Answered By: Priscilla Coulter
Last Updated: Aug 02, 2016     Views: 194

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!

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 interest 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.

HINT: Your degree program's library research guide is a good place to find the kinds of article databases and websites that you need!  Find your program guide, and bookmark it!

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


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