Defining a research topic can be one of the most challenging and frustrating elements of undertaking research in any field. Of course, many people will have a broad idea of the area they want to study; science, literature and medicine for example. However, the problem occurs in what specific question to answer. Here are some simple steps to follow to ensure that your research topic will be successful.
- Firstly you must have an extensive general knowledge of the topic you wish to research. In terms of your research question it is important to know what work is already out there and what would be breaking new ground The fundamental point of research is to discover something new and make a contribution to the field.
- To narrow down your research it’s a good idea to make a mind map and come up with lots of topics that might be of interest to you. It’s always good to start with many topics, that way if one becomes impractical to continue with you have other options.
- It is important to be specific when choosing your research topic. One would of course like to discover a cure for cancer. However, you need to focus on one specific type of cancer, focus on one specific treatment type and improving one specific element of it. This same approach applies to all topics, keep narrowing your question until you have a very detailed thesis to work on.
- When starting research many people have a specific goal in mind of what they would like to achieve. This is of course great and is a wonderful motivation for people undertaking research. However, it is important to be flexible. Your adviser may recommend that you to change your topic or you might find that there in insufficient material to work with, or it might be that you just don’t have the budget to fund the research you want to pursue. Staying calm and keeping flexible will help you to achieve a realistic research topic.