Choosing a Research Topic

 For a researcher to choose a topic for a project, it is important to consider a broad area of inquiry and interest.  This may be as broad as “global eye health” or “personality psychology,” but it should be an area that is of interest to the researcher.  However, a broad area is useful only at the beginning of a research plan.  Within a broader topic of inquiry, each researcher must begin narrowing the field into a few subtopics that are of greater specificity and detail.  For example, a researcher may be interested in “global eye health,” but could focus more specifically on “proper eye care and how it affects individuals.”  Although this topic is still too broad for a research project, it is more focused and can be further specified into a coherent project.

Oftentimes, students as well as professional researchers discover their topics in a variety of conventional and unconventional ways.  Many researchers find that their personal interests and experiences help to narrow their topic.  For students, previous classes and course material are often the source of research ideas.  Furthermore, current events in politics as well as in academia can inspire topics for research.   Academic journals such as Health Affairs, Health Economics, and the American Journal of Bioethics can provide good material for new studies and E-resources such as Pubmed, Google Scholar and Philosopher’s Index are also good starting places.  Lastly, many research ideas are generated through dialogue—by talking with professors, fellow students and family.