Video instructions and help with filling out and completing How Form 8815 Topic

Instructions and Help about How Form 8815 Topic

Hi I'm John Earnshaw in this video you're going to learn the best way to choose a research topic now you probably already know that choosing a good topic is very very important because if you get a bad topic it can slow things right down and cause all kinds of headaches on the other hand if you find a good topic to write on your research can progress very quickly and your research can be a very enjoyable experience so what I'd like to do is start off by talking about the challenges that you face when you go to choose a research topic because most students don't understand how difficult choosing a good topic really is now the first piece of bad news is that in high school you never really had any practice at finding good research topics because the paper you wrote in high school really weren't research papers they merely summarized existing knowledge on a topic now in higher education there's a very important distinction between existing knowledge and new knowledge existing knowledge is what we currently know about a topic and in your classes you would spend time focusing primarily on existing knowledge and in your exams or studying for exams you try to memorize as much existing knowledge as you can but in your papers when you're free to pursue a topic of your own choice and write a research paper on it you should be pursuing new knowledge as opposed to summarizing existing knowledge and a good analogy that illustrates this is the analogy of the jigsaw puzzle with a jigsaw puzzle you have gaps as you can see there are two gaps in this puzzle and then you have the picture that's beginning to take shape and as you work on the puzzle you're supposed to focus on the gaps because it's filling in the gaps that is really what your goal is and in the same way in research your goal is to fill in the gaps in our knowledge on the topic you happen to be interested in and that's why finding a research topic is really finding a gap in knowledge that you can focus on and try to fill in the second piece of bad news is that finding a knowledge gap is really quite hard finding the gaps in a puzzle is easy you just look at the puzzle and the gaps jump out at you but finding the gaps in our knowledge of a topic is hard because you have to do a lot of reading with a critical eye that's the only way you're going to be able to tell where the author's fell short in some way not interpreting the evidence correctly or not digging deep enough or whatever the shortcoming is you have to do a lot of work just to find a research topic so it's not like in high school where you don't know anything about a topic but you choose the topic anyway and then begin to learn about it when you're doing research you have to know a great deal about the topic area before you can spot the gaps in that topic and that's why it's very hard the third piece of bad news is that you don't have time to do this during the semester you have three months or less in which to find your topic do the research write your paper format the citations and all of that but it's going to take three months just to find a topic if you do it properly if you do all of that reading to find a gap in knowledge but you just don't have time so what you're doing when you don't do all of this reading but you do make a topic selection is you're working blind it's like covering your eyes walking up to a jigsaw puzzle and putting your finger down somewhere and then opening your eyes to see where your finger landed you don't know where it's going to land it could land on one of the pieces that's already in place in which case you're kind of like the high school student who's just doing a summary of a topic and the paper is really not a research paper it's just a a paper that summarizes existing knowledge or you may choose a topic that is a gap in knowledge but there may not be enough evidence for anyone you or a professional scholar for that matter to come up with the answer to your question the fourth and final piece of bad news is that if someone else does all of the work to identify a knowledge gap and if you want to focus your research on that knowledge gap that someone else has discovered unfortunately that gap may close very quickly because the person who discovered it is usually the person who takes the first crack at trying to fill the gap trying to answer the research question and if they're successful then there's nothing less for you to do at least on that exact research topic so if someone publishes a book and you're reading the introduction about the problem or the the knowledge gap that this person has discovered you'll probably also find in the introduction in the introduction the author's proposal as to what the answer to the research question is and then the proof in the rest of the book so if the person is successful then the knowledge gap opened but immediately it closed and there's no opportunity for you to do research on that same topic well I think it's about time that we had some good news after all this bad news and the good news is that there is something that keeps knowledge gaps open and that something is disagreement if you have a scholar who publishes something and hopes that everyone's going to accept his or her conclusions