Research Methodology Selecting and Framing a Topic in Scholarly Research – I

First and foremost task in a scholarly research is selecting a proper topic of research. Scholarly research can be differentiated from commercial or sponsored research, where problem already exists and research is done to find appropriate solutions to the problem. Scholarly research is academic in nature and is generally done as a part of some academic curriculum especially in PG and purely research programs like M.Phil and Ph.D. Scholarly research also includes the research performed in universities as a part of academic jobs to enhance the body of knowledge in any particular area of study.

A clear and meaningful topic provides initiating momentum to the research. The direction and path of a research is decided by topic. The starting point of any research is always mentioned as ‘selecting the topic of research’ since it gives the idea of type of the research to be performed, methods and sources of data collection involving literature review, it provides a base to select the research methods and tools leading to overall research methodology. Therefore it is quite important to frame a lucid, unambiguous, meaningful and relevant topic for the research. A clear and coherent topic generally but not necessarily includes:

  • General area of research and specific area topic,
  • Specific instance or problem of the research,
  • Variables involved in research,
  • Research Approach,
  • Methods employed in research,
  • Research stakeholders like respondent,
  • Geographic area of research,
  • Time Frame of research,
  • Viewpoint of specific stakeholder etc.


These are some of the components that are usually included in topic. Another specific characteristic of a coherent topic is that it starts with general statement/topic and moves towards specificity and ends with confined boundaries of research. An example may be:

“Exploring E-Retailing in India: Explicating the e-Service Quality and Loyalty Relationship focusing on Millennials with specific reference to customers in UP, India”

The process of selecting a topic for research is multi-staged and iterative where a number of steps are followed and repeated at some stages. Generally it may involve the following stepsas described by Kothari (2009). The next article would discuss the nitty-gritty of the process.

  • Selecting a broad area of research followed by confining a specific area or topic
  • Statement of topic in a general way bringing out the problem associated with it
  • Understanding the nature of the problem through acquaintance of problem environment
  • Preliminary survey of the available literature
  • Developing theideas through discussions with all stakeholders
  • Rephrasing the research problem into a working proposition.



Kothari, C., R. (2009). Research Methodology: Methods and Techniques (2nd Ed.). New Delhi, India: New Age International Publishers.