How to Choose a Research Topic: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Choose a Research Topic

Quantitative research is a key part of most bachelor’s and master’s theses. It looks for a relationship between variables and tests hypothesis derived from the available literature. The practical parts of the work cannot be done without quantitative research.

An academic research requires accuracy, perseverance, and meticulousness, so it is often frustrating for students. However, just like white rice, though pale but containing a lot of starch, academic research brings many great benefits to researchers. If you are currently looking to gain valuable experience from academic research, this article will briefly describe the basic steps for you to shape the structure of the research process.

To conduct academic research, it is necessary to prepare all aspects for research. The preparatory step has a special place, it contributes to determining the quality of the research work. First, we start with the research topic selection process.

How to Choose a Research Topic: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Quantitative and qualitative research

Quantitative research is based on deduction, which means that it is first necessary to create a hypothesis based on knowledge or theory and then verify it. In contrast, qualitative research consists of an induction, where we build a hypothesis or even a theory based on the collected data. The difference of the two types of research is therefore more than clear. The main task of quantitative research is to collect the necessary amount of data and then analyse it using statistical methods or computer programs.

1. Study the literature and decide on a problem

The acquired knowledge will come in handy when designing the right research question or hypothesis and choosing the research methods of your bachelor’s or master’s thesis. From the onset, you need to clarify what your research will be about and what you want to find out. In the end, defining a research problem may look like the question you are looking for an answer to.

  • The research topic must have academic significance, supplement the theoretical content of science, or clarify some theoretical problems that have many problems.
  • The research topic must be practical, reflected in satisfying an existing need in society, bringing practical value to both theory and practice.
  • The topic must be suitable with the professional ability, material conditions and time budget of the research group.

Of course, another determining factor in choosing a research topic is the researcher’s interest in the problem. If the research student still has not identified the right topic for them, they can ask the instructor for advice.

2. Hypothesis

Based on the acquired knowledge, create a hypothesis, and define the tasks of your research and its goals. Before formulating a hypothesis, it is important to realize that this is not a question, but a statement that needs to be verified. As part of the hypothesis, you will determine the relationship between two or more variables and express the conclusion you expect at the end of your research.

3. Select the methods of choice

Once the hypothesis is out there, the next step is the choice of research methods which ranges from an experiment, an observation, or a structured questionnaire. Make sure to clarify whether such research will be sufficient to confirm your hypothesis, whether you have not forgotten a fundamental fact that could complicate your research, and how you will evaluate the data in the end.

Research plan: A document that summarizes the implementation steps and specific time for each step, as well as assigns work to each member of the research team.

Research outline: It is a proposed document with detailed contents of the research work, which is the basis for researchers to rely on when conducting activities in the implementation phase.

The plan outlines the development, the sequence of activities, and the outline goes into the contents of the research. However, they have an important role in orienting the research content, showing the layout of the work so that the research team can perform the proposed tasks in a more active and academic manner.

4. Specify the sample size

Enough data is needed for quantitative research. Therefore, the size of the sample must be large enough which largely depends on several factors such as level of reliability, the heterogeneity of the group, the number of subgroups and the time or financial demands.

It is also necessary to choose an appropriate method of selection, which can be improbable or probabilistic. While the former method of selection cannot be generalized because we have no control over the quality of the sample, the latter can be generalized because it is objective and virtually unaffected.

5. Gather necessary data

Once you have the preparation phase behind you, it’s time to collect data. A research topic without data is as good as null. For this reason, insights from data analysis are the key for researchers to find new ones, proof false, set out and is the basis for defending their point of view.

Research students can find the necessary data by interviewing specific subjects or looking up information from reputable sources (can search online or go to the agency where the source of information is available or ask directly. The data also needs to satisfy the set requirements, such as having high accuracy and reliability, having useful information to form the basis of hypothesis evaluation, closely related to the research topic, etc.

However, the collected data cannot be used immediately, but must go through the process of screening, analysis, and processing.

6. Processing Data

Data processing is the process of using the researcher’s synthetic knowledge, which is the process of using dialectical and logical thinking along with academic research methods to consider the objective. The purpose of data processing is to gather, select and systematize different parts of information and existing documents from which to find new aspects and new conclusions about the objective.

To thoroughly process the collected data, it is necessary to first filter out accurate and useful information, and then analyse that data with special tools that combine knowledge and thinking. In the process of analysing and processing information, attention should be paid to respecting the objectivity of facts and figures, and researchers must not be subjectively imposed according to their own intentions.

7. Make assumptions

An academic hypothesis is a hypothetical, predictive model about the nature of the research objective. An academic work is essentially the proof of an academic hypothesis. Therefore, hypothesis building is an important operation, helping us to propose a way to explore the research object, sometimes predicting the nature and movement of events and phenomena.

An academic hypothesis, even if it is only a theoretical assumption, must meet these standard rules; the hypothesis must be able to explain the object or phenomenon to be studied, the hypothesis must be capable of being tested experimentally, once we have a valid hypothesis, we need to test it with real data, which leads to the next steps.

 8. Perform an analysis and draw a conclusion

Throughout the research process, researchers inevitably make mistakes. Therefore, double-checking the results helps us avoid mistakes before reaching the conclusion, bringing the research work to the most objective level.

To do this effectively, you should test by experiment on many different scopes and subjects which increases the objectivity of the research results. Or compare and contrast the conclusions from other studies notwithstanding that this comparison may be different when the research finds new perspectives.

An academic report should have a moderate content but clear, full of ideas corresponding to the existing outline and the form should be presented cleanly and in accordance with the requirements of the research.