aIdentifying a topic

aIdentifying a topic

Research topics usually come from the work environment, the professional literature or a conference presentation.  When choosing a topic select an area of study that excites you, keep it simple (reasonable/doable), and if possible do a pilot study to see if there are any problems with the design. The following questions should help you identify your research topic.

  1. Jot down at least 5 questions that have arisen from your practice or discussions with your colleagues. Choose questions about which you are very curious and to which you would love to know the answer. ( “I wonder why/ what/ which/how…?”)
  2. Look over your list and decide which questions interest you the most. Rank your questions in order of interest.
  3. Answer the following questions for your top 3 choices
    1. Why does it interest you?
    2. Why do you know to know the answer?
    3. Is it a simple question or it has several parts?
    4. is it possible to do a mini pilot study on this question, or part of it, to see if it is feasible?
    5. Is there an obvious theory base for this question? If so, name it here:
    6. Write a paragraph on the major point of the theory
    7. In your opinion does this question answer a significant problem? if so, answer the question “so what”? here
    8. what variable will you be studying? List them here
    9. at the first glance, does it appear to you that you will be able to find a way to identify and measure those variables?
    10. Take a stab at identifying types of measuring instruments for as many variables as possible
    11. Guess what resources you might need to study this question:
      1. Time
      2. money
      3. equipment
      4. computer
      5. statistician
      6. colleagues
      7. other
    12. What type of subjects (humans, clinical specimens, collected data) will you need to study this question
    13. Are these available to you?

 Modified from the book “Research for the Health Professional, a Practical guide” by Diana M. Bailey

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