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Describe the process of developing a research topic.
A research topic is a subject or issue that a researcher is interested in when
conducting research. There are four main steps that can generally be followed to
successfully develop a good research topic. They include;
1. Identifying an issue of concern or interest to the researcher
It must be of interest to the researcher because it is the interest that will make the
researcher put in much effort. Identifying an issue may come from different
sources. Thinking up on the issue on how to identify the issue, the researcher can
observe a practical problem within his or her environment (Problems may include
corruption, racism, unemployment etc.), look at how to improve an existing system
(eg. Realizing there’s a rise in cholera, a researcher can decide to research on why
there’s a rise in cholera or solutions to it) or examine a theory that is relatable to
your existing situation.
Another way a researcher can use to identify an issue is by reviewing literature
to identify gaps. That is, reading the works of other researchers whose works are in
relation to your identified problem and finding issues that were not addressed or
throwing more light on particular aspects that were not addressed well to assist you
in your study or a researcher can probably just request for a research proposal.
2. Stating the issue in a form of a single question
That is simply turn the issue into a single question that will adequately describe it.
This may involve writing a number of questions and deciding on which properly
addresses the issue of concern. After gathering background information, one of the
easiest ways to focus your topic is to frame it as a question.
3. Turning the question into a statement or a topic.
After transforming the issue into a question, you then turn the question back into a
statement or topic.
4. Evaluating the topic.
Evaluation is a systematic determination of a subject's merit, worth and
significance, using criteria governed by a set of standards. A good research topic
should be feasible, interesting, novel, ethical and relevant (has an implication). To
check the feasibility of a research topic, you have to think about how long the
research will take to accomplish, the availability of literature on the subject, and
the possibility of recruiting the number of subjects required to provide the answer
to the research question within the timeframe of the planned research (data
The research topic must be of interest to the investigators and to the general
community. Once the investigators are not interested in the raised topic, the
research would not be beneficial and hence the project will not be worth doing. It
is essential that the investigator is familiar with the up-to-date literature on the
planned topic for the research. Finding novelty in your area of research, you should
do a thorough literature search to find out what is known and what are the gaps
which need to be clarified. There might be topics that are studied but reports are
still contradictory. Researching this can lead to novel leads and the research must
be expected to contribute new information.
Ethical issues must be addressed at the early stage of selecting the research topic.
This helps to protect individuals and offers the potential to increase the sum of
good in the world. Lastly, for a research to be considered relevant, it must have the
potential to advance scientific knowledge, influence management, influence
policies, or guide further research.