Bringing up a research topic is not easy. You want to write something impactful that you can introduce in your career, but you don’t know how.
The good news is that you are not alone – most students struggle with this. This is something Dr. Nikita Sandeep Wagel understands, so much so that she created an Instagram account (theinternationalphd) to assist graduating students in their PhD journey.
If you are struggling to write a dissertation or dissertation, consider practicing these tips suggested by Wagle. Who do you know? You might just stumble upon an idea for the following research topic:
Thinking about your research topic: 5 ways to get inspired
1. Review the literature in your area of interest
search rabbit It is a free program to start your search for literature in your field of interest. It incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) to scan information in public domains about what different papers are, who is citing them, and who is citing them.
MediaWiki It is another website that enables users to create their own Wikipedia. For graduate students, you can set up your own research group wiki or use wikis already created in universities, such as Aalto University.
As a Principal Scientist for the American Cancer Society, Wagle keeps herself informed of recent developments in her field by reading news related to Affordable Care Act.
2. Conference attendance
Even if you don’t have research to present, don’t be discouraged from attending conferences. Wagle advises that these events can help get research ideas and connect with experts in the field.
If your institution refuses to pay for your professional advancement, pay attention to the free research conferences at your university. Some of these events take place virtually, so you don’t even need to leave your dorm to think about research topics.
LinkedIn is a great alternative as well. Some faculty members share small portions of their conversations on the platform. Try typing “#researchtopic” in the search bar and you will be able to filter the relevant post.
3. Talk to your advisor
Dr. Aditi Paul, associate professor at Pace University, offers similar advice as well. Like Paul, Wagel has found conversations with her advisor an invaluable opportunity to shape her research questions. After all, they are experts in their field.
“In my first year of my PhD at Bowling Green State University, I took a course in statistics for the social sciences. Since this is my first time studying the subject, I’ve been visiting my professor during office hours every week,” shares Paul. “Here, I’d like to ask for further clarification of my weekly assignments to make sure I’m on the right track.”
4. Chat with your seniors
Likewise, your colleagues are a great source of inspiration for your research topics and provide a different perspective on an idea or topic you are considering – ideal for those who are afraid to reach out to university advisors or professors.
“I was able to first navigate and bounce back my research ideas through my friends who are senior PhD students in my field across universities,” shares Wagle.
5. Participation in clubs and societies
Struggling to find like-minded people to bounce back on search ideas? Consider joining the university’s graduate community. Here, you are likely to interact with a senior who can advise you on how to tackle a difficult research question.
Alternatively, consider joining specialist clubs such as magazine clubs or lab meetings, which is another way to familiarize yourself with the literature in your field of interest.