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Selecting a Research Topic

Selecting a research topic is the first step in research and is the most difficult in research. This is because the research topic that is chosen will determine the value of the research. The most important criteria when selecting a research topic are as follows:

1) it adds a new/original contribution to the body of knowledge in the discipline. Another term used in this regard is the novelty of the research topic.

2) It must be of interest to the researcher. Research takes a considerable amount of time and efforts and thus the researcher must maintain his or her interest in the topic until it is complete and in fact, the interest should continue for many years so that the researcher can embark on a new project within the same topic.

3) It must lead to a string of related research projects. Hence, once the research is completed, another research project within the same research topic will emerge so that the researcher will continue to investigate the same research topic but perhaps looking from different perspectives or using different approaches.

4) The topic must be current so that the public will be interested in getting acquainted with the research findings. It is of no utility to conduct a research which is no longer of interest to the public.

5) Avoid doing research in a topic/area which is already over-researched. The value of the research is low because so many other researchers have done it and it will be difficult to fit the research into the already over-crowded papers in the area. Hence, it will be very difficult to demonstrate the novelty of the research.

6) The research must be doable within a reasonable time, using the available resources and the researcher’s expertise. Usually, having 2 or 3 research objectives should be sufficient for a research project.

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