How to come up with a research topic for PhD?

From the point of view of an academician, selecting a well-studied and appropriate research topic means that the researcher will conduct and will garner the interest of readers. When considered from the standpoint of a scholar, choosing the right research topic indicates that the researcher has clear idea of the course he has been enrolled with. 

Now the most overwhelming question that needs to be addressed is how to choose the right topic. While the task might appear challenging but these tips can ease the process.

Monitoring recent developments and publications

Develop a habit to explore and read other people work that has been acclaimed by universities from your domain. This should be followed by the identification of the common research problems that have been dealt with by the authors.  This will give you an idea of the research problems and gaps that can be taken up for further study. Say, for instance, some of the latest research works related to Human Resource Management discuss the significance of strategic human resource, a relation between HRM and job loyalty or employee commitment, HR practices for managing a diverse workforce, and so on. Ideas can be taken from research problems like these to come with a topic.

Identifying topics from the mainstream media

The mainstream media can be a great source to look out for research topics.  Basically, the mainstream media helps in identifying the trending social, political, economic or environmental issues that need further exploration. For instance, when demonetization was announced in India, pioneering agents of mainstream media like newspaper and television discussed the issue from various dimensions. This provided many research scholars with gaps to further research on.

Finding research gaps

Every research has some research gaps that the author failed to address.  Keeping track of the most commonly occurring research gaps corresponding to your subject can be a great to further research on. For instance, while making a survey of Early Childhood Care And Education (ECCE) programs offered by emerging countries, a common research gap is often found. This research gap indicates the challenges that emerging countries face in implementing ECCE in rural schools that have still not been addressed properly. Thus, such topics corresponding to research gap could become the topic for your research.

Adding value to old researches

A thorough survey can be made of the research topics that have been taken up by other scholars in the same field in other universities. A simultaneous survey can be made of the new ideas introduced by new scholars in the same area. Then both the ideas can be combined to develop a new topic. For instance, there are lots of researches on the role of human resource management in enhancing employee productivity. On the other hand, new scholars have recently introduced the idea of automation in HRM. Now, both these ideas may be combined to develop a thesis topic like “The role of automated HRM processes in enhancing employee productivity”.

Find topics with limited or no past work

There are some topics that have not been explored as much as it should have been to build a strong foundation for a research topic. The limited availability of scholarly works on such subject areas make it quite challenging for researchers to carry on further research works on a related topic. Survey of such topics can be made and taken up as the focus topic so that the study conducted on the subject proves significant.  For instance, herding is a frequently occurring stock market phenomenon in the Middle Eastern countries. But an appropriate number of researcher works have not been conducted yet on topics like what factors encourage herding among institutional investors of the Middle Eastern economies, or specific times when Middle Eastern stock market investors tend to herd, or differences in herd behaviour among investors of different Middle Eastern countries. Thus, an inspiration for the right thesis topics can be collected from these.

Apara Bhattacharya

Research analyst at Project Guru
Ardent passion has helped Apara into a career that involves writing on varied subjects and expressing different contemporary issues around the World. A Masters in English and a diploma in Business English are her academic strengths that have helped her in shaping her career as an analyst. She started her career with an NGO that imparts soft skills and communicative English. Her association with reputed research firms of India gave her a break as a researcher scholar was .
Apara Bhattacharya

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