It’s a common knowledge that a good topic is not a very extensively studied one – research should bring new information to science. Still, how to find out what topics are worth to study and what not? Check out the tips by Dr. Konrad Janowski from Department of Clinical Psychology in Lublin, Poland.
What you should start off with is the basics – figure out what field of psychology interests you the most and then start narrowing it down. It can be hard at first, one needs to have a rather broad knowledge in a subject to really orientate in the field. For example, some topics may sound like a new discovery for beginners, whereas they may turn out to be a common knowledge for the specialists. Still some effort (read: quite some reading/browsing) will be surely rewarding.
Once you roughly know what interests you, you can go deeper to select the topic. The following advice and criteria will help you to narrow down your topic even more.
As you figured out, you won’t be able to know what to choose not having read loads of books and articles. It takes a lot of time and effort to browse through everything in the field of your interest before you really get deep in the topic.
Tips to Remember:
- Don’t limit yourself to one book/article – different authors and researches may show various insights to theories and address the same problem in a different way.
- When reading an article, focus on objective of the study, its results and the conclusion – use fast screening!
- Be patient! Notice that to get an extensive overview of the field, it takes time and can’t be done in one day or a week.
- Don’t only collect literature – analyze it!
Critical reasoning/ observation of reality
Keep your eyes wide open. For example, if you work as a volunteer in an hospital, you may be able to see some behaviours among patients and thus draw topics that need and should be addressed in research (and were not till now). The most important thing is to ask questions and seek for answers.
It is really significant to:
- Constantly seek for new inquiries
- Always have a critical mind
- Don’t take anything for granted – ask questions about reality.
- Even if something you want to address is already answered, don’t hesitate to deepen the problem or to look at it from another angle.
Moreover, don’t forget about practical aspects before starting our own research. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it possible to investigate your subject? This means, will you be able to change psychology concepts to measures/categories with your results?
- Do you have appropriate tools and human resources for your project (methods – e.g., questionnaires; colleagues or a research group that could be involved, should you need more people)?
- Should there be no adequate method you may need to develop one. Are you ready to handle the extra work before even starting research and performing pilot studies?
Magdalena Eliza Kossowska is an MA graduate from Catholic University of Lublin, Interfaculty Individual Studies in the Humanities College, Psychology Institute in Poland. She has volunteered for various NGOs (including EFPSA, AEGEE, Polish Psychologists Association), and participated in scholarships in Prague, Czech Republic; Tromso, Norway; and London, United Kingdom. Besides contributing in JEPS Bulletin, she also works with Association for Polish Psychology Development ANOVA. She is interested in organisational, clinical, as well as cognitive psychology.