Selecting a good research topic may not be easy. Once you have selected a topic that you are interested in, you may find it useful to conduct a scoping search. This will enable you to familiarise yourself with the key debates and current issues, and allow you to better focus your research question.
What is a scoping search?
A scoping search is a search of the existing literature which will help you to get an overview of the range and depth of research on your topic.
Scoping searches are useful for:
To conduct your initial scoping search try searching:
A scoping search will help you formulate a clearer, more refined research question. However, prepare to be flexible - depending on what you find when you begin your research, you may wish to broaden, narrow, or focus on a different aspect of your topic. It is quite common to modify a topic during the research process.
Keep your topic manageable. A topic will be very difficult to research if the question is too broad or too narrow. In most instances you will start with a broad topic. If you then identify an unmanageable amount of literature, you may need to narrow it. There are several ways to narrow your topic:
If we decided to look at the topic of sustainable tourism, some ways to narrow the topic are by:
Keep in mind that a topic may be too difficult to research if it is too:
Need further help in developing your research question? See:
GRASP Candidacy Proposal Series 2: Developing and refining your research questions