guidelines to choose a high-impact research

PhD is not about doing research in the laboratory, it also includes how we interpret and communicate with the scientific world. Therefore, it is important to learn the art of interpretation of the research and publication. Choosing the right topic for a doctorate is crucial to achieving a high-impact career after research. The following guidelines for selecting a high-impact research topic for a PhD or any other research degree are as follows.

1. Find your interest

The research topic decides your career fate and future research journey. Since the techniques and methodologies developed during the PhD often help in our future research projects. In addition, the time spent in doctorate research is longer and it orients our perception and thought process in the subject areas. Remember, whatever you love, you feel doing more. Therefore, it is important to identify your research interest and decide on a research topic. To find your research interest, you can close your eyes and think about what you love and enjoy doing while working.

2. Availablity of review articles

It is not feasible for a Ph.D. aspirant to find the exact gap in the literature in a short duration. In that case, secondary sources could be helpful to find the gap easily. For example, review articles written in the last five years in a specific niche can help identify existing gaps. Expert scientific communities often write these reviews in reputable international journals, highlighting gaps in the literature. These recommended gaps can be explored further and verified with existing research. Choose a research topic where recent review articles are available in reputable journals and are frequently cited.

3. Novelty in research

The outcomes of your research project, such as patents, research papers, and job opportunities, heavily depend on the novelty of your research. Therefore, identifying the novelty in your proposed research project should be the third step in deciding your research topic. To assess novelty, you can use literature-based strategies, such as those available through PLOS ONE. Prioritize novelty in your research, as it is crucial for high-impact results; other factors can be managed with additional management skills.

4. Think out of the box – interdisciplinary

To develop novel knowledge based on existing research, it is essential to think outside the box. We must be prepared to learn new subject areas for effective research. Remember, learning new subjects and techniques is very easy through the Internet. Therefore, we should go beyond a single subject area to choose a high-impact research topic.

guidelines to choose a high-impact research
Interdisciplinary Research adds a new dimension to your work and helps you to achieve high-impact

5. Societal Benefits

The research will be more impactful if it has direct societal benefits. Hence, your research topic should have a few components of societal benefits in addition to adding knowledge in the subject areas. If you have a topic list for your Ph.D. degree then you should go for the research topic which has maximum benefits to our society. Remember, a scientific community is also a part of our society. If your research helps other scientific communities, you may consider the topic.

6. Field applicability

Success in a research career is directly linked with how much your research has the potential to apply directly in the field. Research limited to the laboratory scale is not considered high-impact, even if it results in good publications and patents. Some reputable research journals no longer publish studies without field-scale applicability or field testing. Methods or techniques developed under controlled conditions may not be applicable directly in the field. Therefore, further modification or upscaling is crucial for adopting these techniques. When selecting a research topic, consider field applicability as a criterion, if relevant.

7. Available Resouces

Understanding the limitations of the available resources in the laboratory where you join as a PhD scholar is crucial in topic selection. Developing new infrastructure and laboratory facilities in academia is time-consuming and exhausting. Therefore, design your research topic based on the existing resources of the institution where you will work. If your research requires additional resources beyond what is available, your PhD duration might be extended. Remember, outsourcing resources is often unreliable and difficult to manage. Therefore, limit your topic to minimize outsourcing and maximize the use of available resources.

8. Time required to complete the project

Your time is precious and limited for all the activities in your life. To spend more time on research, you need to cut down on some important life activities. Hence, it is not recommended to have a doctorate research duration of more than five years. While designing the research topic for Ph.D. we should consider a maximum of three years for research and report writing. Remember, you don’t have control over unavoidable circumstances and failing in the results of research activities.

The above guidelines for choosing high-impact research are indicative and may vary according to your research area and topic. Some points may not apply to your specific PhD topic and subject area. Therefore, listen to yourself and use your judgment to choose the right research topic.

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