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Identifying the research topic

In this step, we look at how we go about identifying a research topic.
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In this step, we’ll explore methods of identifying research topics.

Why do we do research in business?

In business, it is important to conduct research for multiple reasons. These may include:

  • Attempting to solve a problem that you have identified in an organisation
  • Answering a question that you, or perhaps colleagues, have asked in your organisation

How do we identify research topics?

If you think back to the previous step, you will remember that identifying a research topic was the first step in the research cycle. There are a few different ways that you can do this, including the following approaches.

Reviewing literature to identify a research gap

As we mentioned earlier in the course, there are many advantages to organisations reviewing literature. By conducting a literature review, such as a systematic one, you can identify gaps in the literature that need to be addressed by research.

Reflecting on our experiences

Considering your experience and the problems you face can highlight numerous research topics. For example, you may see that there is a high rate of staff turnover in your organisation and may want to better understand ways to improve this. By conducting such research, you may be able to inform on ways to positively influence practice.

Considering personal interests

When thinking of research questions, you may also be inspired by interests that are personal to you. It may be that you have recently read something that you found so fascinating that you want to research it further.

Using existing theories or research

It may be that you have read a theory or a study and thought of ways that you could build on it. Or you may have disagreed with elements of a theory or study and thought about how you could improve it or extend it to a different population.

Examining current affairs

Is there something going on socially, politically or economically that could affect organisations? For example, you may want to base your research on how business psychology could be affected by current affairs, such as Brexit.

Using focus groups

You could also conduct focus groups by gathering a sample of people who represent those you would want to participate in your research, such as nurses. You could then ask them about potential issues or what they would want to find out more about.

Your task

Now that we have looked at some of the ways that you can identify a research topic, think of other possible sources of research topics and share them with your fellow learners in the comments.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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Systematic Literature Review: An Introduction

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