Good Factors To Consider When Choosing Your Project Topics
Be sure to pick a topic that will have enough information available. Do a preliminary search to see if there is enough information about your topic.
School project work is an essay that presents the results of a student’s research of a particular topic in print, electronic, or multimedia format. The skill involves finding, evaluating, and assimilating the ideas of other researchers and this is essential in any field of study. Unlike other essay writing, a research project work follows the same processes as other kinds of writing, from planning through drafting to revising, but the difference is that instead of relying exclusively on what you already know about a topic, you rather include source materials, facts, data, knowledge, or opinions of other researchers to support your research project works.
The writing of the final year project is one of the most challenging times that every student faces in their academic pursuits. It is not only because it is a definitive stage in their career, where they must demonstrate all their academic potential, but because they must create an idea that represents a contribution to the subject and can serve as an inspiration to other students and professionals.
The very and the most essential key to quality work is in the choosing of the project topic and In this article, we will discuss several tips that help to know how to choose research topics, especially in those fields of knowledge related to the social sciences, and humanities.
How To Choose A Good Research Topic
A supervisor may assign you a specific project topic, but most often supervisors require you to select your own final year project topics of interest. The ability to develop a research project topic is a very important skill, and when deciding on a topic, there are a few more things that you will need to do.
- brainstorm for ideas
- choose a topic that will enable you to read and understand the literature
- ensure that the topic is manageable and that material is available
- make a list of keywords
- be flexible
- define your topic as a focused research question
- research and read more about your topic
- formulate a thesis statement
Be aware of the fact that choosing a good research topic may not be easy. It must be narrow and focused enough to be interesting, yet broad enough to find adequate information. Before choosing your school project topics, make sure you know what your final project should look like. Each supervisor will likely require a different format or style of research project work.
Use the steps below and it will guide you through the process of selecting a good research topic.
Brainstorm for topic ideas
Use the following questions to help generate project topic ideas. Choose a topic that wills interests you.
- Do you have a personal issue, problem, or interest that you would like to know more about?
- Is there an aspect of a class that you are interested in learning more about?
- Do you have a research paper due for a class this semester?
- Did you read or see a news story recently that has piqued your interest or made you angry or anxious?
- Do you have a strong opinion on a current social or political controversy?
Look at some of the following topically oriented Web sites and research sites for ideas.
- Are you interested in current events, government, politics, or the social sciences?
i. Try Punch or Vanguard
- Are you interested in health or medicine?
i. Look in Healthfinder.gov, Health & Wellness Resource Center, or the National Library of Medicine
- Are you interested in the Humanities; art, literature, music?
i. Browse links from the National Endowment for the Humanities
- For other subject areas try:
- the Scout Report or the Nigerian Times/ College Web sites
Could these terms help or be useful in forming more focused project topic ideas? Write down any keywords or concepts that may be of interest to you.
Be fully aware of overused ideas when deciding on a topic. You may wish to avoid topics ideas such as, abortion, gun control, teen pregnancy, or suicide except you feel you have a unique approach to the topic. Ask your supervisor for project topic ideas if you feel you are stuck or need additional guidance.
Read General Background Information
- Read a general encyclopedia article on the top two or three topics you are considering. Reading a broad summary enables you to get an overview of the topic and see how your idea relates to broader, narrower, and related issues. It also provides a great source for finding words commonly used to describe the topic. These keywords may be very useful to your later research. If you can’t find an article on your topic, try using broader terms, and ask for help from a librarian. Browse the Encyclopedia Africa for information on your topic ideas. Notice that both online encyclopedias provide links to magazine articles and Web sites. These are listed in the left or the right margins.
- Use periodical indexes to scan current magazine, journal, or newspaper articles on your topic. Ask a librarian if they can help you to browse articles on your school project topics of interest.
- Use Web search engines. Google and Bing are currently considered to be two of the best search engines to find web sites on the topic.
Focus on Your Topic Ideas
Note that a research topic will be very difficult to research if it is too broad or too narrow, just keep it manageable. One way to narrow a broad topic such as "the environment" is to limit your topic. Some common ways to limit a topic are:
- By geographical area
For example What environmental issues are most important in Southwestern Nigeria
- By culture
For example: How does the environment fit into the Ibibio world view?
- By the time frame:
For example: What are the most prominent environmental issues of the last 10 years?
- By discipline
For example: How does environmental awareness affect business practices today?
- By population group
For example: What are the effects of air pollution on senior citizens?
Remember that a topic may be too difficult to research if it is too:
- Locally confined – Research project topics that are specifically may only be covered in these (local) newspapers, if at all.
Example: What sources of pollution affect the Oron water supply?
- Recent - If a topic is quite recent, books or journal articles may not be available, but newspaper or magazine articles may be. Also, Web sites related to the topic may or may not be available.
- Broadly interdisciplinary - You could be overwhelmed with superficial information.
F or example: How can the environment contribute to the culture, politics, and society of the Southern states?
- popular - You will only find very popular articles about some undergraduate project topics such as sports figures and high-profile celebrities and musicians.
If you have any difficulties or questions with focusing your topic, discuss the topic with your supervisor, or with a librarian
Make a List of Useful Keywords
Keep track of the words that are used to describe your project topic.
- Look for words that best describe your project topic
- Look for them when reading encyclopedia articles and background and general information
- Find broader and narrower terms, synonyms, key concepts for keywords to widen your search capabilities
- Make note of these words and use them later when searching for databases and catalogs
Try And Be Flexible
It is very common to modify your topic during your research process. You can never be sure of what you may find. You may find too much and need to narrow your focus, or too little and need to broaden your focus. This is a normal part of the research process. When researching, you may not wish to change your topic, but you may decide that some other aspect of the topic is more interesting or manageable.
Keep in mind the assigned length of the research paper, project, bibliography, or another research assignment. Be aware of the depth of coverage needed and the due date. These important factors may help you decide how much and when you will modify your topic. You supervisor will probably provide specific requirements, if not the table below may provide a rough guide:
Assigned Length of Research Paper or Project
Suggested guidelines for approximate number and types of sources needed
1-2 page paper
2-3 magazine articles or Web sites
3-5 page paper
4-8 items, including book, articles (scholarly and/or popular), and Web sites
6-15 items including books, scholarly articles, Web sites, and other items
10-15 page research paper
12-20 items, including books, scholarly articles, web sites, and other items
Define Your Topic as a Focused Research Question
You will often begin with a word, develop a more focused interest in an aspect of something relating to that word, and then begin to have questions about the topic.
Ideas = Emmanuel Nathaniel Mkpoikanke or modern architecture Research Question = How has Emmanuel Nathaniel Mkpoikanke influenced modern architecture? Focused Research Question = What design principles used by Emmanuel Nathaniel Mkpoikanke are common in contemporary homes?
Research and Read More About Your Final Year Project Topic
Use the keywords you have gathered to research in the catalog, article databases, and Internet search engines. Find more information to help you answer your research question. You will need to do some research and reading before you select your final topic. Can you find enough information to answer your research question? Remember, selecting a topic is an important and complex part of the research process.
Formulate a Thesis Statement
Write your topic as a thesis statement. This may be the answer to your research question and also a way to clearly state the purpose of your research. Your thesis statement will usually be one or two sentences that state precisely what is to be answered, proven, or what you will inform your audience about your topic. The development of a thesis assumes there is sufficient evidence to support the thesis statement.
For example, a thesis statement could be: Emmanuel Nathaniel Mkpoikanke's design principles, including his use of ornamental detail and his sense of space and texture opened a new era of African architecture. His work has influenced contemporary residential design.
The title of your paper may not be exactly the same as your research question or your thesis statement, but the title should clearly convey the focus, purpose, and meaning of your research.
For example, a title could be: Emmanuel Nathaniel Mkpoikanke: Key Principles of Design For the Modern Home
Remember to follow any specific instructions from your supervisor.
Practical Exercises to Extend Your Learning
Identify three narrower aspects of the following broad project topics on Education. In other words, what are three areas you could investigate that fit into these very broad undergraduate project topics?
Sports Pollution Politics
Identify a broader topic that would cover the following narrow school project topics. In other words, how could you expand these school project topics to find more information?
Menus in Ikot Ekpene prisons Urban planning in Flint
Imagine that you have been assigned the following undergraduate project topics. Think of at least five keywords you might use to look for information on each.
How does air quality affect our health? What are the barriers to peace in the Middle East? Should snowmobiling be allowed in wilderness areas? How can welfare reform help poor children?
Tips: Refine Your Topic
Narrowing your subject to a more specific topic takes a bit of research and thought.
Here are some ideas to help you narrow your topic:
- Talk to a friend to get ideas. They may give you ideas that didn't occur to you.
- Use these questions:
- WHY did you choose the topic? What interests you about it? Do you have an opinion about the issues involved?
- WHO are the information providers on this topic? Who might publish information about it? Who is affected by the topic? Do you know of organizations or institutions affiliated with the topic?
- WHAT are the major questions for this topic? Is there a debate about the topic? Is there a range of issues and viewpoints to consider?
- WHERE is your topic important: at the local, national, or international level? Are there specific places affected by the topic?
- WHEN is/was your topic important? Is it a current event or a historical issue? Do you want to compare your topic by time periods?
- Turn your topic into a question. You will be trying to answer this question with your research. Think about something you would like to try to prove or argue.
- Make sure to pick a topic that will have enough information available. Do a preliminary search to see if there is enough information about your topic.