The most difficult part of a masters or doctoral degree course is arguably writing the research paper. Writing the paper itself is not difficult if the topic is already available. But students are not provided with the topics because that is the first step in the research that they have to do. Defending the research will go on smoothly if the paper is clear in its aim of solving an argument.
Here are some suggestions for the steps to take in choosing a research paper topic:
- Ask yourself what the research paper is all about. It should argue, not just narrate. The research topic should be clear on what it should do.
- Research the topic. The Internet is a good source. The topic must pose a challenge to you as the writer.
- Visit some sites about research papers and books. They will provide you with research ideas. Think also about the things that interest you.
- Don’t give up easily. There are lots of topics within your niche. All you need is focus and imagination.
- List as many topics as you can and make a shortlist of the ones that interest you and those topics that are arguable.
- After streamlining your choices to a good shortlist, design a diagram representing the connection of ideas that you have in mind.
- Run though your shortlist and see which one is the most appropriate and most researchable topic in your list. Some topics may be broad while others may have limited research materials. Your aim is to pick a topic that argues a point, may be covered within the timeframe given, and not be offensive to readers.
- Choose a topic that you are curious about; you must have an interest in that topic. The problems must be important. The topic must be puzzling for you to solve; they must be unoccupied. It must open new ideas for possible research work.
- Once you have chosen a topic, read the literature about it. You will be able to refine the topic after reading a lot about it. Read the bibliographies and be familiar with the names of important people. Read other background information.
- When you have enough background information for your chosen topic, write it as a question or a short statement. Select the main concepts by analyzing the different components of the statement. List key words describing your topic. These key words will be used when people search for your topic.
- When all your criteria fail, go back and generate other topics. There are hundreds of thousands of problems to be solved and your research on the solution could help the world slowly ease the problem.
Choosing a research paper topic, requires one to learn about the language of the internet, the power of imagination, information literacy, organizing skills, higher level reading skills, and discerning motives, among others. It gives the researcher an opportunity to explore their personal interests with enthusiasm. With some guidance from advisers, the researchers can produce innovative and useful research papers.