How to Choose a Final Year Project Topic: A Step-by-Step Guide
Research project work is a hard bone to crack most times for final year students in higher institutions. It often carries high credit units, compared to other normal courses offered. A distinction or an A grade in project means a high boost to the CGPA, vice versa. Choosing the perfect topic for your academic research work is very critical to the overall success of the project. Below are some important steps to guide you in making the perfect choice.
Step 1: IDEAS
The very first thing you need when trying to get a project topic are ideas. To get a grasp of what you’re really going to be working on. There a number of factors to consider and places to look when it comes to ideas.
Your Project Supervisor: He/she happens to be very important in your choice of topic. You could either be assigned a topic by your supervisor or you could be given freedom to choose, in which case you must consider his/her area of specialty and interest. Questions like the ones below can be very helpful.
What areas of interest has my supervisor emphasised to me? In your previous discussions with your supervisor, what niche of interest has been most talked about? This will probably give you clues as to what is expected of you.
What is his/her area of previous research work? You can search for journals and papers that carry your supervisor’s name as the author or co-author. This will further be an eye opener for you on what niche to concentrate on in your brainstorming. Choose your own area of special interest within the scope of your supervisor’s specialty and weave your topic around it.
Online Resources: There’s likely to be so many information online about your perceived or proposed area of interest. It is advisable to check out resources online on relevant sites and forums so as to have a more exposed view of what you’re considering. There may be interesting aspects to your project area which you’ve not known and may eventually decide to focus on.
STEP 2: RESOURCES
Non-experimental project works: If you belong to a faculty or department that’s not in the sciences, you probably won’t have to carry out experiments or laboratory work, but will administer questionnaires. You should ensure that there are enough literature resources, online and offline (journals, papers and books alike) for your research. You don’t want to choose a topic which after getting it approved by your supervisor, you’re unable to find relevant resources. That’s the more reason you should do your survey well on your area of interest before submitting any topic.
Experimental project works: If on the other hand your project requires experiments and laboratory work, it is important to be sure about the cost implications money-wise as compared to your financial capacity. Also, availability of resources to carry out literature review for your work is a must. There are very good project topics you can choose that will not be too expensive, instead of starting a very expensive project and struggling through it or even getting stuck due to lack of funds. You should also be credibly sure of availability and accessibility of reagents, specimens, chemicals and the likes around you.
STEP 3: RELEVANCE
What determines whether your project topic will be approved and how far it will go is its significance to the immediate environment and the research world, especially in your field.
Ask yourself these questions:
What question do I want to answer with my research project? (This will force you to look into your environment to see what relevant questions you can answer with your research)
What knowledge gap do I want to fill in the research world? (This will entail you checking previous works done in that area and identifying the knowledge gaps and questions they’ve not answered)
What area of discovery or finding do I want to improve on? (This is best done in your supervisor’s area of specialty as you can easily be guided as to where other researchers stopped for you to pick up).
STEP 4: PROSPECT
Further studies: If you have the vision of earning higher degrees (MSc., PhD etc), then you can’t just pick any topic for the sake of picking. It has to be a project you can build on and further research into when studying for higher degrees.
Grants: You should also take into consideration areas in your field where researchers seem to be very interested in and where they are more likely to offer grants. Even if you don’t get the grant at your very first project, you may eventually get one during further studies if you choose your niche wisely.
Papers: Another important thing when choosing your project topic is to try as much as possible to form it in such a way as to be able to write many papers from that singular project. In that case, your research has to cover a number of significant areas that are closely related.
So the question to ask yourself would be;
Can I build on this research topic in future studies?
STEP 5: PAST PROJECTS
Libraries: Take advantage of your school library and especially your departmental library to find past projects in your field and area of interest. Check their topics and the manner in which they are framed. This can go a long way in helping you to frame your own topic, with a sense of assurance that you have materials to refer to. You can even check up on their outlines as well.
Online Sites: There are different sites with suggested project topics in various fields. Of course you don’t have to copy verbatim, but depending on what your area of interest is, you can work your topic around the ideas you see there.
STEP 6: COMPLETION
Time frame: There’s always a limited time frame for project works. You should choose your project topic considering the time allotted for completion. You don’t want to start a project that’s so promising but also very extensive that you are unable to finish up at the right time. Try to make sure it’s something you can finish up before the deadline.
Don’t get stuck: In as much as a research is meant to bring out something new, it should not be totally strange to you. In other words, ensure that your choice-topic is such as you have a good grasp of, so you can avoid getting stuck. You need as much background knowledge as you need plus research knowledge as well.
STEP 7: FRAMING YOUR TOPIC
It should not be too broad: You have to be very careful not to choose an unnecessarily broad topic as it may prove quite difficult to concentrate it into a research question or guiding question.
It should not be too narrow: Being too narrow is not good either as this will constrain the volume of information available on that topic. It should be broad enough for you to get sufficient literatures to work with, but must be narrowed down enough to have a focus question.
It should be a bit catchy: This may not look too obvious in an academic setting, but it’s as important as the title of any book is. Your topic should be framed in such a way that it easily catches people’s attention and spark their curiosity. This will go a long way in making your project research go global.
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