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Formulating and Clarifying the Research Topic

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1 Formulating and Clarifying the Research Topic
Faisal Abbas, PhD Lecture 2nd

2 Formulating & Clarifying Research Topic
The important steps Identifying the “Attributes” of a good research topic Generating “Ideas” that help you select a suitable topic Turning ideas into clear “Research Questions” and “Objectives” Writing the “Research Proposal”

3 Attributes of a Good Research Topic
Attributes of a good research topic actually clarify two important things which includes; 1). Capability i.e., Is it feasible ? 2). Appropriateness i.e., Is it worthwhile?

4 1). Capability Researchers Interest fascination about the topic! Are you fascinated about the topic of your research? Research Skills What kind of research skills researcher possess! Do you have the necessary research skills?

5 1).Capability Time Availability !
Can you complete the research in available time? Relevance Will the research be current when you finish? Resources Financial and other resources ! Access Access to data ! Whether you be able to access the data?

6 2). Appropriateness Standards
Meeting Institutional Standards! Will the examining institute's standards be met? Theoretical/Conceptual Framework Theoretical Linkages! Does the topic contain issues with clear links to theory? Clarity Clarity of Research Question(s) and Objective(s)! Are the research questions and objectives clearly stated?

7 2). Appropriateness Innovativeness and/or Contribution! Will the proposed research provide fresh insights into the topic? Findings must be coherent with the analysis! Are the findings likely to be symmetrical? Career goals of Research and topic choice! Does the research topic match your career goals?

8 Contd…… 2). Appropriateness Does the topic relate to your field of study or the idea you are interested in ? Or it may be that the topic of research is given by; Organization you are working for i.e., University Your department or supervisor (in case of dissertation) Your examining body

9 Generating Research Ideas
Useful Techniques Rational thinking Creative thinking Searching the literature Scanning the media Brainstorming Relevance Trees Exploring past projects Discussion Keeping an “Ideas Notebook”

10 A). Rational thinking Examining your own strengths and interests
Looking at past project titles Discussion with your friends, peers in the field and/or supervisor Searching the literature (Review of Literature) Scanning the media

11 Own Interests & Strengths
Having some academic knowledge. Look at those assignments for which you have received good grade. You may, as part of your reading, be able to focus more precisely on the sort of ideas about which you wish to conduct your research. There is a need to think about your future.

12 B). Creative Thinking Keeping a notebook of ideas Exploring personal preferences using past projects Relevance trees Brainstorming

13 Rational & Creative Thinking
These techniques will generate possible project outcomes, one of two of the following: 1). One or more possible project ideas that you might undertake; 2). Absolute panic because nothing in which you are interested or which seems suitable has come to mind.

14 C). Past Project Titles Dissertations/ Theses
Scan your university’s list of past project titles for anything that captures your imagination Scanning actual research projects. You need to beware. The fact that a project is in your library is no guarantee of the quality of the arguments and observations it contains.

15 D). Discussion !! With Colleagues, Friends and also with;
University supervisors and/or tutors Practitioners and/or professionals Peers in the relevant fields Senior researchers doing similar kind of work or research project

16 E). Searching the Literature
As part of your discussions, relevant literature may also be suggested. Types of literature that are of particular use for generating research ideas as discussed by Sharp et al, (2002). These include: Article (academic and professional journals); Reports; Books.

17 F). Note Book of Ideas One of the more creative techniques that we all use is to keep a notebook of ideas. All this involves is simply noting down any interesting research ideas as you think of them And; of equal importance, what sparked off your thought. You can then pursue the idea more in depth using rational thinking technique later.

18 Exploring Personal Preferences
Select few projects that you like For each of these projects, note down your first thoughts in response to three questions; What appeals you about the project? What is good about the project? Why is the project good?

19 Relevance Tree You start with a broad concept from which further (usually more specific) topics be generated. Each of these topics forms a separate branch from which you can generate further, more detailed sub branches. As you proceed down the sub branches more ideas are generated and recorded. These can then be examined and selected and combined to provide a research idea.

20 Brainstorming Define your problem (the ideas you are interested in) as precisely as possible. Ask for suggestions, relating to the problem. Record all suggestions, observing the following rules: No suggestion should be criticized or evaluated in any way before all ideas have been considered. Review all the suggestions and explore what is meant by each. Analyze the list of suggestions and decide which appeals to you most as research ideas and why?

21 Refining Research Idea: Delphi Technique
This involves using a group of people who are either involved or interested in the research idea to generate and choose a more specific research idea. To use this technique you need: To brief the members of the group about the research idea; At the end of the briefing to encourage group members to seek clarification and more information as appropriate; To ask each member of the group including the originator of the research ideas based on the idea that has been described (justification)

22 Contd…… To collect the research ideas in unedited and non-attributable form and to distribute them to all members of the group; A second cycle of the process in which comment on the research ideas and revise their own contributions in the light of what others have said; Subsequence cycles of the process until a consensus is reached . These either follow a similar pattern or use discussion.


24 Research questions Write research questions that are:
Consistent with expected standards Able to produce clear conclusions Not too difficult: at the right level Not too descriptive Use the ‘Goldilocks Test’

25 What is Goldilocks Test?
Clough and Nutbrown use what they call the Goldilocks test to decide if research questions are either too big, two small, too hot or just right. Why it is needed to think ? Because; Too big need significant funding Too small are likely to be insufficient substance Too hot maybe so due to sensitivities that may be involved. This may be because of the timing of the research or that may upset key people who have a role to play. Just right are those for investigation at this time by this research in this setting.

26 Turning Idea into Research
Idea: Exchange Rate Markets and Its determinants Focus: What are the macroeconomic variables that influence exchange rate of Pakistan for a period of 1975 to 2012? Idea: Capital Structure and Stock Return Focus: What is the relationship of capital structure and stock return and how to analyze the determinants of capital structure and stock return of nonfinancial firms listed in KSE for the period of Idea: Carbon Emission and Financial Development Focus: How financial market development in developing countries affect the carbon emission over a period of 50 years.

27 SMART Objectives What is SMART? Specific: What precisely do you hope to achieve from undertaking the research? Measurable: What measures will you use to determine whether you have achieved your objectives? Achievable: Are the targets you have set for yourself achievable given all the possible constraints? Realistic: Given all other demands upon your time, will you have the time and energy to complete the research on time? Timely: Will you have time to accomplish all your objectives?

28 Theory and its importance
“ A formulation regarding the cause and effect relationship between two or more variables, which may or may not have been tested”

29 Typology of Theories Grand theories:
Usually thought to be province of natural scientists . (that will lead to a whole new way of thinking about management) Middle range theories: which lack the capacity to change the way in which we think about the world but are nonetheless of significance . (some of the theories of human motivation well known to manager would be in this category. Substantive theories : that are restricted to a particular time, research setting, group or population or problem

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