Research topic ideas do not materialize out of thin air. While Archimedes’ or Einstein’s examples of scientific epiphanies might inspire you, they had to work hard for days, months, and years to solve the problem. If you have no time to wait for inspiration to strike you, follow our tried-and-true iterative approach. It will provide you with all the necessary tools to generate a relevant, exciting, and manageable research topic. Fair warning: it will take time and elbow grease, so roll up your sleeves and let’s get the ball rolling.
How to Craft a Research Topic with a 4-Step Iterative Approach
Your subconscious mind is capable of solving complex problems, but only if you load your brain full of relevant knowledge and data. With your preferred research filed in mind, create a reading list and include:
- Wikipedia reference list;
- Latest scientific news on the subject;
- Advanced course textbooks;
- Peer-reviewed journals;
- Industry-leading conference abstracts;
- Influencers’ blogs in your niche;
- Extra materials your adviser suggests.
At first, your reading list will be a mile long with no hope of finishing it in your lifetime. Instead of slowly digesting every source, skim them and eliminate any you deem irrelevant. Whenever you stumble upon an exciting notion or idea, make a note and add the reference to your shortlist for a later in-depth review. Once you get a general idea of your research interests, you can combine the reading with the next stage.
While reading is necessary to acquaint yourself with the field, listening to its brightest representatives is equally important. Their presentations might inspire you, ignite your imagination, and make you ask questions you have never considered before. Moreover, attending live conferences and seminars enables you to listen to answers and ask your questions. Here a few ideas for your listening phase:
- Audit advanced courses to learn more about your field;
- Listen to TED Talks, podcasts, interviews with industry leaders;
- Attend the college or university seminars in your area or interdisciplinary presentations;
- Visit online webinars by professors and researchers;
- Attend international conferences with your scientific adviser or ask for records of the best speeches.
Practice your active listening skills instead of zoning out during boring presentations. Keep your voice recorder on, but take notes of the most interesting thoughts and ideas. Write down the presenter’s name and contacts (if available), and you’ll be able to look up their works and reach out with your questions. This leads us to the next stage of choosing the research topic.
Once you are confident enough about your background knowledge and have a vague idea about your area of interest, it’s time to network and communicate. Use the data you have collected at the previous steps and contact the academics and researchers who might help you with your topic. You can:
- Share ideas and hold brainstorm sessions with fellow students;
- Ask questions after presentations and mingle after the seminar is over;
- Send out emails with your questions and ideas, asking for advice;
- Reach out to researchers through LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media;
- Contact the authors of the articles through Academia.edu or ResearchGate;
- Get your adviser to put you in touch with relevant academics.
Remember to be polite, respectful and concise. Do not start your question, written or spoken, with a lengthy back story. Get to the point and ask your question. You can gush about the chance to talk to the best and brightest later. Go for open-ended questions that require a full answer instead of yes or no queries.
Don’t expect to get answers to all of your emails and messages, but store them ones you do and add pertinent information to your notes. When your head is ready to burst open, it’s time to turn the tables and start generating information instead of passively consuming it.
Before you even think about writing the research paper, thesis proposal, or an article, you must put your thoughts on paper about the topic of your study. You’ll need to sort through your notes, organize them, and synthesize your vision of the problem and the ways of solving it.
Plan a rough draft of your topic and include answers to these questions:
- What scientific question or real-life problem your study will solve?
- What do other researchers and field experts say about your topic?
- Which methods, materials, and technologies have other scientists used?
- What are the knowledge gaps left by prior research?
- How will you answer the research question to improve its understanding?
- Which methods, materials, and technologies will you use?
- What results do you expect to achieve?
You don’t have to write detailed answers to all these questions, but having at least a vague idea will be a great help to convince your adviser you know what you are talking about. More importantly, you will have better luck in your future research efforts.
Once you get the professor’s feedback, the fun begins. You get to... go back to the beginning and do it all over again. Read, listen, talk, and write. Refining the research topic in Psychology, Economics, or Marketing is an iterative process. You will go through all the steps as many times as necessary to ensure you and your professor are 100% satisfied with the topic.
Research Topic Examples
With all that talk about the time and effort necessary to come up with a good research topic, you might feel intimidated and just about ready to give up. To bolster your spirits, we have compiled a list of sample ideas to spark your imagination.
Research Topic in Psychology Examples
- Improving the research methodology in educational psychology
- The practical and scientific differences between forensic and correctional psychology
- Personal psychological characteristics in relation to assertiveness
- How do identity and acculturation form inter-cultural psychology?
- Psychological adjustment and positive character traits among elementary school students
- The common causes of mental and psychological disorders
- The influence of pseudo-psychological publications on social psychological principles beliefs
- The nature and purpose of silence through psychological and philosophical lenses
- The impact of crowd psychology on a democratic society
- Occupational health psychology: preventative interventions and their impact
Medical Research Topic Ideas
- Misdiagnosing criminal punishment’s impact on the medical environment
- Medical child abuse and over-medication origins and possible solutions
- Chronic disease management through careful medication adherence
- The efficient system for temperature-sensitive medications' transportation
- An overview of currently available medicinal cannabinoids and their use cases
- The impact of self-medication on undergraduate medical students
- Improvements in ADHD medication and treatments
- Preventative and precision medicine comparison
- Battling the negative perception of medical treatments by patients
- The integration of Eastern and Western medical schools
Social Sciences Research Paper Topics
- The causes of the shift from e-commerce towards social commerce
- The ways to handle moral conflict and control deviant behavior in teenagers
- Social policy impact through adaptation
- The problem of loneliness and its socio-economic implications
- Social capital differences in democratic and totalitarian societies
- The inefficiency of social media bans and more effective solutions to the problem
- The negative consequences of a robotized society
- The seismic social changes brought on by the Internet and smartphones
- The primary causes of intolerance in modern society
- The establishment of new traditions in the 21st century
You don’t have to settle for one economic research topic example. Mash them together, mix and match questions and methods, leave nothing but the bare bones of the idea. However, be aware, that most of these samples are from published works, so don’t select the topic blindly. Do your research following our 4-step iterative process, and you won’t have any trouble.
How to Write a Research Paper
You have invested so much time and energy into selecting the focus of your study, but more work is waiting for you up ahead. If you have followed our iterative algorithm, you must have already accumulated several sources and have a pretty good idea what your paper will entail. However, you should search for more references to cite to make your research credible. Once you have a stack of books and articles, your notes, and no idea where to go from here, it’s outlining time.
Most research papers, academic and scientific, follow the same structure that’s a bit different from what you are used to. The introduction can be longer and include background information on the problem, a brief literature overview, the gaps in knowledge, and the goal of your research.
Imagine yourself jumping out of a plane with a parachute. At first, you see a vast stretch of land with little details, but the closer to the ground you get, the clearer the picture becomes. In your research introduction, start with a broad view of the field of study and narrow it down step by step, until you zero in on the research question you have selected.
The body of the paper includes three distinct parts:
- Methodology and materials. Describe the methods you used to collect data, calculate the results, analyze and visualize them. This section is crucial in making your research valid and your results reproducible. If you use a commonly accepted or standard method, state so without going into details. If you have developed a new methodology or propose changes to the conventional approach, be precise and explain your reasoning.
- Results. Whether your study is theoretical or experimental, now is the time to demonstrate the numbers it has achieved. Use tables or lists to turn a mess of values into an easily readable data set, but do not alter it. This part of the paper must show your results before analysis. Your professor and other readers will be able to assess the credibility of your methodology at a glance.
- Discussion. Now is the time to draw conclusions and answer the question you posed in the introduction. You can clear up the data, eliminating outlining points, conduct regressive or inferential analysis, generate charts and graphs to illustrate your point better. Here is your chance to translate the data you have accumulated to the reader and use it to tell a story. However, it should always tie back into the thesis statement of the paper and solve the initial problem.
Research conclusion is a recap of all parts of the paper. Include your research question, the primary methods used. Sum up the results and their analysis in a few concise points and add a final thought. You can suggest practical applications for your research, consider the influence on other fields, and propose further research necessary to answer the questions that arose during your study.
At first glance, the amount of work necessary to select the research topic and complete the study seems unmanageable. However, there is a trick to handling it like a pro. Use the reverse planning method. Imagine you have already finished the paper. Now think back a day and consider the things you need to do to make it happen. For example, you decide that on a day before submitting the paper you will proofread and format. Then take another step back and think how two days before the deadline you will edit the document and manage citations. Go back along the timeline all the way from the submission date to today, and you’ll have a list of simple tasks you need to complete every day to finish the paper on time. Add them to your daily to-do list or calendar, and you are golden.
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