to develop relevant to the course you are pursuing?
  • Are you working on topics that are related to the research agenda set forth by the university or college?

These questions have time and again stimulated the students’ thinking in such a way that they have come up with new research topics relevant to their course. These questions also touch on students’ responsibility in helping their communities adapt to rapid changes brought forth by both man and nature; such as rapid urbanization and sophisticated technologies and climate change, respectively. These two things greatly influenced everyone’s lifestyle.

Recently, I synthesized four research agenda after consulting with stakeholders and taking note of the national research agenda as starting points. I list below ten of the topics identified by college students as I gave them the four research agenda to guide them along the way namely

  • biodiversity conservation,
  • disaster risk reduction,
  • pollution prevention and mitigation, and
  • research enhancement, administration, and publication.

10 Research Topics to Explore

Here are research topics that you might want to pursue in the course of developing your thesis requirement based on the agenda I mentioned a while ago. These consist of those topics thought out by students. I also incorporate my own set of topics based on conferences I attended as well as personal observations.

  1.  Saltwater intrusion effects to the health of coastal communities
  2. Distribution and status of endemic birds in (name of place)
  3. Adaptation of coastal communities to sea level rise
  4. Addressing the externalities of oil pollution
  5. Factors affecting the publication performance of the faculty members in (university or college)
  6. The role of hygiene in preventing disease outbreaks
  7. Common diseases suffered by evacuees in disaster prone areas
  8. Household adaptation options to typhoons and related disasters
  9. Endemic plants with curative properties
  10. The economic value of island hopping as a tourist activity

These topics are just starting points. Along the way, while you review the literature, consult with experts, browse the internet, among others, your knowledge about these topics will expand. This will mean that you will be able to make refinements on the research topic you are interested in. It is also good practice to see how researchers approached the problem, i. e., what their methodologies are in answering the objectives of their study.

If the above topics are not enough or relevant to your course, or if you need more information on how to generate your research topic, the following articles will prove handy:

Do you have other research topics in mind based on the research agenda? Post them below and start a discussion.

4 Elements of a Good Abstract

How do you write a good abstract? Here are four elements of a good abstract.

Abstracts are important references for scientists or students working on their research proposal; particularly, in preparing their review of literature.  The abstract describes an unpublished or published research study in capsule form. It is a brief overview of the investigation so that researchers are able to comprehend the content of the research quickly.

The information provided in the abstract must be sufficient to help the researcher decide whether the work is relevant to his interest or not. It should be brief but not lacking in important elements necessary for understanding of the research conducted. The abstract will also help the researcher decide whether to read the research paper in its entirety or not.

So how should the abstract of a research paper be written so that maximum benefit is derived from it?

Four Elements of a Good Abstract

Specifically, you should write the abstract to meet its intended purpose. The abstract should:

  1. state clearly the objectives of the study;
  2. concisely describe the methodology or method employed in gathering the data, processing, and analysis;
  3. summarize the results, and
  4. state the principal conclusions of the research.

Generally, an informational abstract should give a brief summary of the main sections of the research paper, i.e., the introduction, the materials and/or methods used, the findings, discussion, conclusions, and recommendations.

In some academic institutions or scientific journals, however, recommendations are not incorporated in the abstract. That is because anyone can make recommendations based on the conclusion/s of the study.

The conclusion, in particular, should be given attention in writing the abstract. The conclusion should be well supported by the findings of the investigation; not a sweeping statement without any valid argument based on the findings to back it up. This is what really matters to the researcher trying to find gaps in knowledge that he can fill in.

Number of Words

Normally, abstracts should not exceed 250 words but this number could vary depending on the prescribed number of words, say, when you would like to submit your research paper to a popular scientific journal. Brevity is emphasized.

The limited number of words required for the abstract means that every word included in the abstract is necessary and that this should be presented in a coherent manner.  Important information should fit into one paragraph so this requires a little bit of thinking challenge and practice to the beginning researcher.

Tense of the Abstract

In what tense should the abstract be written?

The abstract should be written in the past tense because the investigation has transpired. However, statement of facts in, say, the results and discussion and the conclusion, must be in the present tense.

Finally, the references (e.g. name of author and date) should not be cited in the abstract unless the research paper involves an improvement or modification of a previously published method used by a researcher.

For more information and tips in writing the abstract of your research paper, visit the online writing lab of Purdue University.

©Patrick A. Regoniel 19 May 2014