Getting Started with Research: First Steps
Choosing a topic
When starting research it is best to choose a topic that you are enthusiastic about and interested in. Think about a conference that you attended or a paper that caught your interest. Was there a project that you were involved in? Speak to colleagues and discuss your ideas. Review existing literature written on the topic. It's okay if there's already work published that is similar to yours. Your work will often have an original slant to it. If someone has done a study in France, you doing a similar study in Ireland is still an original piece of research. You can acknowledge these similar works in your literature review.
You should always think of the significance of your research. Will your research be of use to anyone? Think of how your research contributes to the larger body of work done on the topic.
Your Target Audience
Think about who your target demographic is for your research. Is it academics or practitioners? This will impact on where you will choose to publish and how you will write up your research.
Our work is always more impactful when we have evidence to back it up. You will need to have data when publishing in a peer reviewed journal. Luckily there's a wide range of information out there for you to gather. You might have suitable data gathered already without realising it.
There is many different sources of data that you can use in your research:
- Statistics such as downloads, views, attendance
- Existing research and literature
- Focus groups
Note: it is important that any data you use in your research is both GDPR compliant and be gathered and used ethically. It is important for participants to be aware of what the data might be used for.
You should always make sure the type of data gathered is appropriate for the type of research you are undertaking. Depending on the data you are collecting, you may also need to make some ethical considerations. Especially if the research involves personal or sensitive information.