A FRAMEWORK FOR A TOPIC SELECTION FOR THE DEGREES OF DOCTORAL, MPHIL AND MSC BY RESEARCH

Selecting a topic for research in Doctoral or MPhil or MSc is a job of higher importance as it adds a lot of credit to your higher studies. Therefore you got to be rather prudent while selecting your research topic.

Some questions come in our mind before initiating research work.

How to prepare the right mindset for research? How to select a topic?

Let’s discuss below a few guidelines that can significantly ease out your process of topic selection.

A changing mindset is pivotal

The doctoral students should figure out the exact problem and find out the alternatives before jumping into the solution. The problem that it leads to is that they simply avoid being engaged with the proper steps that a topic selection involves based on the problem at hand. Students must acquire a mindset of exploring all possible things before finally selecting a research topic. This is one of the most challenging parts that doctoral students face. Actually, we have been conditioned to believe what we were told from our kindergarten days. That is why often we forget to challenge the things around us. We rather hold a take-it-for- granted kind of an attitude towards the phenomenon of this world. But this trend needs to be broken. Doctoral students must take up the challenges of questioning the beliefs held previously.

Here are a few tips to boost your critical thinking:
• Try brainstorming while doing your research. Pen down whatever thought comes to your mind irrespective of their relevance.
• Try getting out of your academic area. Question the predefined assumptions and think about what would happen in absence of those assumptions.
• Try explaining your ideas to someone who does not belong to your field.
• Don’t accept any concept without a challenge. Ask ‘why’.
• Speak about your ideas and it will help you answer all your why’s, how’s, who’s etc.

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                                      Flowchart – Framework for topic selection

What should be the approach to the problem?

Once the researcher picks the right mindset, they can now start attending the problem. But make sure you clear all your doubts regarding the problem in the first place to avoid any confusion later on. Here are a few suggestions that one can adopt to have a clear understanding of the problem.
• Split the problem into a few parts. This is important as most of the academic research problems are multidimensional. Although trying to understand the whole problem from a top-level is a good idea but even then you have to ultimately look into to your own area of concern. First, eliminate all the outside factors from the problem in order to have a greater understanding of the core issue and then investigate each isolated problem separately and generate concepts out of them.
• Now you elaborate on the problem. Researchers will gain immensely by following this step as they will now have a greater understanding of the theoretical basis of the isolated chunk of the problem.
• The final step would be to conduct a literature review as this is one of the most fundamental tasks every researcher must do in the initial stage of his/her research. They should perform a targeted search for articles to avoid getting confused by the large volume of literature available. PhD Academic Writing Help can also be a good alternative in this case.

Developing the theory

Many newbies at research find it quite difficult to frame theories that would solve their research problems. But if you invest the right amount of time and energy into it, ideas  for new research may knock your mind’s doors just like magic. You have to be alert all the time to grab these surprise opportunities.

There are two options for you to choose – one is to develop a new theory out of an already existing concept and the other is a unique idea related to an upcoming field of study.

Another important aspect of theory development that every researcher should try is knowledge contribution. So try to add more knowledge to the existing concept

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knowledge from textbooks, seminars, etc. This will help students to build a strong knowledge base about their subjects and build extensive literature reviews. You can also take Ph.D. Dissertation Qualitative Methodology Writing Assistance or Ph.D. Dissertation Quantitative Methodology Writing Help if required. Most of the research takes place in building up a new theory from an already explained idea. So who knows maybe with in depth understanding of the topic,a better technique or concept comes out than the existing one.
• Some researchers may find it interesting to solve the puzzles that are left over by existing theory. Often we find that some theories are well accepted but not well understood. These ambiguities may inspire some doctoral students to engage in clarifying the concepts or at least leave a roadmap for future research.
• Deviation from an established concept can open new doors for the researchers.

Risk Involved

Research work brings many benefits to the society and also the researcher himself. But there are hidden dangers involved in the process of topic selection. These can be listed as below.
• Learning about past scientific journals is a good habit. Doing so will help students to develop strong fundamentals about the research they are going to take up. But they should do it maintaining a proper balance. You can’t just question every anomaly. Rather limit yourself to challenging the important ones and leave those of lesser importance.
• Another risk is that going for authentic research as a reference. Researchers often seek highly reputed literature with a large volume of citations. This is no doubt a very practical approach but one should look beyond popular theories. Maybe there is some path -breaking research work that remained unrecognized for being new.

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There are advantages too

Not all are hazards in developing a theory, there are also some bright sides of doing it.
• Those open-minded researchers who don’t have an attachment for the past and proven theories but have mindsets for questioning them have the highest chances of making the largest breakthroughs.
• Another advantage is to see the problem at hand with a distinct perspective. Knowledge from other fields of study can sometimes accidentally solve problems of your own discipline.

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Conclusion

Sadly the appropriate process of selecting a research topic often gets ignored in higher studies. But the student should give utmost importance to this step as the topic selection is a very crucial part of successful research.

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