Choosing a topic
This section is designed to help you to complete a scientific research project by providing simple steps to follow.
Keeping a Logbook (diary) of your ideas is a good way to help you keep your thoughts organised. Any time you think about your project, use this Logbook to note down all your thoughts and ideas. The Logbook is an essential feature of all good research projects.
- The first thing to do is to decide on what you might be interested in finding out more about. Choosing the topic is often one of the most difficult steps. Make sure you try to choose a topic that you are genuinely INTERESTED in.
- Is there anyone that you know who might be able to help you. Think about all the resources you have available that might help, e.g. friends, family, your school, the local area, the internet.
- Make a mind-map (concept map) by choosing some of the things you are interested in and then possible scientific questions you might explore, mapping all the things you might be interested in.
- Identify areas where your questions might offer a suitable research subject and the possibility for doing experiments.
- Try to think about an experiment that you could do to research your topic. Be realistic and work within the limits of what is possible, but don't give up until you have discussed your idea with others, particularly your teacher.
- Design an experiment to test just ONE thing at a time, i.e. just 1 independent variable (you change) and 1 dependent variable (you measure) with all other variables controlled (as far as possible)
- Spend time doing research on your topic to see what is known already.
- Make sure your experimental design is valid, i.e. it will allow you to actually measure the thing you are trying to, while everything else remains constant or is controlled. Make sure you do the experiment a number of times to increase the reliability of the results you collect.
- Use your own natural ability and talent as part of the project and the presentation of your results, e.g. if you are a good artist or a budding film maker make sure you use this skill somewhere in your project.
- Present the material in the correct scientific form, making sure that you acknowledge any help or references that you have used. All good projects contain a summary of what was done and found (abstract), and the usual components found in any science experiment, i.e. aim, method, result, discussion and conclusion.