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Getting Started in Research | Part 1

So you've decided to pursue a topic of your choice in research-- good for you! Here's the best guide out there on how to choose a research topic bound to grant you success.


First, you must know that data will be the core of your research project. Choosing a topic to explore will be one of the hardest, yet most important, aspects of your project. To do this, think ROIT.


  1. Make sure your idea is Relevant.

Choose an issue that is relevant to our world today. It can be connected to your everyday life or a problem on a global scale. For example, let's say you have a grandmother with osteoporosis who struggles to walk, even using her cane. Could you design a better cane that measures her heart rate and blood pressure at the same time?

A tip is to make a folder in your drive titled "Research Topics". Every time you come across an article, video, or image of interest to you, add it to the folder. Here are some sample research topics for inspiration!


Research Question

Lead Toxicity

How do vitals change in children affected with lead poisoning?


Can single-celled life demonstrate intelligence?

Circadian rhythm

Can you tell if bacteria are sleeping by measuring their circadian rhythm?

Use a lab notebook to record your ideas and every step of your research process. Your mind is at its most creative when going to sleep and waking up. So, keep your notebook next to your bed for ideas that might be an exceptional topic to explore (after a good night of sleep!).


2. Make it Interesting.

After you have made your extraordinary and inspirational list of research topics, start sorting through them. Eliminate the ones that are least interesting to you and rank the rest from most favorite to least. Once you have a top 5, begin the next step.


3. It has to be Original.

Start your literature review! This means using trusted research websites such as Clinical Trials, PubMed, or the NIH to ensure there is no currently existing research relating to your topic of choice. Be very careful not to copy existing work. But, this doesn't mean you can't look for gaps in previous studies through professional science journals. Here are a few links to check out:

Just like in school, be an active reader! I suggest focusing on the abstract and conclusions-- scientists never read through the entire article when conducting a literature review. Make things easy for yourself! While reading, note down the main points of the article. Are there any unknowns? What unanswered questions does the author pose? What topics do you need to do more research on? Who are the major researchers in this expertise? You can contact and communicate your questions to these scientists to gain a better understanding of the field.


3. Now, is your experiment Testable?

Okay, let's get real. Your project hinges on your ability to use an independent variable to cause and measure a dependent change. This is called the treatment. Can you make a control group that will remain unchanged? You will also need to keep everything that you don't want to change the same. These sets of conditions are called the controlled variables. Don't overcomplicate your experiment. Make it easy to set up because you need a large data set (with the minimum number of trials being N=30). The goal is to keep producing and recording data.


Now, come back to your list. Use these tips to guide your project, and check out more articles to help you further your research. Please feel free to comment below with any questions, our team is glad to help!




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