Choosing the research topic

2.3        Search for broad topic areas from books, journals and Internet Sources:

You can choose to search for a broad topic area of interest to you by

  • Reviewing course material and course text books and other books for relevant topics.  The table of contents, chapter headings and subheadings can be used to get a good idea of the topics worthy of consideration.
  • Paying attention to items of current affairs being aired by such media as CNN.     A source of information on current events is World Wide Web Virtual Library
  • Checking internet sources and the many databases available online such as Google Scholar that provides a search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles.
  • Checking scholarly journals at the University of Maryland University Colledge.    There is also  EBSCO Academic which has a check box under the limits section for “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals”.  This is available in most University libraries.    ProQuest Direct is another source of “Peer reviewed” materials.

If there are no restrictions on choice then a topic can come from a family or personal experience e.g. death of a love one from a rare disease

Areas identified should be of interest to you and should motivate you to do the necessary work.

3     Turning a broad research topic into a  scholarly topic

By now you may have identified and chosen at least one general topic.   A key criteria in your choice of topic should be that you are interested in the topic.  This broad topic has to be turned into a scholarly topic.   To make the transition from a general topic to a scholarly topic, you need to remember that a scholarly topic:

  • focuses on a narrow not broad issue,
  • adds to the available knowledge of your audience,
  • requires in-depth analysis and explanation of issues,
  • meets with course/lecturers  requirements for acceptable research projects, and
  • requires problem solving.

So how is this fine tunning of the general topic done?

Make the connection between your personal experience or love for an area with requirements for scholarly topics e.g. a personal interest in American football can lead to:

academic subject

of protection of the body from injury during the sport or

health issues in American football, and

possible research topics of

brain damage in American football linked to head trauma; 

effects of fear of injury upon football players at a high school in New York.

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