It’s crucial that your research topic is not too broad, otherwise you won’t be able to address the right problem within the given time constraints. If your research topic is too broad, you will come across several issues such as; you’ll find lots of information that will cause you perplexity to decide which information to include or exclude, you won't be able to make a clear framework of a specific problem because of more general or broad scope of information gathered; you will be left with insufficient parameters to clearly define a research problem.
When you start your research on a particular topic, you will find a need to narrow down your topic at some point. Here are some strategies that can help you taper your research topic.
Target One Aspect
Things exacerbate when you don’t choose a particular aspect of a problem that you want to address. For instance, you can’t say that you want to study violence against adolescents. Instead, you have to decide which particular aspect you are going to target. Adolescents cover all males and females, but it’s not feasible to gather results for both genders in a single research. Think of which gender you are going to target as well as what particular cause of violence you would like to address in your study such as substance abuse, sexual abuse, traumatic events, teen’s neighbourhood, media influence etc.
If somebody asks you the address of your residence, what will you tell? Not to mention, you will tell a complete address. If you update only the name of a city, it will not give anyone a clear idea of your location in that particular city. The same method applies to narrowing down a topic.
While conducting research on a topic, you have to decide on a place where a particular problem happened that you are addressing. For instance, if your topic is violence against adolescent girls, you have to select a specific location to produce precise and accurate results that will meet your research objectives. Think of whether you want to study this problem in the world or your native country or an international country, or whether you are targeting an urban area or a rural area or both to address this problem.
Another reason why PhD scholars slip up while narrowing down a research topic is ignoring the time-span and catering to unnecessary information. For instance, if you decide to study violence against adolescent girls in India, you must choose a particular time span that will serve to your research objectives such as 2001-2007. You don’t need to discuss the violence that adolescent girls used to suffer ages ago.
Relationship between Variables
Considering how two or more variables relate to one another can also help you narrow down your research topic. For instance, if your topic is the effects of divorce on young children, you will have two variables - divorce (independent variable) and young children (dependent variable). You will make hypotheses on the basis of which you will carry out your research such as:
- Divorce has neutral effects on young children
- Divorce has negative impact on juveniles based on indicators such as trust issues, unfamiliarity, instability and insecurity.
- Divorce has positive impact on children like causing motivation in them to become independent.
You will choose a particular hypothesis to carry on your research with an assumption that it will answer your research questions correctly. The research topic will thus bear the impact of such hypotheses and variables involved.
You can use any one or combination of these strategies to taper your research topic. With the help of these strategies, you can conclude whether or not your research topic is easily manageable to address a problem adequately.