How to Get Project Topics, Research Ideas and Materials
Researching project topics and materials that is too broad or too narrow can turn into a very frustrating experience. If your project topic is too general, you will find an overwhelming amount of research material and will need to focus your project topic. If your topic is too specific, we will help you project material and will need to broaden it.
The process of formulating a project topic always starts with Selecting an area that interests you for research. You are going to be working on it for awhile so choose something interesting, with enough focus to be doable, but not so narrow that you cannot find enough information to work with. However from our expert observation, we have noticed a huge number of students are not given the opportunity to choose what interest them but are forced by their supervisor to research on predetermined topics.
Focusing on your Research Idea:
When your professor or supervisor assigns research ideas, it is often too large and general for you to cover in a standard research paper. Consider the length of the assignment and focus your project topic so that you can find the right amount of information for the length of your paper. A good research project topic is broad enough to allow you to find plenty of project material but narrow enough to fit within the size and time constraints of your paper. However with profession research project websites like www.projecttopics.org, getting project materials for all your works is now possible.
The common way final year students can develop good project topic and research ideas is by Narrowing a research interest or formulating a research question. The process can be broken down into:
- Gather information on the broader topic to explore new possibilities and to help narrow your topic.
- Choose an interesting topic. If you’re interested in your topic, chances are that others will be, too. Plus researching will be a lot more fun!
- Gather background information.
- For a general overview, reference sources may be useful.
- The online database such as www.projecttopics.org is also a good place to start narrowing your focus and good project topics and research ideas
- Ask yourself: – What subtopics relate to the broader topic? – What questions do these sources raise? – What do you find interesting about the topic?
- Consider your audience. Who would be interested in the issue?
Generate Topic Ideas
How do you decide what interests you?
Free write on your topic: set a time limit, 5 or 10 minutes, and write without stopping, don’t worry about editing or corrections. Write about what you know and don’t know about the topic. Begin by writing what you know then write question what you know. How do you know this? Are sure that what you know is correct? What other possibilities exist? What questions do you have about your topic? Do more free writing on what you don’t know. Read over what you have written. What ideas have emerged? At this point you probably have a set of questions that you can take to research sources and begin searching.
Ask questions about your topic:
What do I already know about this topic?
Who was involved in it? (inventor, victim, instigator, bystander)
Brainstorm on your topic: talk to your professor, classmates, and friends. Think about your class discussions and reading assignments; did anything spark your curiosity? Browse the Subject Guides in your subject area.
If the topic is a current event or social issue browse newspapers, general interest magazines, and online sources such as
Define Your Topic
Select an aspect of the topic that will interest you and your audience.
Make the topic narrow enough that you can cover it in the assigned number of pages and timeframe.
Have a clear grasp of your professor’s expectations for the assignment. If you are confused, talk to your professor.
Reference books are good places to start your research when you know little about a topic, when you need an overview of a subject, or when you want a quick summary of basic ideas. They are also useful for discovering the names of important people, and can familiarize you with the vocabulary of the field. Encyclopedia articles are often followed by carefully selected bibliographies or lists of references to other works, useful items to have as you begin looking for additional information.
You can expand or focus a topic by adding or eliminating the:
Time Period – year, decade, century
Specific Population – male, female, adolescent, adult, species, nationality
Geographic – county, state, region, country
Broaden a Research Topic
Sometimes a research topic is so specific that you cannot find adequate information to fulfill the requirements of the assignment. In this case it is time to broaden your topic. The techniques used to focus a general topic can also be used to expand a narrow topic.
Use ideas discovered while you were generating topics to add to your topic. For example, you could compare and contrast two ideas.
Use background research, found in reference books, to find a researchable topic.
If the topic is narrowed by a factor that can be broadened, such as time period, specific population, or geography, expand the limiting factor. Go from a state to a region or county. Go from a few years to a decade or longer.
Select Keywords to Use as Search Terms
Step 1. Identify the keywords and central ideas of your topic and write them down.
Step 2. List synonyms or alternate terms for your original keywords.
If one term retrieves too much or little information, or irrelevant material try a synonym.
The online catalog and databases may not recognize your original search term, but may recognize a synonym or variation on the search term.
Step 3. Refine you search terms by using controlled vocabulary.
Suggestions for organizing notes and citations:
Open a Word document at the beginning of each research session and type in citation information and other notes as you find them.
E-mail search results and copies of electronic journal articles to yourself.
Store all articles, citations, and notes related to the research paper in a single folder or envelope.
Always write your name on diskettes, you could even include your phone number.
Save more than one copy! Use your T drive and diskettes so that you have saved a copy of your hard work in more than one place.