Answered By: APUS Librarians
Last Updated: Jun 13, 2023     Views: 954

The goal of a researcher is to contribute something new to the body of knowledge in his or her field of study.  But, when you are new to primary research, identifying a novel research question to pursue can be difficult!

For some good guidance, see Defining a Topic from the SAGE Research Methods Project Planner.

Where can you look for topic ideas?

Ideally, you will choose a research question related to a topic that interests you deeply.   To help you decide what aspect of that topic will make a worthwhile subject for a research study, try scanning:

  • Professional association websites, where you'll find summaries of current events and research "hot topics" in your field.  These summaries will often note topics or issues about which more research is needed.
  • Research studies from journals in your field. Do a quick keyword search for a topic that interests you, limit your results to peer-reviewed articles, then scan the articles in your results. In their discussion or conclusions, these articles will almost always discuss gaps in the current knowledge about a topic, and recommend future research directions.
  • Theses and dissertations in your field of study.  These may help you determine the scope of your own research question, as well as provide topic inspiration.
  • Noteworthy AMU/APU graduate capstone theses, creative/applied projects, practicum/critical reflection papers, or portfolio/critical reflection papers are posted on the APUS Trefry Archives website 

HINT: The library's subject pages are good places to find websites and databases to explore for topics.  Find the page that best fits your interests here. 

Remember to work closely with your faculty advisor as you select a research question and design your study!


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