Choosing a Topic

Choosing a Topic

For many students the problems with writing a research paper begin before a word has been written because it involves the choice of the topic. The more latitude given for the choice the harder the task seems and many of us find themselves wishing someone would simply write the title down for us. I believe this problem may have got worse in recent times when the internet has given us fingertip access to a virtually limitless number of topics. Day after day can pass without a firm decision on the topic. The problem lies in the lack of systematic approach, which is why for many students choosing a topic is a process to be learned. I recently had to help a student through this process to choose a topic for a course they are undertaking, so I decided to help them apply a proper process. In this example we settled on the general topic of recycling in Saudi Arabia. It may seem quite specialized already but a search on Google still yielded 14 million results. So there was still work to do in refining it so that a research question could be formulated. We did this by browsing through some of the key debates online and making a kind of mind map setting out how the debates related to one another in order to visualize the topic. Here are some images showing what your mind map might look like:

 

Once you have chosen your topic area the next step is to formulate a research question