Is Your Research Paper Topic Relevant and the Best It Can Be?
We have previously explored the process of choosing the best essay topic in the article “How to choose the best essay topic for your paper”. If you haven't read the article, kindly do so as these two articles are related. Having a good understanding of both of them will give you a more holistic overview of settling with a good research topic.
This article gives you a mechanism that you can use to assess whether your chosen topic is relevant and applicable to your specific course. The following are steps to use to choose a research topic that is valid and applicable for your course or class.
‘Let’s get those fine details into focus!’
1. Relevance to Your Course Modules
The first process of determining whether your research topic is excellent is ascertaining that it falls within the objectives of your course. There are various ways of achieving this process. The most important approach to doing this is ensuring that your chosen topic meets the requirements of your assignment.
As a rule of thumb, a research topic that meets assignment requirements meets the course objectives. Simply put, your instructor gave you the assignment requirement. Your essay should be written as per these requirements without digressing: it is the most important thing to do! Get it?
You can also ensure that your chosen research topic is excellent by skimming through your course materials. For instance, does your chosen topic seek to evaluate a phenomenon, answer a problem or improve a process that you have studied in class? Without a doubt, such a research topic would definitely fall within your class objectives.
2. Specificity and Subjectivity of Your Chosen Topic
It is important that your research topic explores a specific issue. The essence of this is to avoid cases when you experience difficulties formulating an effective methodology. You want a research topic for which data collection, analysis and discussion is clear and focused.
One of the mechanisms that can be used to check if your research topic is specific is using a mind map. A mind map can be used to refine a topic into specific areas of study. To save you the trouble, you do not need a very complex mind map. You can use any format to identify such as topics and their relative subtopics. You can also try to make connections of those subtopics as with the example below.
Apart from specificity, you definitely want a topic that is subjective. In most cases, students choose a topic that is specific but not too objective. As a result, they are able to collect and analyze data but cannot make a valid argument because the observations made are based on facts.
Example: How many hours do college students sleep per day?
As much as this is a specific topic, its results do not allow for the creation of a valid argument. Unless directed otherwise in the assignment instructions, it would be imperative to choose a topic that is more of subjective than objective. The results of a research topic that is subjective allows for the establishment of a valid argument.
Example: What is the relationship between sleeping hours of college students and their academic performance?
3. Ensure Your Topic is Backed Up by Literature Review
No one wants to be stranded halfway writing their essay due to lack of information. The most likely cause of this problem is the lack of previous literature to back up and to offer foundation for your paper -- or rather the writer's block. The best way to do this is to do a preliminary research.
Students can use resources in their school library, or even online databases such as EBSCOhost and ProQuest. Google Scholar is also an indispensable platform that can give you a crude overview of the availability of resources within your area of study.
Evaluating you topic using these steps enables you to have an excellent topic for your paper. With time, you can develop a method for choosing a topic while evaluating it using the above steps. It just gets better with time!
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