It is important to note that an essential precondition for identifying, clarifying and choosing of a research topic, is a healthy logical thinking habit. Thinking has been given up by many as a very difficult exercise and those who still do, do it haphazardly (Anikpo 1986). The following guidance can help scholars to recover the vital exercise of logical thinking:
- Think in terms of specific issues and Problems. Greater coherence and logic is achieved when ones thought processes are focused on specific issues than when it is hovering over a number of things at the same time.
- Do not easily settle for the first set of answers that come to mind in response to a particular problem. Further probe and exploration could throw up other answers that give credence to the first ones or out rightly contradict them and provide an alternative. As in philosophy, a researcher should be conversant with how to use ‘why’, ‘where’, ‘how’, and ‘when’ to move concerns from the surface to the core issues involved.
- Learn to follow through your thought processes to logical ends. Several issues would like to make one to abandon midway a particular thought process. It is expedient that one endures to the end. One way of attaining such discipline is by writing down the thought flow. This will help one identify things that distort the original thought line and deal with them.
In addition to logical thinking, the student/researcher should note the following, when it comes identifying Problems:
- Problems that require research investigation are those that lend themselves to clear information and factual empirical evidence.
- Problems that make for interesting research investigation are the Problems, which coincide with the research interest of the investigator. Zeal and enthusiasm usually accompany research effort in areas which are done in one’s area of interest. Research expenses are not felt as is the case when one is not really interested in the study. This is one of the reasons why it is professionally unethical to force down topics on students due for their project work by faculty members.
- Another factor in selecting Problem areas to be investigated is the issue of expertise and familiarity of the subject area of investigation. It is foolhardy for one to embark on research effort in an area he has little or no knowledge of. Apparently, such a one lack knowledge of the theoreticalissues, framework and foundations that will facilitate the formulation of hypotheses and data gathering. Worse still, such person(s) may embark on fruitless effort of repeating a research work that has been done earlier. Sequel to this requirement. It is advised that if one is embarking on research work in an area where he is not familiar with, he should seek proper counsel and consultation from experts.