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Finding Research Proposal Topic Ideas

October 01, 2015 - Posted to Dissertation topics and examples

Content finding research proposal topic ideas

Finding Research Proposal Topic Ideas

If you are just now getting ready to think about your thesis or dissertation, then you know the first step is finding a topic for your research – one that you can get passionate about and one that will meet with the approval of your advisor and/or committee. There really is a process that you can go through to find those research proposal topics, and it will make your search both easier and faster:

  1. Go back through your course syllabi through your master’s or doctoral classes. Look over the topics. There may be something really cool that you have forgotten all about. At the time, your interest was piqued but then you moved on to other work and it dropped off of your radar.
  2. Go through your textbook tables of contents. What really interested you, if anything, at the time that a chapter was covered? You may find some great research proposal ideas.
  3. Narrow you potential topics down to 3-4. Then make an appointment with your advisor.
  4. Run your potential topic ideas by your advisor and get his input. You can use him/her as a resource to help you narrow your topic, because most students begin with a topic that is too broad. Trying to set up a research design when the topic is too broad is a disaster.
  5. Do some initial research on your topic area – if you look at the research that others have done, you can get some great research topics, especially if you read the conclusions of others’ dissertations. Usually, there are suggestions for future research that will either build upon what they have done or duplicate it.

First Steps in Writing a Research Proposal

Once your topic has been refined, you obviously have to prepare your research question. This should be don’t very carefully, and the best source is to read the research questions that other thesis or dissertation writers have written. You can fashion yours after theirs because, after all, they were approved!

As soon as you have your hypothesis or research question written, you are back at your advisor’s office. If you are a master’s candidate this is the only approval you will need. If you are a doctoral candidate, obviously your advisor must approve, and then you are ready to write the full proposal for committee approval.

Do Not Re-invent the Wheel

The most time-consuming thing that you can do is to just take your departmental guidelines for writing a research proposal and start from scratch on yours. The best and easiest way to do this is to read the research proposals of others in your department that have been approved by their advisors and/or committees. Use those as models for your own, and you will probably be just fine. The proposal will be in sections, in a specific sequence, so be certain that you use the same sequence. Committees are pretty picky about this, and proposals are often rejected the first time through because they did not follow the exact format that is required. Don’t make more work for yourself – get it right the first time so you can get on with the important stuff!

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