A would-be researcher, whether a student or not, could use any of the three approaches to determine project topics. They are:
- Topic can be predetermined by a higher body. This body can be the sponsors of the research or university research committee. In this case, the researcher has no choice but to work with the topic thus given. In most cases, these topics reflect the information need and problems to which the sponsoring organization deem very necessary and important.
- Another way by which a project topic can be determined is by delineating (describing/drawing) a general area of interest, say for instance, human resource management. With this interest area in mind, the researcher will embark on extensive literature search. As he progresses in the study, concrete, definite problem areas start emerging. It is like an exploratory kind of thing, which hovers over a particular area and at the end perches on a definite researchable topic. Experts’ inputs may be required to firm up the topic thus chosen.
- The third approach to topic determination is by conducting preliminary investigation. This happens when there is no clarity as to what could the problems be. The researcher generally moves into the field (on a limited area) to freely investigate what the problems are. The search initially moves generally to search all the problematic areas. It then later sifts through the problems to determine which requires research effort for its solution. This approach requires a lot of funds and thus the lot of funded sponsored research. It is also time consuming which altogether makes its uncommon.