When selecting a Research problem/topic there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. These help to ensure that your study will be manageable and that you will remain motivated. These considerations are interest, magnitude, measurement of concepts, level of expertise, relevance, availability of data and ethical issues.
Selecting a Research Problem & Topics in Research Methodology
Interest – Interest should be the most important consideration in selecting a Research Problem. A Research endeavor is usually time – consuming, and involves hard work and possible unforeseen problems. If you select a topic which does not greatly interest you, it could become extremely difficult to sustain the required motivation, and hence its completion as well as the amount of time taken could be affected.
Magnitude – You should have sufficient knowledge about the Research process to be able to visualize the work involved in completing the proposed study. Narrow the topic down to something manageable, specific and clear. It is extremely important to select a topic that you can manage within the time and resource at your disposal. Even if you are undertaking a descriptive study, you need to carefully consider its magnitude.
Measurement of Concepts – If you are using a concept in your study, Make sure you are clear about its indicators and their measurement. For example, if you plan to measure the effectiveness of a health promotion program, you must be clear as to what determines effectiveness and how it will be measured.
Do not use concepts in your Research problem that you are not sure how to measure. This does not mean you cannot develop a measurement procedure as the study progresses. While most of the developmental work will be done during your study, it is imperative that you are reasonably clear about the measurement of these concepts at this stage.
Level of Expertise – Make sure you have an adequate level of expertise for the task you are proposing. Allow for the fact that you will learn during the study and may receive help from your research supervisors and others, but Remember you need to do most of work yourself.
Relevance –Select a topic that is of relevance to your as a professional. Ensure that your study adds to the existing body of knowledge, bridges current gaps or is useful in policy formulation. This will help you to sustain interest in the study.
Ethical Issues – Another important consideration in formulating a Research problem is the ethical issues involved. In the course of conducting a research study, the study population may be adversely affected by some of the questions (Directly or indirectly); deprived of an intervention; expected to share sensitive and private information; or Expected to be simply experimental ‘guinea pigs’. How ethical issues can affect the study population and how ethical problems can be overcome should be thoroughly examined at the problem-formulation Stage.