Most of the time, professors require you to develop your own topic of interest. But the most difficult part is finding a starting point to get a good/manageable research topic that you can work on it.
This phase of your research journey is quite important; Keep in mind that a right choose of your research topic could be your passport to get a good mark.
Choose a research topic
Choosing a research topic is the milestone for conducting your research. Many researchers/research students got confused in this stage.
However, you can effectively fulfill this stage following these steps:
Step 1: Identify your final goal. You may aspire publishing articles in refereed academic journals in your field based on your research project. You may, rather, seek a solution to a problem in your work or a job promotion. Otherwise, you may just want to respond to a university’s requirement and have your academic degree. Your topic of research, therefore, should be chosen in light of your final goal.
Step 2: generate ideas. In this stage, you are expected to generate main concepts based on several sources, mainly:
- Literature review. Reading the titles and abstracts of the new (less than 5 years) articles published in academic journals in your field would be very useful for this stage. The suggestions for future research in these articles can be very useful as well. Other literature sources, e.g. books, conference proceedings, etc. would also be of benefit.
- Supervisor’s ideas and experiences.
- Colleagues in the field. Sharing thoughts with academic colleagues is very insightful for a researcher. Attending conferences and engaging in academic social networking, e.g. Research Gate, Mendeley, Academia, etc. would be very insightful.
- The priorities of your country or institution.
- Your practical experiences.
Step 3: Prepare a list of concepts/keywords. By preparing this list, you are able to compare, contrast, and filter many of these concepts, ending up with your specific topic, e.g. weapon possession by students in schools or students’ intentions from their postgraduate programs.
Step 4: Do not panic of change. Research is a dynamic process so that you can refine or modify your topic according to your new sightings.
While choosing your topic, keep in mind the followings:
- You have an interest/passion about the topic.
- The topic is researchable, i.e. you can obtain fund, literature sources, data, lab equipment, time, etc.
- The topic is not overly researched. Choose niches that have less crowd as it will be more original.
- Avoid too narrow, too wide, too vague, or too crystal topics.
- Finally, keep several potential topics, so that you can switch to another topic according to further investigations and circumstances.