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How to identify a topic for research

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Identification of a topic for research is an important process for the success of any person's research career. This presentation will teach about a new method for identification of a suitable topic for research.

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How to identify a topic for research

  1. 1. How to identify a topic for research ? Mrinmoy Majumder,PhD
  2. 2. Why identification of topic for research is ‘so important’ ?  Identification of suitable topic will ensure proper utilization of your expertise  It will prevent repetition of research  Relevant topic will help to identify relevant journals/conferences  Zeroing to a topic of interest will produce quality research  One can easily promote the research output to suitable and targeted audience  Which in turn will generate citations Providing ‘roasted chicken’ to a cow will not yield the same result when you feed the food to a hungry dog. Similarly, selection of a topic which is interesting and falls under the expertise of the researcher is extremely important in the success of the research. The recognition of the suitable topic will help to identify the population interested to ‘eat’ the topic So, the first step in your research career will be to identify a topic which is interesting and falls under the scope of your expertise/knowledge.
  3. 3. Identification of suitable topic of research : First step The first step for identification of “suitable topic of research” is : Pinpointing the expertise/domain of knowledge. Many people do not know about their own expertise. It is surprising but true. That is why, knowing the domain of our knowledge is extremely important. Another point of concern is : ‘in which area of the knowledge domain, one is passionate about’ Recognizing the knowledge domain as well as the area of ‘passion’ is immensely important for the success of a research career.
  4. 4. How to identify our ‘knowledge base’ ?  The branch/department of graduation/Bachelor degree ?  Specialization of post graduation/Master degree ?  Subjects in which maximum mark was secured ?  Subject of interest for which books/videos are consulted during the vacation/holiday/leisure time ?  If science magazines or newspapers are subscribed, then the topic which is eagerly awaited ? The answer to the first three queries as described above, will give the domain of our knowledge. One or two keyword which represent the main theme of the information, collected from the first three question, can be derived to adequately identify the domain. Lesser and shorter the keywords better will be the identification.
  5. 5. How to identify the ‘area of passion’ ?  The answer to the last two questions converted into mono or bi-word keywords(key word consisting of one or two words) will identify the ‘area of passion’.
  6. 6. Identification of suitable topic of research : Second step After the keywords which identifies the knowledge base and the area of passion are recognized, following sites may be searched to retrieve the number of documents available for the keyword : 1)Google Scholar 2)Science Direct 3)Springer Link 4)Wiley 5)Taylor and Francis The number of documents available for each keyword as shown in the search results can show the popularity of the identified keywords.
  7. 7. How to find the popularity of a keyword?  The total number of documents found in the search results from all the websites and counted per year basis will depict the total number of documents published in that year.  The suitable topic of research can be identified by :  The average percentage of all the documents published in the last three years on the topic will be minimum compared to all the keywords considered in this analyses.  And The percentage of documents published in the most recent year will be maximum compared to that of all the keywords considered in this analyses. Why ? A topic which is widely explored will have more document compared to the topic which is rarely investigated. Publishing new papers in this topic will be difficult. However, a topic has to be contemporary and to get higher number of citation, sufficient amount of works must be carried out in the recent years. If a topic is rarely researched then also publishing papers on that topic is not easy. But the topics, which have not so high amount of document but number of publications has been increased in the recent years will definitely be the topic in which further research is required and may be selected as the topic of interest
  8. 8. How to find the number of documents published per year related to the keyword that is searched in website of the publisher/Indexer ?  Publisher/Indexer : Google Scholar:
  9. 9.  Publisher/Indexer : ScienceDirect How to find the number of documents published per year related to the keyword that is searched in website of the publisher/Indexer ?
  10. 10.  Publisher/Indexer : Springerlink : How to find the number of documents published per year related to the keyword that is searched in website of the publisher/Indexer ?
  11. 11. How to find the number of documents published per year related to the keyword that is searched in website of the publisher/Indexer ?  Publisher/Indexer : Wiley Publishers:
  12. 12. How to find the number of documents published per year related to the keyword that is searched in website of the publisher/Indexer ?  Publisher/Indexer: Taylor and Francis :
  13. 13. Explanation of the Process by an Example  Following is an example : I want to identify my topic of research. As described in the previous slides, my first step will be to find the answer to the following queries :  The branch/department of graduation/Bachelor degree ?  Electrical Engineering  Specialization of post graduation/Master degree ?  Water resources and hydraulics  Subjects in which maximum mark was secured ?  Advanced Hydropower  Subject of interest for which other books/videos were consulted during the vacation/holiday time ?  Optimization, Neural networks, Renewable energy, Watershed management  If science magazines or newspapers are subscribed, then the topic of research, which is eagerly awaited ?  Watershed management, Renewable energy
  14. 14. Example, contd.  Identification of “Domain of Knowledge” or expertise : This are the answers to the first three queries :  The branch/department of graduation/Bachelor degree ?  Electrical Engineering  Specialization of post graduation/ Master degree ?  Water resources and hydraulics  Subjects in which maximum mark was secured ?  Advanced Hydropower Converted to : Hydropower (is related to Electrical and water resources. Also the highest marks secured in any subject during post graduation also indicate to this domain)
  15. 15. Example, contd.  Identification of ‘Area of Passion’:  Subject of interest for which other books/videos were consulted during the vacation/holiday time ?  Optimization, Neural networks, Renewable energy, Watershed management  If science magazines or newspapers are subscribed, then the topic of research, which is eagerly awaited ?  Watershed management, Renewable energy Converted to : Optimization in hydro- power, Management of water power (As neural networks comes under the Optimization keyword, so to avoid repetition, neural network was not included. Hydro-power is one of the various types of Renewable energy and management of watershed also represents the management of water based renewable energy resources. That is how the keywords for identification of “Area of passion” was derived)
  16. 16. Step Two Example, contd.  Table below shows the total number of documents published in the last three years on the topic “Optimization in hydro-power and Management of water power” from the leading five global publisher/indexer: Optimization in hydro-power Management of water power Year of Publication 2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015 Science-direct 1243 1580 1292 15427 19073 17012 Springer 80 107 112 13464 18616 16525 T&F 299 263 169 10669 8750 8144 Wiley 44 91 93 15891 18623 19514 Scholar 1160 2680 2670 43200 101000 148000 Total 2826 4721 4336 98651 166062 209195 Percentage 23.78 39.73 36.49 20.82 35.04 44.14 Average 33.33 33.33
  17. 17. Result : Topic of Research is  According to the method described earlier for the selection of topic of research :  There are two topic among which one has to be selected :  “Optimization in hydro-power and Management of water power”  Two criteria has to be investigated for the final selection :  The average percentage of all the documents published in the last three years on the key word will be minimum compared to all the topics considered in this analyses.  In this case the average is equal for both the topics which is 33.33%  And The percentage of documents published in the latest year will be maximum compared to that of all the topics considered.  For this criteria Optimization in hydro-power has the higher percentage of documents published in the recent year compared to that for the topic “Management of water-power which is respectively 23.78 and 20.82%.  Hence, the topic Optimization in hydro-power was selected as the topic of my research.
  18. 18. Conclusion  In the example the first criteria was indecisive(for both the keyword average was 33.33%)  However, due to the imposition of the second criteria, the tie was broken and I was successful in selection of my topic of research.  But it may happen that the second criteria is also equal.  Then inclusion of one more keyword will ease the situation and may break the deadlock.  This is an idea which has helped me in segregation and identification of my topic of research.  I hope it will also help to solve the same problem facing many budding researchers in the world.

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