Choosing a Strong Research Topic

Start Smart with Preliminary Research

What is a Strong Topic?
You’ll be spending a lot of time on a research paper, so it is particularly important to select a topic that you really enjoy working with. But alas, it’s not that simple!
To make your project a success, you’ll have to ensure that the topic is strong, as well as enjoyable. What does this mean? Unfortunately, you might find a topic that you like a lot, and go on to develop a strong thesis with no trouble at all. Then, you find yourself spending an afternoon at the library and discovering one or two problems.

1. You could find that very little research is available on your subject. This is a common hazard that wastes time and disrupts your mental flow and confidence. As much as you may like your topic, you may want to give it up at the start if you know you’re going to run into trouble finding information for your paper.
2. You may find that the research doesn’t support your thesis. Oops! This is a common frustration for professors who publish a lot. They often come up with intriguing and exciting new ideas, only to find that all the research points in a different direction. Don’t stick with an idea if you see lots of evidence that refutes it!

To avoid those pitfalls, it is important to select more than one topic from the start. Find three or four topics that interest you, then, go to the library or an Internet-connected computer at home and conduct a preliminary search of each topic.
Determine which project idea can be supported with plenty of published material. This way, you will be able to select a final topic that is both interesting and feasible.

Preliminary Searches
Preliminary searches can be done pretty quickly; there is no need to spend hours in the library. As a matter of fact, you can start at home, on your own computer.Choose a topic and do a basic computer search.
Take note of the types of sources that appear for each topic. For instance, you may come up with fifty web pages that concern your topic, but no books or articles.This is not a good result! Your teacher will be looking for (and perhaps requiring) a variety of sources, to include articles, books, and encyclopedia references. Don’t select a topic that doesn’t appear in books and articles, as well as on web sites.
Search Several Databases
You’ll want to make sure that the books, magazine articles, or journal entries that you do find are available at your local library. Use your favorite Internet search engine at first, but then try using the database for your local library.

It may be available online.If you find a topic that’s widely researched and seems to be available in a number of books and journals, make sure those are books and journals that you can use.For instance, you may find several articles—but then you realize later that they’re all published in another country.

They may still be found in your local library, but you’ll want to check as early as possible, to make sure.You could also find books or articles representing your topic, but they’re all published in Spanish! This is absolutely great if you are fluent in Spanish. If you don’t speak Spanish, it’s a big problem!

In short, always, take a few steps in the beginning to make sure that your topic will be relatively easy to research over the days and weeks to come. You don’t want to invest too much time and emotion in a project that will only lead to frustration in the end.

Source

 

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English for Emails: Email etiquette

Unit 9: Email etiquette

 

Email dos and don’ts

A lot of people still have problems writing emails. I should know – I receive badly written emails every day! So I hope these suggestions will help.

Rule 1:
Always check you’ve got the right name in the ‘To’ box. And make sure your email only goes to the people who need to read it. Remember that if you reply to all, then everyone will get your email. Does the whole sales team really need to read your email to one person about something unimportant?

Rule 2:
This sounds obvious, but don’t forget to attach them! A word of advice – attach the file you want to send before you start writing. That way, you can’t forget to attach it!

Rule 3:
No. If you write ‘CAN YOU LET ME KNOW THIS WEEK?’ you are basically shouting at your reader. They will think you are very rude. So just don’t do it.

Rule 4:
Short emails sometimes sound rude. People won’t read very long emails. Keep emails short, but remember to be polite and friendly, too.

Rule 5:
This is important, especially if it’s a work email. If you make mistakes in your email, people will think you also make mistakes in your work. So always check everything carefully. Ask a colleague to read and check it before you hit ‘Send’.

Source : learnenglish.britishcouncil.org

Research Problem: How to Narrow Your Research Topic

research topic choice

It is very typical for students to set off on a research topic, only to find out that the topic they’ve chosen is too broad. If you are lucky, you will find out before you conduct too much research, because much of the research you carry out in the beginning will be useless once you finally do narrow your topic.

It is a good idea to run your initial research idea by a teacher or librarian to get an expert opinion. He or she will save you some time and give you some tips on narrowing the scope of your topic.

How Will You Know If Your Topic Is Too Broad?

If you find yourself in the library staring at a shelf full of books that could work as references for your topic, your topic is too broad. A good topic addresses a specific question or problem.

If your topic can be summed up in a word or two, like smoking, school cheating, education, overweight teens, corporeal punishment, Korean War, or hip hop, it is too broad.

If you have trouble coming up with a thesis statement, your topic is probably too broad.

A good research project must be narrowed down in order to be meaningful and manageable.

How to Narrow Your Topic

The best way to narrow your topic is to apply a few of the old familiar question words, like who, what, where, when, why, and how.

Paddling as punishment.
Paddling in grade school. (where)
Emotional effects of paddling in grade school. (what and where)
Emotional effects of paddling on female children (what, who)
Hip hop dancing.
Hip hop as therapy. (what)
Hip hop as therapy in Japan. (what and where)
Hip hop as therapy for delinquent youth in Japan. (what, where, who)
Eventually you will see that the process of narrowing your research topic actually makes your project more interesting. Already, you’re one step closer to a better grade!

Another Tactic for Getting a Clear Focus

Another good method for narrowing your focus involves brainstorming a list of terms and questions related to your broad topic.

To demonstrate, let’s start with a broad subject like unhealthy behavior as an example. Imagine that your instructor has given this subject as a writing prompt.

You can make a list of somewhat-related, random nouns and see if you can ask questions to relate the two topics. This results in a narrow subject! Here is a demonstration:

art
cars
bedbugs
eyeballs
sandwiches
That looks really random, doesn’t it? But your next step is to come up with a question that connects the two subjects. The answer to that question is the starting point for a thesis statement.

Art and unhealthy behavior: Is there a specific piece of art that represents the hazards of smoking? Is there a famous artist who died from an unhealthy habit?
Sandwiches and unhealthy behavior: What happens if you eat sandwiches every day for dinner? Are ice cream sandwiches really bad for us?

Finding the right research question

bulls eye

The first and most important step when writing an academic paper is choosing a topic that will advance knowledge and add another building block to the study of science and humanity. As a corollary, it’s quite unlikely that a journal editor will accept a paper that does not have a good research question.

A clearly defined research question increases chances of publication, because it gives the researchers greater clarity on developing the study protocol, designing the study, and analyzing the data.  A well-defined research question also makes a good initial impression on journal editors and peer reviewers. In contrast, a poorly formulated research question can seriously harm your chances of publication, among other adverse effects, because it can easily lead to the perception that the research wasn’t well thought out.

Although a single paper can address more than one research question, it is good practice to focus on one primary research question. 3 So what makes a good research question? While the answer may vary for different types of papers and across disciplines, there are a few overall criteria that you should keep in mind, whether you are writing about Shakespeare, stem cells, or steel processing.

So what?

First and foremost, any research question should pass the “so what?” test 4: the findings that result from pursuing this question must be important, interesting, and meaningful. Once you have determined the possible outcomes of your research, always ask yourself “So what?”

be guided

For example, the research question “Are good surgeons likely to have long fingers?” is highly unlikely to yield any meaningful knowledge. On the other hand, a targeted question like “Do dexterity tests predict surgical performance among residents?” could help medical training professionals improve training programs in surgical techniques.

Unobviousness
Lack of originality in findings – in other words, “novelty” – is one of the most common reasons for rejection by journals. Editors of scientific journals stress on novelty and “unobviousness”; the research question should not already have an obvious or undisputed answer.  As some journals reject up to 90% of the papers submitted for publication, it is important to ensure that your paper stands out and provides value in one of the following ways:

contributes new information that has real-world application or leads to further lines of research,
corroborates existing information and extends their generalizability or applicability,
provides findings that contradict the literature, or
critically reviews and analyzes the literature.
Good research questions can arise from critical thinking about current practices and problems, from applying new concepts or methods to old problems, and from ideas that emerge when you teach your subject to others. Replication is acceptable…sometimes

Not all papers convey absolutely unknown information. For instance, it may be interesting to know whether other researchers’ observations can be replicated (especially if the observations were controversial or weak but significant), whether the findings in one population also apply to others, or to clarify known relationships by using new methodologies.

Tips for finding and formulating good research questions

Clinical or field experience, as well as your own research interests, is obviously important in identifying potential lines of research. However, a thorough review of the existing literature is always critical to make sure your question hasn’t become irrelevant. In addition, keep abreast of current developments in the field to avoid doing the very same thing someone else has done (with the enormous amount of scientific output being produced nowadays, this is not an unlikely scenario).

You can also find new research questions from the literature. For instance, the Discussion section of many papers often mentions unresolved questions and additional experiments or studies that can be done. In particular, if the conclusions or generalizability of another study has attracted a lot of controversy, you could attempt to replicate the study in order to validate its results. 4 In sum, a good research question can arise when you identify gaps and weaknesses in the existing literature.

Writing a Research Paper

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Where should you begin?
Writing the research paper is not a simple task, but one that is quite manageable as long as you develop a plan and stick to it. Your plan should start with the creation of a realistic time-line, detailing all your researching, pre-writing, writing and proofreading activities. By having a time management plan in place, you will know exactly when you have to begin each task and how long you have for that task, thus eliminating that last minute rush just before the paper is due. Check your timeline periodically to see if you are adhering to your plan. Make adjustments as you progress through the research and writing stages.

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What is a Research Paper?

Students are often asked to write papers based on the work of others rather than just their own experience.These papers require the use of primar yand/or secondary research. According to the fifth edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, “Primary research is the study of a subject through firsthand observation and investigation, such as analyzing a literary or historical text, a film, or a performance; conducting a survey or an interview; or carrying out a laboratoryexperiment. Primary sources include statistical data, historical documents, andworks of literature or art. Secondary research is the examination of studies thatother researchers have made of a subject. Examples of secondary sources are books and articles about political issues, historical events, scientific debates, or literary works.”

To avoid plagiarism, primary and/or secondary research requires parenthetical documentation and a “Works Cited” page.Any topic of interest can be used for a research-based paper. However, the narrowed topic must meet three criteria:

1. The paper must deal with a significant issue.

2. The audience must gain more knowledge/insight from the informationprovided. The regurgitation of already known information is notsufficient

.3. Research papers analyze an issue, defend a position, or explain somecomplexity. Many research papers will accomplish all three purposes

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Discovering, Narrowing, and Focusing a Re searchable Topic:

Try to find a topic that truly interests you
Try writing your way to a topic
Talk with your course instructor and classmates about your topic
Pose your topic as a question to be answered or a problem to be solved

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Pointers to start: 

The steps to begin a research paper are similar to those of any other paper.

1. Make sure the criteria for the assignment is clear.

2. Choose a suitable subject if the option is available. Then narrow the subject to a topic.

3. Read about the topic. Become familiar with it.

4. Develop a preliminary outline or a series of research questions that reflects what needs to be discovered about the topic. It can be revised at any time during the process.

5. Begin to take notes. Use of index cards (4×6) or note sheets is recommended. See the Appendix for formats.

6. Write a first draft. Evaluate the information. Is the research complete? Remember to use peer editors

.7. Revise the first draft. Make any necessary changes based on the evaluation of the first draft. Begin addressing the issues of style and mechanics.

8. Write a second draft. Pay close attention to the parts of the paper. Is the introduction clear?

Is the body well developed with sufficient supporting evidence? Have authorities been introduced properly in the text?

Has appropriate documentation been provided?  Is the tense appropriate and consistent?

Is the voice clear? Does the conclusion follow from the body? Does it provide the reader with a sense of closure?

9. Organize the other parts of the paper. Pay special attention to the format requirements.

10. Prepare the final copy.

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Plagiarism and Quotations 

When citing work, not only do you need a Works Cited page, but you need to quote within your paper 

To use MLA quotations: ◦ “quote” (Author, page number).

Quoting is easy and only takes minutes, use it to avoid getting expelled.

Using a submission checklist –

Using a submission checklist ensures that the paper is ready for submission. Be sure you have included all the necessary paper elements and have followed the stylistic guidelines.
Checklist:

1. Does your Title Page include title, author (your name), course, and date?
2. Are the page margins 1″ on all sides of the paper?
3. Are the pages numbered and double-spaced throughout?
4. Are punctuation and typing rules followed?
5. Have you avoided plagiarism by referencing all sources?
6. Does the Reference or Works Cited page follow strict style guidelines?
7. Are Appendices labeled and numbered properly?

To summarize:

1) Choose the Right Research Topic: Neither the research topic should be too long nor too short. It should be specific. You should able to get ample information on it to present your research paper. So start by choosing a topic in which you are really interested in.

2) Gather Information: Information can be gathered from variety of sources. You can use Books, Magazines, Encyclopedias, Internet etc. and can conduct interviews, surveys also.

3) Start Your Research: Jot down your main points. Look out for recent and reliable information. Recollect all of your thoughts and start writing a research paper.

4) Make a Outline of the Research : Put your all relevant thoughts in a logical order i.e organize your research paper in an appropriate manner starting from the stating of the topic, including thesis and conclusion at the end.

5) Make a Body of Your Research paper: Once you have an outline of the research you will able to link your views and evidences with the help of sentences, paragraphs, visuals, sounds or a combination of any of these. Put all your points in the order they will appear in the project. If you find that there is not enough information while writing your research paper you can always collect more relevant information.

6) Revise Your Paper: Check for grammar mistakes, spelling problems. Make sure that your ideas explained clearly.

7) Make a Final Draft: It should include all: introduction, supporting evidences with a logical conclusion.

8 ) Prepare a Bibliography: List all the sources from which you collected information for the paper.

9) Create a Title Page & Table of Contents: Title page should include some standard information like your name, topic of the research, your Mentor’s name. Table of contents should include topics, sub topics and the page no.s should be stated on which each is explained in your research paper.

10) Evaluate your Work:Make sure that you have completed all parts with overall neatness and put them into correct order without missing anything. Any borrowed material is properly acknowledged. Finally submit your paper on time.

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Sources: Various:  scholarship-positions.com
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