How to Find the Right Research Topic?

When it comes to penning down an assignment, one of the daunting things to start it includes choosing the right dissertation research topic.

However, it may seem as simple as writing down your subject or area of research on AI tools like Chat GPT or Bard, filling out all the necessary requirements, and boom!

You got a hand full of research topics and ideas!

Well, things like choosing the perfect research topic aren’t as easy as it seems.

At Ph.D. Dissertation, our dissertation writing experts have helped thousands of students across the UK come up with the best research topic ideas. Their years of experience have enabled them to develop tips that can aid you in finding the correct research dissertation topic.

Start With Reviewing Literature and Focusing on FRIN.

To find a strong research idea, it’s important to understand what’s already been written about your general area of interest in academic papers. Instead of just thinking about topics on your own, reading these papers will help you come up with ideas.

A helpful tool for finding these papers is Google Scholar. You can enter keywords related to your interests, and it will show you a list of popular papers in that field.

Once you’ve found a few papers that seem interesting (especially ones with research studies, but review papers are good, too), you can skim through the summary at the beginning of each paper, called the abstract. This will give you a quick idea of what the paper is about without spending too much time.

After you understand a paper, go to the end, where you’ll find a section often called “future research is needed” or “further research is needed” (FRIN). In this section, the authors suggest ideas for future research. These suggestions can give you potential research topics to explore and add to the field.

Utilize Your University’s Dissertation Repository

In addition to using Google Scholar, your university’s online database also serves as an excellent source for accessing both publicly available research and research materials specifically related to your institution.

More specifically, your university should have a database that houses dissertations and theses authored by former students, including those within your program. Within this bank, you will frequently find pre-existing dissertations that address topics relevant to your field of interest.

Additionally, within the “FRIN” section (Filling Research Information Needs), you can identify existing gaps in research that require your attention.

Moreover, reviewing the dissertations and theses in your university’s database can provide you with more valuable insights into the preferred format, structure, and layout conventions that are specific to your university and program. This information can prove to be exceptionally helpful at the beginning of your research journey.

Focus on Topics That Truly Interest You

Once you’ve identified a few potential research topics, which are essentially areas where research is lacking, you’ll need to start evaluating and refining these options.

Unlike shorter program assignments, your dissertation or thesis will require a significant time commitment, usually spanning from six months to several years, in the case of Ph.D. programs.

Given this substantial investment of time, it’s important to prioritize topics that genuinely interest you. This is crucial because staying motivated throughout your research journey is essential. Additionally, it’s practical to choose a topic that excites you because it will make the writing process more manageable.

On a related note, it’s also important to have confidence in the topic you choose because it’s common for emerging scholars to feel like they don’t measure up when comparing their work to established research in the field.

Leverage Your Strengths

In addition to giving priority to topics that truly interest you, it’s wise to select ideas that align with your strengths in terms of research design and methodology. At the outset, consider the following key questions:

  • Which research approach (qualitative or quantitative) do I feel most comfortable working on?
  • Where and from whom can I feasibly gather the necessary data?
  • Can I collect the required data within the project’s time constraints?

Begin by evaluating your preferences regarding qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative research (often abbreviated as QUAL) relies on personal engagement with individuals, employing methods such as focus groups, interviews, or observations for data collection.

On the other hand, quantitative research (QUANT) primarily involves analysing numerical data using statistical techniques. Mixed methods (MIXED) combine elements of both qualitative and quantitative research in a comprehensive manner.

Learn more in detail about different types of research here: https://www.phddissertation.co.uk/blog/types-of-research-design-a-complete-guide/

Consider your methodological inclination—are you more inclined toward working with numbers or words? Seek topics that align with your preferred approach.

It’s essential to remember that individuals have varying preferences when it comes to qualitative and quantitative data. Therefore, don’t force a methodological choice that feels unnatural to you.

It’s important to note that while mixed methods have gained popularity in recent years, you should only adopt this approach if your research objectives and questions strongly justify it, as it can be challenging to execute effectively.

As a general guideline, a simpler, well-executed design typically garners more favourable results than a complex one executed poorly.

After identifying your preferred approach, maintain a realistic outlook regarding the availability of data and potential research participants for any given topic and approach. Recruiting participants can be particularly challenging for various reasons, and it’s common for students to overestimate the accessibility of data or interviewees, which can lead to significant issues later on. Remember, without data, there can be no study.

Lastly, keep in mind that certain topics may make potential participants uncomfortable, and people may not be as enthusiastic about your project as you are.

However, don’t hesitate to reach out to individuals for assistance or feedback, as they are typically receptive.

Be respectful of their time and make such requests well in advance. Ultimately, if you lack confidence in your ability to access the necessary data for a particular topic, it’s advisable to steer clear of that research subject.

Keep it Concise and Simple.

Our final recommendation emphasizes the importance of simplicity in both your chosen research topic and your research methodology.

The most effective approach often involves a straightforward project executed with precision, as opposed to a complex one executed poorly.

Therefore, it is advisable to maintain a focused research scope and avoid attempting to connect every possible aspect within your study.

You can achieve this by maintaining a clear and concise research focus, ensuring that your research questions, aims, and objectives are in alignment. Additionally, consider building upon existing work rather than reinventing the wheel and starting from scratch.

Crucially, it is essential to remain realistic about what you can accomplish within your allotted timeframe.

Your academic program has a finite duration, so it is vital to assess what you can realistically achieve during this period.

Ultimately, the primary evaluation criteria should revolve around your ability to design and conduct research effectively rather than whether your research breaks entirely new ground.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the process of finding the right research topic is a critical step in your academic and intellectual journey. It requires careful consideration, self-reflection, and a systematic approach.

By following the guidelines and strategies discussed in this guide, you can increase your chances of selecting the right research topic that aligns with your interests, expertise, and academic goals.




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