Choosing a research topic is one of the deciding factors for your research. If you haven’t chosen a topic, then you obviously can’t get started. If you read my last post and you have excellent deduction skills, I’m pretty sure you were able to pick up a few tips for this from there. However, if you were unable to, fret not. I’m here just for you. In this post, I share five easy tips that I believe can help you choose a research topic.
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1. Choose a field you’re interested in
Depending on your university, your research period could last anywhere between one semester of a full academic year. You will be spending a good chunk of your time with your research. Due to this, it is very important that you choose a field you’re interested in. Of course, depending on your program of study, these fields will look different but I’ll give an example of a civil engineering student. Are you interested in structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, environmental engineering etc. Picking something you’re interested in makes the research process a lot more bearable and fun. Additionally, it’s just easier to put your efforts and time into something you’re interested in and care about as opposed to something you aren’t interested in and don’t care about.
During the first part of your research year, you’ll probably hear the words,”find a gap in that field.” Well, that’s exactly what you need to do. Look for challenges or problems that exist in that world you’ve chosen. This will help you come up with a list of research topics you can choose from. I’d suggest having at least three possible specific topics to choose from at this stage. I’m interested in Structural Engineering and that’s the field I chose. I then had to look for problems that exist in Structural Engineering and see if anything catches my eye. These are some of the ways you could do this.
- Google- You could literally just search for, “Research topics for (INSERT CHOSEN FIELD HERE),” and you will find a lot of suggestions.
- Ask your supervisor- If you are lucky, your supervisor can suggest some possible research topics in the field you have chosen because well, they are in academia and they may have some interesting ones to offer.
- Read published journals related to the field you’ve chosen- Researchers usually, if not always, give recommendations at the end of their research paper. These are usually recommendations for further study and could include the exploration of new methods or just any other work that could be done, related to their published work.
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3. Narrow it down
You don’t want to end up with a topic that is too wide. This is the point where you try and narrow it down to just one specific thing. I wish you could solve all the problems that existed in the world but unfortunately you can’t. If your topic involves climate change, what exactly do you want to focus on regarding climate change? Wind? Water? Temperature changes? There are so many things you could look at. Once you make your pick from there, you could then make it even more specific. What type of structures are you looking at? Make it specific.
4. Do loads of research!
This goes hand in hand with step number three. Read about the options you have and gather as much information as you can. Try and see if you have a good and strong enough problem statement, sufficient literature to review and just try and see how your research of that particular topic will contribute to the world.
5. Talk to your friend about it
Talk about your chosen topic (or topics, if you’re still stuck) with a friend, even if they have no idea what you’re talking about. Explain everything to them; what exactly the topic is, what the problem is and what you intend to do. From there, hear what they have to say or what they suggest and then also think about whether you enjoyed talking about the specific topic. If you didn’t then maybe you should consider choosing another one. Lol.
Once this is done, talk about it with your supervisor and go ahead with your research proposal! After this, and hopefully after the acceptance of your proposal, the work begins!
I hope you find this helpful! I’ll share tips on how to write your thesis in the next post.
As usual, let me know your thoughts in the comments! Do you have any tips for someone choosing a research topic? Please leave them in the comment section below. I’m waiting! Finally, if you have any questions related to the same, feel free to ask me in the comments or send me an email ( firstname.lastname@example.org) I would love to help!
Thanks for reading!